Gem of the Basque Country
Favorite thing: The views. As simple as that. One look at La Concha, the crescent-shaped beach surrounded by the city, and you know you are in paradise. Its a special place and one knows it just by seeing this beautiful bay. One can enjoy a full day at the beach with its chilly (yet refreshing) water or take in the breathtaking sunset with the faint sound of a violin playing in the background. Sound like a fairytale out of a novel? That's because it is. This is a real life Disney World. Take my word for it. As my father has said "If Walt Disney decided to build a city, this would be it."
The second most, yet pretty much also first, exquisite part of San Sebastian has to be the food. This is not your typical list of restaurants to choose from for a long sit-down dinner. From fresh sea food to the most delicious croquettes, one night in La Parte Vieja (translates to "The Old Part") could lead to a sampling of the most delicious foods the Basque country has to offer. La Parte Vieja is a small grid of pedestrian streets filled with amazing bars and restaurants. These are top of the line, gourmet type of establishments that serve the most exquisite cuisine in bite size portions. Thats right. These are pintxo bars(pronounced "pin-cho" -- the basque word for tapas).
The great part about this is you get to try several and bar hop at the same time. This is, in my opinion, the funnest part about dining in San Sebastian. As one who can't sit still through a long 10 course dinner, I find bar hopping while sampling all these delectable foods to be the best way to dine. The drinks are pretty amazing as well (duh!).
Bar Nestor -- The best steak in town, served fresh on the bone.
La Mejillonera -- This is a classic. Fresh and delectable mussels in different styles (vinaigrette is my personal favorite). Patatas Bravas are definitely a go-to here as well.
Gambara -- Another favorite. Everything is good. Order chistorra (chorizo wrapped in a warm cresent) or their delicious mushroom plate.
La Cuchara de San Telmo -- Amazing Foie Gras and Veal cheek. Honestly, everything is good here too.
Atari -- Really great ham croquettes and yummy daily dishes. Also the best Gin & Tonics around. Great place day & night as far as atmosphere.
Also, I encourage you to explore even further. All places have something great to offer and you will not be disappointed!
Fondest memory: As someone who has spent the last 10 years of her life visiting in the summers, San Sebastian definitely makes up a special part of my life. I have made the most amazing friends and gotten closer to family members that live there. All the fun times I've had with them and with my family whom I visit with are my fondest memories. I can't explain how special this city is to me and how I cherish the moments I've had there. I sometimes think this magical city has been like a person. Someone I look forward to seeing every summer. To experiencing no matter what place I am in life, good or bad. I leave it all in her hands and somehow, at the end of summer, I end up learning something.
Whether I spent two months or two weeks in San Sebastian, this city never disappoints.
- Family Travel
- Food and Dining
- Luxury Travel
San Sebastián Tourist Office
Favorite thing: CAT
C/ Reina Regente, 3
20003 San Sebastián - Donostia
Telef: +34 943 48 11 66
Fax: +34 943 48 11 72
Pagina del CAT
A smaller office, in a container near Renfe train station.
Early bird catches the worm.....
Favorite thing: There are a few good reasons why you should go early, if you are heading to the tapas bars -- first off, you have better selections, secondly, the baguette might get soggy after sitting there for a few hours, and most importantly, you do not want to see someone sneeze a foot in front of all those mouth watering tapas.
Favorite thing: Where the younger backpackers go, the parte vieja is brimming with reasonably priced pensiones and restaurants. Its proximity to Playa de La Concha and the port makes this area a prime nightspot; scores of places offer a night's sleep above loud tapas bars.
- Budget Travel
Urgull Mendia (pride mountain)
Favorite thing: Donosti (San Sebastian) has in the both sides close to the sea, two hills. Seeing the sea, in the left, Igueldo. In the rigth, Urgull Mendia. Both are an exemple as can nature and urban world live together. In both, you'll have a sigth of all Donosti. Only you must to walk up. Take it easy. Urgull mendia means "pride mountain", in Gascogne. This variety of occitan was spoken in Donosti in the XIX century, and you can find some local names with gascony roots. In fact, sapnish is a historical newer language in this city.
Donosti té dos Pujols a cada extrem de la ciutat, a la platja. a l'esquerra l'Igueldo. A la reta l'Urgull Mendia. Ambdós són un exemple de com la natura i la cuitat poden conviure. I des d'ambdós hi ha una gran vista de la ciutat. "Urgull Mendia" vol dir Mont Orgull, en gascó, l'idioma romanx parlat a Sant sebastià fins fa poc.
Favorite thing: While the Basque country may be part of Spain at present its worth remembering that the locals have a seperate sense of identity to their Castillian neighbours. Over the centuries the Basques have managed to protect their nationality without ever being a nation state for any long stretch of time. Their language predates all other European tongues whilst the region's cooking and fishing skills are legendary.
So long as you don't go about insulting the rich Basque culture there is no real reason to be scared of ETA - the independence terrorist organisation - unless you are a politician for one of the Spanish national parties. However you are likely to see adverts and grafitti put up by its supporters.
So respect the area's unique nationality and you'll have a wonderful time.
If you are interested in learning more about Basque history and how the Basques may have 'discovered' America long before Christopher Columbus it's worth picking up a copy of Mark Kurlansky's excellent 'The Basque History of the World' published by Vintage books.
Favorite thing: The "Contxa" beach is one of the most beautiful sigths that i've ever seen. Specially in the night, to take a stroll for it have something magic. You get an "oceanic" sentation. The city of Donosti has its centre close to this beach. Sure you'll find i you go toDonosti. Don't forget, in the day great, in the nigth incredible.
Udaletxea (Council house)
Favorite thing: For historical and geographical reasons, Donosti's architecture has the influence of english, french, spanish and basque style. An exemple is the council house (Udaletxea), near to old town, and the sea. Beautiful building with a beautiful garden in front.
Favorite thing: Basically, if the Basques could cook it, they turned it into a food. Don't worry too much about what you're eating. There is a reason why the Basque food is craved throughout Spain. It is, by far, the best of Spain.
Fondest memory: San Sebastian is a welcoming town. It's easy to slip in and enjoy the town. It's a beach town. There are always a few tourists around, so you never have to feel like you stand out. The easiest way to gain instant love from the people is to show a little interest in the Basque culture. They are very proud people, and will happily welcome you with open arms.
Favorite thing: runs through the centre of town, basically seperating the old town from the new town. it can prove quite important to helpp with orientation through the many one-way streets as it is not easy to get from point a to point b without driving in a few circles (perhaps it is easier if you have a map).
View from Mount Urgull
Favorite thing: On the tip of the peninsula where the old city is located, you can climb the Mount Urgull and enjoy the fantastic view: the beaches of la Concha and Ondarreta, the island of Santa Clara and the Mount Igeldo in the background, from where you can also have a breathtaking view of the city.
AQUARIUMPlaza Carlos Blanco...
Favorite thing: AQUARIUM
Plaza Carlos Blanco de Imaz. 20003 San Sebastian. Tel.: +34 943440099. 1.200 ptas. (kids 600 ptas.) 10:00-20:00h. www.aquariumss.com
More than 5000 fishes, sharks, turtles, octopus and a transparent tunnel
PARTE VIEJA (Old Town)In the...
Favorite thing: PARTE VIEJA (Old Town)
In the pedestrian old part of the city (north of the Boulevard Avenue) you can enjoy 'tapas' for a delicious original lunch. This is the way: go in a bar, ask for a drink and start choosing among the huge variety of small portins of seafood, chorizo, tortilla... Take the ones you want, and when you finish, tell the waiter what you had. Then, go to another bar (10 meters away) and repeat all the movements. After 3 or 4 bars you already had lunch!!
KURSAAL BUILDINGThis modern...
Favorite thing: KURSAAL BUILDING
This modern revolutionary building (Rafael Moneo) is the new icon of the city. It houses many congresses, meetings and the famous Cinema International Festival (September).
LA CONCHAThe beach of San...
Favorite thing: LA CONCHA
The beach of San Sebastian is popular and beautiful. Rather still waters (it's in a bay) that let you swimm and enjoy its white sand. The seaside walk is a rather pleasant place to feel the pulse of the city.