Discover what to do in San Sebastian

This autumn I had the chance to travel to one of the most undervalued touristic areas in Spain and maybe in Europe: the wonderful region of San Sebastian and the Basque Country

Here are my top recommendations to make the most out of your stay in San Sebastian. Don‘t forget to scroll down to the bottom of the page to learn more about the traditional pintxos, a gastronomic delicacy said to be haute cuisine in miniature.

5. Go surfing

To be honest, I am not a good surfer, but if you want to experience and understand the groove of San Sebastian you need to rent a board and dive into the local beach breaks. If you are a good surfer you already know what to do and if you are a beginner I recommend you to go to the Zurriola beach  where you can go to the surf rental and school located directly on the sand where the cost for 1.5 hours for a board and a wetsuit is just €20. The streets close to the beach are also home to numerous surf schools that rent wetsuits, boards and offer individual or group lessons as well.

4. Watch a pelota game

This traditional Basque sport relates to the character of the Basques; after all they are considered to be very independent, free-thinking and hardheaded and watching a game of pelota might give you an idea why there is this prejudice. Played in a special place called frontón, the players hit and ultrahard ball against a stone wall in the same fashion you would do in a squash match but without the racket. You can catch a profesional game at the Frontón Municipal Atano III (Paseo de Anoeta 6, 20014 Donostia +34 943 481 853) or you can give it a try yourself at the one located behind The Basilica of Saint Mary of the Chorus (Calle de Nuestra Señora del Coro, 25-37, 20003 Donostia) in the Old Town.

3. Go for a run

This may sound a bit weird but we felt that San Sebastian can be discovered by running; so we ran along the Zurriola beach promenade, pass the modern Kursaal Congress Centre and then ran up the steep climb to La Mota Castle. The view from here is a must see. When you arrive to the summit, make sure you visit the small museum inside the castle. It is free of charge and only takes a few minutes but provides very interesting insights off the medival history of San Sebastian. You can then run around the castle and go back to your starting point on the beach promenade. Another scenic route is the one leading to Monte Igueldo, from where you get the most recognisable sight in San Sebastian; the breathtaking La Concha beach, as seen on the above photograph.

2. Visit the Old Town and the harbour

If you pass by the biggest plaza in the Old Town, Plaza de la Constitución (in the picture) you might wonder why all the balconies have numbers. This place used to be a bullfight arena and the numbers on the top of the balconies where the place where you had to sit with your numbered ticket.Today of course there are no more bullfights and is just a great place to hang out in the evenings or go for a light bite as it is home to several cafés.

1. Go pintxo hopping

People in San Sebastian and the Basque country are very social. Part of their culture consists in going to small and very local bars to have a few drinks and eat small slices of bread with delicious toppings called pintxos. In San Sebastian you have two good areas to eat these haute cuisine in miniature delicacies. Most people go to the old part of town where you will find mostly places frequented by tourists. In this case it does not really matter because the pintxos are of great quality and the historical setting is unique. However if you want to get a true local atmosphere you should go to the Gros area. Here on Thrusday evenings you will find the entire city out to go for Pintxo-Poteo which could be roughly translated to pintxo hopping. You will get a pintxo and a drink of your choice (beer, wine, etc.) for only 2€! But I must warn you, bars tend to get quite crowded then and you will need to show a lot willingness and dedication to be able to order.

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