A small city. A beautiful small city.
San Sebastian is situated in the north of Spain, close to the more industrial Bilbao and the border with France, this only half an hour’s car drive away. With the best of both worlds, glorious beaches and surrounding green mountains, San Sebastian is known all around the world for its beauty and kind friendly people, as well as for the best food you will ever taste, with Michelin stars’ restaurants and many tapas bars (referred to as “pintxos” in the Basque language) everywhere. It is also called Donostia or Donosti, Basque name, and -as you have probably already picked up- it is part of the Basque Country, a region within Spain with a different culture, traditions and even a language of their own: Euskera (Basque language), a language that was suppressed under Franco’s dictatorship (1939-1975) but which has despite all survived and is very much alive today.
With three very different beaches to “soak your toes” in you would never get bored: Playa de la Concha is what you would call a “city beach”, in the centre of the city and always very busy and fast moving, extremely popular and overlooked by Monte Urgull (mountain to the East of the city); Playa de Ondarreta is to the west, almost a continuation of La Concha, a quieter and more calm beach close to beautiful chalets, leisure facilities and homes, flanked by the beautiful mountain Monte Igueldo with stunning views; And there is Playa de Gros, a surfing beach on the other side of Monte Urgull and from which you can appreciate the imposing monument of “Sagrado Corazon de Jesus” at the very top of the mountain.
In the Parte Vieja (“old part”) you can find the port, as well as numerous and very popular “pintxo” bars: it’s a lively area, always full of both local people and visitors who might want to admire the Santa Maria church, one of the most beautiful churches in our days (it took 21 years to build, was finished in 1764), as well as to browse in the small quaint boutiques and shops around. At night the bars and atmosphere light up the Parte Vieja until the early hours of the morning, with different styles of bars and restaurants to suit all.
Across the city you will find the Cathedral of Buen Pastor, a neo-gothic style church from the 19th century, another gem within this gorgeous part of the world. Shops, cafes, restaurants, parks and squares…
Anything you want and anything you need, you will find in San Sebastian and, despite its beauty and charm, it seems to have managed not to be spoiled by incessant tourism and does still, and hopefully for a long time yet, retain that wonderful character that makes it one of the most wonderful places you will ever visit. Put it in your bucket list, you will fall in love with it.