Four reasons to visit San Sebastian Spain (Donostia)

Just when I though Barcelona was my favorite city in Spain, I discovered San Sebastian! What’s so great about it? Culture, food, beach and hiking all in one place make for an awesome time away.

Here’s four things I can’t resist about this little slice of Spanish heaven:

  • So. Much. To. Do. I’m not sure I can think of another city with this much variety. Take just the category of ‘beaches’. There are 3! And they all have distinct offerings: La Concha has white sand and city views, Zurriola is the surfing beach and Ondaretta is the most family-friendly.
  • Active. In addition to hiking for what may be my only time on the El Camino de Santiago, I had an active week. It’s an incredible walking city. I also kayaked (I prefer glass-like conditions for my terrified-of-water temperament, so I only did this once) and rented a bike. If surfing is your thing (it isn’t mine!), their beaches are top-rated.
  • Delicious. This is home to some of the most highly Michelin-rated restaurants in the world. I researched them all, but in the end opted to explore the city’s food through all the great Pinxtos bars. I started the week with an evening food tour with Mimo San Sebastian. Such a great way to get a lay of the land—and helped lay the groundwork for the rest of the week.
  • Affordable. Wow, my Airbnb was affordable and in a great location. The number of apartments to choose from is impressive—everyone I met had gone this route (I didn’t chat with anyone who was staying in a hotel). A night of wine and Pinxtos had you feeling like a queen for $20.

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Bilboa

I was flying in from the Azores, so I took a direct to Bilboa. I spent the night there—across the street from the Guggenheim—got a museum visit in, before heading to San Sebastian. I actually took photos of the hotel lobby. Umm . . . I never take photos in hotel lobbies. This hotel was built specifically for guests visiting the Guggenheim and it was worth the stop in my mind.

The bus to San Sebastian is a breeze – leaves about once every hour. Heads up that they are assigned seats – that made for a quick awkward moment.

A couple things I didn’t expect:

  • Not so easy to get to. It’s not a direct flight like so many other great cities in Spain. Adds a little bit, but you can make that part of the adventure (like I did with Bilbao)—and it makes it feel all the more special.
  • Families in San Sebastian are awesome. I stumbled upon festival after festival of multiple generations of families celebrating and dancing. There’s some sort of national dance that everyone knows – it is awesome!
  • Information Centre. So, I’d actually never been to an Information Centre before when travelling. Don’t know why – it just hasn’t been my jam. Typically I like to explore by asking around and just following what catches my eye. But in San Sebastian, the vibe is active and dynamic. I just had a sense that I should do a little more asking. The Information Centre was awesome—and 100% free!

 

 

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