San Sebastián, the city known for the most delicious food, a huge range of tapas bars, cobblestone streets, beautiful beaches and amazing weather (usually)!
Accommodation in San Sebastián
Looking for accommodation is tricky in San Sebastián, as there isn’t a lot of choices and in the summer months, it’s even harder.
So where did we stay? We fell back to trusty Airbnb and found a private room in a shared house. The cost of this was half of what a hostel costs when there are 2 people. Not only did we have our own private room but we had a full balcony with an awesome view of Zurriola Beach (shown above) and the old town where the majority of the tapas restaurants were, was a short 10-minute stroll. You can search for San Sebastian rentals here too.
Food in San Sebastian
Unfortunately, we weren’t given the best weather for our four days in San Sebastian and we had to dig out our winter clothes that were happily packed at the base of our backpack. Due to the bad weather, we weren’t able to experience the beaches, although there were quite a few brave surfers/windsurfers/paragliders out there. On the upside, we had much more time for all the restaurants and food consumption.
We contemplated joining an organized Food Tour (top rated on TripAdvisor) which takes you a bunch of restaurants but we decided to skip that and head out on our own Tapas crawl, based on information provided by the locals we were staying with. We also researched the top Pintxo (tapas) restaurants in the Old Town and made our way to the restaurants/bars sampling a few at each. The majority of the tapas are sold on a sliced baguette with a toothpick stabbed in the top.
We’ve never seen so many variations before! They lay them out all in a row and you can pick and choose what you like or you can order a fresh hot tapa to order. They don’t really advertise this but doing so ensures your food is always hot & fresh.
Top Places to Eat in San Sebastián
If you’re tapa bar hopping, simply stand & eat/drink at the bar, no need for a seat especially as there are very few. Below is a tapa bar crawl map, provided by our host.
La Cuchara de San Telmo – If you go to one tapas bar, make sure it’s this one. Get the crispy pork & grilled octopus. So amazing!
Bar La Vina – Get the very gooey cheesecake, what this restaurant is known for.
Borda Berri – We were in and out of here in 15 minutes, super tasty dishes & very efficient. Get the beef cheek.
Bar Zabaleta – Mainly locals here and run by a family. Jacob enjoyed a hearty serving of Paella (only on Saturdays) whilst Emily a strong Sangria.
La Fabrica – Our real splurge, and a very good one at that! For dinner, we enjoyed a bottle of wine, 2 appetizers, 2 mains and 2 desserts. Very, very delicious. Our top choices here was the tomato, zucchini and goat cheese pie with nut salad, sirloin steak served on a bed of mashed potatoes and the wine roasted lamb. We would have redone this meal all over again if it weren’t for the price tag! Make sure to make a reservation here, especially if it’s on a weekend.
San Sebastian Activities
La Concha Beach – San Sebastian’s most famous beach. A long stretch of sand, plenty of space for the tourists! There are a lot of surf schools offering surfing in San Sebastian, walk along anywhere on Zurriola beach or La Concha and you will find one.
Peine del Viento – On the furthest tip of Ondaretta beach (past La Concha) there are three big standing abstract sculptures (aka the Wind Comb). The waves of the Atlantic crash against the base of these sculptures making for an awesome view. Worth a walk up to view San Sebastián from the other side of town.
Monte Urgull – aka Jesus Hill (or so we were told). A steep but relatively easy climb up a mountain to enjoy an incredible view of San Sebastian, shown below. Luckily we chose to go on the first day we arrived as the sun never came out again.
Hondarribia Day Trip
A small colourful fishing village in the Basque Country that is well worth the visit! An easy 45-minute bus ride from San Sebastian (20 minutes on the express). The culinary scene is growing rapidly here with new pintxo bars opening up all the time. The houses are colourful with flower pots draped over the balconies and the streets are lined with people dining outside. See here for a full guide to Hondarribia.
Our favourite restaurant here was Sardara. This is one of the newest restaurants in the town. We originally went here just for one dish and after sampling a few others elsewhere, we came back to Sardara for seconds and was even more impressed. Emily used the Google Translate app and wrote a glowing message to the chef in Spanish, he came out and was very happy to hear such happy customers! The dishes we got were grilled scallop with pancetta (see pic below), wine Mussels, Cod Au Gratin, & Steak.
Married Days Survived: 74