It Rains In Spain

Guide to San Sebastian

Bilbao      San Sebastian      Vitoria

Guide to San Sebastian. It Rains in Spain.

Guide to San Sebastian – Introduction

There can be no finer location for a city in Spain than that of San Sebastian. Elegantly curving around the Bahia de la Concha (Shell Bay), and guarded by the uniquely tortoise-like island of Santa Clara, it is obvious to the visitor very quickly why San Sebastian has attracted the wealthy and glamorous for centuries. With a chic atmosphere and a gastronomic heritage to rival anywhere in the world, you could be forgiven for lingering longer than you originally planned in this supremely beautiful Basque city.

San Sebastian only really came to prominence in the 19th century, and the majority of what constitutes as San Sebastian’s old town dates from this period. For centuries, San Sebastian was a simple coastal town, living off the sea and part of the Kingdom of Navarra. It’s strategic location and proximity to the French border made it an attractive and desirable town to attack. Since the early 19th century San Sebastian became the place to be seen for society types in Spain, and has continued to attract the glamourous and aspiring ever since.

San Sebastian today still holds much of its glamour. It is by far the most expensive city in Spain in which to buy property and this is reflected in it’s elegant boutiques and expensive restaurants. Yet San Sebastian can be very easily enjoyed on a more humble budget, with a raft of eateries and accomodation which don’t rise to the eye watering levels which can be found if you so please. The old town is riotously fun, and the elegant promenade provides a wonderful setting for a seafront stroll. Come hungry, leave dazzled.

What to See and Do in San Sebastian

  1. Wander along the Bahia de la Concha. This bay is the centre piece of San Sebastian and stretches all along it’s length. The two delightful beaches (Concha and Ondarreta) are packed in the summer.
  2. Explore the Parte Vieja (the old town) which is crammed below Monte Urgell and provides  a dense collection of fine pintxos (tapas) bars, and wonderful early 19th century architecture.
  3. Whilst in the Parte Vieja have a drink on the Plaza de la Constitucion, admiring the balconied facades and enjoying sea breezes.
  4. Also in the Parte Vieja  stop into the city’s two iconic churches – the Basilica de Santa Maria del Coro and the Iglesia de San Vicente.
  5. If you’re feeling fit, head to the summit of Monte Urgull, the hill behind the old town which offers fantastic views out to sea and down to the city below.
  6. Take the funicular to the top of the other mountain overlooking San Sebastian (Monte Igueldo) at the other end of the Bay and look back across the city for unrivalled views of the bahia de la concha. It is from here that you can truly appreciate the beauty of San Sebastian’s location.
  7. Pintxos! San Sebastian is famed for its array of tapas, always out on the bar top for you to pick and choose from. Simply select what you want, keep the cocktail sticks that are poked into each one and hand them in to pay at the end. There are few greater pleasures in Spain than sauntering from bar to bar in San Sebastian’s old town sampling the creative and delicious tapas on offer.

Where to Stay in San Sebastian

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Reader’s Tips

This section is specifically designed for our readers to share their top tips with other would-be travellers. If you visited a particularly wonderful restaurant, or stayed in a fantastic hotel, or even ate a tremendous local dish, please let us know here! Any tip whatsoever will be greatly appreciated by our Spain loving community of travellers.

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