The simple act of flying over San Sebastián, surrounded by lush green covered mountains and nestled by the Bay of Biscay, draws you into a magical landscape appropriate for small hobbits and mischievous nymphs. But get a bit closer, and not just the dense forest landscape that appeals to you, it’s the richness of the culture, the diversity of people and the insanely delicious food that greats you around every corner.
If you’re a music fan, you’ll appreciate San Sebastián’s Jazz Festival – called Jazzaldia – the longest, continuously running Jazz Festival in Europe, followed by The Musical Fortnight featuring classical music concerts throughout the city. In September, the San Sebastián International Film Festival attracts cinema lovers from around the world, not to mention classic theaters such as the Kursaal and the Victoria Eugenia Theater.
Stroll down Concha one of Europe’s most stunning city beaches with its vast promenades and upscale restaurants, or head to Playa de la Zurriola (Zurriola Beach), also known as Playa de Gros, where you can watch athletic surfers tackle massive waves. For the city lover, Parte Vieja (Old Town), is said to rival Logroño’s Calle Laurel for the number of bars set in one area, or meander the Centro Romántic, with its quaint familiar shops, lined with the handsome façades of Art Nouveau buildings.
But we all know that food and wine are really your calling, and San Sebastián is renown for its gastronomic decadence. San Sebastián, and the surrounding parts of the Basque country, is home to an incredibly high concentration of restaurants exulting Michelin stars, such as Arzak (San Sebastián), Berasategi (Lasarte), and Mugaritz (Errenteria). But these are a particular type of experience. Where the real gastronomic treasure lies is in the Old Quarter, where a trusted guide can expertly guide you to some of the best of Basque cuisine, such as: Kokotxas (hake cheeks), Txangurro (spider crab), or Percebes (gooseneck barnacles) – not to mention the myriad of pintxos (tapas) worthy of exploring.
For the wine lover, the region of Pais Vasco is home of Txacoli (Chacoli), a light bodied white wine that is cider-like in style, with often, but not always, a slight spritz. This effervescence can either be experienced in local bars by a lanky bartender pouring the wine from a great heights into a small tumbler like glass, or can be enjoyed on a full day tour in a the surrounding vineyards. Typically accompanied by traditional Basque lunch, you can take in stunning vineyards, gorgeous wineries, local culture, and if you’re very lucky, meet one of the famed members of the historic gastronomic society – the core organization that has helped Basque cuisine make its international mark!
Below find our current list of recommended cuilnary experiences to be enjoyed in and around San Sebastián.