Luxury Foodie's Guide to San Sebastian
Food & Wine
San Sebastían is tucked away in northern Spain's Basque Country. It is ideally located on the Bay of Biscay and surrounded by beaches and mountains for the surfing and hiking enthusiasts. More importantly it's a food lovers paradise with pintxo (similar to tapas) bars on every corner and the second most Michelin star restaurants per capita in the world. The best time to visit is between May and June, however if you want to avoid the crows I would recommend going in the fall!
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Where to stay
Hotel Maria Cristina, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Sebastian
A hallmark of the city of San Sebastian, this regal Spanish hotel offers top tier hospitality and was once a favorite destination for royalty and aristocrats of yesteryear.
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Hotel Lasala Plaza
This stylish boutique hotel sits directly on the picturesque La Concha bay and in a peaceful corner of the buzzing Old Town.
Hotel Villa Favorita
A luxury boutique hotel located within a 17th-century villa featuring a two Michelin star restaurant.
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Early check-in or late check-out whenever possible.
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Things to do
Parte Vieja (Old Town)
This is the heart of San Sebastían and a great place to explore shops and get the best pintxos. You can also find Plaza de la Constitucíon, San Vicente Church and Santa Maria del Coro Church
Pintxo hopping (txikiteo)
Pintxo bars will display an array of pintxos or small bits on their counter which look as good as they taste. Before getting too excited about the display, the best pintxos are always made to order which can typically be found on a menu displayed at the bar. There is an art to txikiteo which roughly translates to bar hopping or a food crawl. Locals typically go from bar to bar eating the best pintxos and txakoli. The best pintxos can be found in Parte Viejo.
Tip: Don't be afraid to be a little aggressive and head right to a waiter behind the bar, and ask what their specialty is!
Mercado La Bretxa
The city’s most important market dating back to 1871. The last big renovation did convert some of the market into a mall, but definitely still worth visiting for all of the food lovers. Underground you can still discover a big variety of local produce and all the fresh ingredients that are used in the famous Basque cuisine.
This is a must do for spectacular panoramic views of the Bay of Biscay, La Concha Beach and Monte Urgull. The quickest way up is to take the funicular for about 3 euros round-trip, but you can also walk or bike up to the top as well. The best views can be found walking - it's about 2 miles roundtrip!
Monte Urgull/Castillo de la Mota
Directly opposite of Mount Igueldo, you can find stunning views of the bay and city from a top. It is a very easy hike and at the summit you can explore Castillo de la Mota and Sagrado Corazon. There is no entrance fee, which is a win!
San Sebastían to Pasaia Hike
This was my favorite hike in all of San Sebastían. This is a part of Camino de Santiago del Norte and is about 9.5 miles one-way but totally worth it. You hike all along the coast with amazing views and eventually it takes you into the town of Pasaia which is very quaint. You can hop on the public bus which will take you right back to San Sebastían.
Playa de la Concha
Located right next to Parte Vieja, this beach offers stunning views of Monte Igueldo, Mote Urgull and Santa Clara Island. This is a great beach for families, but be aware of the crowds during summer!
This beach is a surfers dream and best to visit for surfing in the fall and winter. Close to Parte Viejo and along the beach are tons of great surf shops.
Santa Clara Island
This is a tiny island off the coast which offers great views of the city and a small beach. It can be accessed by ferry from May to August.
Places to eat & drink
Restaurante Arzark: For my food lovers, this is a 3-start Michelin Restaurant and it did not disappoint at all. It offers a unique twist to traditional basque dishes. I did the tasting menu and it still holds down as one of my all time best restaurants - it is totally worth the splurge!
Elkano: About 25 minutes outside of San Sebastían in the coastal town of Getaria and another Michelin star restaurant that will not disappoint. Seafood is their specialty here offering the freshest options and a little more affordable than Arzak.
Pintxo Bars & Specialty Items
Ganbara: Setas Salteadas (wild mushrooms) with foie gras and their crab tarts.
Borda Berri: Risotto de Idiazabal (local cheese) and ravioli de txipi (squid ink ravioli).
Gandarias: Seared foie gras (foie a la plancha), the beef (solomillo), shrimp (brocheta de gambas) and Uni/Sea Urchin.
Casa Urola: Pulpo con papada (octopus with pork), hojaldre de Idiazabal y hongos (pastry with wild mushrooms, pine nuts and cheese).
La Cuchara de San Telmo: Carrillera (beef cheek) and the Cochinillo (suckling pig).
Bar Sport: Beef cheeks and foie a la plancha.
Hondarribia: It's a coastal town right on the French Basque Border about a 25 minute drive from San Sebastían.
Txakoli Wine Tour: Visit a family run Txakoli Winery, a traditional basque wine served alongside pinxtos. It's a slightly sparkling wine white not to be missed when visiting San Sebastian. A number of Txakoli Wineries can be found just outside of San Sebastían city centre.
Rioja: this can be done in a day, but would suggest a few days in Spanish wine country. They have great family owned bodegas and very laid back.
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