San Sebastian: A Basque Country Escape

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Advisor - Daryn Schwartz
Curated By

Daryn Schwartz

  • Boutique Travel

  • Spain

  • San Sebastián

  • City Travel

  • Food & Wine

  • Arts & Culture

  • Off-the-Beaten-Path Travel

  • Nature Escapes

  • Road Trip Travel

  • Foodie

  • Coastal

  • Outdoors

view of rolling green hills and fields on a sunny day from under a wooden trellis
Curator’s statement

San Sebastian is the perfect coastal escape, found in the Northern Basque region of Spain. It is a great change of pace if you're visiting from the hustle and bustle of Barcelona or Madrid. This town offers incredible pintxos, bite sized food that can be found at every corner in their charming Old Town.

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Where to stay in San Sebastian

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Things to do in San Sebastian

a man in a black coat walks down a narrow cobblestone street in day
  • San Sebastian is a food mecca, earning 2nd place for the city with the most Michelin star restaurants. My number one recommendation is to sign up for a pintxo tour. This is the best way to sample pintxos from several of the top spots in the Old City while avoiding long lines.

  • Relax on La Concha Beach. Pull up an umbrella and join the locals at this popular public beach. If you're brave, jump into the brisk waters of the Bay of Biscay.

  • Stroll the promenade. Take in the views and stop into a local ice cream shop to escape the summer heat.

  • Take the Game of Thrones tour. If you're a fan of the popular HBO show, rent a car or a join a guided tour to see where Dragonstone was filmed. Even if you're not a fan of the show, it's an incredible site to see.

Places to eat & drink in San Sebastian

sun beam shines down over a wooden door entrance to a restaurant that reads, "etxebarri."

San Sebastian is known for their pintxos, an appetizer or tapa served on bread or a toothpick. You can wander down any street and see people lined up at several establishments. No matter where you end up, know you'll find great food! Here are my top 2 picks and what to get at each:

  • Antonio Bar - If you're lucky, get their tortilla, similar to an American omelette but better! They serve it first thing in the morning and mid-day but hurry because it goes fast!

  • Ganbarra - This is one of my favorites, you can't go wrong with any of their bites.

After all of those pintxos expect to have a sweet tooth. This is when your next stop, La Viña comes in handy. They serve incredible, creamy basque cheesecake. Expect a line around the corner because this is a popular spot.

If you're looking for something more formal I encourage you to get away from the city and venture out into the Basque countryside. San Sebastian is famous for two restaurants that are a trek from downtown but well worth the drive.

  • Elkano is a quaint seafood restaurant in Getaria overlooking the sea. They are known for their wood-fired cooking technique and ever popular whole turbot dish that will leave you picking at bones at the end of your meal. After an incredible meal, you can wander around the quite town of Getaria, admiring the green and blue shuttered windows that lead you down to the water.

  • Asador Etxebarri is another must visit if you're in the area. I had the pleasure of experiencing an 8 hour lunch, enjoying incredible wines from one of the best cellars in the world. The food is unlike anything I've every had. I dined on local sea food, including gooseneck barnacles or 'Percebe' which required a lesson on preparation before digging in. They are most known for their flame grilled cooking of seafood and meats. The restaurant itself is a quaint rustic stone building overlooking the rolling hills of Basque Country. It is not only a meal but an experience.

Advisor - Daryn Schwartz

Travel Advisor

Daryn Schwartz

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Spain.