San Sebastian, Spain

I’m heading to San Sebastian in early October and this is the recommendation I have received from a friend’s friend who is a native Donostian. I’ll be dining at Azurmendi, Asador Etxebarri, Mugaritz, Arzak, and Martin Berasategui.

“Dear Lilly,

This is a great time to visit Donostia, the weather should still be warm enough. The city is pretty scenic so walking around the city centre, the old part of the city, and La Concha bay is definitely something you should do. The old part is also know for the bars where they serve ‘pintxos’, a basque version of tapas. Even if you already have meal plans, I would recommend visiting a few of these bars. They’re very traditional and it’s one the most distinctive features of the gastronomy in Donostia. You’ll see when you walk through the old part that there are plenty of nice bars, but just to name a few:

http://www.restaurantegandarias.com/es/
http://www.barzeruko.com
http://barnestor.com (Great tortilla de patata and tomato salad)
http://www.bartxepetxa.com (Anchovies are great here)

The walk from the old part of the city to Paseo Nuevo (a maritime walk next to the sea) is very enjoyable and leads to the aquarium and the port. If you feel like climbing a bit (15 mins) you can go up mount (it’s really more of a hill) Urgull, there you’ll see the remains of the old fortress and the view of the bay is great. From the port it’s straightforward to get to the town hall and from there a walk next to La Concha beach, a beautiful urban beach. Since it’s facing northwest, on a clear day, the sunset from the terrace of Hotel Londres is spectacular. A good place to have a drink before going for dinner… Many streets next to El Buen Pastor cathedral are closed to traffic and nice to stroll, it’s the shopping area of the city and the walk to Plaza Gipuzkoa and the Boulevard it’s beautiful and gives a sense of the bourgeoisie past of the city.

There are also a few activities that you might enjoy. September and October are usually good for waves in Donostia. There are some surf schools in Zurriola beach where they rent surf boards and have lessons too. If you’re lucky with the tides, you might have a chance to have tons of fun with the waves. You’ll also get to visit Zurriola and the Kursaal this way, one of my favourite spots in Donostia, not as touristy as La Concha beautiful on it’s own.

Another nice plan is to visit the thalassotherapy spa La Perla:

http://www.la-perla.net/en/

It has a great view and since it has a direct access to the beach, on a cold day you can go for a quick swim in the sea and get back to the warmth inside. The bay is very safe for swimming, the island provides a natural protection against waves and the water is very calm. If you’re into swimming, you can swim to the island (roughly 1000m) and enjoy the view from its lighthouse. If you start swimming from Ondarreta beach instead the distance is significantly reduced.

For a great view of the city, the theme park at the top of mount Igeldo is unbeatable. Moreover, you get to see old the basque coast to the coast, and on clear days the french coast too. There’s an old funicular that takes you all the way up and the theme park is kind of charming. The old swiss roller coaster gives you a great view too:

Going out at night is quite interesting. Since you’ll be there on a weekend, you’ll see that the streets of the old part of the city get packed at night (10:00pm – 3:00 am). There are lots of nice bars to go to for a drink and some nice music, I specially like
http://www.barbebop.com
http://www.etxekalte.com
but there are lots of nice places to go out scattered through the city.

I think this is probably enough material to cover a couple of days.”

Hopefully, this will be as helpful to me as it is to other globetrotters out there!

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