Did you know there is a search box in our website that you can use to easily find content? You’ll find it on the top right corner of the pages. Well, the other day I was reviewing what kind of searches were being done, and I noticed that some people had been trying to find information on the Basque Country. Actually, often travelers will do Barcelona and the Basque Country on the same trip, as being both in the North of Spain they are two areas easy to combine.
So I asked myself: how could I best serve those guests that are visiting Barcelona and the Basque Country in the same trip? So I contacted my friend and colleague Aitor Delgado, a top tour guide and specialist in the Basque Country, and ask him to contribute once more with a guest post in my blog (you can read here and here his other posts about the Basque Country). And this time he’s prepared an article about one of his favorite Basque towns.
And one fantastic fact: we are publishing it today: July 7th, festivity of San Fermín, a very important day in Navarra and the Basque Country!
Ready to explore beyond Catalonia limits? San Sebastian is a wonderful choice
San Sebastian is considered by many one of the most beautiful cities in Spain. Although much smaller in size than Barcelona (ca. 150,000 inhabitants), or maybe because of that, it will give you a wonderful second view of the way of life in this part of Europe. In these last years, the city has become famous thanks to its food, but it has a lot much more to offer.
But let’s go with 5 places in San Sebastian that you should not miss.
These are our San Sebastian favorite places:
Most of the visitors exploring this hill will never grasp the importance of this mountain in the history of the city. San Sebastian was actually founded here in 1180 of the city as a result of the effort of the Navarre Kingdom of strengthening their border with Castille. Little remains from this time, but the castle in the top of the hill and some parts of the park are a surprise for many visitors who climb the mountain to see the Christ statue that can be seen from many areas of the town.
Considered one of the best beaches of Spain already since 1845, when Queen Isabel II chose this beach to take sea water baths. Her example was followed by the Spanish high society, and later on by other queens and kings such as Maria Cristina, Alfonso XII, Queen Victoria from the United Kingdom, etc. A walk along this beach will make you fall in love with San Sebastian (and you can even take a walk under the rain as there is a covered promenade along the beach).
A completely must seen in this city. If after your walk along La Concha you are still not convinced about the beauty of this city, you should try wandering the alleys of the Old Town. Streets like Pescaderia, 31 Agosto or Fermin Calbeton are packed with bars serving incredibly rich food, an explosion of all colours and flavors. Make sure to try also the hot pintxo options. (with your local tourguide you’ll take the most out of the experience).
This is a typical example of a neoclassic square. With quite homogeneous and austere architecture similar to the Plaça Reial of Barcelona, but with brighter colors and the particularity that here you can see some numbers on the top of each balcony (ask your guide what they were for!). This is one of the best places in the city to sit down and have a nice pintxo in an outdoors terrace…
Comb of the winds
At the end of La Concha bay you can find this set of three modern sculptures by artist Eduardo Chillida. But for me the artwork is only part of the magic of the place. Here the sea, and the wind meets San Sebastian city and the mountains. You won’t feel anywhere else the special atmosphere that you can feel here.
AND BONUS! Here are the best San Sebastián views:
Funicular and Igeldo Mountain amusement park
Not far from the Comb of the Winds, you can take a more than 100 years old funicular to climb the Igeldo Mountain. Here you will find an old amusement park dated 1911. But what makes it a gem is really its position, which from where you can enjoy some of the most incredible views over the city of San Sebastian. No visit to San Sebastian is complete without getting here. Enjoy it!
So what about you? Head to the comments below and tells us: Have you ever been to San Sebastian or are planning to visit it?
Aitor Delgado is a Vitoria, Bilbao, San Sebastian & Biarritz local expert and private tour guide. He’s got more than 14 years of experience giving tours, and has traveled to more than 50 countries in the world.