Everyone knows that the Vasque country is known for its food and culinary culture, the pintxos is the star of any trip to Donostia. A pintxo is a piece of bread with something on top it can be a Spanish omelette, a sausage with onion etc...
What to do in San Sebastian
There are plenty of things to do in the city, and it is perfect to spend a weekend, I will show you around the options you have and our favorites. A short getaway gives you enough time to go around and visit the main tourist points. San Sebastian is in the north of Spain so it is chilly even in summer, get a thin jacket and in winter as we went, put the hat on and the globes along with a good coat.
City bus tour
There is a city bus that stops in every interesting spot in the city, it costs 12 euros per person and takes you from the city centre, to La Concha beach that is the main interest. Sant Sebastian has Igeldo hill in one end and Urgul hill in the other, surrounded by mountatin, you can hike up there or take public transport to get there.
You can get on and get off the bus with your ticket during 24 hours so you can see every piece of town, and you can use it as well as a transport to move around.
A cosy old town with houses made of stone, pintxo bars and seafood restaurants all around as well as shops, from famous brands to artisans and delicatessen shops. If you are interested in buying some local products, I would recommend Idazábal cheese a typical one but there are many good ones from the area too.
The cathedral is a must see building, and walking through the river and seeing the sea, a bit wild in the north of Spain is a good way to spend your afternoon. The centre of old town is Plaza de la Constitución surrounded by bars and restaurants. There is also a market called La Bretxa, it is now a shopping centre and also has the traditional market too where you can buy the groceries.
Aquarium and fishermen's area
If you walk along the bay you will get to the end where the harbour is, there are boats of different kinds and they have a school where they teach how to sail too. We actually saw children with a sailing boat one for each learning how to do it going to Santa Clara's island.
There are fish shops in the area and the houses are so pretty, colorful mixed with white, wooden windows and doors, very authentic. It looks like being in a little town of the coast but you are actually in a city.
At the end of the breakwater is the Aquarium, one of the most popular attractions in town, receives around 300k visits a year. The Aquarium is located in a building from 1928 and has two floors, they have an skeleton of a northern whale and they have many parts of the aquarium dedicated to the Bay of Biscay. There are more than 200 species and it is famous because of their 360º tunnel and their selection of tropical species.
Pintxos in Sant Sebastian
I was amazed at the wide variety of pintxos available in the different restaurants, the street where all starts is Fermin Calbetón street in the old town, if you don't have a lot of time to experiment other areas of the city, the old town is your place to eat.
When you get into a bar, you will see at the counter dishes with pintxos on it, so those are the cold pintxos and you can ask for a dish to take the ones you wish. If you would like a hot pintxo, they normally have it in the menu and you need to order them to the waiter. You pay when you finish and not after ordering, no worries, the waiter knows exactly what you had, they have an amazing memory.
Every bar has its star pintxo, look around and you will probably see all tables with the same food, what is good is ordered all the time, order what you see in others or ask what is the best one in the bar.
Bernardo Etxea: the best oysters I tried, Galician and very big. We ordered fried calamari, very good and a lot of quantity, if you can order half dishes you will be able to order a mix of more to taste.
Casa Tiburcio: a bit overrated, hot and cold pintxos are good, we loved the onion morcilla.
- Casa Gandarias: try their rice with mushrooms and Idazábal cheese, they have good foie pintxo too
We had the pleasure to eat at Mirador de Ulía a Michelin star restaurant located in a privileged location in the Ulía hill and you can see all Sant Sebastian bay from the top. We went for dinner and it was beautiful to see all the lights and the city.
We had à la carte dinner with wine and it cost 135 euros for the two of us, good value for money and I found it cheap to be in a Michelin star restaurant. We ordered some "fritos" to share, they call it fritos, a dish of different fried starters such as croquettes of different kinds, puffs etc... And as a main we had duck with apple compote and sirloin. All delicious and the service magnificent, we had two waiters paying attention of our table, taking care of us and serving us bread, water and wine when needed.