It boasts some of the best beaches in Spain. La Concha, widely referred to as Europe’s best city beach, a golden crescent of gorgeousness smack-bang in the centre of town and Ondarrea are good for swimming and soaking up the sun, while for serious surfers, Zurriola beach is the stuff of legend
San Sebastian is a gastronomic paradise with 10 Michelin-starred eateries!
No trip is complete without feasting on its unique pintxos – Basque tapas. Served on a small piece of bread and topped with mushrooms, cheese or seafood, as well as a scrumptious sauce, each pintxo costs about €3. Make like a local and go from bar to bar, gorging on pintxos and beer as you go.
Bars get going about midnight and stay open until the early hours. When you’re ready for a proper feed, the town boasts a slew of attractive fish restaurants serving fresh catch.
Basques love to party and San Sebastian boasts an array of festivals all year round.
Celebrate Lord Wellington’s capture of San Sebastian from French troops in 1812 at the Festividad de San Sebastian in January.
Carnaval takes place in February and the International Jazz Festival is held in July – previous big-name acts include James Brown, Liza Minnelli and BB King.
The glitterati roll into San Sebastian in their droves in September for the Film Festival, which showcases the best of world cinema.
Get the camera out
Hike up Monte Urgull, where you’ll find a giant statue of Christ as well as amazing views across Concha Bay and the city. San Sebastian’s old quarter (Parte Vieja) is full of narrow streets, lined with characterful buildings – a delight for snap-happy tourists. It’s also bursting with drinking holes.
Mosey around Centro Romantic, where you’ll find hip boutiques tucked behind Art Nouveau facades.
Get out of town
Begin with a picturesque coastal drive to Bilbao and along the way, stop at Sopelana beach, popular with surfers. If you enjoy getting your kit off, head to Barinatxe Nudist beach.
In Bilbao, you’ll find the acclaimed Guggenheim Museum of Modern Art, and a picturesque Old Town bursting with atmospheric bars serving up pintxos.
And a random fact
San Sebastian was a small fishing port until the 19th century, when Spanish royalty (led by King Alfonso XII of Spain’s widow Maria Cristina) decided to start spending their summers here, transforming it into a glitzy holiday town.
When to go: San Sebastian’s climate is mild all year round, with temperatures peaking from June to August. Nights can be cool, even in the summer.
Getting there: Fly to Barcelona, Madrid, Bilbao or Biarritz and catch a train or bus to San Sebastian.
Visas: South Africans need a Schengen visa.
Currency: Euro. 1 GBP = 1.42 EUR (July 2015)
Language: Spanish and Basque.
Getting around: It’s easy to explore on foot.
Going out: A beer costs about €3.
Accomodation: Hostels start from €25 per night. Prices rise steeply during the film festival in September, and during summer.