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Best for: gourmands

San Sebastian is hog heaven if you’re fussy about food. Though the city is famous for its galaxy of Michelin stars – Arzak, for example, with its three sparklers, has retained its place in the top 10 world’s best restaurants for almost a decade – you can eat top-notch tucker for a fraction of the price at any average-looking bar in San Seb.

Just plough into the scrum at la barra (the bar), where an assortment of pintxos are laid out, and stack them up in a sort of Spanish gastronome’s version of Yo! Sushi.

Some places have their pintxos chalked up on a board, but you can safely play Lucky Dip, because whatever gets served up will be sublime enough to make an alpha male weep.

There are chorizos, cheeses, melt-in-the-mouth-hams, juicy peppers, wild mushrooms, caviar, crusty bread. Look out for a specialty, tiger mussels, which come drenched in olive oil, chili and bechamel sauce.

The best ploy is to embark on a pintxo crawl – so hit up a number of bars and order a dish and a drink at every stop. This way you can try an array of dishes at varying prices.

Top tip: Pintxos generally cost about €3 (about £2) each, but it’s easy to get carried away and let the bill mount up. Decide how much you’re happy on spending before you start, and only take that much cash with you.

The temptation to blow the budget will be too great otherwise – trust us.

Best for: couples

San Sebastian is unabashedly romantic. The scenery – crashing waves on one side, soaring Pyrenees on the other – is made for a sunset. In fact, the whole vibe of the city is an elaborate lead-in to getting busy: sumptuous food, fine wines, beach-based frolics.

We suggest you stroll hand-in-hand up Monte Urgull for incredible views (there’s a path from Plaza de Zuloaga). At the top, get your picture with the giant statue of Christ, then watch the sky’s light dim over the vista.

For the lazier Casanova, take your missus up the funicular (not a euphemism), which starts at Ondaretta beach in the west of town and stops at the top of Monte Igueldo, on the opposite side from Urgull.

Couples can get misty-eyed over yet more heart-lifting views across Concha bay.

Top tip: To really impress, book a session at beachside spa La Perla. Right on La Concha, you can follow up a pamper session with sunbathing. Two hours in the spa costs from £20pp.


Basque in the glory of San Sebastian: one of Europe's top places for surf, food and beaches
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