A May 2004 trip
to San Sebastian by dj_canela
Quote: A true gem of a city awaits you on the Basque coast of Spain. San Sebastian is a laid-back seaside resort with gorgeous beaches and the maze-like Parte Vieja offering the best restaurants, bars, and shopping. Enjoy the promenade (malecon) on a romantic midnight stroll.
Less than 20 miles from the French border, this coastal city enjoys sunny weather throughout the year and sits among rolling green hills. What I remember most is strolling the beach promenade to La Parte Vieja, home to the greatest concentration of bars and restaurants in Spain. Walking late at night through the alleys, I can peek into interesting storefronts featuring traditional Basque clothing, nautical souvenirs, and even hemp lotion. I wander past some young hipsters handing out fliers for discounted admission to local nightclubs.
During the day, I enjoy hiking the trails of Monte Urgull for picture perfect views of San Sebastian, then afterwards, resting on the mini pier in front of the beach club with the other sunbathers, soaking in the sun and watching the world go by. This is the seafood culinary capital of Spain. If you leave here without discovering its gastronomy, well, it would be like visiting Ghirardelli Square and not sampling the chocolate!
We arrived on an overnight train from Paris. Since our hotel was located near Playa Ondarreta, we decided on a taxi to get us there in a timely manner without having to browse bus routes and schedules. During our stay, we did notice protesters scrawling Basque graffiti in one plaza. My Lonely Planet language book even offered translations of Basque graffiti. It turned out to be a peaceful protest.
After a week in San Sebastian, we were looking to continue along the Spanish coast to Santander by bus. The bus station is located halfway to the train station, and the operating hours were very confusing. The loading area was even more confusing, as it was located down the street from where you buy tickets. If you plan on departing the city by bus, I recommend setting aside at least part of a day to find the bus station, purchase the tickets, and look for the loading area so that the day you depart, you already know where you have to be on the day of departure.
Only a few blocks from Playa Ondarreta, the hotel offers clean, average rooms. The hotel website mentions that it is currently undergoing renovations, so any complaints from websites will no longer be valid. Ladies: the front desk staff at night is a GORGEOUS Basque boy. I booked this hotel online a few days prior to arrival, with buffet breakfast included in the rate. I didn't mind that it wasn't centrally located, as the bus stop in front of the hotel offers quick service to La Parte Vieja. Plus, every day in San Sebastian concluded with a nice leisurely stroll along the beach walk back to my hotel. You'll pay less to stay on this side of the bay.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 20, 2005
Avda Zumalacarregui 21
San Sebastian, Spain 20008
Fabulous! This is one of my favorite restaurants in the world. Located in La Parte Vieja, this restaurant is run by a hardworking brother and sister from Venezuela. We had asked around town for recommendations, and each person we spoke to referred to this place. The downstairs is a bar, with stairs to the restaurant on the second floor. From the restaurant, you will enjoy views of Isla de Santa Clara. I dined here with my dad, feasting on appetizers, a bottle of red wine, the main course, and dessert. Our bill was less than $100. I don't consider myself a foodie, but after this dining experience, I just may change that.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 19, 2005
C/ Puerto 23
San Sebastian, Spain
943 43 13 59
Attraction | "Recovery from Tanorexia"
Considered one of the most beautiful city beaches in Europe, San Sebastian actually has three beaches: Playa de La Concha, Playa de Ondarreta, and La Zurriola. You can count a fourth beach if you include Isla de Santa Clara, the tiny island in the middle of the bay that has a lighthouse and small wharf with ferry service available from the harbor. July and August will bring the most crowds to the beach. La Concha is the most crowded beach, but Ondaretta has the best swimming. Remember that in Europe they do sunbathe topless.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 19, 2005
La Concha, Ondarreta & La Zurriola Beaches
Throughout San Sebastian
San Sebastian, Spain
Attraction | "Bric a Brac"
Bric à Brac
San Jerónimo, 12
San Sebastián-Donostia, Spain 20003
+34 94 342 5360
K. Nagusia/C. Mayor, 3
San Sebastian, Spain
San Jose, California