San Sebastian, the city of surfing and food. My two favorite things in the world. This makes it no surprise that San Sebastian might just be one of my favorite cities in Europe. The two combined will keep me busy for days, if not weeks or months, or maybe just forever. Since the rest of the world thinks Barcelona and Madrid are the places to be in Spain, San Sebastian is also quite undiscovered and you won’t be stumbling over tourists at all. To convince you to visit this beautiful city in the Basque country, I’ll share with you a few of my favorites…

playa zurriola surfing beach san sebastian spain

1. Favorite thing to do

Like I said, the city of food and surfing. Playa Zurriola is the most well-known beach for surfing literally in San Sebastian. Make sure you go here early mornings or for sunset sessions because during the day this beach is just as much a tanning and flaunting beach as it is a surf beach. Therefore it might be a bit more of a mission to avoid the crowd. With a beach break, both right and left-handers, and multiple peaks, there’s something for everyone. The best time to surf is definitely between September and December. The swell picks up, while the holiday crowds stay away.

2. Favorite bar

I spend a few summers working on a surf camp in Vieux Boucau and every Tuesday it was San Sebastian day! While we girls were most excited to get our ZARA fix, the boys found a spot to drinks some beers. And what a spot it was. Baptized Spot X so not too many people would find out about it, this little bar on Mount Urgull became everyone’s favorite place to hang out on those Tuesdays. This probably is the most basic bar of San Sebastian, but the view definitely makes up for it. It doesn’t matter at which moment of the day you visit this little hideaway, cause the views over San Sebastian and its beautiful bay will blow you away any time. It’s very hidden, so don’t give up if you can’t find it right away!

Sunset view over San Sebastian Spain
food atari gastroteka pintxos donostia san sebastian restaurant spain

3. Favorite restaurant

San Sebastian is the food capital of Spain with loads of Michelin star restaurants. Not that you have to visit those to eat well, because the city is covered with bars and restaurants that will serve you amazing food for just a dime. Every time I go back to San Sebastian I try to find new places to eat, but there’s one spot I just refuse to skip; Atari Gastroteka! Not only do they serve amazing food, but the place turns into a very fun and buzzing bar as well.  Enjoy some traditional pintxos or order the pulpo or Cote de Boeuf off the grill. No matter what you’ll choose, you’re in for a treat. Is the place too crowded? Get your food and crash on the steps of the square in front of it… Enjoy Spanish life as it is supposed to be.

4. Favorite view

It is quite the climb, but so worth it. Go up to Mount Urgull for the most stunning views over San Sebastian and the basque country. Do take the scenic route up so you get a glimpse of the bays around San Sebastian as well. After you climbed your way to the top, seen the 360 views, walk slightly down and get a well-deserved drink at our favorite bar mentioned earlier.

view over san sebastian beach basque country spain
Old historic center of San Sebastian

5. Favorite neighborhood

A proper tourist attraction, but not without reason. The old historic town of San Sebastian is a maze of narrow streets filled with bars and restaurants where the wine is poured all day long and the delicious pintxos will make you hungry even if you just finished breakfast. If you’re visiting San Sebastian, make sure you stay in this neighborhood so you can crawl back home after too much food and sangria.

San Sebastian: ticking all holiday boxes

Hopefully, we got you inspired with our favorites. San Sebastian really got it all. Beaches, history, beautiful architecture, amazing food, good waves, and such friendly people. Indulge in the Spanish lifestyle with late-night dinners, big lunches, lots of dancing, and great Rioja wine. Have you got more favorites for us? We would love you to share them with us since I guess we’ll be back pretty soon again.
Hasta luego!


san sebastian city view beach ocean spain

Photos by: M. Barends, J. Roeland©

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