Georgina Clarke gives us a one day itinerary of the beautiful Spanish coastal town that is San Sebastian
10am: the funicular up to Monte Igueldo
At the far end of the Playa de la Concha beach, take the funicular up the steep hill of Monte Igueldo. On reaching the top you will find a stunning view of San Sebastian that encompasses two of the three beaches, Santa Clara Island, and most of the city behind them. Enjoy the view with a drink at the café, or take advantage of the theme park at the top of this hill, complete with trampolines and a house of horrors.
12pm: Miramar Park and Palace
On your way back to the Old Town for lunch, you will walk past this beautiful building, now used as a conservatoire, so for this reason the Palace isn’t open to visitors. Surrounded by greenery and overlooking the beach, it makes for a pretty pit-stop for travellers whose feet are becoming tired.
As mentioned, a primary reason for being in Donostia, its name in the local language, Basque, is its food. All of the bars in the Old Town will have tapas lined up on the bar ready for their many visitors, and it’s hard to find a bar that doesn’t impress. Head to the Plaza de la Constitucion, where you will find Astelena Taberna on the corner. Here, half the bar is filled with ready-to-eat delights such as goat’s cheese and honey on bread, and the other half gives its space to raw dishes which, once requested, are whisked into the kitchen for cooking. My personal favourites were the tempura style prawns and the mini risotto, which I enjoyed with some of their fantastic red wine.
3pm: The Beach
Your afternoon activity will depend on how heavily you involved yourself at lunchtime. If like me and my friend, you got so overexcited at the food that you just had to keep trying more things, you’ll most likely be lying on the sprawling beach for most of the afternoon trying to recover. Should you have happened to be more sensible about it all, a surfing lesson is a must while in one of the most popular Spanish spots for the sport. The Playa de Zurriola is the beach for surfers, surrounded by shops and companies that will rent you their equipment, and you can also take part in surfing lessons, though if you are on a budget just rent a wetsuit and board, as once in the water there are plenty of surfers more than willing to give you hints and tips!
8pm: Drinks and, you guessed it, more food
After a calimotxo on the seafront, a drink typical to northern Spain made up of red wine and coca cola that tastes better than it sounds, I would strongly recommend you go to La Cuchara for evening pintxos, or even a sit down meal. It’s a slightly different set up in that the food isn’t on the bar and you order from a menu, but it has the same bustling atmosphere as all the tapas bars and I cannot overstate how wonderful the food is there, all beautifully cooked and very reasonably priced. All of us couldn’t stop raving about the vieria (scallop) with bacon. It was huge, perfectly soft and just… delicious! The veal in red wine came a close second, slowly falling off the bone…
After a night of experiencing the bars in the Old Town, Olga’s Place is a great hostel to rest your head. Close to everything with a friendly atmosphere that feels more like someones flat than a hostel, it was the perfect base for our few culinary-centric days in San Sebastian.