This summer we were in Ireland for our friend’s wedding, and Dave and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to explore a little more of Europe before heading back to the US. We were looking for a place, that had a few of the things we love: ocean/beaches, really good food, and culture. So we landed on San Sebastian, Spain! It was our first time traveling to Spain and in the little time we had, it was fairly quick and inexpensive to get from Dublin to San Sebastián. We were only there for three days so we wanted something convenient, accessible, and easy to get around. I’ll give you a breakdown of our two day trip and the places I consider must-dos if you decide to travel to this vibrant coastal town.
When we first arrived in San Sebastián we got breakfast at our hotel which has a Michelin star restaurant and the breakfast and room service are prepared by the same chef, Paulo Airaudo. So you know it was going to be delicious! The hotel, Hotel Villa Favorita, is a beautiful boutique hotel that overlooks La Concha Bay.
After breakfast, we changed into our bathing suits and jumped into the ocean right across from the hotel. San Sebastian has 3 main beaches: La Concha, Ondarretta, and Zurriola. La Concha and Ondarreta are family favorites with smaller waves and makeup La Concha Bay.
For lunch, we went to one of my trip favorites, Maun Grille Bar. Maun is located in a grocery store, Mercado San Martin. It was such an immersive experience as it had a few high-top tables and we were surrounded by fresh produce and the butcher. San Sebastian and Basque country are known for a very simple and minimalist cooking style in order to let the fresh ingredients shine. Our first plate was small green Shishito peppers that they grill on a skillet. We then had the best mushrooms I’ve ever had in my entire life. I rarely speak in absolutisms but they were THAT good. There was a sunny side egg that they placed on top and mix it all together, my mouth is watering thinking about it! They also had cheesecake that tasted of cheese more than a typical cheesecake, but this one was so delectable and smooth.
That night we went to one of the nineteen Michelin star restaurants in San Sebastián, Bodegon Alejandro. The city boasts the largest amount of Michelin star restaurants per square kilometer! We enjoyed a delicious eight-course meal made from seasonal ingredients. Can you believe we got a multi-course meal of unique dishes with wine for two for just over $100? That was pretty typical for all of the places we went!
To start off day 2, I went for a run by myself. Running is always a great way to see a new city! Just know it will be leisurely because you will want to stop often and take photos.
After breakfast at the hotel again, Dave and I rented electric bikes. This is something I highly recommend because the area is not that big and you will be able to see beautiful spots along the coast. We rode to Zurriola beach which has larger waves and we got to surf!
Later in the afternoon, we were able to just wander and explore. There were so many little eateries that have pintxos, which are small finger foods served throughout the Basque Country. We always took recommendations from the waiters because locals know best. When it comes to spirits, I really enjoyed the Albariño wine, from the Galicia region in northern Spain and Txakoli which is local to the basque region. Both white wines are light, refreshing, and dry.
One of the highlights of this area is all of the eateries, and pinxtos restaurants all in a row, with a cobble stone street only for pedestrians. After the beach we wanted to try as much food as possible so we stopped by a couple different casual restaurants, where you order pintxos at the counter and then find your seat either outside, or in the restaurant. The dried leg of pork that many restaurants have sitting on their countertops, where they would thinly slice and simply place on a plate, was definitely a favorite and we ordered a few times. The seafood was also incredibly fresh, and we ordered a few new things, but also loved to eat some of our favorites like grilled octopus and oysters.
For dinner, we went to Restaurante Astelena. It had a fancier vibe but had the same seasonal fresh food we’ve become accustomed to in San Sebastian. Know that it is normal here to eat dinner at 9:30 at night! The streets are still so lively and fun after dinner.
Hotel: Hotel Villa Favorita
Dining: Maun Grille Bar & Bodegon Alejandro
Activities: Swimming at La Concha beach, renting bikes and exploring the coast, surfing at Zurriola beach, exploring the city by stopping at different bars and enjoying pintxos along the way, & drinking the local wine!
Looks like a really fun trip. Full of culture, food, and movement – my favorite type!
What perfect timing! Just booked 3 days in the San Sebastián area after a business meeting in Barcelona, and have been researching places to eat, hikes in the area, cider houses etc. Done!
My husband and I are going there in December for our anniversary. I can’t wait. Thanks for posting your recommendations.
Gahhhh I studied abroad there and loved every minute of it. Thank you for sharing your experience ❤️