A trip visiting San Sebastián and local delights.
We travelled from London to Bilbao by plane and then got the direct shuttle bus (run by Pesa/Actia) to San Sebastián main bus station. There is an on-demand stop halfway at Zubratsta, so don’t accidentally get off too early. The trip cost €18 each one way. And is very comfortable. We even managed to pack one week’s essentials in an underwear cabin bag! (That was extremely difficult!)
Our first stop on our culinary tour of San Sebastián and boy did this place start us off strong. Our favourite was the calamari, which was ultra fresh and lightly coated, to enhance the natural flavours
We drank San Miguel beer and Txallios (local white wine)
The bar was full. But we were lucky to get a seat by the window overlooking the sea
In the evening, we headed to Gros, a part of town where locals eat. Our stops were recommended as per the Devour tour on YouTube.
First stop was Cafe Kursaal. The place was empty apart from one other table. The theme was Mexican and we tried pinxto tacos.
Our favourite here was the grilled duck with bean sauce (brass magret)
The wine we had was recommended on another tour that Vani had joined weeks earlier
This restaurant had a better vibe, with more people eating here. The waiters mainly spoke Spanish to us. I tried the famous cider, which is poured from a height to make it more lighter. It’s refreshing and a great accompaniment to the Pintxos. Also it is served one finger at a time. This is so you can move from place to place eating and drinking without getting too drunk (a pintxo crawl)
The Carbon Brie was delicious and light.
The Gilda was the first ever pintxo made. It is a skewer with anchovies, olives and pickled chilly pepper. A great balance of salt and sour.
This was probably my favourite place of the day. It was heaving with people, standing around in this tiny taverna. You just have to push yourself to the front of the bar, like a club in London. You then eat standing up at the bar tables. If you are lucky there will be seats available on the terrace. We had the recommended Foie gras with cider sauce and the slow cooked pork belly. Both were divine. They also served a local beer first made in the 1800s, called Keller. It is manufactured in Donostia itself. We also met an Australian couple here who were recreating a trip they had together 27tears ago prior to having their 3 children. They had so many stories of their lives and were such great company to end our Day 1.
The San Sebastián Aquarium was a great way to spend 2hours indoors. It is a little different to other aquariums I’ve been to, as it has a great emphasis on fishing, boats and the history of the fishing village and bay. It was nice to see the maritime element to the aquarium and not just the spectacular variety of oceanic animals. We decided to visit as it was drizzling outside and out attire wasn’t up for this challenge!
I felt drawn to unleashing my creative side by painting whilst on holiday. So we did a quick stop to a art shop. There was a large variety of art supplies from pens, notepads, needlework and paints. I managed to grab a small travel watercolour set and paint book
We stopped off for a quick coffee break and tried a Basque speciality dessert called Goxua. It’s is a dairy cream filling with a thin layer of cake, topped off with a custard. It was light and fluffy and not too sweet. The perfect dessert for a summers day.
We joined an English speaking free walking tour. Which took us to the old town, and to the bay. We saw churches, basilica and plazas. We had an in depth explanation of the towns history, war with the French and we were given tips on where to visit and eat. It was a good learning experience. The tour guy was named Kai! You pay what you want and most couples paid €10-20. My favourite part was see the bill fighting plaza and learning that the flats surrounding it were required to lend their flat, so royalty and members of the public could rent out and see the bull fighting. But the owners wouldn’t see a penny of this fee, instead it went to the government.
We stopped for a bit of retail therapy at a shop with some nice clothes that actually fit me! The prices were reasonable with most dresses costing €40-50
This spot was listed in multiple sources including the Pintxo app, Vani’s tour and our tour too. It’s prize winning pintxo was Foie Gras las landes. I certainly would agree with that. The other cold Pintxos were average.
This place was on Vani’s food tour and boy did it deliver.
The beef cheek on mash potato was a hit. As was the prawn bruschetta. The wine was delicious too. We were lucky to get a seat, as most tables were reserved for 7:30pm. We arrived at 6pm
This beach is named the shell due to its shape and that Santa Clara island is like the pearl. From our hotel we have a great view of the ocean and sunset. Hotel Catalonia Donastia
Today, I had a training session to attend. So whilst I was immersing myself in all things Listening and Communication, I had the pleasure of having a delivery from my favourite foodie destination in San Sebastián. La Vina’s Burnt Basque Cheesecake is certainly worth the trip for anyone who has a sweet tooth. Has anything changed since I last tried it in 2020? Let’s hope not…
This restaurant was recommended to us by Vani’s your. The service was very slow and the waiters didn’t acknowledge us for quite some time, even though we visited at an off-peak time and the place had emptied out.
However the food was good. The duck with rich gravy, pineapple sauce and yucca chips was good. The mushroom risotto was tasty y, but lacked seasoning, so we needed to add our own salt. Then the octopus which was a large meal (not pintxo) was the best dish, the sauce was a spiced mayo and a tomato salsa vinaigrette.
Clothes shopping for beautiful classic clothing with an edge. All at reasonable prices. I got a dress for €69 and much more
A beautiful scenic walk 30mins with a gradual incline. Or you can take the steps for a much quicker rise. We took the scenic route which took us up the mountain via the sea view. The walk was tranquil with fewer visitors. You could see more of the attractions along the way and there were many seating options and viewpoints for a nice pause to take it all in. We saw the cemetery, which has an idyllic view of the sea and mountain forest. There was a castle and multiple forts with canons. At the top is a Christ statue which was only erected in the last decade. But a good piece of artwork to admire. Once you are up there, you get amazing views of the whole of San Sebastián. We were lucky with the weather, it was overcast and warm. Then once we descended we made our way to our dinner spots before the crowds came
This by far has been our best restaurant. Not only for the food which was excellent on all counts. But also the service which was so much fun, the main waiter is a comedian in Spanish and made us laugh throughout the service. Also the vibe of the place was great (even though we arrived before the rush at 6pm). The music selection was good, it had a nice energy in there. We saw lots of food tours (private and group) visit here, so we know it’s the place to be. Every single dish that we chose was mouthwatering and moreish. We even had two desserts which we didn’t plan for.
We first had the prize winning calamari taco, which had the softest tortilla encasing the freshest crispiest calamari and creamy sauce. The ceviche was tangy and smooth with fresh raw tuna. Then we ordered another round, this time the shredded pork with crispy wonton and guacamole came out, which was a perfect balance both texturally and taste. The desserts were also a hit, first the Torrija which melted in your mouth. A french toast brioche served with sheep’s milk. That went down a treat. The last dessert was a surprise literally, with popping candy crumb, a hidden carbon ice cream encased in a chocolate sphere, which you smash to eat.
I would highly recommend this place and give it a 5/5 for all the dishes
We stopped here after Mendaur, which was probably. Mistake, but we were planning to try one dish only. But as the place only opens at 19:30, we waited for 10mins and there was a long queue that built up behind us. The service was extremely efficient and food turned around super quick. We ate the creamy cheese risotto which was sublime and melt in your mouth. It was made with orzo pasta. Then came the crispy pigs ear, with chimmichuri sauce. It wasn’t so crunchy as I imagined, but still cooked to perfection and had a nice balance with the sharp sauce. Lastly, we had a rich slow cooked pork rib which was cunningly called a ‘kebab’. This was the dish that broke us both. It was super soft and melted in your mouth with a rich sauce. We were just extremely full from the last food stop. So it was a struggle to finish this dish. Luckily the Sidra (cider) helps to cut the rich food and help with digestion. A great stop, with the vibes of a local tavern
We finished off our day with drinks on the rooftop of our hotel watching the sunset on the sea.. unfortunately the sunset was not spectacular as the previous day. But it was a nice chilled end to our busy day
We took the funicular up and down the mount igueldo. At the top you have fantastic views of San Sebastián and the bay. There is also the oldest theme park 100yrs old at the top. We tried the rollercoaster which was the best ride and the water ride. Both roses complete within one minute.. so it’s extremely quick!
A beautiful garden and main house that overlooks the concha beach and sea. A nice place to relax for a few hours and have a picnic at
This was an expensive but tasty lunch at a 5star hotel near the beach. The restaurant downstairs is a two Michellin star restaurant Amelia by Paulo Airnaudo. We needed to book that place 3months in advance, it’s got a movie theme which looks fun.
The ingredients were expensive, as the jamón was melting on my pizza and the dough was fresh. The burger was not so greasy and juicy
A pride or feminist movement parade, with drummers and many people chanting. There were even ‘ladies’ who were removing their T-shirts to roar of cheers from the crowd
By far one of my favourite places to eat in San Sebastián. Every dish was tasty, well made and had surprising twists that worked so well. My favourite was the calamari bolognese. The vibe here is great and it is nicely decorated
Today we were celebrating Paul’s bday with a massage and Spa day. we had a wonderful therapeutic massage and an hour in the spa, which we had mostly to ourselves. It’s a well presented spa and had good service throughout. It had all the facilities like a steam room, sauna, ice pool, jacuzzi with multiple areas and showers, then an aromatherapy shower.
Train from the Real Sociedad fútbol station
This was rated 4.8 on Google. It’s a very local (behind our hotel) bar with homemade pintxo. The food was tasty, but mainly microwaved, which was disappointing. We ate and had a cider and beer for €17 which was a bargain.
My favourite was the fried pork belly
Pastel de Vasco And Mihojas were both delicious and not too sweet. A lovely end to our lunch
For our last night in San Sebastián we celebrated Paul’s bday with a lovely tasting menu seafood dinner at Bokado. It’s the perfect spot for a sunset view, as it’s made out of glass and faces Santa Clara island and the sea. Unfortunately for us, it was a cloudy day and slightly drizzling, so we only got small glimpses of the sun as it made its way down to the sea line.
The tasting menu was great value for money. It cost €57-€68 per person for 5 large courses and unlimited wine, beer, soft drinks and coffees and teas.
Each dish was delicious and made from fresh seafood caught in the nearby port. The dishes were presented delicately and the textures complemented each other well. The only downside was that there was way too much food to eat. After a week of non-stop eating Pintxos sized dishes. These courses seemed huge. We would have been just as happy having half the size of each dish. All in all it was a beautiful end to our day of celebrations