Located on the north coast overlooking the Bay of Biscay, San Sebastián – or Donostia, as it’s known in the local Basque (Euskara) language – is a cosmopolitan city that has long been a favorite vacation spot for Spaniards and Europeans who flock here to enjoy the sandy beaches and beautiful seaside promenade. Besides being known for its beauty, San Sebastián is also considered a mecca for foodies. Its Basque cuisine is heralded the world over, and only Kyoto, Japan has a higher concentration of Michelin star restaurants per square kilometer. The 25 km. radius that surrounds the City Hall can be considered a food lover’s paradise.
San Sebastián is also well known for the International Film Festival that has been hosted annually since 1953. Every year at the end of September filmmakers, producers and famous actors from all over the world descend upon this charming city to celebrate the films that have been selected for inclusion in the festival.
The city’s most prominent feature is the picture-perfect La Concha Beach, named after its seashell shape. But there’s more to San Sebastián than just a beach. Visitors can stroll through the pedestrian-friendly Parte Vieja (Old Town), lined with restaurants, bars and shops. Food lovers can enjoy the wide range of pintxos bars that offer traditional Basque food and wine. Pintxos are the Basque version of tapas, and both locals and visitors can be found going from bar to bar sampling the amazing dishes offered as a type of culinary “pintxos crawl” in the Old Town in the evenings.
Located on either end of La Concha are two mountains that anchor the beach like bookends. On the western side of town is Monte Igueldo. It can be accessed via a funicular and offers panoramic views of the bay from its hilltop. Visitors will also find an old fashioned amusement park and a 16th C. tower (El Torreón) at the peak. On the opposite eastern side of town, close to the Old Town, is Monte Urgull, home to the 12th C. Mota Castle that hosts the History House Museum.
Photo credit: Tom Page
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