The attractive medieval fishing settlement of Getaria is a world away from nearby cosmopolitan San Sebastián and is a much better place to get a feel for coastal Basque culture. The old village tilts gently downhill to a baby-sized harbour and a short but very pleasant beach, almost totally sheltered from all but the heaviest Atlantic swells. Its safe bathing makes it an ideal family beach.
At the end of the harbour is a forested island known as El Ratón (the Mouse) – though any resemblance to a rodent is only visible after several strong drinks. Perhaps it was this giant mouse that first encouraged the town’s most famous son, the sailor Juan Sebastián Elcano, to take to the ocean. His adventures eventually led him to become the first man to sail around the world, after the captain of his ship, Magellan, died halfway through the endeavour.