Advance Planning

Three months before Book your bed in San Sebastián; book up to six months ahead between Easter and October.

Two months before Reserve a table to remember at Arzak, one of the great restaurants in Spain.

One week before Browse upcoming listings while in town, and plan a rough itinerary; book tours and concert tickets if need be.

Resources

San Sebastián Turismo (www.sansebastianturismo.com) Official city tourism portal with comprehensive info and event listings.

Sisters and the City (www.sistersandthecity.com) Blog by two San Sebastián-based sisters who cover dining, shopping and Basque Country getaways.

Basque Country (www.basquecountry-tourism.com) Regional tourist office site.

Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com/spain) Destination information, bookings, traveller forum and more.

Top Tips

  • To blend in with the locals (and avoid going hungry), adjust your body clock on arrival. In no time at all you'll be eating lunch at 2.30pm and dinner at 9pm.
  • A few words of Spanish can go a long way. English is widely (but not universally) spoken. Even better is to learn a few words in Basque.
  • San Sebastián is a food-obsessed city and you'll miss half the fun if you don't join in – linger over your meals and always ask for the local speciality.
  • Get used to having less personal space and being surrounded by high-volume conversations.
  • Take advantage of scenic walks in the area, which provide a fine counterpoint to the city.

What to Take

  • Passport and/or national ID card (EU citizens).
  • Spanish phrasebook – not everyone speaks English.
  • Money belt, and padlock for your suitcase/backpack.
  • Headphones for bus or train journeys and Skype calls.
  • Two-pin continental Europe travel plug.
  • Earplugs for noisy Spanish nights.

What to Wear

Just about anything goes now, and you'll rarely feel uncomfortable because of what you're wearing. Keep in mind that San Sebastián can be quite cold in winter – come prepared with warm clothing. You should also carry some form of wet-weather gear, as rain is possible year-round. The Basques are generally quite fashion-conscious and well-dressed. When dining out in San Sebastián, you'll fit in if you dress up (think smart casual).

Pre-Departure Checklist

  • With huge airfare differences, check all airlines before booking your flight.
  • Check if you can use your phone in Spain and ask about roaming charges.
  • Book your San Sebastián accommodation to ensure an easy start to your trip.
  • Check the calendar to work out which festivals to visit or avoid.
  • Organise travel insurance.