Introduction

It only takes a few minutes to stroll the length of San Sebastián’s Parte Vieja (Old Quarter), but it might take half a lifetime to sample all the temptations. Every other building seems to house a bar or restaurant, each of which is in intense competition with the others to please the palate.

Explore

Start the morning by San Sebastián’s fishing port watching colourful trawlers return with a fishy bounty that within hours will be artistically gracing plates throughout the city. To see fish with more life to them head next to the city’s impressive aquarium, where blennies vie with sharks for your attention.

For lunch it would be wrong to feast on anything else but seafood. Either head to one of the fish restaurants lining the harbourside or stick to the aquarium’s own culinary temple, Bokado Mikel Santamaría. Next, head to the hills, or rather the hill, as you climb up through pretty woodland to the summit of Monte Urgull for big views, a small museum and a massive statue of Christ. On your way back down, you’ll run straight into the architectural marvel of the San Telmo Museoa, a Basque cultural museum with an eclectic collection that spans everything from Vespas to the lauburu (Basque cross).

As evening falls, the real fun begins. It’s time to wander at will through the old town, grazing on the town’s legendary pintxos (Basque tapas) or soaking up the atmosphere of Plaza de la Constitución.

Highlights

  • San Telmo Museoa Learning about Basque history at this captivating museum partially set inside a 16th-century convent.
  • Monte Urgull Hoofing your way to the top of this verdant hill above the old town for an enchanting view over the city.
  • Aquarium Admiring the otherworldly glow of jellyfish and the stoic gaze of a sea turtle as it glides along inside a massive underwater tank.
  • Basílica de Santa María Admiring the elaborate facade and photogenic altarpiece of San Sebastian's 18th-century baroque beauty.
  • Plaza de la Constitución Stopping to admire one of the old town's prettiest squares – and a former bullring.

Top Tips

Make sure you have a plan for after-lunch activities as most shops close for a long siesta. It's a perfect time to head to the beach for a bit of seaside relaxation.