Basque culture & Best pintxos: San Sebastian Old Town

San Sebastián – called Donostia in Basque – has a marvelous circular bay which includes some white sand beaches that attract rich beach-goers who search for the sun. San Sebastian Old Town from Spain with its Basque culture and pintxos is what made this city famous during the Belle Époque and it is also where Queen Maria Cristina established her royal summerhouse. The fact that San Sebastián had a stylish past can still be seen nowadays. Would you like to see it?

La Concha Beach in San Sebastian, Spain

SAN SEBASTIAN IN SPAIN

The province of Gipuzkoa, of which San Sebastián is the capital, combines sea and mountain, offering the traveler an amazing landscape, sports, cuisine, and interesting monuments.

This city lies along a white sandy bay. Fishermen’s houses, a smart suburb and modern districts make it one of the most attractive cities on the Cantabrian coast.

Just imagine a smaller Paris which is placed on the water and that has fewer tourists. Those people are more relaxed and have a Basque twist. That´s exactly how San Sebastián is: a perfect mixture in one easy to navigate town.

Donostia, Donosti or San Sebastian

Donostia is the official name of San Sebastian in Basque language. And Donosti is a very common denomination, especially when speaking in Spanish. San Sebastian is located in the Basque Country, less than 25 km away from France. The beauty of its bay, its quality of life and its famous cuisine made it a top tourist destination in the last two centuries.

Throughout its history, it has been an innovation-driven city, focusing on reinvention as it was destroyed and reborn in 1813.

San Sebastian Old Town: The City Hall

BASQUE CULTURE

An interesting fact is that the Basque Country is one of Europe’s oldest and also strongest cultures. Moreover, their origins and culture are different in many ways, including from the Spanish way of life.

The Basque Country is a community in northern Spain and southern France, near the Pyrenees. The Basques here have a unique culture, language and many traditions that differ from their Spanish and French neighbors.

The Basque people are honored by their language, the culture and traditions they have

The Peine Viento in San Sebastian, Spain

Surrounded by a privileged landscape, dotted with delightful ancient villages which contrast the industrial cities, this magical place hosts global events and offers superior services that ensure visitors will enjoy their stay.

Furthermore, you can find the Basque ancestry quite present throughout America. This is due to the fact that more than 50.000 people that are living in the US claim to have Basque origins. Besides, many people on the East Coast of the US organize annual Basque Festivals to celebrate their origins with dances, markets, cuisine, folklore, music and many things more… Normally, most of these events are free.

The Buen Pastor Cathedral in San Sebastian, Spain
La Concha Beach in San Sebastian, Spain

SAN SEBASTIAN OLD TOWN: THE HEART OF THE BASQUE CAPITAL

Tradition and modernism combine very well in the ancient part of the city. Stroll through the fishing port and lose yourself in the streets of the Historical Quarter where the smell of pintxos can be felt at every corner. Land in the center of the town, and visit its pedestrian streets to spend a few unforgettable hours.

The San Sebastian Old Town is part of the wider “Centro” district. The “Parte Vieja” sits at the foot of Monte Urgull, with the port on one side and the Urumea River on the other.

The Old Town is separated from the rest of the city by the tree-lined Boulevard which is a popular place to hang out. From there, take a stroll past the Teatro Victoria Eugenia (next to the Kursaal bridge) or to La Concha Bay and the Town Hall.

San Sebastian Old Town

TASTE THE SAN SEBASTIAN FOOD

A dream destination for any foodie, San Sebastian is the home of pintxos, small bites of delicious food. From the San Sebastian food and gastronomy associations, where generations of male chefs cook for their friends while singing, to the many Michelin Star restaurants and contemporary gastronomy, from the cider houses to the local wines, you can find it all here in San Sebastian.

San Sebastian is the Gourmet Mecca
San Sebastian Food: Pintxos

Sip the San Sebastian wine

With its numerous Michelin starred restaurants and inventive chefs, with an easy distance from the wine country, the vineyards of Txakoli less than half an hour away and the mythical wine region of Rioja less than a two-hour drive, San Sebastian winery is one of the most glorious ones.

Roll with the San Sebastian wine tour while you see the city’s wealth built around lovely and vibrant wineries, bustling with interesting activities, so that you’ll never lack something to touch, taste or watch.

Best pintxos: San Sebastian Old Town

THE BEST PINTXOS ARE IN SAN SEBASTIÁN

Spain has one of the best cuisines in the world. When you think about Spanish cities with the best food, San Sebastian is a good destination.

Pintxos are the Basques’ answer to tapas, and in San Sebastián, every bar and restaurant has its specialty. Your eyes will compete with your tummy when you eat the best pintxos. There are many bars to choose from and each one has a list of specialties, as well as dozens of pre-made pintxos.

The best tasting menus in San Sebastián aren’t served in its Michelin-starred dining rooms but rather in the street.

San Sebastian is known for its excellent cuisine and treasures the highest concentration of Michelin-starred restaurants in Spain

The only hard thing here can be to know what to order and where. But fear not: we visited scores of pintxo bars, to track down the city’s most memorable bits.

The local gastronomy and pintxos!

SAN SEBASTIAN FILM FESTIVAL, THE CAPTIVATING CULTURE

San Sebastian has an amazing array of festivals and cultural events. The International Film Festival, which takes place in September, brings European and Hollywood stars to this town.

This festival has established itself as one of the most important cinema festivals in the world, being accredited in the “competitive film festivals” category. It has hosted several important events in the history of cinema, such as the international premiers of Vertigo, by Alfred Hitchcock (who attended the Festival) or Melinda & Melinda by Woody Allen and the European premier of Star Wars.

La Concha Beach in San Sebastian, Spain

Actors and directors such as Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, Richard Gere, Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Mel Gibson, Demi Moore or Brad Pitt have attended the festival since its foundation.

Discover in our blog Ten things you should know about San Sebastian Film Festival

Every year, more than 1,000 journalists from more than 40 countries cover the San Sebastian film Festival

KURSAAL PALACE

The Kursaal Conference Centre and Auditorium is a hub for culture and recreation in San Sebastián. The building sits next to the Urumea River and it is one of the must-see objectives when visiting San Sebastian.

The Kursaal’s two monumental cubes of translucent glass burst out of the urban landscape from afar. The largest houses the auditorium, and the other is the conference center. Two outdoor terraces provide spectacular views: one over the mouth of the river, and the other looking out to Playa de la Zurriola.

Kursaal Palace: San Sebastian Film festival

STOP BY TO ENJOY SAN SEBASTIAN OLD TOWN

A PRIVATE WALKING TOUR

By taking this tour with us you will enjoy a private walking tour to discover the local gastronomy, to see the most interesting monuments and places of this romantic city like: La Concha Beach, the Cathedral and the Kursaal Palace.

A FEEL SAN SEBASTIAN LIKE A LOCAL

Besides, you will visit the Old Town where you will taste the best Pintxos in Spain. Our guide will take you off the tourist trail and into San Sebastian’s side streets and hidden plazas that only locals know. Are you ready to feel San Sebastian like a local?

Other experiences that may be of interest…

Puerta del Sol in Madrid (Spain)
Cadiz Beach and Cathedral in Andalusia, Spain
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