What to Do: The Perfect Day in San Sebastián

It's summertime. That means I get a deluge of emails from friends who are coming to visit, or friends asking for insider tips for friends.  I've been meaning for quite some time to pool my advice and create a once-and-for-all guide according to how many days (and meals) one has in the city. So it is with great pleasure that I present to you:

Marti's Guide to The Perfect Day in San Sebastián*

*note: This is for sunny, pleasant weather. I will write a separate post for what to do when it's raining.

9am Have a croissant and an orange juice on the boulevard. Enjoy the quiet, cool mornings of the center of San Sebastián.

10am Climb the mountain in the middle of the Old Town. If you do so in a curious manner, you will be rewarded with the best-tasting cup of coffee you've ever had.  Upon reaching the top, visit a museum under Jesus that tells the story of San Sebastián.

1pm Head to La Zurriola with a picnic lunch.  A bottle of txakoli, a wedge of Idiazabal cheese, some sliced jamón ibérico and chorizo, a crusty baguette from here, and some pimientos del piquillo. Eat, drink, relax, and have a siesta.

5pm. Stroll down La Concha beach, and grab an ice cream sandwich at The Cookie's summer outpost, near Hotel Niza. Make it all the way to the end of the last beach, Ondaretta, to see the Chillida sculpture, Peine de los Vientos. Then head home and shower.

8pm Get out to the Old Part. As much as I love the rest of town, with only one night to enjoy the city's pintxo scene, the old part is where it's at.

Here's your route:

  • Bar Nestor. Important to be punctual, as you'll be ordering one of the city's best tortillas, and they only make one. It comes out at 8pm. Grab a slice with some txakoli.
  • Zeruko. Next door. Overpriced but wonderful for the huge selection and also a few gems on the menu, such as the hamburguesa de txipiron.
  • Txepetxa. Order anchovies.
  • Borda Berri. Everything is fabulous at this spot with nothing on the bar to tempt you, but a menu that is based on good technique and solid flavors.
  • A Fuego Negro. Always good to try, with pintxos that surprise, delight, and sometimes taste delicious. I love the black rabas.

If you don't feel comfortable navigating this yourself, I highly recommend the pintxo tours of San Sebastián Food.

11pm Make your last stop Atari, next to Santa María church, the perfect spot to have either a final pintxo (foie artesano on toast) or a sweet pintxo (helado de queso) or begin your gintonic drinking. Use this as a segway into the second phase of nightlife here, which can be categorized as light dancing and lasts until 2:30 or 3am. 

1am As some of you might be looking for the ful 24-hour experience, I would like to recommend spots such as Mendaur, Ezpala, and S/N as some fine places to hit up when you are looking to dance the night away. If you consider yourself hip, try Be Bop.

3am Txampions only at this hour....try Victoria Eugenia or Friends.

5am Take a dip in La Concha beach, with or without your clothes.

And that's it. What do you think? Have you done any of these activities, or do you have another favorite that I left off? Let me know below.

Keep your eyes out for upcoming posts on:

The Perfect Weekend in San Sebastián

The Perfect Rainy Weekend in San Sebastián