- Cityscape Belle Epoque Basque beauty
- City life Gourmet gorging, beach basking
An elegant city sparkling under several Michelin stars, San Sebastián is on the shores of the Bay of Biscay in the Basque region of northern Spain.
This waist-expanding gastro hub takes food very seriously. The finest feasts in Europe come either Michelin-starred or in miniature – pintxos (Basque tapas) are served in every bar and if it’s not market-fresh that morning, you’re not in San Sebastián. The dazzling coast is home to La Concha bay, a curved shore backed with lush green hills – Montes Igueldo, Urgull, Ulia, Pasaia and Adarra. This city with two names (it’s also known as Donostia) has a Belle Epoque charm, and lots of graceful architecture – the sandstone columns of the Victoria Eugenia Theatre and the shuttered balconies of the Plaza de la Constitucion in the old quarter, at the base of Monte Urgull. And it plays annual host to San Sebastián International Film Festival – so in September, you’ll get film stars with your fine food.
Do go/Don’t go
For the most buzz (and the chance of a celeb spot), go in September when the film festival brings the A list to town. Winters can get quite wet; the best weather is between May and August, but the population swells during June and July.
- Planes San Sebastián airport is the nearest but you’ll be pushed to find a direct flight there – get to Bilbao (100km away) with Easyjet (www.easyjet.com) from Dublin or London Stansted | or with Iberia (www.iberia.com) from London Heathrow. Biarritz airport (50km away) is accessible with Easyjet from London Gatwick or with Ryanair (www.ryanair.com) from London Stansted or Dublin.
- Boats Brittany Ferries (www.brittany-ferries.co.uk) serves Santander (200km from San Sebastián) from Portsmouth or Plymouth. P&O Ferries (www.poferries.com) sails from Portsmouth to Bilbao.
- Trains Get to Estación del Norte in San Sebastián from Madrid, Bilbao and Barcelona – services are operated by Renfe (www.renfe.es).
- Automobiles The 100km drive from Bilbao should take a little over an hour. San Sebastián is 50km from Biarritz – allow 40 minutes. Avis (www.avis.com) has offices at most airports in the region.
- Taxis Stations have ranks and you can flag taxis in the street. If you want to book, try Vallina (+34 (0)94 340 4040) or Taxi Donosti (+34 (0)94 346 4646).