This feels like a terribly self-indulgent thing for me to do – you know, who cares about what the piddling CMO from a middling youth travel company has to say…
Stoke Travel’s Guide To San Sebastian
A guide to get you started on your trip to San Sebastian. To download Stoke Maps view this page on your mobile device.
Once just a fishing village and now incredibly modern and popular, San Sebastian is a beachside city in the Basque Country. It’s famous for its surfing, its architecture, its nightlife and its food. The atmosphere during the day is chilled out with plenty of places to explore, beautiful beaches to visit and some of the best food in the world to enjoy. By night, the streets come to life with people outside the bars and clubs and you can spend the night drinking locally brewed cidra and eating pintxos, which is basically just a better version of tapas and San Sebastian’s bars have some of the best of it.
How the map works: we’ve created a customised Google Map with multiple layers. See the little window with the arrow there? Click on that to see the separate layers for food, drinks, sightseeing and shopping. To save this map to your Google account simply highlight the star next to the map’s name. See bottom of article for detailed instructions on how to access Stoke Maps on your device.
To view the map offline while you’re exploring El Born, scroll down for more info.
A bar in San Sebastian’s Old Town famous for having some of the best pintxos in the Basque Country. It’s a small place and always packed. Ordering takes a bit of skill and patience – you’ll have to squeeze through everyone else trying to order and stand your ground but it’s worth it. Their braised veal cheeks with red wine have been called by some Stokies the best pintxos in San Sebastian.
Getting there: Just along Fermin Calbeton Kalea
Price: €3 for kalimotxo and €3 for the veal
Best known for it’s two-for-one beers on Saturdays and it’s artistic pintxos presentation. Mendaur is a bright, shiny white bar with a more modern feel than others in the area. Previously more of a party bar perfect for a sloppy night out, now Mendaur is more on the classy side, which at first upset us but the food is really good so we’re cool with it now. We definitely recommend the calamari wrap – actually called tacotalo.
Getting there: Along Fermin Calbeton Kalea.
Price: €3.50 for pintxos and €4 for tacotalo.
Probably the best fucking cheesecake you will ever eat – in spain at least. La Vina is full of amazing food and has been winning prizes for their various different specialties for years now but that creamy dreamy slice is definitely the best bit. The staff are also pretty great and make a stupidly strong sangria.
Getting there: Just three streets back from the river on Agosto Kalea.
Price: €5 for a slice of heaven.
If you’re having a little difficulty adjusting to the Basque style breakfast of basically just a shit tonne of bread, Uh-mami is a good way to go. It’s a small take away acai bowl shop, located just off the surf beach Zurriola. The fresh fruit is the perfect way to give yourself a break from bread and eggs so that you’ll be ready for another night of glorious pintxos. Uh-mami also has tonnes of fresh smoothies and juices.
Getting there: Just back from the beach on Zurríola Hiribidea
Price: €6 for acai bowls.
Bar Nestor is a small bar covered in football memorabilia and filled with both locals and tourists. While the bar is filled with great food, the best bit and the reason most locals will go, is to get a slice of one of the two tortillas made each day. This tortilla is said to be the best in Spain and Stoke definitely aren’t going to argue with that. Unlike the Dia mart tortilla most of us eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner, this tortilla has a gooey centre and onion and tomato and the perfect amount of saltiness. It can be hard to get your hands on a slice. Only two are made each day and served around one o’clock so if you want to get a some, you’ll have to stop by in the morning and get your name on the list and make sure you’re there by one or your slice will be handed off to the next guy.
Getting there: Three blocks back from the river on Arrandegi Kalea
Price: €2 for the best tortilla in spain and some bread.
If you like muscles Mejillonera is your place, they’re obsessed with them, they even named the place after them. Filled mostly with locals, the bar is lively and packed. There are no seating areas so people tend to stand at the bar and drop their muscles and napkins on the floor in front of the bar when they’re done. As well as the muscles, mejillonera also have some amazing, spicy patatas bravas and liters of beer for €4
Getting there: Just back from the port on Calle del Puerto
Price: €3.30 for muscles and €3.50 for sharing patatas bravas.
DGC is a strange underground gin club and one of Stoke’s favourites. It has a small dance floor with all the best Spanish pop songs to dance to and a bar which, being a gin club, has some pretty great gin. If you look closely you’ll notice a patched up hole in the ceiling. This is the result of a Stoke tradition of running up the wall and kicking the ceiling, which eventually went too far. We bought them a cake and promised not to do it anymore though so we’re still welcomed with free shots of Jägermeister every time.
Getting there: Head to the door with the security guard outside on Enbeltran Kalea.
Price: €7 for a gin and tonic.
Bar Ondarra is the perfect place to end your pintxos crawl. It’s located just off Zurriola beach and is always buzzing with music and ridiculously attractive young Basque people that spill out onto the street around it. The whole place has a friendly vibe and some of the staff have their own personal sangria recipes that they’ll enthusiastically mix up for you.
Getting there: Facing the beach on Av. de Zurriola
Price: €5 for sangria
Set right in front of Koruko Andre Mariaren Basilika (the old church in San Sebastian’s old town). Atari is another one known for its pintxos. They have a huge range of Basque goodness to enjoy including deserts and damn good coffee. During the day it has a chilled out, buzzy atmosphere and you’ll often find musicians playing on the steps of the basilika outside. At night the whole place lights up, the bar is backed and its overflowing customers cover the basilika’s steps.
Getting there: Make your way to Koruko Andre Mariaren Basilika and then turn around
Price: €2.50 for vino tinto & €4-€5 for pintxos and deserts.
San Sebastian’s Old Town is perfect for wandering around and getting lost in. It is of course touristy but it still has a tonne of character, with great bars and restaurants on every street and beautiful buildings everywhere. This is where most of the pintxos bars are and where a party can be found every night of the week in summer, and most nights of the week in the other months.
Getting there: West side of the river
Monte Urgull is the most historically important place in San Sebastian, originally a used for defence in the 12th century and now an incredible view point. It’s just a short walk to the top where you’ll find a 12.5 meter high Jesus looking over you and an incredible view of san sebastian from above.
Getting there: The walk begins at the edge of Old Town
La concha is San Sebastian’s most popular beach surrounded by the famous concha railing built in the 1900s. From the bay you can see the island of Santa Clara, which is close enough to swim to year round. On the small island there are walks to the lighthouse, a small beach and a natural pool.
Getting there: Walk through Old Town and past the port
Zurriola is San Sebastian’s surf beach and generally filled with a younger crowd. There are a few beach bars in summer, but mostly the atmosphere remains chilled out. This beach is a great place to learn to surf or to chill out for the day and watch the waves.
Getting there: Just over the bridge towards Gros
La Bretxa Market
La Bretxa is a year round market, open from monday to saturday. There are over 40 different stalls selling fruit and veg, flowers, cheese, meats and fish on top of tonnes of other stuff. A great place to kill a few hours eating cheese and strolling around.
Getting there: Two blocks back from the river on Boulevard Zumardia
Beltza is any vinyl lovers dream. The store is packed full of thousands and thousands of records specialising in rhythm & blues but with anything from punk to reggae and everything in between.
Getting there: Three blocks back from the river on San Juan Kalea
Armandia Pasteleriak is a bakery chain that you’ll find in a few different spots around San Sebastian however, this particular one specialises in chocolate. The whole fricking shop is filled to the brim with the most amazing chocolate. They have everything from the most incredible chocolate statues to perfect little chocolates in tonnes of different flavours.
Getting there: Four blocks back from the river on Narrika Kalea
Pukas Surf Shop
Perfect if you’re looking to buy a first hand, great quality board designed and made in the Basque Country. As well as surfboards they have a large clothing section with tonnes of different brands for men and women.
Getting there: Four blocks back from the river on Calle Mayor
For more to do around the Basque Country, check out our surf camp located in the mountains surrounding San Sebastian
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