On Monday I shared all about our time in Barcelona. Today, I’m sharing details and pictures from our stay in San Sebastian. This was my favorite city of the whole trip! It had food, beach, hiking, more food, then a little more food… It was basically Disney World for foodies!
We took a train from Barcelona -> San Sebastian. I typically enjoy train rides in Europe. I read a book, eat some bread and cheese, watch the countryside go by…it’s pretty magical. This train ride was exceptionally long (more than 5 hours!) for such a short distance to travel. The train was slow and made a few stops along the way.
Once we arrived, this is what we did:
Where to Stay: Old Town
Unless you care about staying right on the beach, Old Town is the place to stay! This is where the majority of the pintxos bars are. Our Airbnb was amazing, but, sadly, it’s no longer available on the website. However, it was right in the middle of all the fun, lively, foodie stuff we wanted to try, and I would totally stay in the same part of town again. (For reference, it was right across the street from Bar Vina, the famous little bar that sells Basque-style cheesecake.)
Where We Ate:
San Sebastian is a foodie paradise. At around 8:30 every night, the small streets get crowded with people. And it’s not a typical bar scene, the type that you’d expect on Austin’s “Dirty 6th” with a bunch of young twenty-somethings getting wasted. San Sebastian has a fun, classy feel to it. We saw groups of 80-year-old ladies doing a girlfriend’s trip, younger couples like us, families with kids and strollers, and everything in between.
San Sebastian was unlike anything I’ve experienced. You begin by walking into a bar and ordering a fantastic glass of Spanish or French wine (it’s equidistant from Bordeaux and La Rioja, so you can get some of the best wines from either country).
Wait….I take that back. Before you order, you have to freaking pick a place to eat! Harder than it sounds.. We stopped into SO many bars for snacks and wine, and we hardly scratched the surface of everything we wanted to try!
We used the Michelin Guide website for the most part when we were looking for places to eat. I can’t emphasize this enough..the are SO MANY PLACES TO EAT!!! A few of our favorites:
31 de Agosto Kalea, 3, 20003 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
We wandered into La Vina for a few pintxos and glasses of wine. It didn’t take long, though, to notice that everyone was eating….cheesecake? Yup, every time we turned around, a bartender was passing over a plate of warm and soft cheesecake! It smelled so good.
Everyone else was ordering it, so we did too. Apparently if everyone jumped off a cliff, I’d follow right along..
So, we ended up going back two more times for their cheesecake. It was that good! I googled it after we ate it, and apparently it’s called “Basque Burnt Cheesecake” and you can only get it at La Vina. They won’t share the recipe, but a bunch of people have tried to recreate it.
It has the creamiest texture I’ve ever tasted, and the top is a little burnt, providing a delicious contrast to the sweet interior. I need to
learn to make this find someone to make this for me!
Besides the cheesecake, the bar was nice. We had a lot of great tapas and a really good grilled seafood plate. But nothing stands out to me quite like that dessert!
Narrika Kalea, 22, 20003 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Basque cider is made from apples, and it’s served room temperature and flat. It’s completely different than what most us Americans think of as “cider.” It was cider season while we were in San Sebastian, so Nate made reservations at a cider house for dinner.
We were led the the downstairs dining room of Sidreria Beharri. Next to our table was a HUGE fermenter of cider with a small, empty barrel about 5 feet in front of it. For the all-you-can-drink cider portion of dinner, we were told to serve ourselves from the tap.
The waiter showed us own to turn on the tap, place our glass near the floor in front of the empty barrel, and gradually bring the cup closer to the spout to turn it off. So fun!
The traditional paring with Basque cider is a salted cod omelets. We were served that, in addition to a couple other courses. My favorite of the night was the T-bone steak, which is another popular dish from the area. We devoured that thing!
Bajo, Ramón María Lili Pasealekua, 2, 20002 San Sebastián, SS, Spain
San Sebastian isn’t necessarily known as being a coffee city, but if you’ve known me long enough, you know that a good pour-over is a critical part of my morning. I always seek out a couple good coffee shops before I visit any town!
Sakona Coffee Roasters was our go-to every morning in San Sebastian. It was about a 5 minute walk from our apartment, so we’d head over there for a jolt of caffeine before anything else.
It’s a darling little shop with a great staff of skilled baristas….one of them even won 4th place in the World Barista Championships. That’s like the Super Bowl of coffee competitions!
We’d also start the morning with one of those pretty little yogurt parfaits, or a slice of yogurt coffeecake.
What To Do:
We were pretty lazy in San Sebastian, haha! We slept in, drank coffee, laid on the beach, and ate dinner…and that’s about it! Here are a few specifics of what we did:
- Play at the beach. There are three beaches in San Sebastian, and we mostly went to Playa de Zurriola, the northernmost beach. There were some pretty good waves and a couple people surfing. The water was cold in May, though, so I only got in for a little while. If we were to ever go back in July or August, I’d definitely take a surfing lesson! The beach wasn’t crowded at all in May, but it was a little bit cold.
- Climb to the Castillo de La Mota. This is the castle on the hill looking over the water. The hill was situated right above our apartment, so it only took about 20 minutes from our front door to the top of the hill. The views were incredible and it felt good to get a mini workout!
- Eat food. Did I mention we ate a lot of food?
There’s a lot of history in San Sebastian, and if we were wanting to do more sight seeing we would have sought it out… But we really came to eat and rest, so that’s what we did! And it was magical!