San Sebastian, Spain

July 28, 2023

Back in San Sebastian, and it feels so good! Many of you probably found yourself here through my sister, Sarah. Which means you may already know that she sends her boys to Spanish school in San Sebastian, Spain every July. I’ve been lucky enough to tag along for a portion the past two summers, and I’ve grown to love it so much. This time was extra special because my mom and I flew over together and mine and Sarah’s other sister, Brook, met us there too along with her son (our nephew!). We had a fun girls + my precious nephews trip.

San Sebastian is in the Basque region of Spain, and in my opinion, completely different than the rest of Spain (I’ve just been to Madrid, Barcelona, Priorat, and Mallorca, so comparing it to those). Everything from the food to the architecture to the language is unique to the Basque region, and I love it all. Unlike southern Spain, you’ll find really temperate weather in San Sebastian in the summer, so it’s a great place to escape the extreme heat (although last year we were there during a heat wave and it was above 100!). We experienced mostly highs around 75 this year and actually a bit of rain (unusual!). Coming from Florida, we were all thrilled with this weather and actually enjoyed the cozy, rainy days too.

San Sebastian has a super impressive food scene. It has the highest concentration of Michelin starred restaurants per square kilometer in Europe, so there are tons of amazing places to eat. One thing worth noting is that my mom has Celiac disease, and everywhere we went was beyond accommodating to her needs. They would make fresh gluten free bread, and nearly anything she wanted on a menu, was either already gluten free, or they could make it so. Basque food is relatively simple and extremely fresh. I loved looking down at my plate and being able to know exactly what I was eating just by tasting it. Most things are marinated in only olive oil and salt, sometimes garlic. We all couldn’t stop gushing over the delicious food we ate the entire time. Three things you must try while in San Sebastian are pintxos (pronounced “pinchos”; x’s in Basque make the “ch” sound!), guindilla peppers and txakoli wine. 🙂

Here’s where we ate this time:
Narru – A modern spin on traditional Basque cooking. We went twice!
La Mamma – if you want some more familiar comfort food, come here for pizza and pasta. They can make it all gluten free, too! Also, the most charming, funky hand-painted art everywhere.

Casa Camara – super fresh seafood. It’s located a taxi + small ferry ride away (100% worth the short trip!) in a small town called Pasai Donibane, and sits right on top of the water. They have a lobster trap in the middle of the restaurant where they pull up fresh lobster right in front of you. Doesn’t get more fresh than that!

Alabortza – also located in Pasai Donibane. I wouldn’t necessarily make the trek over just for this restaurant, but if you spend the day there and want some super fresh casual seafood overlooking a beautiful seaside cliff in a dive-type setting (you’re sitting outdoors on picnic tables), I would definitely recommend.
A Basque cooking club! – this is another thing unique to the Basque culture; many men (and now women) are part of cooking clubs. It’s a really neat cultural experience and I’m so glad we got to enjoy it first hand. Sarah has been using the same tour guide each year, and he got invited to one of the oldest cooking clubs in San Sebastian called Gaztelubide, so we were able to tag along.

Gandarias – located in the old town, this restaurant serves up traditional Basque cooking and of course, it was delish!

Topa Sukalderia – a Mexican/Basque fusion restaurant that we loved.

There are two beaches, one for surfing and the other is for leisurely beach goers. There’s a large promenade along the leisurely beach that stretches for quite a while. It’s fun to walk along this and up to Miramar Jauregia, which is a beautiful historic building with a stunning view and huge hydrangea bushes. Last year, Sarah and I hiked up to  Urgulleko Polborina, which is a little cliffside cafe with another beautiful view.

Aside from outdoor activities, we love the shopping in San Sebastian. You won’t find major luxury retailers here, but really cute, curated boutiques with unique finds you don’t see everywhere else. Also, if you’re a mom (or an over the moon auntie like me), there are thee cutest children’s stores. Hands down the best dressed babies and kiddos I’ve ever seen. There are lots of good sales in July and August, so shop ’til you drop!


What I wore in San Sebastian:

I’m sure Sarah has several posts about her times in San Sebastian, so if you’re planning a trip soon, she would be a great resource! I mostly follow her lead since she’s the expert, lucky me. But I do love it there and am happy to answer any questions you may have!