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Bilbao To San Sebastian: A Spanish Road Trip


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Modesty Tighe



Embarking on a road trip is an incredible way to explore the diverse landscapes, rich culture, and vibrant cities of Spain. One of the most remarkable routes is the drive from Bilbao to San Sebastian, two enchanting cities located in the heart of the Basque Country.


This road trip offers a perfect blend of picturesque coastal views, world-renowned art and architecture, mouthwatering cuisine, and the warm hospitality of the Basque people. Whether you’re a lover of nature, history, food, or simply seeking a unique adventure, this journey has something for everyone.


Before you hit the open road, it’s essential to plan your trip effectively. Start by renting a car in Bilbao, ensuring you have a comfortable and convenient mode of transportation throughout your journey. Familiarize yourself with the local driving regulations and road signs to make your experience stress-free.


As you depart from Bilbao, you’ll immediately be captivated by the charm of the Basque Country. Your first stop is the iconic Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, a masterpiece of modern art and architecture. Admire the striking titanium panels and explore the captivating artworks within the museum’s walls.


Continue your journey towards Bilbao’s Old Town, where you’ll find narrow streets lined with charming buildings, cozy cafes, and lively pintxos bars. Take the time to wander through the medieval quarter and soak in the local atmosphere.


As you venture further along the coast, make a stop at San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, a hidden gem that will transport you to a magical world. This picturesque island, with its ancient hermitage and winding staircase, offers breathtaking views of the surrounding coastline and is bound to leave you in awe.


Getxo, a coastal town with beautiful beaches and a rich maritime heritage, is another must-visit destination on your road trip. Explore the elegant mansions, stroll along the promenade, and relax on the sandy shores.


Bakio, known for its world-class waves, is a paradise for surfers. Whether you’re an experienced surfer or a beginner, don’t miss the opportunity to catch a wave or simply enjoy the stunning views of the rugged coastline.


Getting Started: Rental Cars and Driving Tips

Before embarking on your road trip from Bilbao to San Sebastian, it’s essential to plan ahead and ensure you have a reliable rental car. Bilbao offers several car rental companies where you can find a vehicle that suits your needs and budget. Make sure to book your car ahead of time to guarantee availability.


When selecting a rental car, keep in mind the size and type of vehicle that will be most suitable for your journey. If you’re traveling with a smaller group, a compact car might be sufficient. However, if you have a larger group or plan to bring along extra luggage, consider opting for a larger vehicle with ample space.


Before hitting the road, familiarize yourself with the local driving regulations and traffic rules in Spain. In Spain, you will drive on the right-hand side of the road, and the general speed limit on highways is 120 km/h (75 mph). However, always be aware of any posted speed limits, as they may vary depending on the location.


It’s important to note that the Basque Country is known for its hilly terrain and winding roads. Be prepared for narrow and curvy mountain roads, particularly when driving along the coast. Take your time, drive cautiously, and be mindful of other drivers on the road.


While driving in Spain, it is mandatory to wear seat belts in both the front and back seats. Children under 12 years old should be seated in the back and properly secured in a child restraint system suitable for their age and size.


Another factor to consider when planning your road trip is parking. In cities such as Bilbao and San Sebastian, parking spaces can be limited and expensive. It is advisable to research public parking lots or garages near your destinations and plan accordingly.


Lastly, it’s always a good idea to have a GPS device or a reliable navigation app on your phone to help you navigate during your trip. This will ensure you stay on the right track and minimize any potential stress or confusion.


With a well-planned rental car and some knowledge of the driving rules and tips, you’ll be ready for a memorable road trip from Bilbao to San Sebastian. Buckle up, turn on some good tunes, and get ready to explore the breathtaking beauty of the Basque Country.


Bilbao: A Gateway to the Basque Country

As the starting point of your road trip, Bilbao serves as the perfect gateway to the Basque Country. This dynamic city, nestled in the lush green hills and surrounded by the Nervión River, offers a fascinating blend of a rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning architecture.


One of the highlights of Bilbao is the iconic Guggenheim Museum. This avant-garde masterpiece, designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, is an architectural marvel that has become a symbol of the city. Its striking titanium panels and dynamic forms will captivate both art enthusiasts and architecture admirers. Inside, you’ll find an exceptional collection of contemporary and modern art, including works by renowned artists such as Jeff Koons and Andy Warhol.


After exploring the Guggenheim Museum, take a leisurely stroll along the riverfront and admire the stunning views of the cityscape. Head towards Casco Viejo, Bilbao’s charming Old Town. Lose yourself in its narrow streets lined with colorful buildings and charming shops. Don’t forget to indulge in the local cuisine by hopping from one pintxos bar to another, savoring the tantalizing flavors of these Basque tapas.


Bilbao also offers a rich cultural scene. Visit the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum to admire an impressive collection of Spanish and Basque art, including works by famous painters like Goya and El Greco. Experience the vibrant atmosphere of the city’s music scene by catching a live performance at the Euskalduna Concert Hall or the Bilbao Opera House.


For nature lovers, a visit to the Monte Artxanda is a must. Take the funicular up the hill for panoramic views of Bilbao and its surrounding landscape. Relax in the park, go for a hike, or enjoy a picnic while taking in the breathtaking vistas.


Bilbao’s culinary scene is also a highlight. The city boasts a number of Michelin-starred restaurants, offering innovative and exquisite Basque cuisine. Don’t miss the opportunity to try traditional dishes like bacalao al pil-pil (cod in garlic and olive oil) or txangurro (spider crab) while enjoying a glass of locally produced txakoli wine.


Bilbao sets the stage for an unforgettable journey through the Basque Country. It provides a taste of the region’s rich history, captivating art, vibrant culture, and mouthwatering cuisine. Immerse yourself in the charm of this city and get ready to embark on an adventure through the stunning landscapes and diverse experiences that await you on your road trip to San Sebastian.


Guggenheim Museum: Art and Architecture

One of the architectural wonders of the world, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao is a must-visit attraction on your road trip through the Basque Country. This iconic museum is renowned for its innovative design, striking architecture, and impressive art collection.


Designed by acclaimed architect Frank Gehry, the Guggenheim Museum is a true testament to modern architectural brilliance. The building’s curvilinear form, clad in shimmering titanium panels, reflects the surrounding environment and creates a seamless blend between nature and art. It stands as an extraordinary work of art in itself, inviting visitors to explore its interior and discover the treasures it holds.


Step inside the museum and be prepared to be captivated by the remarkable collection of contemporary and modern art. From masterpieces by renowned artists such as Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning to thought-provoking installations by contemporary artists like Richard Serra and Jeff Koons, the museum offers a diverse range of artistic expressions that will leave you in awe.


The Guggenheim Museum is not only a haven for visual art enthusiasts but also a catalyst for cultural exchange and dialogue. It hosts a variety of temporary exhibitions, showcasing works from both local and international artists. These exhibitions provide a platform for artists to push boundaries, challenge norms, and provoke discussions about art, society, and the human experience.


While exploring the museum, you’ll also have the opportunity to appreciate the building’s innovative design from different perspectives. Take a stroll across the famous Puppy, a large topiary sculpture in the shape of a dog covered in vibrant flowers that greets visitors at the entrance. Marvel at the enormous spider sculpture, Maman, created by Louise Bourgeois, which stands guard on the museum’s outdoor plaza.


Make sure to spend some time on the museum’s terrace, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the city’s skyline and the majestic Nervión River. Take in the architectural marvel of the museum from an exterior vantage point and witness how Gehry’s design seamlessly integrates with the surrounding cityscape.


The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao is a testament to the transformative power of art and architecture. It has not only become an architectural icon but has also brought international attention and acclaim to the city of Bilbao. A visit to this extraordinary museum is an experience that will ignite your imagination, deepen your appreciation for art, and inspire creativity as you continue your journey through the Basque Country.


Exploring Bilbao’s Old Town

Stepping into Bilbao’s Old Town is like taking a step back in time. With its charming cobblestone streets, colorful medieval buildings, and lively atmosphere, this historic neighborhood is a treasure trove of culture, history, and authentic Basque experiences.


Begin your exploration of the Old Town at Plaza Nueva, the heart of the neighborhood. This bustling square is surrounded by elegant arcaded buildings that house a variety of shops, cafes, and pintxos bars. It’s the perfect place to sit back, relax, and soak in the vibrant ambiance while enjoying a cup of coffee or sampling some delicious pintxos.


As you wander through the narrow streets, you’ll come across numerous architectural gems. Look out for the Gothic-style Santiago Cathedral, with its stunning Renaissance portico and a serene cloister. Admire the intricate details of the Basque Regional Parliament building, a beautiful example of Neoclassical architecture.


Be sure to explore the Mercado de la Ribera, one of the largest indoor food markets in Europe. Immerse yourself in a feast for the senses as you browse the colorful stalls filled with fresh fruits, vegetables, seafood, meats, and local delicacies. Indulge in some authentic Basque products, such as Idiazabal cheese or chorizo, and experience the vibrant culinary culture of the region.


While navigating the streets of the Old Town, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Arriaga Theater. This grand theater, named after the renowned Basque composer Juan Crisóstomo de Arriaga, is a stunning example of 19th-century architecture. Take a guided tour to learn about the history of the theater and marvel at its opulent interiors.


Throughout the Old Town, you’ll find numerous pintxos bars, offering a tantalizing array of these bite-sized Basque delicacies. These bars are a hub of socializing and culinary enjoyment, where locals and visitors gather to enjoy a glass of wine or a refreshing beer while savoring a variety of flavorful pintxos. Let your taste buds guide you as you hop from bar to bar, sampling specialties like Gilda skewers, tortilla de patatas, or txalupa (a savory puff pastry filled with seafood).


No visit to the Old Town is complete without stopping at one of the traditional Basque cider houses. These cider houses offer a unique dining experience, where you can indulge in a hearty Basque meal accompanied by cider straight from the barrel. Enjoy dishes like bacalao al pil-pil (cod in garlic and olive oil), chuleta (grilled ribeye steak), or the famous txuleta (giant steak) while soaking up the lively atmosphere.


Exploring Bilbao’s Old Town is a journey into the heart and soul of the Basque Country. Immerse yourself in the rich history, charming architecture, and culinary delights that await you in this vibrant neighborhood. It will undoubtedly be a highlight of your road trip through the Basque Country.


San Juan de Gaztelugatxe: A Hidden Gem

Nestled on the rugged coast of the Basque Country, San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is a hidden gem that will transport you to a world of enchantment and awe. This magical island, connected to the mainland by a stone bridge and adorned with a centuries-old hermitage, offers breathtaking natural beauty and a sense of serenity.


To reach this picturesque destination, you’ll embark on a short hike along a well-marked trail that winds its way through lush green hills and offers stunning vistas of the surrounding coastline. As you make your way up, you’ll pass by idyllic viewpoints that provide panoramic views of the rugged cliffs, crashing waves, and the charming island in the distance.


Once you reach the top, you’ll find the hermitage of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, perched on the highest point of the island. This ancient hermitage, dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, dates back to the 10th century. Its stone walls, red-tiled roof, and bell tower are a testament to its rich history and enduring presence.


The highlight of your visit to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is the climb up the narrow staircase that leads to the entrance of the hermitage. The staircase consists of 241 steps, each one etched with the footprints of countless pilgrims who have made the journey over the centuries. As you ascend, you’ll feel a sense of spiritual significance and anticipation.


Reaching the top, you can ring the hermitage’s bell three times and make a wish, a tradition believed to bring good luck. Take a moment to admire the breathtaking views of the coastline, the crashing waves, and the surrounding landscape. The tranquility and beauty of this place will create a lasting memory.


San Juan de Gaztelugatxe has recently gained international recognition, thanks in part to its appearance in the popular television series, Game of Thrones. Fans of the show will recognize the island as the iconic Dragonstone, the ancestral seat of House Targaryen. Whether you’re a Game of Thrones enthusiast or not, the beauty of this place will captivate and inspire you.


As you make your way back down the trail, take time to appreciate the pristine nature that surrounds San Juan de Gaztelugatxe. The rugged cliffs, the crashing waves, and the fresh sea breeze create a sense of serenity and connection to the natural world.


A visit to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is like stepping into a fairytale. From the scenic hike to the climb up the staircase, and the magical views from the top, this hidden gem offers a truly unforgettable experience. It’s a testament to the natural beauty and profound history that can be found throughout the Basque Country.


Getxo: Beaches and Coastal Charm

Located just a short drive from Bilbao, Getxo is a coastal town that beckons with its beautiful beaches, stunning cliffs, and charming seaside promenade. This hidden gem offers a perfect combination of natural beauty, cultural attractions, and a laid-back atmosphere, making it an ideal stop on your road trip through the Basque Country.


Start your exploration by visiting Ereaga Beach, a pristine stretch of golden sand that attracts locals and tourists alike. Whether you’re looking to soak up the sun, take a refreshing swim, or simply enjoy a beachside stroll, Ereaga Beach offers the perfect setting. Take a dip in the clear waters of the Bay of Biscay or unwind on the sandy shores while admiring the view of the Cantabrian Sea.


Adjacent to Ereaga Beach is the picturesque promenade, known as the Paseo de la Galea. Take a leisurely walk along this waterfront pathway and enjoy the panoramic views of the ocean. Marvel at the elegant mansions that line the promenade, each showcasing unique architectural styles and reflecting the town’s rich maritime heritage.


While in Getxo, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Vizcaya Bridge, a UNESCO World Heritage site and a true emblem of the town. This remarkable iron transporter bridge, designed by Alberto Palacio, connects the two banks of the Nervión River. Take a ride on the gondola-like structure, suspended high above the river, and marvel at the engineering marvel of this 19th-century masterpiece.


For a taste of local life, make your way to the charming Old Port. This vibrant area is filled with bars, restaurants, and shops, where you can savor delicious seafood dishes, sip on a refreshing drink, or browse for unique souvenirs. The lively atmosphere, combined with the backdrop of bobbing boats and colorful facades, creates a truly authentic experience.


Continue your coastal adventure by exploring the cliffs of La Galea. These dramatic limestone cliffs offer breathtaking views of the sea and the rugged coastline. Take a hike along the cliffside paths to discover hidden coves, secluded beaches, and panoramic vistas. Admire the crashing waves against the rocks and take in the invigorating sea breeze.


In addition to its natural beauty, Getxo is also home to a variety of cultural attractions. Visit the Museum of Fine Arts of Bilbao-Getxo, housed in a beautiful historical building, to admire works by renowned Basque and international artists. Explore the Algorta-Areeta neighborhood, known for its charming streets, bustling squares, and vibrant nightlife.


Getxo is a destination that combines the tranquility of its beaches with the enchantment of its coastal charm. Whether you’re seeking relaxation on the sand, exploration along the cliffs, or immersion in the local culture, this picturesque town will leave a lasting impression on your road trip through the Basque Country.


Bakio: Surfing and Stunning Views

Nestled along the rugged coastline of the Basque Country, Bakio is a charming coastal town that offers both thrilling waves for surfers and breathtaking views for nature enthusiasts. Whether you’re an avid surfer or simply seeking a place to relax and appreciate the beauty of the sea, Bakio is a must-visit destination on your road trip through the region.


Bakio is renowned for its world-class waves, attracting surfers from all over the world. With its exposed beach break and consistent swells, the town offers ideal conditions for both beginners and experienced surfers. Rent a surfboard from one of the local shops, take a lesson from the friendly surf schools, and hit the waves to experience the thrill of riding the Basque coast.


If you prefer to enjoy the surf from a more relaxed vantage point, the rocky cliffs of Bakio offer spectacular views of the rolling waves. Take a leisurely walk along the coastal path that stretches from Bakio to neighboring Bermeo, and be prepared to be mesmerized by the dramatic cliffs, rugged coastline, and the immensity of the Atlantic Ocean.


A highlight of Bakio is the iconic San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, a stunning islet located just a short distance away. Embark on a short boat ride or hike along the coastline to reach this picturesque island. Climb the stone staircase that winds its way to the top, and be rewarded with breathtaking views of the surrounding sea and coastline. The sense of tranquility and natural beauty that San Juan de Gaztelugatxe exudes is truly captivating.


After a day of surfing or exploring the coastline, relax on one of Bakio’s beautiful sandy beaches. Gaze out at the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean, bask in the warmth of the sun, or take a refreshing swim in the crystal-clear waters. The beaches of Bakio are perfect for sunbathing, picnicking, or simply unwinding as you listen to the soothing sound of the waves.


Bakio also offers a variety of beachside cafés and restaurants where you can indulge in delicious seafood dishes. From freshly grilled fish to mouthwatering paella, savor the flavors of the region while gazing out at the scenic beauty of the coast. Don’t forget to pair your meal with a glass of local Basque wine or a refreshing pintxo.


Whether you’re riding the waves or enjoying the stunning coastal views, Bakio offers an unforgettable experience for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. Immerse yourself in the beauty of the Basque coastline and let the charm of this coastal town leave a lasting impression on your road trip through the region.


Zumaia: Geology and Game of Thrones

Nestled on the breathtaking Basque coast, Zumaia is a coastal town that mesmerizes visitors with its unique geological formations and its connection to the hit television series Game of Thrones. With its stunning cliffs, picturesque beaches, and fascinating rock layers, Zumaia offers a captivating blend of natural beauty and cinematic intrigue.


One of the highlights of Zumaia is its striking rock formations, known as the Flysch. These impressive layers of sedimentary rocks unveil millions of years of geological history, showcasing a mesmerizing display of different colors, textures, and patterns. Follow the well-marked coastal trail, which winds its way through the Flysch formation, and immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring beauty of this natural wonder.


Zumaia’s coast is also famous for its appearance in the seventh season of Game of Thrones as the Dragonstone beach. Fans of the show will recognize the iconic cliff formations and the striking scenery that served as the backdrop for some of the most memorable moments of the series. Stand on the very same beach where Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow walked, and let your imagination transport you into the world of Westeros.


Aside from its geological wonders and Game of Thrones connections, Zumaia boasts stunning beaches that are perfect for both relaxation and water activities. Spend a day lounging on the golden sands, taking a dip in the pristine waters, or embarking on an adventurous kayak excursion along the coast. The tranquil surroundings and the sound of the crashing waves create a serene atmosphere that is ideal for unwinding and connecting with nature.


For a deeper exploration of Zumaia’s natural beauty, venture into the nearby Basque Coast Geopark. This UNESCO-designated site encompasses a diverse range of geological features, including cliffs, caves, and tidal formations. Take a guided tour to learn about the region’s geological significance and to witness its rich biodiversity up close.


After a day of exploration, take a stroll through the town’s charming streets and discover its traditional Basque architecture, quaint squares, and local shops. Indulge in the flavors of Basque cuisine by visiting one of the many restaurants and bars that serve delicious pintxos and regional specialties.


Zumaia offers a unique blend of geological wonders and Game of Thrones allure that will captivate every traveler. Immerse yourself in the dramatic landscapes, walk in the footsteps of your favorite characters, and let the natural beauty of this coastal town leave a lasting impression on your Basque Country road trip.


Getaria: Gastronomy and Txakoli Wine

Getaria, a charming coastal town in the heart of the Basque Country, is a mecca for food and wine enthusiasts. With its rich culinary traditions and its renowned production of Txakoli wine, Getaria offers a gastronomic experience that is sure to delight the senses.


Getaria is synonymous with exceptional seafood. As you stroll through the town’s picturesque streets, you’ll be enticed by the aroma of grilled fish wafting from the many seafood restaurants. Indulge in dishes like freshly caught grilled sardines, succulent grilled turbot, or the famed pulpo a la gallega (octopus Galician style). Pair your feast with a chilled glass of the local specialty, Txakoli wine, for a flavor combination that epitomizes the essence of Getaria’s culinary scene.


Txakoli wine is a light, crisp, and slightly sparkling white wine that is produced exclusively in the Basque Country. Getaria is known as the birthplace of Txakoli, and the vineyards that surround the town are a testament to its long-standing winemaking tradition. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit a local winery, where you can learn about the winemaking process and sample different varieties of Txakoli. Experience the refreshing acidity, citrus flavors, and effervescence of this unique wine that perfectly complements the flavors of the local cuisine.


Aside from its culinary delights, Getaria offers a captivating coastal setting. Take a walk along the picturesque promenade, lined with charming fishing boats and historic buildings. Admire the stunning views of the Bay of Biscay and the rolling hills that surround the town. Explore the San Salvador Church, a beautiful example of Gothic architecture, and soak in the tranquility of this coastal gem.


Getaria is also home to the Cristóbal Balenciaga Museum, named after the renowned fashion designer who was born in the town. Discover the life and legacy of Balenciaga through his iconic designs and explore the world of high fashion in this architectural gem that showcases his work.


For beach lovers, the beautiful sandy shores of Getaria beckon. Playa de Getaria offers a serene setting to relax, sunbathe, or take a dip in the refreshing waters of the Cantabrian Sea. Enjoy the laid-back atmosphere and the stunning coastal views as you unwind on the beach.


Getaria is a destination that captures the essence of the Basque Country’s gastronomy and wine culture. Immerse yourself in the flavors of the sea, savor the unique taste of Txakoli wine, and indulge in the coastal beauty that this charming town has to offer. Your visit to Getaria will undoubtedly be a delicious and memorable experience.


Zarautz: Sun, Sand, and Surf

Nestled along the stunning coastline of the Basque Country, Zarautz is a bustling seaside town that offers sun, sand, and world-class surfing. With its long sandy beach, vibrant atmosphere, and exceptional waves, Zarautz is a paradise for beach lovers and water sports enthusiasts alike.


Stretching over two kilometers, Zarautz Beach is one of the longest beaches in the region. Its golden sands provide ample space for sunbathing, picnicking, and leisurely walks along the shore. Whether you’re looking to relax under the warm sun or engage in beach activities like beach volleyball or frisbee, Zarautz Beach offers the perfect setting.


But what truly sets Zarautz apart is its reputation as a prime surfing destination. With consistent waves and excellent surf conditions, it’s no wonder that the town has produced world-class surfers. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner looking to catch your first wave, the waves of Zarautz will provide an exhilarating and memorable surfing experience. Rent a surfboard from one of the local surf shops or book a lesson with one of the experienced surf schools to make the most of your time in the water.


After a day of sun and surf, explore the vibrant town center of Zarautz. The streets are lined with charming shops, trendy boutiques, and quaint cafes. Wander through the cobblestone streets and soak in the relaxed Basque atmosphere. Don’t miss the chance to try some of the town’s culinary specialties, such as pintxos (Basque tapas) and fresh seafood dishes, which can be found in the numerous bars and restaurants scattered throughout the town.


Zarautz is also home to the enchanting Zarautz Castle, a historic fortress that dates back to the 15th century. Take a guided tour and discover the castle’s rich history and panoramic views of the town and the surrounding coastline. The castle is a testament to the region’s fascinating past and offers a glimpse into the medieval era.


For those seeking a more leisurely activity, Zarautz offers picturesque walking and cycling paths. Explore the scenic landscapes that surround the town, such as the lush countryside and the rolling hills. Enjoy the fresh sea breeze as you take in the breathtaking views of the Basque countryside and coastline.


Whether you’re a beach lover, a thrill-seeking surfer, or someone looking to unwind in a relaxed coastal town, Zarautz has something for everyone. With its beautiful beach, vibrant atmosphere, and fantastic surf conditions, Zarautz invites you to partake in a sun-soaked, sand-filled, and surf-centric experience along the stunning Basque coastline.


San Sebastian: Food, Culture, and Beauty

San Sebastian, also known as Donostia in Basque, is a city that seamlessly blends gastronomy, culture, and natural beauty. Located on the stunning Bay of Biscay, this coastal gem has captivated travelers with its culinary delights, rich cultural heritage, and breathtaking landscapes.


San Sebastian is internationally renowned for its culinary scene and boasts more Michelin-starred restaurants per square meter than any other city in the world. From mouthwatering pintxos, the Basque version of tapas, to exquisite seafood dishes and innovative creations by world-class chefs, the city offers a tantalizing journey for food lovers. Explore the cobblestone streets of the Old Town (Parte Vieja) and indulge in an evening of pintxos hopping, sampling a variety of flavors and textures that showcase the region’s culinary expertise.


Beyond its gastronomic delights, San Sebastian is a cultural haven. The city is home to a thriving arts scene, with world-class museums, galleries, and theaters. Visit the San Telmo Museum to delve into the history, art, and culture of the Basque Country or enjoy a performance at the magnificent Victoria Eugenia Theatre. Take a leisurely stroll along the elegant promenade of La Concha Beach and immerse yourself in the beauty of the city’s surroundings.


Speaking of beauty, San Sebastian boasts some of the most picturesque beaches in Europe. La Concha Beach, with its crescent shape and turquoise waters, is often ranked among the best urban beaches in the world. Enjoy a day of sunbathing, swimming, or simply relaxing on the soft sands. For those seeking a more adventurous beach experience, Zurriola Beach offers ideal conditions for surfing and is a favorite spot for local surfers and visitors alike.


No visit to San Sebastian is complete without experiencing the city’s lively festivals. The renowned Semana Grande, or Big Week, takes place in August and is a week-long celebration of music, dance, sports, and fireworks. Join the locals in the vibrant street parties, witness traditional Basque sports such as Basque pelota, and immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere that fills the city.


For a panoramic view of the city, hike up to Mount Urgull or take a funicular ride to the top of Monte Igueldo. From there, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking vistas of the city, beaches, and surrounding landscapes. Don’t forget to visit Santa Clara Island, a small island located just off the coast of San Sebastian. Take a short boat ride and spend a day exploring the island’s beautiful beaches, hiking trails, and even a lighthouse.


San Sebastian is a city that satisfies all the senses. With its exceptional cuisine, rich cultural offerings, stunning beaches, and breathtaking vistas, it promises an unforgettable experience. Embrace the food, immerse yourself in the culture, and revel in the natural beauty that makes San Sebastian a destination like no other.


Pintxos Tasting: A Culinary Adventure

One of the highlights of visiting the Basque Country, particularly in San Sebastian, is going on a pintxos tasting adventure. Pintxos, the Basque version of tapas, are bite-sized culinary delights that showcase the region’s rich gastronomic heritage. Embarking on a pintxos crawl is not just a meal, but an immersive culinary experience that will delight your taste buds and introduce you to the local culture.


Start your pintxos journey in the lively streets of San Sebastian’s Old Town (Parte Vieja). Each bar and tavern proudly displays an array of pintxos on their countertops, tempting passersby with their colorful and creative presentations. Take a moment to observe the variety of pintxos on display, from classic combinations to innovative fusions.


The pintxos experience is not about sitting down for a formal meal, but rather wandering from one bar to another, sampling different pintxos at each stop. Order a drink, traditionally a glass of txakoli wine or a small beer, and ask the bartender for their recommendations or what their specialties are. Remember to pace yourself, as the variety can be overwhelming.


As you delve into the world of pintxos, you’ll discover a plethora of flavors, textures, and culinary creativity. Classic pintxos like jamón ibérico (Iberian ham) on a slice of baguette or gilda (an olive, anchovy, and pickled pepper skewer) are a must-try. But don’t be afraid to experiment and try unique combinations such as foie gras with caramelized onions, grilled octopus with paprika, or even pintxos with innovative vegetarian options or international twists.


Part of the joy of pintxos tasting is the social aspect. Join the locals at the bar, strike up conversations, and immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere. It is customary to stand at the bar and enjoy your pintxos, although some places may have limited seating available. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about the ingredients or techniques used in the preparation of the pintxos, as the bartenders are often proud to share their knowledge.


Every bar in San Sebastian and the Basque Country has its own signature pintxos, so don’t limit yourself to just one or two establishments. Explore different areas, try different neighborhoods, and go off the beaten path. Each bar has its own specialties and unique flavors to offer, so the more you venture, the more diverse and delightful your pintxos experience will be.


Embarking on a pintxos tasting adventure in the Basque Country is not only a culinary delight but also an opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture and traditions. From the buzzing atmosphere of the bars to the explosion of flavors on your palate, a pintxos crawl is an unforgettable culinary adventure that will leave you with a deeper appreciation for the Basque gastronomy and its remarkable creativity.


La Concha Beach: Paradise in the City

Nestled in the heart of San Sebastian, La Concha Beach is a true paradise in the city. With its pristine golden sand, turquoise waters, and picturesque surroundings, this iconic urban beach attracts visitors from around the world who seek relaxation, beauty, and a touch of elegance.


Stretching across the edge of the bay, La Concha Beach is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful urban beaches in Europe. Its crescent shape and gentle waves create the perfect setting for sunbathing and swimming. Lie back on the soft sand and soak up the warm sun, take a refreshing dip in the clear waters, or simply enjoy a leisurely stroll along the shore.


The view from La Concha Beach is simply breathtaking. On one side, you’ll be captivated by the azure waters of the Bay of Biscay, while on the other side, the backdrop of lush green hills enhances the idyllic scenery. The iconic silhouette of Santa Clara Island, located just off the coast, adds an air of tranquility and elegance to the panorama.


One of the distinctive features of La Concha Beach is its elegant promenade, which curves along the shoreline. Lined with majestic buildings and palm trees, this wide promenade invites visitors to take a leisurely stroll and enjoy the magnificent views of the bay. Join the locals who gather here for afternoon walks or rent a bicycle to explore the coastline at your own pace.


La Concha Beach is not only a destination for sun and relaxation but also offers a myriad of water sports and activities. Rent a kayak or paddleboard and venture into the calm waters of the bay, or try your hand at surfing as you ride the waves that break near the beach. For an even more exhilarating experience, take a boat tour around the bay and take in the stunning sights from a different perspective.


The beachfront of La Concha is lined with a variety of amenities, including beachside cafes, bars, and restaurants. Treat yourself to a refreshing drink, indulge in mouth-watering pintxos, or sample the region’s renowned cuisine with a beachfront dining experience. Watching the sunset while savoring delicious seafood or local delicacies is an unforgettable way to end a day at La Concha Beach.


La Concha Beach is not only a summer destination but also a year-round haven. Even in the cooler months, the beach retains its charm and draws visitors with its serene atmosphere and beautiful scenery. Take a peaceful walk along the shore, witness the changing hues of the sky, or simply sit and enjoy the tranquility of the surroundings.


La Concha Beach is a true gem that embodies the perfect combination of natural beauty, urban sophistication, and coastal charm. Whether you’re seeking relaxation, adventure, or simply a stunning backdrop for your memories, a visit to this paradise in the city is an absolute must during your time in San Sebastian.


Mount Urgull: Panoramic Views and History

Rising proudly above the city of San Sebastian, Mount Urgull offers panoramic views, lush greenery, and a fascinating glimpse into the history of the area. This iconic landmark is a must-visit destination, providing visitors with breathtaking vistas, numerous walking trails, and a wealth of historical sites to explore.


One of the highlights of Mount Urgull is the breathtaking panoramic views it offers. As you ascend to the summit, you’ll be treated to sweeping vistas of the sparkling Bay of Biscay, the vibrant cityscape, and the surrounding landscapes. Take your time to soak in the beauty of San Sebastian from this elevated vantage point, capturing memorable photographs and creating lasting memories.


The rich history of Mount Urgull is evident throughout the area. The mountain has been witness to centuries of conquests, battles, and strategic importance. Explore the remnants of the San Sebastian Castle, which sits proudly at the top of the mountain. This 12th-century fortress offers a glimpse into San Sebastian’s defensive past and provides a fantastic vantage point for views of the city and the sea.


Within the castle grounds, you’ll also find the Sacred Heart statue, a symbol of San Sebastian and a cherished landmark. Standing tall and overlooking the city, this statue offers a picturesque backdrop for photos and is a testament to the religious heritage of the region.


As you wander along the hiking trails of Mount Urgull, you’ll have the opportunity to discover hidden gems of historical significance. Keep an eye out for the English Cemetery, a solemn place that serves as a reminder of the historical ties between San Sebastian and Britain. Explore the Military Museum, located in a former military stronghold, to learn more about the city’s military history and experiences during various conflicts.


In addition to its historical heritage, Mount Urgull is also a natural haven with abundant vegetation and stunning landscapes. The mountain is home to a variety of walking trails, offering a moment of respite and connection with nature. Wander through the lush greenery, listen to the melody of birdsong, and breathe in the fresh air as you escape the hustle and bustle of the city.


Whether you choose to hike to the top of Mount Urgull or simply enjoy a leisurely stroll around its slopes, this iconic landmark rewards visitors with history, panoramic views, and a sense of tranquility. It’s a place where nature and heritage intertwine, leaving an indelible mark on those who have the opportunity to explore its trails and absorb its beauty.


Monte Igueldo: Thrilling Rides and Spectacular Views

Perched on a hill overlooking San Sebastian, Monte Igueldo offers a thrilling combination of amusement park rides, breathtaking views, and a nostalgic atmosphere. This iconic mountain provides visitors with an opportunity to experience excitement, panoramic vistas, and a dash of nostalgia.


One of the highlights of Monte Igueldo is the amusement park that has been captivating visitors since 1912. Step back in time as you enter this charming park, where classic rides and attractions transport you to a bygone era. Take a ride on the Ferris wheel, carousel, or roller coaster, and feel the rush of adrenaline combined with the excitement of taking part in a historical tradition.


As you ascend to the summit of Monte Igueldo, be prepared to be blown away by the incredible views that await you. From the observation deck, panoramic vistas of the Bay of Biscay, the sprawling city of San Sebastian, and the surrounding lush green hills will leave you in awe. It’s a perfect spot to capture stunning photographs and appreciate the beauty of the region.


While at the summit, visit the iconic Monte Igueldo Hotel. This historical building, constructed in the early 20th century, exudes charm and elegance. Step inside and soak in the romantic atmosphere while enjoying a drink or savoring a meal. The hotel’s terrace offers another fantastic vantage point to admire the panoramic views, making it an ideal spot for a memorable dining experience.


If you’re looking for even more adventure, take a ride on the funicular that connects the base of Monte Igueldo to the summit. This vintage rail car provides a unique and scenic ride up the mountain, offering glimpses of the picturesque landscape along the way. It’s a journey that further enhances the sense of being transported to a bygone era.


Visiting Monte Igueldo offers not only thrilling rides and scenic views, but also a chance to immerse yourself in the nostalgia of a bygone era. The combination of amusement park attractions, stunning vistas, and a touch of old-world charm creates an enchanting experience that will leave you with lasting memories.


Whether you’re seeking excitement on the rides, breathtaking views of San Sebastian, or a journey back in time, Monte Igueldo offers it all. Step into this nostalgic paradise and embrace the thrill and wonder that come with every visit to this delightful mountain.


Day Trips from San Sebastian: Hondarribia and Biarritz

While San Sebastian is a captivating destination in itself, the surrounding region offers delightful day trip opportunities. Two notable destinations worth exploring are Hondarribia and Biarritz, charming coastal towns that showcase their unique cultural heritage, picturesque landscapes, and culinary delights.


Just a short distance from San Sebastian, Hondarribia welcomes visitors with its enchanting medieval charm. Stroll through the narrow streets of the well-preserved old town, lined with colorful half-timbered houses and adorned with flower-filled balconies. Visit the monumental Plaza de Armas, the heart of the town, and marvel at the stunning 15th-century Church of Santa Maria. Take a moment to relish the vibrant atmosphere of the fishing port before indulging in the local specialty, pintxos, at the waterfront bars and cafes.


Crossing the French-Spanish border, you’ll discover Biarritz, a luxurious resort town renowned for its beautiful beaches and elegant architecture. Relax on the golden sands of Grand Plage, the town’s main beach, and enjoy panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean. Explore the historic district, with its Belle Époque buildings, stylish boutiques, and charming cafes. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the iconic Biarritz lighthouse, offering spectacular vistas of the coastline. And for surf enthusiasts, Biarritz is a haven with world-class waves that attract surfers from around the globe.


Both Hondarribia and Biarritz boast exceptional culinary scenes. In Hondarribia, savor traditional Basque cuisine paired with locally produced txakoli wine, ensuring a truly authentic taste of the region. Biarritz, on the other hand, is known for its gourmet dining options, offering a fusion of French and Basque flavors. Indulge in fresh seafood delights, like oysters and mussels, or try the famous Basque dish, Axoa de Veau, a veal stew with spices and peppers.


Whether you’re seeking history and charm or stunning beaches and haute cuisine, a day trip from San Sebastian to Hondarribia and Biarritz promises an enriching experience. Immerse yourself in the unique cultural flavors of both towns, enjoy breathtaking coastal views, and create memories that will stay with you long after you return to San Sebastian.


Final Thoughts: A Journey to Remember

As your road trip through the Basque Country comes to an end, reflecting on the captivating experiences and unforgettable moments is inevitable. From the vibrant streets of Bilbao to the stunning coastlines of San Sebastian, this journey has offered a taste of the region’s rich culture, breathtaking landscapes, and mouthwatering cuisine.


The Basque Country is a place where tradition and innovation harmoniously coexist. It’s a region where ancient towns preserve their medieval charm while embracing modern art, architecture, and gastronomy. It’s a land of rugged coastlines, picturesque beaches, and vibrant cities that captivate visitors with their beauty.


Exploring the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, wandering through the narrow streets of San Sebastian’s Old Town, and indulging in the sensory delight of pintxos tasting are just a few of the memorable experiences that have unfolded along the way. The region’s rich history, evident in the medieval castles and the stories woven into its streets, has added a layer of depth to the journey.


Connecting with nature has been an integral part of this road trip. Whether it was hiking along the rocky cliffs of Zumaia, soaking up the sun on the golden sands of Zarautz, or marvelling at the breathtaking views from Mount Urgull, the Basque Country’s natural beauty has left an indelible impression.


But perhaps the most enduring memory will be the culinary adventure that unfolded throughout the journey. From the world-class cuisine of San Sebastian’s Michelin-starred restaurants to the traditional pintxos bars and the vineyards producing the renowned Txakoli wine, the Basque Country’s food culture has been a highlight that satisfied not just the appetite but also the soul.


As you bid farewell to the Basque Country, take a moment to cherish the memories of this journey. The intermingling of art, history, stunning landscapes, and mouthwatering cuisine has created an experience that will stay with you forever. The warmth and hospitality of the Basque people, their love for their culture and traditions, have left an indelible mark on your journey.


Whether this road trip was just the beginning of your exploration or the culmination of a long-held dream, the Basque Country has shared its essence with you in ways that will continue to resonate. Carry these memories with you, knowing that the enchanting beauty and vibrant spirit of this region will always welcome you back.