Ben here and chatting about San Sebastian today. So San Sebastian is a small city on the north coast of Spain and since I had the pleasure of spending a few days there last summer I wanted to share my experience of it to give you a feel for the place and hopefully inspire you to visit! So what can I say about it?
The city has a really laid back, friendly atmosphere, which made me feel at home very quickly and particularly when the sun is out it’s a pleasure just to stroll around and look at. It’s built around the mouth of the river Urumea and around the edge of the Bay of La Concha and pretty much everywhere you go there are gorgeous looking buildings, ornate bridges over the river and small parks and gardens dotted about, all of which make for a very beautiful city.
The Bay of La Concha itself adds to the attractiveness of the place with brilliant blue/green water and is also quite enclosed as it almost a full oval shape and there is an island sitting in the gap that leads to the open sea meaning you feel very comfortable going for a swim and enjoying the water. Following the sea wall takes you all the way around the bay, past the Miramar Palace whose garden lots of people will sit in, have some food and look out over the bay and the city. If you fancy it there is also a surf beach on the other side of the river to the Bay where lots of people surf every day and you can hire surf boards (I can’t remember costs sorry!).
San Sebastian is also host to a 16th century ruined castle on top of the highest point in the city which is a woods-covered hill that sits to one side of the Bay. Getting to the top is an uphill struggle (see what I did there!?), with a variety of paths leading through scattered remains of old stone ruins and past stone balconies. The views from the top however are pretty spectacular where you can see the whole bay with the city spread out beyond it and the giant hills in the far distance. Looking around the ruins and seeing the old look out posts and cannon was pretty cool too so definitely worth the effort overall.
As luck would have it I was also in town for the annual Bandera de la Concha boat race, where it seemed like the entire city came out and posted themselves all around the Bay and up the hills and along the harbour. The atmosphere was buzzing and it was fun to watch all the boats racing up and down the bay in the glorious sunshine (because of the language barrier and general chaos of the day we weren’t entirely sure who was racing who or even who won for that matter but it was fun anyway!). I was there in early september so if you do want to see the boat race that’s a good time to plan your trip.
I also went to the San Sebastian aquarium, which was to be fair, much like most aquariums but still pretty cool. There were lots of big sharks which is, lets be honest, the main thing people are interested in seeing at aquariums 😉 You were able to walk through a glass tunnel and see all the fish from a perspective from inside the tank, which always makes me wonder what would happen if the glass gave way and cracked! As an aside, I saw the weirdest looking… I’m not sure what that I’ve ever seen!
There were always some variety of street performers playing music in the streets outside our hostel which gave an extra sense of chilled-out, authenticness (definitely should be a word) to the whole place and there was a nice little second hand book market set up next to the hostel too that I had a browse at.
Finally there was a really neat little natural attraction which was a series of blowholes in the stone floor of the sea wall that, every time a wave hit the wall, would eject the air that was forced through the holes by the waves. Lots of people crowded around standing over the holes and doing the whole Marilyn Monroe thing!
I hope you enjoyed reading about San Sebastian and if you are ever in Spain it really is worth spending at least a few days exploring and relaxing in this lovely city 🙂