San Sebastián is a city I have wanted to visit for years. It is world renowned for food, boasting an impressive 15 Michelin stars, across 8 different restaurants with three of these establishments holding 3 stars each! It holds the second highest Michelin stars per capita in the world, however it's not all about expensive fine dining as the cheap and cheerful pintxos restaurants in the old town have a stellar reputation as well. We caught the bus to San Sebastián from Bilbao, it takes an hour and costs about around €15 for a one way tickets. We spent 2 nights here which was just perfect. On out first night we did a fantastic pintxos crawl around the old town and on our second night, my birthday, we had one of the most memorable meals I have ever experienced at Mugaritz, a 2 Michelin starred restaurant. In terms of stuff to do during the day there isn't really that much to see, we visited the local history museum, walked along the beach and caught a funicular up the mountain for a great view over the city. It was the perfect weekend away with lots of amazing food and plenty of time to relax. I absolutely loved it.
We stayed at the lovely guest house Pension Edorta right in the centre of the old town. The guest house is simple but perfectly formed and the location couldn't be more perfect. We had a shared bathroom right next to our bedroom which was extremely spacious and for the grand price of €60 a night the deal couldn't have been better.
Our first night was spent on an epic pintxos crawl around the old town. We visited 8 or 9 different restaurants in a two hour period, trying their speciality dish and a glass of wine in each. I'm going to do a proper blog post on this soon but it really was a super fun evening. We tried a ridiculous amount of wonderful wood, from grilled prawns to mini burger to calf cheeks. It was hard to pick a favourite dish and a favourite bar because everywhere is quite different specialising in different options. As our guest house was situated right in the middle of the restaurant circuit it only took us a minute or two to walk back home that nigh where we collapsed with full bellies.
Day 2 started with breakfast at the cool bakery come cafe the Loaf. I had a delicious brunch of fried potatoes, crispy bacon and eggs whilst Steve went for a cheese and onion toasted sandwich. The Loaf do a great brunch deal where you get a main option, juice, hot drink and granola / yoghurt for around €12-14 each. I can't actually remember the price but I do remember it being a decent deal. It's situated on the seafront and the cafe is in the basement whilst the bakery is on the ground floor.
After breakfast we went for a walk along Playa de la Zurriola and then around the huge Monte Urgull, we meant to go back a walk to the top at some stage but we never did, the steep path was a little off putting.
Back in the old town we checked out the marina and some of the beautiful buildings around Plaza de la Constitucion. San Sebastián has been voted city of culture for 2016 and there were posters all over the place celebrating this fantastic achievement.
In the early afternoon it started to drizzle a little so we held of visiting the other beach until the weather improved. We popped into Holly Burger to share a birthday burger. We weren't that hungry but the place was meant to be decent enough so we decided to give it a go, after all I am the burger queen. It was OK, nothing amazing but not terrible either. We went for a simple cheese burger without any sides and it was the perfect snack to keep us going until our fancy dinner that evening.
The rain stopped and the sun came out so we ventured across Playa de La Concha which must be one of the most beautiful beaches in Spain. The beach stretches for almost a mile and the clear blue waters lap against the golden sand bay. There's a sheltered walkway for the fair skinned people but as it wasn't too hot we took of my shoes and walked through the water. It was a little chilly but nonetheless a wonderful stroll. The beach isn't too busy in October but I can image it being full of sun worshipping locals and tourists during the summer months.
Once we reached the other end of the beach, passed Playa de La Concha and the Playa de Ondarreta extension we caught the funicular to the top of Monte Igeldo where we were met with beautiful views across the city. At the top of the mountain you'll find an almighty awful theme park, we took a ride on the world's worst log flume but the main point of the visit to admire the views which we did with great satisfaction. After our fill of sea spanning vistas we took the funicular back down the mountain, walked back across the bill and chilled out at the guest house for an hour before dinner.
That evening we had a 26 course dinner at Mugaritz, a 2 Michelin star restaurant which is voted one of the best restaurants in the world every year. I wont say too much about this place as it warrants a blog review all of it's own but let me just tell you that this meal was an experience. We were there for over 3 hours, ate plate after plate of amazing delights, went on a tour of the kitchen and spent an absolute fortune but you know what, it was 100% worth it.
Our final day was spent tying up lose ends and by this I mean visiting pintxos bars that we hadn't had a chance to visit on our first evening. This meant having cured ham, a smoking cod lollipop and cheesecake for breakfast but YOLO we were on holiday.
We spent some time at the fantastic San Telmo Museoa which documents Basque history. Much of the museum doesn't provide English translations but I really don't think that hindered my experience plus the museum itself is situated in a beautiful convent with a contemporary extension.
Before catching the bus back to Bilbao airport we had a late lunch at the lovely La Fábrica which was conveniently located directly underneath our hotel. The bus to the airport takes a little over an hour and costs around €15 per person By this stage I was tired and full from all the food we had devoured that weekend and was completely read to crawl back into my own bed, but alas there was a few more hours of travelling to be done.
San Sebastián is a wonderful city, the old town is tiny so you really don't need to spend a lot of time visiting, a weekend is perfect. I'll definitely be back again to sample more of the food and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere and glorious beaches, maybe I'll even walk to the top of Monte Urgull.