If You Only Have Three Days in San Sebastián

Three days in San Sebastián leaves just enough time for the city’s essentials. Visit the hallowed bars of the town’s old part, eating, drinking, and repeating until you find your favorite pintxo, those small bites for which San Sebastián is known. Drink in the city’s views from the surrounding mountains, beaches, and islands. Whether hiking or splurging at the seaside spa, a visit to San Sebastián is a lesson in luxurious living.

Zabaleta Kalea, 6, 20002 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
La Gintonería, in the less-traversed neighborhood of Gros, could very well be the best gin-tonic in San Sebastián. With two shelves laden with premium and hard-to-find gins, it’s a gintonaholic’s dream. They have a selection of premium tonics and an arsenal of techniques to match. Watch as they instantaneously infuse your gin with cardamom using a pellet of dry ice. Or inhale as they drip just a few drops of bitters into your fishbowl glass. Whatever gin you choose, you are in for one of the best mixed drinks of your life.
Mount Ulia, 20013, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Most visitors never cross the river from the Old Part, and the vast majority overlook what has to be one of the most beautiful hikes from here to California. At the edge of Gros, a trail heads up some stairs (at the end of Calle San Francisco) and continues for hours, all the way to the neighboring village of Pasaia. It’s a family-friendly trail in terms of difficulty, and the views are breathtaking. A must-hike.
Rodil Zeharkalea, 79, 20013 San Sebastián, Guipúzcoa, Spain
One of my favorite sit-down dining experiences in the city, Zelai Txiki has a couple things going for it. One is a gigantic terrace that overlooks the entire city. On a summer evening there are only a few places I would rather be. Call ahead to try one of Zelai Txiki’s specialties: whole suckling roasted pig or suckling lamb. These are roasted in a wood-burning oven and are an experience that shouldn’t be missed.
Zurríola Hiribidea, 24, 20002 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
San Sebastián, for many, is a surf town. Pukas is your one-stop shop for everything from surf lessons, bikinis, gear, and cool souvenirs with a local twist, like their trademark ‘Surfing the Basque Country’ t-shirts.
Kontxa Pasealekua Edificio de La Perla Donostia Gipuzkoa ES 20007, Kontxa Pasealekua, 20007 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
What could make a spa with all the typical trappings of luxury even better? Wall-to-wall windows overlooking La Concha bay, that’s what. La Perla does not disappoint, and it’s a great way to spend those finicky winter days when visiting San Sebastián. They also offer massages, which I highly recommend.
17 Eduardo Chillida Ibilbidea
From May to August, a ferry runs from the port of San Sebastián to the island that sits serenely in the middle of the Concha Bay. The island is quiet, isolated, and empty. There is a café on the island with a mysterious timetable, and a lighthouse that makes for a picturesque snapshot. Grab a loaf of bread, some cheese and ham, and settle down for a picnic and a reverse view of San Sebastián.
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