The Best Cafés in San Sebastián

Spain (and Europe) is synonymous with sipping a small coffee at a buzzing coffee shop or sidewalk café. The equation is delicate: a great coffee makes up for a lackluster ambience, and a jaw-dropping view can be the difference between a disappointing and a fabulous café con leche.

Gernikako Arbola Pasealekua, 8, 20006 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Botanika is one of San Sebastián‘s best local spots to just BE. Especially if you consider yourself slightly hip, ride a fixed gear, are a NOLA-phile, or enjoy café food with a vegetarian bent. The private garden overlooks the river that runs through the city. It’s off the beaten path but a wonderful spot to meet interesting locals and enjoy a beer or coffee.
14 Plaza de Guipúzcoa
Bideluze hits all the right notes. There’s nothing artisan or hoity-toity about it. Just a good, comfortable Irish pub style vibe, with pintxos that are big enough to qualify as sandwiches and a kitchen open all day long. Mornings in Bideluze are the best. The buzzy, warm ambience is the best to enjoy a big cup of Colacao, Spanish hot chocolate, which they make the RIGHT way here. The interior of the mug is coated with the paste before being filled with hot milk and served with four Maria cookies. Perfection.
Kontxa Pasealekua, S/N, 20007 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Café de La Concha is a perfectly satisfactory café for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. However, what it does really well is sit smack dab in the middle of La Concha Beach. This means there is no place more picturesque to take a morning coffee than its terrace, which has views of the bay and the surrounding mountains. If you are in town for Semana Grande, it’s the spot to be for fireworks watching, just make sure to reserve a spot for dinner.
Bengoetxea Kalea, 2, 20004 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
This is the neighborhood spot for the entire town of San Sebastián under the age of 40. Whether it’s an 8 o’clock shot of espresso, a mid-morning toast with tomato and olive oil, or a beer at 7pm, this place is always hopping with people. It’s the perfect place for conversation, people-watching, and Wi-Fi. Their toast and their homemade cakes are outstanding.
1 Sanchez Toca Kalea
Pokhara, located in the center of the city, has one of the best ambiences around. The quintessential European café, with a touch of Paris and a touch of Spain, it attracts a younger, hip crowd. Don’t expect food beyond the obligatory croissants and tortilla española, but do try their carajillo. They put special care into this boozy alchoholic drink. First vodka or whisky (your choice—but choose whisky) is set aflame. Then a shot of espresso is pulled while the bartender whips body into cool, fresh cream. All of this goes into a glass to form the carajillo, one of the most delicious drinks known to man.
Andia Kalea, 11, 20004 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
People dream of European bakeries, lining the city streets, emitting delicious smells day in and day out. However, the truth is, in Spain a good bakery can be hard to find. Gogoko Goxuak is the newest addition to San Sebastián‘s café scene. They boast a great location for people watching, as well as artisan baked goods.
55 Zabaleta Kalea
La Guinda is quite unassuming, but its baked goods are among the city’s best. They have a selection of typically “American” items, such as carrot cake, as well as alfajores, the Argentinian sweet. Their lunch menu is decent and decently priced, with menu items that are not traditionally Basque but a welcome change (think hummus, veggie tempura, etc).
Soraluze Kalea, 1 bajo, 20003 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Café Artess is one of the city’s best people-watching spots. It’s spacious, with high ceilings, and locals flock there to play cards in the afternoon. It also has ample outdoor seating that looks out onto an agreeable plaza. A wide selection of cakes and tartes by the slice is also a signature of this café.
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