European Capital of Culture 2016, a shell-shaped resort and the city, where the world's second University of Gastronomic Sciences was established. It’s San Sebastian, the "pearl of the north", situated on the Bay of Biscay.
In the early XX century, the Spanish royal family loved to spend their holidays in San Sebastian. Later, they moved to a slightly quieter place, because in the last years of General Franco rules, a series of terrorist attacks took place here. Today, the resort is pulsates with life, and holds a few great festivals throughout the year, including Tamborrada, Saint Thomas Day and semana grande, an international fireworks competition.
A huge tourist attraction in San Sebastian is one of the country’s most famous urban beaches. It’s Playa de La Concha, cuddled up in the picturesque cove of the same name. It’s surrounded by the blue waves of the Cantabrian Sea and tempts with golden sand. Since 2007, La Concha is considered one of the twelve treasures of Spain.
A shell-shaped city
Aerial view of San Sebastian resembles a bit the shell of a pearl – the role of which plays Santa Clara Island. This beautiful island is one of the favorite destinations for residents, who choose it for their afternoon walks. It enjoys quite huge popularity among tourists as well. You can get there easily and quickly by a special boat – they run rather regularly from the local port.
Today it's hard to believe, but in the past the "pearl" of San Sebastian caused a lot of anxiety. In XVI century the town was haunted by a plague and the sick people were separated from the rest of the society and transported to the island.
Pintxos – a perfect bite
Eastern tip of the bay is covered with a wooded hill, Urgull. You can ascend its top in half an hour, and when you reach it, you'll see an impressive figure of Christ and the ruins of XII century castle. During the hike up the hill, we’ll wander through a tangle of narrow streets of the old town. We’ll pass Baroque church of Santa Maria, a Gothic cathedral and square, where in the past were held infamous bloody bullfights. In this part of the town, you can also find plenty of bars serving miniature snacks called pintxos. They are served on a baguette pieces, and the whole is pierced with toothpicks.
Wandering along the coastal boulevard, you breathe in not only the fresh breeze, but the flavors of dishes served in local pubs. Among the colorful, low fishermen's houses are hidden places where you can try delicious seafood and dishes of fresh fish. And believe me, it’s better to have a full stomach before you decide to go to explore the area – otherwise you won’t be able to focus on the local virtues.
Gastronomic capital of the world
While we're on the topic of cuisine, it’s worth mentioning that San Sebastian is considered the unofficial world capital of gastronomy. It’s the second European city next to Paris, where there are three restaurants awarded with Michelin highest honors - three stars. In the whole city you will find fourteen stars of the aforementioned guide.
First Spanish students of the gastronomy and culinary arts are studying in the resort, as here’s the world's second University of Gastronomic Sciences. One of the teachers is Ferran Adrià, the chef of "El Bulli", that had been recognized world’s best restaurant 5 times.
Where to stay?
On the outskirts of San Sebastian is located Camping Igueldo. You can come here with your motorhome. Per parking space and the nightly accommodation for 2 people you’ll pay from 8.20 to 19.90 EUR/day, while the access to electricity costs 4.90 EUR. Within the area of the campsite you can find a supermarket, restaurant, and even a post office and a car wash. It’s adapted for people with disabilities.
This resort has something for everyone - both for fans of excellent cuisine, as well as festivals enthusiasts. For many years, San Sebastian has been one of the main tourist attractions of Spain, and each year it is visited by more than 400,000 people.