If you’ve ever visited a new city and immediately thought, “I could live here!” then you’ll understand how I feel about San Sebastián. Located on the northeast coast of Spain in Basque country, San Sebastián is well-known internationally as a great food destination. In fact, the annual culinary event Gastronomika takes place here, drawing food industry professionals from all over the world to meet and share in the latest products and trends. Film buffs know the city as home to the San Sebastián Film Festival, which brings movie stars and movie lovers alike to town each September. What might surprise you is that the city also has an outdoorsy, beachy vibe. Its location on the coast, and the temperate climate set the stage. Add to that excellent bicycling infrastructure, complete with dedicated lanes for cyclists, and a local surf culture, and you’ve got a city that appeals to the native California girl in me. It’s a great place for anyone who loves to eat well and stay active outdoors.
Of course, no trip to San Sebastián is complete without a stroll through the many pintxo and wine bars that line the streets in the old town. But, don’t stop there. Fine dining is surprisingly accessible here, and you can enjoy a world-class meal on a budget, if you know where to look. Located next to the breakwater at the mouth of the Urumea River is the elegant restaurant Ni Neu. For less than 20 Euro per person you can indulge in their lunch “express” menu, which is available Monday through Friday and includes a beautifully prepared main course, dessert, and a bottle of wine or mineral water. Other options include a four-course tasting menu, with wine for about 30 Euro per person. San Sebastián also has plenty of high-end hotels, if you’re looking for luxury. I like a great value, which we found in the sweet Hotel Leku Eder, located on a hill overlooking the city. This small, family run inn has comfortable, quiet rooms and a very friendly and helpful staff. Our double room was just 80 Euros and included a delicious breakfast buffet, served in their dining room overlooking the Bay of Biscay. Leave the car at the hotel, and take advantage of the city bus that runs to town every hour, so you can indulge in some bar hopping, and get dropped off safely at your room when the day comes to an end.