Stayed: An Airbnb in Old Town Duration: 4 days.
When: Semana Santa (Holy week/ Easter Week) Good For: Short getaways
Holy Week or Semana Santa is one of the biggest holidays in Europe, mostly all children and students have that week off from school, and for most jobs they have at least a very long weekend off. Making this one of the most popular times to travel here. For me, it was the equivalent to Spring Break. This would be my first days off from my jobs and school work in almost 3 months. My friends and I agreed on San Sebastian.
We stays on Fermin Calbeton, a street in old town at an Airbnb. I wish I could tell you better the differences between new and old town but we were quite basic and stayed in old town. It had everything we wanted for this vacation, nature, beach, tons of bars tons of restaurants. It was very scenic, picturesque really.
Realistically we hardly stayed away from our block. Our block was more or less the hot block, best food best drinks best dance and the center more or less of all other blocks with similar things.
San Sebastián in general is very small, so if you did want to venture to the newer side it’s within like a 12min walk, it’s just I hardly did it. Over on that side was mostly shopping stores and the Buen Pastor Cathedral.
Can you get by without speaking Spanish? Hmm, I honestly don’t know. San Sebastián is in the Basque Country which indicates that el vasco or basque is their main language and Spanish is secondary (like Catalan is Barcelona’s main language). I understand and moreorless speak Spanish so I didn’t have an issue at all, and I think that in places most people do have some level of English so you’d be fine, but I’d also say it’s in your best interest to have some level of Spanish. San Sebastian does accommodate for tourist, but their tourist are mostly Spaniards, and maybe the French because of location. So unlike a more international city like Barcelona they’re not trying to accommodate to an international crowd.
Pinchos are smaller tapas. Tapas are small plates, whereas pinchos are like a small bites and that’s what they’re known for here and have in abundance. Don’t be deceived by the size, a good four or five of these could fill you up and for the most part will range in price between €1-2.50 per.
Drink wise they’re known for their Sidra (like a cider) and some form of sparkling wine/champagne which name I cannot remember. They pour it in a very fun way but I have no idea why or how it effects the drink if at all. But I do know I bought the spout in which you can pour it the same way lol just in case.
Food wise I’d say San Sebastián was similarly priced as Barcelona, but the food was soooo much better. As I stated before San Sebastián although a bit for tourist I believe it’s moreso the vacation spot for other Spainards and French rather than for international guest; with that being said I believe that’s why the food is so different. They’re not cooking in abundance to please outsiders but rather are putting quality in everything they bang out.
Down the block from us was this amazing bar Bar Sport. The food was the best that I had in the whole town, the staff was super friendly, accommodating and this place was super cheap. Between 5 of us we’d go and have about 4 pinchos and 3 drinks each and not pay more than €12 a person.
We tried to eat at La Cuchara de San Telmo a bunch of times but there was always a discrepancy with the times they were open but supposedly that’s suppose to be a great place. Also we kept trying to get a slice of cheesecake from La Viña, but there was always an annoying line for it as well and we never waited on it. Later on in the trip 2 of the girls were able to get some and said it was amazing though.
The Club Scene
Bar wise soooo much cheaper than Barcelona. To put in perspective, a chupito (shot) cost €2 compared to €4/5, a premium liquor mixed drink cost €6/7 compared to €12.
I generally had fun in most bars we went to, the staff were all fun, drinks were strong, and the crowd was always fun. The only thing was it was a bit redundant. I swear everybar had the same exact playlist and they all just pressed shuffle. There were a few bars that would throw in some random top 40 or hip hop songs but for the greater majority of the time it was only reggaeton.
I wish I could give you an exact list of the different bars we went to or wish that I was even thinking of having to write this blog, but I was on my first vacation in months so give me a break. Some of the bars were though , Bardulia, Uraitz Pub, Sariketa bar, to name a few I remember.
For the downside, we finally wanted variety in music so we looked up clubs and found this club called “Gu” by the water. So longer story shorter, we go there, change our minds. The bouncers began being very rude and aggressive towards us, in turn punching me in the jaw, kicking me, and slapping two of my friends full force taking one of their phones and throwing it on the ground. All of this separate, it wasn’t like one big brawl. Call the police, blah blah blah, they can’t do anything about it without like a death or fractures. Look at some reviews on the place and speak to people from there and apparently this is a normal thing with those bouncers and in that club.
In between all the partying and eating we did find time to explore a bit of what San Sebastián actually had to offer. We took a bus route to Zarautz , a smaller city outside of San Sebastián (about 30min ride). There some went surfing which is what this part of the coast is known for.
We also took a very short (maybe 20min) hike up to Urgull Mount to explore the hill and to see the Christ statue at the top. This was a beautiful hike and great view of the city. Besides that we also spent some time at the beautiful beach.