The summer capital of Spain, San Sebastián harbors no pretense; this beautiful Basque resort simply wants you to indulge in its two favorite hedonistic pursuits. By day, bask in the sun along majestic La Concha, a luxurious, sparkling crescent of beachscape carpeting the city's harbor along the Bay of Biscay. By night, the delights are epicurean: No city other than Paris comes close to the number of top-caliber restaurants, but the true culinary fireworks may be found in the seemingly endless spread of modest pintxos (local tapas) bars.
Things to Do
Take in the breathtaking vistas from the surrounding two hills that wend down to the Atlantic. Start with a trip to Monte Urgull, from which you can survey the panorama of San Sebastián's necklace of beaches and bay. To the east, Monte Ulia offers up a view of coastal flora and the sapphire depths of the water below. Take a stroll among the Art Nouveau facades of the Centro Romántico and while away an afternoon shopping.
Nightlife and Entertainment
The Parte Vieja is a jovial Basque pub crawl, where the effusive spirit of donostiarras (as the locals call themselves) is on display. While San Sebastián is strictly a dine-and-sunbathe sort of town, it can venture into the cerebral: The island's jazz festival, the Jazzaldia, is one of the longest-running in Europe, with performances at Parte Vieja's Plaza de la Trinidad and the palatial Victoria Eugenia theater.
Restaurants and Dining
In San Sebastián the specialty is bite-size pintxos, mini tapas made with a myriad of local ingredients. Zesty anchovies, wild mushrooms, ham, onion and squid are set into culinary choreography at Aloña Berri. For top-shelf dining, venture to Arzak, a storied establishment set in an old country house where nouvelle cuisine meets traditional Basque staples.
Work off the weight gained on San Sebastián's fine dining at La Perla Centro Talaso Sport, where you can indulge in a mild workout, a massage or a salt-water hydrotherapy treatment. Surfers head to Zurriola Beach, just east of the city, where the waves are choppy but the setting is serene.