San Sebastian is the new foodie Mecca for Europe and while traditionalists may flock to Paris for the largest number of Michelin stars of any city in Europe, all self-respecting foodies know that San Sebastian is where it’s at.
That fact alone would skyrocket San Sebastian to one of my all time favourite places, perhaps even rivalling Singapore in my affections for favourite foodie city (gasp!) but it has more than just great food, it’s a beautiful city to walk around and it’s sweeping sea views and sandy beaches make it a city to suit all sorts.
We toyed with the idea of whether San Sebastian was right for us to visit with the kids in tow, a city dedicated to bar hopping doesn’t exactly scream toddler friendly and I wondered if it was really worth it – after all, in my experience, I’ve found it pretty hard to get a bad meal in Spain. How can you really go wrong in a country where it is entirely acceptable, nay the norm, to have jamon for breakfast?
But FOMO won out and we arrived in San Sebastian, ready to hit the Pinxtos trail and learnt a few lessons along the way, which I hope you’ll find useful, whether or not you are travelling with tots in tow.
For those without children, it’s easy to call your days your own, walk through the streets of Parte Vieja (old town), dipping in and out of the places you like the look of, sipping on your drink of choice. But for us, we needed to be a bit more organised.
Our days quickly fell into a pattern, after a breakfast of the aforementioned Jamon, we’d find a child-friendly activity. Luckily, there’s plenty to keep the kids amused! Most days, we found ourselves on the promenade at Playa de La Concha – for their excellent carousel and playground that the sprog just adored and spent many many hours playing on. The weather didn’t always play ball, so we didn’t manage a dip in the sea, but a playground with a view kept both adults and Sprog happy.
The aquarium was another spot that came highly recommended and while small, we found it to be really lovely and a great way to keep our tiny people entertained for a few hours, gazing in awe at the boats and brightly coloured schools of fish. Adults and older children can learn a lot through the displays and signs but we were quite content to walk around laughing at the sprog who was shouting ‘Fish Fish’ in glee.
We didn’t make it to Monte Igueldo Amusement Park, but that just means there’s more to visit when we return another day!
Another tip is to have a general idea of what you want to eat and where. On our first day, we did some aimless roaming and after seeing that some places had traditional restaurant seating, we sat down and stayed in one place. While it was still good food, it’s not really why you come to San Sebastian and since we weren’t really sure what to eat, our meal was not memorable so the next day we came prepared.
The famous spots are famous for a reason and they each have signature dishes that are also famous for a reason. If you want to get the full foodie experience, read up on these and find out what most catches your imagination – I used Hot Dinners as a guide along with Seetal’s recent experience and that steered us to some excellent choices.
My absolute favourite was the Prawn Brochettes at Goiz Argi, so much so, we came back here 3 times in as many days!
Overall though, my favourite place of all was Bar Sport and I loved everything we tried here. If you go anywhere at all, come to Bar Sport.
If you tire of roaming the streets stopping for morsels and you want more of a restaurant experience with your small people, then I recommend checking out the Gros area – the food is just as good but it’s more suited to the family sitting down experience and at a more pocket friendly price! We actually stayed in Gros, which we found to have much more family-friendly accommodation available and it was only a short walk from the Old Town.
Despite being in San Sebastian for 4 days, there were still so many places I wanted to see (ok not see, eat at!) but since San Sebastian has won it’s place in my heart as my favourite European foodie city, I’ll definitely be back. In the meantime, I’ll get working on that ‘must-eat’ list for next time!