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A day in Donostia, San Sebastián

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San Sebastián (Donostia in Euskera, the language of the Basque Country) is a city located in the northern coast of Spain, in the province of Gipuzkoa, and it is considered by many as one of the most beautiful cities in the country.

Indeed, it is breathtaking. Although quite small, San Sebastián has the feeling of a big city, as you can find pretty much anything you need without losing that small town aura. Surrounded by two bays on one side and mountains on the other, in San Sebastián you can find the perfect balance between coast, countryside and cosmopolitan city.

San Sebastián is a city full of history. In the historical centre of the city you can visit its oldest street, the Calle del 31 de Agosto (31st of August Street), or San Telmo Kalea. It is the only street that survived the Spanish War of Independence in 1813 and the great fires that followed it.

Not far away from it you’ll find the new town hall in the middle of a beautiful square. The façade of the building still has bullet holes from the Spanish Civil War.

Apart from all these stories about the city’s past, the historical centre is full of bars that sell the most typical basque food: pintxos. Similar to the Spanish concept of tapas, going for pintxos means going from bar to bar drinking some beer or wine accompanied by pintxos or mini dishes. The variety available is so large it is impossible to try them all. 

But the best thing in San Sebastián is definitely the beach. Out of the three beaches, the most beautiful is unquestionably the Playa de La Concha, with the island of Santa Clara in the middle of the bay. The landscape of the beach, with all the green mountains surrounding it, is just beautiful. And, even if the weather in San Sebastián is not especially warm, you’ll find the beach crowded with people during the months of summer.

If you walk down the promenade until the western end of the beach of Ondarreta (next to La Concha), you’ll find the famous sculpture The Comb of the Wind, by Eduardo Chillida. A few minutes from there there is the funicular that will take you to Mount Igueldo, a small amusement park in the top of the mountain. It is quite old, but charming and definitely worth it, and it has one of the best viewpoints in San Sebastián. Climb the stairs of the fortified tower to take a picture from the highest point in the city!

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