If San Sebastián features in your plans for this summer and your idea is simply to have a rest, we’re not going to make it easy for you … Because even four weeks isn’t long enough to enjoy the city in summer: the Semana Grande, walking through the Cristina Enea park, or along the Paseo nuevo (new Promenade), buying ice cream on the busy Boulevard, swimming at any of our beaches, dining in the harbour, enjoying the terraces and sampling a few pintxos (tapas) in the Old Town … All things not to be missed!
You’ll have to prioritise. And you’ll see that we are right when we give you an idea of the different activities that you’ll find this month in San Sebastián.
The Musical Fortnight has been held in the month of August for the last 70 years. Opera, ballet, large symphony orchestras, small chamber groups, choirs, contemporary composers, promising local musicians, the big names of the international scene, children’s shows … all have their place in this festival, which resonates beyond the principal headquarters of the Kursaal and Victoria Eugenia Theatre, in multiple and special spaces, not only in San Sebastian but also across Gipuzkoa.
San Sebastián and its “Semana Grande” (8-15 August) is another of the key events of the summer. The city dresses up to celebrate the festivities, the whole city filling with shows and spectacles and the days ending with the fireworks competition on the beach of La Concha.
Of course we shouldn’t forget to visit the sights of the city, and for this we recommend using a bicycle to follow the bidegorri route (a cycle path linking most parts of the city) starting with el Peine de Los Vientos (the Wind Comb), the impressive sculpture by Eduardo Chillida, located at the far end of the bay of La Concha, at the end of the Ondarreta beach. From here you can pass along the three beaches of the city to reach la Paloma de la Paz (the Dove of Peace) in the neighbourhood of Gros. During the tour, you can’t help but make a stop in the harbour, to visit the Church of Santa María or the Buen Pastor Cathedral, and delight the palate with some pintxos in the Old Town.
Pintxos! Our selection? The “Borda Berri” is unmissable, with miniature dishes cooked in the moment, and you can order any pintxo from the menu, all of them excellent; “A Fuego Negro”, with its Kobe mini hamburgers or its tempura; the “Txepetxa”, with anchovies a thousand different ways; the “Goiz Argi” with its prawn brochette or the mari-juli; “La Cuchara de San Telmo”, a classic of the Donostia pintxo trail; the “Néstor”, for a succulent chop and tomato at its best … And finally you mustn’t miss trying the cheesecake of “La Viña”. And an important recommendation … pay close attention to opening times, because the kitchens close at 15.30!
And continuing with gastronomy, to talk about San Sebastian is to talk about the city with the most Michelin stars per square metre in the world: no less than 16 stars within a 25 kilometre radius.
Cooking here is an art, and one of the hallmarks of the city. For decades, the chefs of San Sebastian have paid such care and attention to their recipes and products that we are recognised worldwide for the quality of our food. In fact, of the seven restaurants in Spain with three Michelin stars, three are in San Sebastian: “Arzak”, “Akelarre” and “Berasategui”, complemented by a great selection of other restaurants, contributing to a total of sixteen Michelin stars. If you don’t manage to get a table in any of the above three, don’t hesitate to try the “Mirador de Ulia”, a Michelin-starred, haute cuisine restaurant with great prices in the hands of the chef Rubén Trincado and with spectacular panoramic views of the city.
Another indication of the importance of gastronomy in the city is that it boasts the world’s first Gastronomic University, the Basque Culinary Center, which will no doubt produce some of the future stars of international haute cuisine.
And now we’ll ask you again … are you going to rest in August?