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Cafes, Sightseeing, Tours Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
4.9scorecard
  • 4.5Value
  • 0.0Food Scene
  • 5.0Atmosphere

A good chunk of San Sebastian's international foodie fame is credited to its pintxo, so you'll want to put aside some time to explore the city's pintxos bars either on your own or with an organized group. Pintxos (pronounced "peen-chos") are essentially the Basque version of tapas, with a few key differences. Traditional pintxos consist of slices of baguette bread topped with any kind of food, held in place with a toothpick. Another difference lies in presentation. While most other places in Spain serve patrons a plate of tapas with the order of a drink, pintxos are laid out in bulk on the bar, allowing diners to pick what they want.

Pintxos in San Sebastian have significantly evolved over time and bars don't always adhere to the traditional bread or skewer base when serving them. Zeruko chooses to put the contents of its txitxarro dish (chopped fish, sheep's milk cheese and mint) on top of a strawberry wafer. Another popular spot, La Cuchara de San Telmo, also forgoes tradition by not having its pintxos lined out on the bar. Here you can order bits of suckling Segovian pig or veal cheek (a traveler favorite). If you're more interested in sticking to the classics, head to Ganbara, which features gilda, txistorra (cured Basque sausage piled on bread) and savory spider crab tartlets (a San Sebastian specialty).

You can find pintxos bars all over San Sebastian (there are more than 200 establishments), but travelers say Parte Vieja is the best place to start your culinary tour, thanks to the neighborhood's large concentration of pintxos bars. If you'd rather navigate the vast world of San Sebastian's pinxtos with a local by your side, consider taking part in an organized pintxos food tour. Viator, Intrepid Urban Adventures and San Sebastian Pintxos Tours all offer pinxtos tours with both drinks and pinxtos included in the price.

For more information on pintxos and where go to in San Sebastian, visit the San Sebastian tourism board's website.

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#1 Parte Vieja

Parte Vieja, also known as the Old Town, is the heart of San Sebastian. Despite its name, it's actually not the oldest part of the city (that honor belongs to Antiguo), but it is the most lively. Parte Vieja's pedestrian-friendly streets are flanked by centuries-old buildings that house a plethora of restaurants, shops and bars. It's considered the best nightlife spot in San Sebastian, as well as the best place to grab pintxos (the local term for light bites, similar to tapas). These two tend to coincide among locals, who begin their nights out pintxos barhopping.  

If you're not a night owl, you can still find things to do in Parte Vieja. Pintxos are served all day and there are a few architectural gems that warrant further exploration. The San Vicente church, located next to the San Telmo Museoa, is the oldest in the city, dating back to the 16th century. Basilica of Saint Mary of the Chorus, found at the base of Monte Urgull along the bustling Calle Mayor, is also located in this neighborhood. Meanwhile, Plaza de la Constitución is an excellent place to rest your feet and watch the world go by. Keep in mind, though, that the plaza's restaurants may be pricier than other parts of the city due to their central location.

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