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Places to visit and stay in San Sebastián, Spain

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Places to visit and stay in San Sebastián, Spain

Old Oct 29th, 2017, 03:41 PM
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Places to visit and stay in San Sebastián, Spain

We are thinking about stopping by San Sebastián, Spain when we visit the Bordeaux area next Spring. Would you recommend visiting the San Sebastián? What places do you recommend going? How many days would you recommend? Any hotel you would recommend for a family of 5. We are traveling with 3 young children (ages between 5-10).
Thanks in advance for your help.
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Old Oct 29th, 2017, 07:29 PM
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I, personally, was not enamored of San Sebastian, but many people love it. What do you and your family like to do? When, exactly, would you visit? (I ask because it could be cold and rainy early in spring.)
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Old Oct 29th, 2017, 08:38 PM
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I went to San Sebastian solo and really enjoyed it. I was only there for 1.5 days/2 nights and I feel like I could've spent more time there. I stayed at a hostel because it was cheap (hotels were crazy expensive) and I was traveling alone but it could be a good option - you can get a private room with an ensuite.

Old Town is worthy of a stroll - pop into many bars to enjoy pintxos. The beach is walkable from end to end - be sure to see Peine de los Viento at one end. Stand on some of the holes on the ground to get blasted by air from incoming waves. Honestly, I don't know if kids will find San Sebastian super engaging but the views are gorgeous and there are performers along the beach in the early evening. They draw quite the crowd.

I wrote a blog post with photos, my itinerary, and recommendations:
https://fanofblank.blogspot.com/2014...-in-spain.html

Enjoy trip planning!
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Old Oct 30th, 2017, 01:53 AM
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I was there for 4 days last summer and really enjoyed it. Besides the old town and the beaches there are two little mountains, one at each end. One has a an old castle (more of a fort) with paths leading up to it. The other has a funicular you can ride up for even better views. There's a tiny amusement park up there so that would be fun for kids. There's also a carousel on the promenade.

I also wrote a blog post - http://andiamo.zenfolio.com/blog/201...n-to-santander

More photos: http://andiamo.zenfolio.com/p494569692
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Old Oct 30th, 2017, 02:15 AM
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What time in "Spring" are you going? It occurs to me that the small amusement park in San Sebastian might not be open year round, so check that out beforehand.

While I love San Sebastian (would be happy to live there!), it can be quite rainy through most of Spring, and were I traveling with small kids, I'd be worried about not finding enough activities for them -- and also the disappointment of being at a beautiful beach when there is nothing but drizzle or downpours, making it impossible to enjoy what San Sebastian is essentially about.

If your children are committed food adventurists then they might adore the small plates extravagana of San Sebastian, and they will be welcome in all the "pintxos" venues. I have a very young nephew whom I wouldn't hesitate to take to San Sebastian. He'd be thrilled to be biting into everything. But I have other relatives I'd not even take to San Sebastian unless it was sunny, and they's be more interested to explore other parts of France with better weather in Springtime and typical sightseeing attractions.
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Old Oct 30th, 2017, 04:12 AM
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Isabel, I enjoyed looking at your beautiful photos! Are you a professional photographer?
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Old Oct 30th, 2017, 06:56 AM
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Thanks Karen. No, I'm not a professional, just love taking photos and traveling. (I did a few published in Fodor's guidebooks, back when they were giving out free guidebooks for photos or quotes). But the first thing I do when I am considering going someplace is to look for photos of it. So hopefully by sharing my photos it can help people decide if it's a place they want to go.
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Old Oct 30th, 2017, 09:55 PM
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As a small piece of info, "the small plate extravaganza" or "Pintxos" are available all over the Basque Country, not only in Donostia/San Sebastian. And we locals like to have just one per bar (they are never a meal) together with a drink, and then we move on to next bar to have another one and another drink, always standing and never on a plate. Bartenders in SS offer a plate to tourists to fill it with pintxos, you get stuffed and then the fun of bar hopping is gone...
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Old Oct 30th, 2017, 10:55 PM
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yes, I should have said small bites.

However, since the discussion is about San Sebastian, talking about the small bites extravaganza in San Sebastian wasn't meant to be interpreted as exclusive. I wouldn't recommend other areas of the Spanish Basque country to a family with kids this small.
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Old Oct 31st, 2017, 05:33 AM
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Mike: I'm puzzled about your comment about the plates. I usually prefer the pinxtos cooked to order and I order one at a time. (Never have I asked the barman to fill the plate for me--how would he know what I liked?)

Let's use foie with manzana as an example. So when my order is ready, the barman hands it to me or puts it on the counter. The foie rests on a plate.

So how would I do like a local and not use a plate, since I have to use a fork to eat the foie? Are there not other pinxtos that require a plate?

To the OP: Can the young children stay up in order to eat pinxtos at 8:30 pm, maybe followed by dinner at 9pm at the earliest? You might think of renting a house outside the city if you will have a car. There are so many great looking properties in the surrounding villages that I see on the rental sites. (I am tempted myself for a future trip!)
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Old Nov 1st, 2017, 07:48 AM
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Headed to San Sebastian in 16 days for 4 days (total trip is 11 days) with a similar itinerary to isabel. Thanks for the blogs and photos, now I'm even more excited!!!!
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Old Nov 1st, 2017, 09:46 AM
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I can only speak from personal experience, which is limited to a 2 night visit to San Sebastian, but the notion that your pintxos will "never" be served on a plate is an overstatement. My first thought on plates in San Sebastian went to La Vina for cheesecake and Borda Berri for veal (hot cheeks with gravy) and they both came on plates and although I didn't have the risotto, I imagine it too came on a plate.
While it may be sacrilegious on Fodor's to suggest, just look at the pictures on Trip Advisor from these places and others and you'll see.
Now, there are also tons of dishes where you won't get or need a plate, but don't be shocked when you see one.
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Old Nov 1st, 2017, 10:03 AM
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We were in SS for a week last September and don't remember having many pintxos that weren't on a plate. That would have been pretty messy for a lot of them. We also didn't have just one at each place. If we'd done that and had a drink at each place we would have been plastered.
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Old Nov 1st, 2017, 11:54 AM
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Some of those bars are so good, it is impossible for me to restrict myself to one pinxto only. OMG...the great part is that there is so much walking around you can burn off all the foie and jamon.

I think we were there about 6 days last year and I can't wait to go back. But then, I am not dragging around small children.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2017, 05:54 AM
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Sorry, I didn´t explain myself very clearly...I meant "never several on a plate", but one at a time. Yes, of course, you can have them made on order and then have them with a fork and a knife.
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Old Nov 4th, 2017, 07:52 PM
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thank you all so much for the responses. we are thinking about going there the wk of apr. 15. we like checking out old cities and architectures. i was reading a magazine one day and noticed that san sebastian is one of the highly recommended places to visit. actually, our plan was to visit the bordeaux and dordogne valley area, but since san sebastian is really not that far (in terms of US standard), we thought if it might be worth it to spend a day or two there.
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Old Nov 4th, 2017, 08:19 PM
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IMO, San Sebastian is not at its best in mid-April, but maybe it would work for you. Here are some climate statistics:
https://www.timeanddate.com/weather/...astian/climate

FWIW, I don't find magazine lists of "highly recommended places" particularly useful.

You don't say how much time you have, but I'm sure you realize that there is a LOT to see in / around Bordeaux and the Dordogne. Similarly, there is a LOT to see in and around San Sebastian. Whether it makes sense to combine them on a single trip in mid April would seem to depend on what, exactly, you hope to see and do on this trip.

Hope that helps!
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Old Nov 5th, 2017, 02:26 AM
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I think San Sebastian is one of the nicest places to visit in that part of Europe but think your chances of rain are really very high (sounds like kja woudn't like it at any time of year, rain or shine). While the old-fashioned European resort style architecture is charming, the real attractions of San Sebastian are the small but lovely beaches + eating unusual pintxos. If it rains and you are with kids, it's not clear to me that San Sebastian is a better destination than other towns you could visit with children (especially if the kiddie park is closed).

Unless there is some special event going on in San Sebastian at that time, I don't think you are going to have difficulty booking a place to stay last minute. So you can hold off making a decision about including San Sebastian until you are able to see a reliable weather forecast. In the meantime, you can think about alternatives.
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Old Nov 5th, 2017, 02:39 PM
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Just to be clear – I did enjoy San Sebastian, although (as I noted upthread) I was not enamored of it. But whether I liked it or how much I liked it would seem to be irrelevant – what matters, I think, is whether it seems to suit YOUR interests for this trip -- and that depends, I think, on what you would want to do there, whether you can reasonably expect to do those things at the time you would be there, and what you would be giving up to make time for it.

You mention an interest in old cities and architecture. Although San Sebastian has a long history, I believe that it was essentially burnt to the ground in the early 1800s (so there isn't a lot that is particularly old by European standards). It is known (among other things) for its Belle Epoque architecture.
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Old Nov 6th, 2017, 01:15 AM
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I would not operate from the premise that the Bordeaux and Dordogne areas are close enough to San Sebastián that it will be easy to just hop over from one to the other. For one thing, as kja points out, there are weeks and weeks of interesting things to do in both areas. Then there is the fact that it is easily a 5-hour drive (on the autoroutes, going FAST) from the Dordogne to SS, then there is the issue of parking (PITA), then there is weather. There is lots more to do in the Dordogne and Bordeaux in the rain than there is in SS. So, to me, it makes far more sense to just stay in France and save SS and environs for another trip when you actually have time for it. Even by US standards, I wouldn't make a 10-hour RT drive on superfast highways loaded with megatrucks just to put my feet in the ocean and eat pinxtos.
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