With rugged mountain landscapes and stunning sea views, it’s easy to fall in love with San Sebastian and the surrounding region.
We might be biased, but we like to think San Sebastian—or the Basque Country in general—is one of the most beautiful parts of Spain. Plus, the city’s great location along Spain’s northern coast makes it easy to get to other equally stunning smaller towns and villages. You can even go to France for a day—yes, it’s close enough! Here are our favorite day trips from San Sebastian for when you’re in the mood to seek fresh surroundings.
The de facto capital of the Basque Country, one visit to Bilbao will make it clear why this city was named 2018’s European City of the Year. Art, food, architecture and more make it one of our all-time favorite day trips from San Sebastian. A trip to the world-famous Guggenheim Museum is essential, even if you don’t fancy yourself much of an art buff. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the incredible quality of the works found here, as well as by the jaw-dropping architecture of the building itself! Be sure to sample some of the city’s fabulous cuisine as well. Whether you’re hungry for simple, traditional pintxos or innovative cuisine at one of Bilbao’s several Michelin-starred restaurants, you’re sure to find a delicious meal.
How to get there: Bilbao-bound buses depart San Sebastian’s bus station quite frequently. The trip costs less than seven euros and lasts about an hour and a half.
Looking for a calmer, more tranquil destination? Hondarribia may be calling your name. This charming coastal village is becoming one of the more popular day trips from San Sebastian. However, it manages to retain its old-world charm and traditional Basque soul. Wander along the picturesque cobblestone streets admiring the unique local architecture and check out the only fortified town wall remaining in the province of Guipuzkoa. This is also a great city for foodies, with many exquisite bars and restaurants lining the streets of the charming Marina neighborhood.
How to get there: Buses from San Sebastian take 25 minutes and cost five euros. Hondarribia is a stop along the way to Hendaye (France). Keep in mind that it may be listed under its Spanish name, Fuenterrabía.
A humble medieval fishing village surrounded by lush green vineyards, Getaria makes for another excellent option when it comes to day trips from San Sebastian for foodies. The seafood here is some of the best in the region, and it’s also home to many of the finest bodegas producing txakoli wine. Take a vineyard tour to try it straight from the source! The town is also the birthplace of fashion icon Cristóbal Balenciaga, and today is home to a museum showcasing some of his best designs as well as information about his life.
How to get there: Take Lurraldebus line UK10 (direction Zumaia) from Askatasuna Hiribidea, 24. The bus stop is in front of La Caixa bank. The journey lasts about 40 minutes on the highway and 1 hour on buses that make stops in towns along the way.
It’s fascinating how two cities can be so close, yet each retains its own unique feel that makes it unlike anywhere else. It won’t take long at all to reach Biarritz from San Sebastian, yet this charming French resort town just across the border feels like another world. Take a seaside stroll and admire the postcard-like views. Pop in and out of gorgeous old churches and modern art galleries. Treat yourself to something from one of the many designer shops (or simply window shop!). When you get hungry, you have no shortage of food choices, from classic tapas and pintxos to exquisite French fare. It’s no wonder why this gorgeous seaside town makes for one of the best day trips from San Sebastian.
How to get there: The bus from San Sebastian takes 40 minutes to one hour and costs just five to seven euros.
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Life is too short to speak one language and stay in one place. In 2015, this philosophy took her from familiar Ohio to sunny southern Spain. Usually drinking tinto de verano, reading Lorca, or attempting to dance flamenco (not all at once). Follow her blog, Viatic Couture, for more.