And say no to San Sebastian! A mere twenty minutes eastward from San Sebastian is the marvelous medieval walled village of Hondarribia. Siting on the west side of the River Bidasoa, it faces the French border town of Hendaye which can be reached for a day trip or even just for dinner via a quick ferry. It’s also a city that has a long history starting in Roman times when it was an important outpost, before acquiring Basque village status in the 13th century. Spend a late morning on a walking pleasure trip around the defensive walls and over cobblestone streets filled with houses painted a riot of different colors, marking it as one of the most beautiful maritime villages ever.     

The centerpiece is the Castle of Charles V (or Castle of Carlos V) circa 1100s that is located at the strategic high point of the old walled section of town. Now operating as a Parador, this is the place to stay for an authentic castle experience and where I had an amazing breakfast, the memory of which still lingers on. Be sure to reserve a water view room facing France and get ready for amazing sunrises and sunsets. A stay in Hondarribia also includes excellent pintxos at Gran Sol, Abarka Jatetxea, and world class dinners at Arroka Berri and Alameda Restaurant.

San Sebastian, sadly now, tends to be dripping with tourists, overloaded with cheap trinket shops and poor pintxos. If you must, take a walk along the picturesque, and famous, Playa de la Concha then walk away. Looking for foodie Michelin star restaurants? Juan Arzak doesn’t do the cooking anymore at Arzak so I would skip it in favor of Mugartiz or Martin Berasategui. Or, in my opinion, you can skip all this entirely as you head onward. In other words, I would never plan to take much time visiting San Sebastian, in fact, I wouldn’t even overnight there.



Categories: Places

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