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Five reasons to visit San Sebastian you've probably never heard before

Updated: Mar 2

The turquoise waters and green mountains surrounding the seaside resort town of San Sebastian, Spain.  ©AlonzoWright for Manifesting Travel
A bird's eye view of San Sebastian, or Donostia, Spain. ©AlonzoWright

Let’s talk about San Sebastian. We’re pretty convinced it’s one of the best places you’ve never heard of…unless of course, you’re a gourmand. Then it’s already on your bucket list. First things first: San Sebastian or Donostia, as the locals call it, is nothing like the rest of Spain. In fact, you won’t even feel like you’re in Spain, especially if you see the entire country through an Andalusian lens (let’s be honest, many do).

This fiercely independent region in northern Spain is Basque country and not only do they have their own flag, they have an entirely different language. There are no flamenco dancers, no Spanish guitars, no ornate tiles, no tapas or paella festivals, no Moroccan-style lanterns, heck - you probably won’t even hear Spanish unless you speak it first. In fact, San Sebastian feels a little more like France and the surrounding hillsides look a little more like Ireland. It’s nothing like Madrid or Barcelona, which is what most people typically equate with Spain, and that’s exactly why you should visit. San Sebastian was our first stop on our Spanish road trip, and we’re so glad it was.

Here are five reasons to visit San Sebastian that you’ve probably never heard before.

Reasons to visit San Sebastian: restaurants like Arzak and Mugaritz are a once-in-a-lifetime culinary adventure, a gourmet plate of food with fresh microgreens and sauces painted onto a white plate. ©AlonzoWright for Manifesting Travel
Why you should visit San Sebastian: restaurants like Arzak and Mugaritz are a once-in-a-lifetime culinary adventure. ©AlonzoWright

1. You practically trip over Michelin starred restaurants and chefs in San Sebastian, Spain

Kokotxa - 1 michelin star

Amelia by Paulo Airaudo - 2 michelin stars

Arzak - 3 michelin stars

Martín Berasategui - 3 michelin stars

Akelaŕe - 3 michelin stars

Mugaritz - 2 michelin stars

Alameda - 1 michelin star

Elkano - 1 michelin star

San Sebastian, is a foodie mecca. As of 2022, the tiny seaside town in Spain had 16 Michelin stars in a 15 mile-radius (25 km). Pound-for-pound, it has one of the highest concentrations of Michelin stars per capita in the world. If you’re into the food scene in any way, shape, or form, you know this is a very big deal and reason enough