If you want to understand the unique and proud Basque culture (believed to be the oldest civilisation, with the oldest language, in Europe), this San Sebastian museum of history and fine arts is the place to go. It recently had a complete makeover – now the beautifully displayed collection covers everything from model ships and prehistoric carvings to regional armour, traditional costume and games, as well as exceptional special exhibitions, often on photography.
The museum also encompasses the must-see former church of San Telmo, decorated with 11 enormous, golden-hued canvases depicting key moments in Basque history – painted in 1932 by Jose Maria Sert.
Getting there & doing it
The museum is in the pedestrian-only area of San Sebastián’s old town. If you’re driving, the nearest car parks are Okendo and Boulevard. Be sure to ask for a free audio guide in English, and allow at least one hour – although you may well spend two. The museum is also a good way to spend rainy days (which are not uncommon here).
When to do it
The museum is open all year round, from Tuesday to Sunday. Closed on Monday.
Destination guides including or relevant to this experience
Fascinating ancient traditions, world-famous gourmet treats, Spain’s finest wine region and a gorgeous golden coastline.