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Last updated: 02 March, 2023
Expert travel writer: Dana Facaros

Where to go and what to see in San Sebastian & the Rioja Wine Region – a 5-day itinerary from destination expert and travel writer Dana Facaros.

Editor note – Dana has not included specific recommendations of where to stay each day unless it’s necessary. Instead, see the ‘Where to stay’ section in our San Sebastian destination guide.

Whet your appetite for coming culinary attractions at the San Martin Market, then have an unforgettable lunch at three-Michelin star Arzak.

In the afternoon, visit the San Telmo Museum for a dose of Basque-ness, then go on a pintxos crawl – Atari Gastroleku and Bar Bergara have some of the best.

Spanish ham hanging on a stall in the Boqueria market in Barcelona.
Experience

San Martin Market

San Sebastian, Basque Country, Spain

San Sebastian’s central market, just in from La Concha bay, opened its doors in 1884, and underwent a complete transformation in 2006; along with traditional food stalls, San Martin now hosts concerts and cultural events.

Best for ages: 13+ | Free

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Arzak
Experience

Arzak

San Sebastian, Basque Country, Spain

San Sebastian’s world-famous three-Michelin-star restaurant (since 1989!), run by Juan Mari Arzak and his daughter Elena Arzak, who won the prize for the world’s best female chef in 2012. There cellar holds some 100,000 bottles of wine.

Best for ages: 18+ | £40

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San Telmo Museum

San Sebastian, Basque Country, Spain

San Sebastian’s delightful museum offers insights into the unique Basque culture, plus extraordinary murals by Jose Maria Sert.

Best for ages: 18+ | £5

Atari Gastroleku
Experience

Atari Gastroleku

San Sebastian, Basque Country, Spain

Right in the medieval centre, this contemporary bar uses the finest ingredients in its traditional and avant garde pintxos – their prawn skewers are famous. Good wine list too. Best to book a table as it fills up fast.

Best for ages: 13+ | Free

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Work off yesterday’s calories with a swim, or take a bike tour along San Sebastian’s stunning coast.

After lunch at the Petritegi Cider House, take the cable car up Monte Igueldo for the rides and dramatic sunset views.

In the evening, dine in a San Sebastian culinary club, or txoko (bookings essential).

inside the cider house, people sitting at tables by big barrels
Experience

Petritegi cider house

San Sebastian, Basque Country, Spain

Dine on cod dishes and steaks in this traditional cider house (sagardotegi), just outside San Sebastian. They’ve been making cider here for over 500 years. They offer guided tours of the apple orchards and cider works; their typical set menus are online.

Best for ages: 18+ | Free

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Group eating and drinking red wine at dinner barbecue party outdoor
Experience

Txokos

San Sebastian, Basque Country, Spain

A private, organised tour is the only chance to get into a txoko, San Sebastian’s private gastronomic societies. Book a special visit in advance with San Sebastian Pintxos or Basque Tours.

Best for ages: 18+ | Varies | One evening

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Book a tour or hire a car to head 19km west to the fishing village of Getaria and its Balenciaga Museum, dedicated to the fashion designer.

Lunch on fresh seafood at Elkano, then visit Getaria’s unique Txakoli vineyards.

Back in San Sebastian, end the day at Casa Urola, a local favourite since 1956.

Getaria Wine Region

Getaria, Basque Country, Spain

A delightful fishing village with pretty architecture, food, beaches and superb wine – and it’s largely undiscovered by tourists.

Best for ages: Any | Free

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Exterior facade, square red brick building
Experience

Cristobal Balenciaga Museum

Getaria, Basque Country, Spain

This small museum tucked away in the small village of Balenciaga’s birth (1895), displays of 20th-century haute couture outfits by the famous designer. There are guided tours and even an onsite fashion school for teaching the tips of the trade.

Best for ages: 10+ | £8

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Head south to the Rioja wine region, with a guided tour from Bilbao or San Sebastian, or linger by hiring a car.

The Vivanco Wine Museum outside Briones, an hour from Bilbao, is an excellent place to start – and have a delicious lunch.

In the afternoon, head to Haro to visit CVNE, one of Spain’s largest wineries, then dine at Haro’s superb Nublo restaurant before checking in at Los Agustinos.

Interior of museum showing tools and equipment for making wine
Experience

Vivanco Museum of Wine Culture

Briones, La Rioja, Spain

A well-equipped, new museum created by the winemaking Vivanco family, that explains the history of winemaking in the Rioja region. For an extra few Euros, you can get a guided tour with wine tasting. There’s also a superb restaurant devoted to Riojan cuisine. Closed Monday & Tuesday.

Best for ages: 18+ | £13

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Rioja Wine Region

La Rioja, Spain

World-class wine region offering a heady mix of great bodegas, gorgeous scenery and avant-garde architecture.

Best for ages: 18+ | Free

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couple looking at wine vats
Experience

CVNE (Compania Vinicola del Norte de Espana)

Haro, La Rioja, Spain

One of the biggest wineries in Spain, CVNE offers a range of tours including lunches, cellar tours and children’s workshops.

Best for ages: 18+ | Free

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Eurostars Los Agustinos

Haro, La Rioja, Spain

A medieval monastery in Haro, converted into an evocative hotel and restaurant; perfect for oenophiles nosing around La Rioja.

Official star rating:

In the morning, head east to Araba to tour Bodegas Jilaba and Santiago Calatrava’s Bodegas Ysios.

Make the short drive to Elciego and Frank Gehry’s fantastical Hotel Marques de Riscal. Have lunch at their 1860 Tradicion restaurant.

In the afternoon, enjoy a vinotherapie spa session before a feast at their Michelin- starred restaurant.

views over a long series of wine barrels
Experience

Bodegas Jilaba

Araba, La Rioja, Spain

This very friendly and welcoming vineyard has beautiful views to go with its informative guided tour and tastings.

Best for ages: 18+ | Free

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External view looking to the entrance. The curvy building has mountains behind
Experience

Bodegas Ysios

Araba, La Rioja, Spain

In a gorgeous mountain setting, taste superb wines in this bodega with a mountain-inspired design, by Spanish-Swiss architect Santiago Calatrava.

Best for ages: 18+ | Free

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Rioja Wine Region

La Rioja, Spain

World-class wine region offering a heady mix of great bodegas, gorgeous scenery and avant-garde architecture.

Best for ages: 18+ | Free

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Overview >

Hotel Marques de Riscal

Eltziego, Basque Country, Spain

Frank Gehry’s ultimate wine lover’s hotel by a famous Rioja bodega, with a wine bar, wine therapy spa and restaurants.

Official star rating: