Picturesque San Sebastian is nuzzled in the north of Spain and is often referred to as ‘The Green Spain’ or ‘Secret Spain,’ as it is complete with the crescent-shaped bay of the Concha. The city has it all – culture, some of the best beaches in Europe, amazing hikes and great food (be sure to try all the incredible pintxo bars). But that’s not all; rural San Sebastian has a hidden world waiting to be discovered of beautiful nature, incredible rock formations, crystal clear oceans… and it’s all just a day trip away.
Hike up to the top of Monte Igueldo for the best views of San Sebastian at 184 meters above the sea, or, if you’re not in the physical exertion mood, hitch a ride up in the cable car, which takes you directly into the Igueldo amusement park complete with charming carousels and thrill-inducing roller coasters. Incredible San Sebastian scenery awaits you just beyond Playa de Ondarreta. There’s also an observatory with an outlook towers for more incredible panoramic views of the lovely town, Concha Bay, and Basque countryside. If you’re in the mood for a meal, grab a bite at the Hotel Mercure Monte Igueldo to enjoy the view from its outdoor terrace.
Hike in Navarra
Other than the ‘Running of the Bulls’ at San Fermín in July, Navarra is known for its anonymity, beauty, and diversity. This beautiful crossroads, between France, the Basque Country and the rest of Spain, will have every other person saying ‘hello’ to you in a different language. Make sure to bring a picnic to the fairy-tale Urederra park, famous among locals but slightly hidden from outsiders. It contains enchanting pools, turquoise creeks, and stunning waterfalls folded into the wooded mountain sides.
El Peinte del Viento
Famous metal sculptures by Eduardo Chillida lay embedded in rock just beyond the Ondarreta Beach in an area deemed ‘the wind comb’. Watch the waves crash over these incredible masterpieces and up through rock holes, as man-made art and nature collide in an incredible performance. For more history and info, look here.
Isla de Santa Clara
Just off the coast of San Sebastian sits a small 30-meter wide island perfect for a quick getaway. It’s got a great balance of beautiful scenery and all the civilized creature comforts of the island’s many cafes, restaurants, picnic areas, post office, and lighthouse. Catch the ferry that runs every 30 minutes from June until September and bask on the lifeguard-supervised beach or explore the coast for clandestine natural pools.
23 kilometers from San Sebastian (a quick drive or healthy four- to five-hour hike if you’re feeling ambitious), this charming fishing village can be reached through the 15th-century Puerta de Santa Maria, with winding picturesque streets dotted with historical landmarks. These landmarks include 10th-century Palacio del Rey Carlos V, the gothic church Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, houses with coat of arms facades, or Plaza de Armas, which overlooks the river and the lighthouse located north on Cabo Higuero. Also an incredible spot for food, the village has two Michelin-starred restaurants: Restaurante Alameda and Maison Eguiazabal ideal after a rewarding hike.
Monte Urgull, located just past the old part of the city, is crowned by daunting 12th-century fortress – Castillo de la Mota – and dons a ‘Sacred Heart’ statue. Walk along the promenade of Paseo Nuevo to enjoy views of the shoreline that extends to Urumea River past the Puento Zurriola bridge. If you continue beyond Zurriola Beach you will come across the large Parque Ulna, an idyllic park perfect for a hike and or picnic.
Monasterio de San Ignacio de Loyola
Tucked into the Urola valley, the Monastery of San Ignacio de Loyola (now a Jesuit college) is only a 40-kilometer ride away from San Sebastian. Built between 1689 and 1888 and based on the design of Carlo Fontana, the Baroque church at the monastery boasts one of the most incredible and lavish domes in Spain at 65 meters and created by Joaquín de Churriguera, replete with spacious rooms, ornamental marble inlays, Baroque art, looming alters, and a statue of Saint Ignatius.
Lugar Barrio Loiola – Núcleo, 16, 20730 Loiola, Gipuzkoa, Spain, + 34 943 02 50 00
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.