San Sebastian is calling

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Ned Capeleris (1) (1)

Whether you are desiring a curated travel experience or a diy travel package for your next Europe trip, Entice Travel Agent Canberra has you covered with great insider tips on some of the best destinations.
And what better place to start than San Sebastian, located in the Basque Country of northern Spain? With world-renowned food, breathtaking beaches, and beautiful architecture, San Sebastian is a fascinating place to visit. Considered by many to be the greatest culinary destination in Spain, San Sebastian is most famous for, is its food. In fact, it boasts the second most Michelin stars per capita in the world, behind only Kyoto.

Professional travel writer, Flip Byrnes, caught up with Ned Capeleris, the former GM of the five-star Hotel Maria Cristina, San Sebastian. Ned is Australian, and he and his Spanish wife fell in love with this part of the world, crammed with pinxtos (Basque tapas) bars making it a Disneyland for foodies.

Why Is Your Area so Special?

San Sebastian has such a rich history, filled with culture and award-winning gastronomy. It´s such a picturesque city that offers nature at its best, from mountains to beaches. An incredible amount of activities to enjoy all year round including surfing, kayaking, cycling, and golf.

To Get In The Action (a place to go to feel the pulse of the area).

Trying the excellent and unique Pintxos (Basque word for Tapas) Restaurants & Bars in the “Old Town / Parte Vieja” is a must!!! The atmosphere is amazing, always buzzing and lively!. Some of my personal favourite Pintxo Bars include Gandarias, Casa Urola, and Atari Gastroteka. La Plaza de la Constitución (Constitution Plaza) is located in the Old Town, it´s another fabulous spot to soak in the pulse of the city, the previous Town Hall was located there, and the Architecture is impressive! It has fabulous Restaurants and Bars to enjoy with large terraces to enjoy the energetic scenery, my favorite restaurant there is Astelena 1997, their tuna with foie gras is delicious!

To be Low Key (a great off the beaten track, quieter spot).

Enjoy a peaceful and picturesque hike in the most beautiful scenery! Mount Ulía that connects Pasaia with San Sebastián along the Talaia or GR-121 path. It can be travelled both ways and it is marked with red and white markings. The duration of the walk is about 3 hours along the coast, it´s lovely. It´s a 10 kilometre walk to reach Pasaia where the lighthouse of La Plata is located, built in 1885. Following the route at sea level you´ll encounter the Basque Maritime Factory Albaola, where you can learn about the construction of the San Juan whale replica of the 16th century.

Ned Capeleris (2)

For Breakfast (go to, and try):

If you have a sweet tooth like me you must visit “Pasteleris Otaegui”! They are famous for their “Pantxineta” which is delicious, I love their croissants and cheesecake as well, perfect with a nice cup of coffee.. One of their Café´s is located directly in from the Cathedral Buen Pastor, you have enjoy breakfast on their terrace and truly feel the charm this wonderful city has to offer.

For Dinner (go to, and try):

Regarding local and tradition experiences in San Sebastian, I love Saltxipi.  A family run business with the most friendly hosts, such a cozy setting within a restored residence with a beautiful outdoor garden. My favourite dishes include the oven-baked crab, their white asparagus and artichoke starters, the barbequed Turbot and the Monk Fish. All dishes are locally inspired and traditional, the menu is designed based on the seasonality of the ingredients. Fresh and tasty always!

What’s one experience that is often overlooked?

The Chillida Leku Outdoor Musuem, it´s simply stunning and a phenomenal experience! Forty of Chillida’s mammoth sculptures fashioned out of iron, steel and granite stand among the trees amongst 11 hectares of parkland, while 50 smaller pieces fill Zabalaga, a 16th-century Basque farmhouse, which is like a work of art itself. Within the farmhouse, the upper galleries feature a presentation of the artist’s work on show in public spaces around the world, paying special attention to Chillida’s iconic work “Peine del Viento” (or, Wind Comb), three sculptures that were bolted into rocks over the sea along the San Sebastián coastline in 1977. This legendary artist, Eduardo Chillida left behind a legacy that his children and grandchildren proudly explain today as the best and proudest Ambassadors. This experience is a must and is truly inspiring, the setting tranquil and the setting tastefully designed.

Credit Donostia San Sebastian Turismoa Ivan Andrejic (1)

What is one thing about your area that you wish more people knew?

That´s it´s the home of two wonderful Museums and a world class Aquarium! The San Telmo Museum and Tabakalera (Contemporary Culture Center)  are two attractions that are a must when visiting San Sebastian. The architecture and history showcased within San Temo is mind-boggling! Tabakalera is a former Tobacco Factory that has been converted brilliantly, it´s located in the Egia District next to the Estacion del Norte del Norte Railway Station and the Cristina Enea Park. Tabakalera hosts the headquarters of culture institutions Kutxa Kultur, the Basque Film Archive, the San Sebastian International Film Festival, the Elias Querejeta Film School and the Etxepare Basque Institute.

A secret little place I know….

Within a 25 mins drive from San Sebastian I take family and friends visiting me from overseas to a very special place called “Asador Trinkete Borka”. My dear friend Iñaki Hernandez Aramburu is always on standby with the biggest smile to personally guide us on a tour of the farm that includes feeding the cattle, picking a fresh tomato, apples or herbs. He shows as and explains the local area including the farm houses and the Txakoli production (Vineyards that produce a local white wine). We then finish off the experience in Inaki´s Restaurant enjoy the most scrumptious local cuisine, my favorite is the chargrilled Waghu Txuleta (In Basque meaning Meat Chops) accompanied by the roasted red peppers and homemade chips with a fresh garden salad. The rejuvenation after a visit to Asador Trinkete Borda is priceless!! Pure magic!!J

Alde Zaharra   Parte Vieja Old Town Credit Donostia San Sebastian Turismoa

How to look like a local! Any tips? 

In general, I have always been very impressed by the fashion taste in San Sebastian. The locals are elegantly dressed and proud of their presence which is always important. In saying this the locals are very welcoming and friendly and always ensure our tourists are comfortable and feel at home. Therefore a great option here like many other locations around the globe, you can´t go wrong with a pair of jeans and a polo or “smart casual”.

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Karen Bradley

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