We had made reservations with Avis to rent a car for one day while we were staying in San Sebastian in the Basque Country in Spain. They supplied us with a decent Seat Ibiza and we took off to Tolosa (a 40 minute drive).
This was the first town where we couldn’t find free parking space and so we parked in an underground parking lot. We were there for over an hour and paid €1,30. The reason we didn’t stay long, is that there really wasn’t a lot to see. Tolosa has a small historical center with tiny streets, but that’s about it. No need to stop here.
Luckily, our next stop was a lot more satisfactory. Hondarribia is definitely a place to visit. We entered the address of the tourist information office as destination in our GPS and looked for parking when we saw we were about to enter the center.
We parked on Irun Kalea (‘kalea’ is Basque for ‘calle’ or ‘street’) and from there on followed the road along the sea until we reached the pier, the harbor and the beach. There’s a tourist information center near the harbor (Minatera nr 9), where you can get a free map of Hondarribia and some explanation on what’s where.
Because it was warmer than we expected, we headed back to the car for some sunscreen and thus didn’t pass through the center, where most of the pinxtos bars were according to the tourist office guy.
We did, however, visit the walled old town by taking the public elevator (yes, they have public elevators on the streets in Spain!) on the Sabin Arana Giori Kalea.
There’s another tourist information office there at the Plaza de Armas. In the same square, there’s the 4-star El Emperador, a hotel in what used to be a castle. From this square, high up on a mountain, you have a fantastic view over the bay and so we decided to have lunch on the terrace of one of the small bars located there.
The bar, which was also a restaurant, didn’t seem to have a name (at least I couldn’t find it), but man, was their paella great! Because it was already rather late by the time we had finished eating, we decided to head immediately to Zarautz.
We, again, entered the address of the tourist information office as destination in our GPS and got there after about 40 minutes. Since we didn’t find free parking space, we parked along the Calle de Nafarroa, near the beach, and put in some coins so we could stay at least for over an hour.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t necessary. We went to Zarautz because it was supposed to be the surfer’s beach, but that was a real disappointment. First, we didn’t see a lot of surfers. Second, the average age at the beach and dike was about 17.
We first wanted to take a walk along the water, but the area really wasn’t nice and so we left. I still wanted to visit the city center, which seemed nicer (at least, from a distance), with some small streets, bars and shops, but Boyfriend had seen it and so we moved on to Zumaia (just 15minutes from Zarautz by car).
The reason I wanted to visit Zumaia was because that’s where the flysch start. The flysch run from Zumaia to Deba and are a kind of natural piers that come out of the ocean onto the beaches.
Finding parking space in Zumaia was real nerve-racking. We couldn’t park anywhere near the harbor or the city center (which we also wanted to visit) and just followed the signs that said ‘flysch’ way uphill onto a dead-end street.
At the end of the street was a small church with a viewing point from which you could see a small beach that could only be reached by foot and some flysch. It was nice to see, but if you’re really interested in this natural phenomenon, I think it’s better to drive a little bit further and try to spot them somewhere else between Zumaia and Deba.
Because it seemed so busy in town and it was already getting quite late, we decided to go back to San Sebastian, where we made our final stop at the Parque del Palacio de Aiete before returning our rental car.
El Parque del Palacio de Aiete (San Sebastian)
We wanted to visit this amazing park by car because it was located rather uphill and at some distance from the city center. If you’re staying in San Sebastian, you can also take the bus there. In this park you’ll find several paths to walk on – one even leading in what seems to be a forest – and some beautiful buildings, amongst others a palace which has completely been renovated and which you can visit. Unfortunately, it was already closed by the time we got there (7 pm). You can definitely spend an hour or more in the park itself.
Where to stay in San Sebastian
Check Booking.com for an extensive list of options for all budgets and needs.
If you’re looking for an apartment rather than a hotel, I recommend checking airbnb. Sign up through my link and get a discount on your first stay!
Read more about the Basque Country
10 fun days in the Spanish Basque Country
Our first day in Bilbao
Connecting dots at the enchanted forest of Oma
Exploring Vitoria-Gasteiz and the beautiful Getxo
Marveling at art at the Guggenheim Bilbao
Why the San Sebastian Aquarium is not just an aquarium
Facing wind and rain at El Peine del Viento and Monte Urgull
Monte Igueldo and its old-fashioned amusement park
Things to do in Bilbao
The links to Booking.com and TripAdvisor are affiliate links. If you book a stay through them, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for supporting the site!