I found this photo today on my flash drive this rainy Tuesday.
Taken in Lekeitio (Basque Country) last July.
Global Shopping Haunts: San Sebastián
Although officially a part of Spain, San Sebastián is the heart of Spanish Basque Country. Locals call their hometown by its Basque name, Donostia, and many don’t care to stray too far from its culture of surfers, casually well-heeled crowds, the rambling coast along the Bay of Biscay, pintxos (Basque tapas) at all hours of the day, set against the murmur of the local language, Euskara.
Haute couture reigns at Auzmendi, a multi-designer boutique in downtown San Sebastián. In this sunken showroom, you’ll find sweet Chloé tops and sweaters (from 655€), MiuMiu footwear and basics, staples like black Givenchy cardigans, and an extensive display of Lanvin costume jewelry. The store has fantastic summer sales, where you can score a lot of things for up to 50 percent off.
Wares: High-end designer women’s clothing, jewelry, and shoes.
Price Range: Prada sunglasses (172€) to Lanvin evening dresses (2,275€).
Don’t Miss: Balenciaga and Alaïa leather handbags (from 1250€) to carry all of your Basque country purchases.
Avenida de la Libertad 30
Wednesday-Friday, 10am-1pm and 4-8pm; Saturday, 10:30am-1:30pm and 4-8pm
943 44 10 06
Find the best of southern coastal wear at this two-year-old boutique in Gros, which carries many labels from Barcelona. The owner of this two-year-old boutique has an eye for perfect whites, and the requisite nautical stripes or dashes of floral to dress them up. Pick up breezy tunics and collared dresses for your seaside vacation.
Wares: Contemporary casual women’s wear and accessories.
Price Range: David Garcia tops from 65€.
Don’t Miss: Casual printed dresses from Aqui Estoy Yo (70€), Mi Rou embroidered, oversized shirts from 70€.
Usandizaga 7, Gros
Tuesday-Friday, 11am-2pm and 4:30-8:30pm; Saturday, 10:30am-2:30pm and 5-7:30pm
943 27 14 08
Kaos, like its name implies, is a little Willy Wonka, a little Tim Burton, and altogether celebratory and dramatic. Designers from both Madrid and San Sebastián make their marks here with bright reds, bold patterns, and fun embellishments. Here, you’ll find a glittery rabbit adorning an otherwise demure plaid jacket, asymmetric zips on Swiss collared summer dresses, and a surprising collection of little black dresses to balance out the color explosion.
Wares: Women’s clothing and accessories.
Price Range: Accessories from 20€ to jackets 236€.
Don’t Miss: Patterned shirts from Madrid-based Divina Providencia (from 51€), lightweight cotton tops from Titis.
Zabaleta 12, Gros
Monday-Friday, 10am-2pm and 4:30-8pm; Saturday, 10:30am-2pm and 5-8pm
943 281 892
Stop in at J18’s two branches in San Sebastián and get ready for a rollicking romp through Basque Country in 50s motorcycle chic. Find tough and classy pants from 167€, Belle Rose casual collared shirts in tough yet fun patterns and slim fits, outfitted with the perfect cuffs to roll up and show off your newly acquired tan.
Wares: Classic and contemporary men’s clothing, footwear, and accessories
Price Range: Dashing floral scarves from 17€ to Blauer nylon jackets (380€)
Don’t Miss: Paul Smith canvas and leather shoes, detailed with colored grommets (from 138€).
Hernani 21 and Arrasate 18
Monday-Saturday, 10am-2pm and 4-8:30pm
943 4310 35
For inexpensive separates and accessories to indulge in careless picnicking and beach-going, hit Konpota in Parte Vieja. This surprisingly well-stocked store carries fun designers like Smash and Pepa Loves, in a flirty assortment of patterns and colors.
Wares: Casual women’s clothing and accessories.
Price Range: Jewelry from 15€, most dresses around 25€.
Don’t Miss: La Bellau purses (just 20€), Kuch geometric-print dresses and tunics (from 28€), and sweet fabric/metal hairpins from Barcelona (8.40€) to dress up any outfit.
Calle San Jeronimo 6
Monday-Saturday, 11am-2pm and 4-8pm; Sunday, 12-8pm
943 42 62 39
Walking into Maile Irigaray’s store is like wandering into the closet of your most fashionable eldest aunt–in downtown San Sebastián. The proprietor of this vintage and consignment boutique stocks an eclectic assortment of mainly Italian fashions from the 30s through 50s. Score breezy, white summer dresses, delicate sweaters, and darling headbands and vintage art deco silk scarves.
Wares: Women’s vintage and consignment clothing and accessories
Price Range: Tanks from 30€ to silk summer dresses 450€.
Don’t Miss: Painted silk scarves from local designers in classic colors.
943 425 781
Monday-Saturday, 11am-1:15pm and 6-8pm
Pili & Mili
Step into your French mod fantasies at this boardwalk storefront and walk away with colors you never thought you could wear. At this irresistible boutique, you’re just as likely to find an updated trench coat from On Parle de Vous to throw over a glittery chartreuse knit sweater or flirty, polka-dotted pantsuit.
Wares: Women’s wear and accessories
Price Range: Silk scarves from 25€
Don’t Miss: Jeff Galliano knits and dresses from 119€, long-cut summer wear from Brazilian label Ianire Soraluz.
Avenida Zurriola No 1, Local 8
Summer Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10:30am-8:30pm; Sunday, 4:30-8:30pm
Winter Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10:30am-2pm and 4:30-8:30pm
943 00 50 73
Just steps off the main entrance to the Playa de Zurriola, La Playa outfits San Sebastian’s surfers and skaters, from essential footwear (flip-flops and skate shoes) to Wesc headphones. Even if you’re not planning to cruise the streets on your longboard, the large selection of skate shoes look just as great treading the streets in search of pintxos. For those looking to get into some gear, this deceptively large store stocks skateboards from Baker, Enjoi, Consolidated and others from 50€, Puka surfboards from 450€.
Wares: Surf and skate gear, clothing and accessories for men.
Don’t Miss: Nixon watches from 89€, Matix straw hats from 29€, Supra high-tops from 109€.
Ramon y Cajal 1, Gros
Monday, 4-8pm; Tuesday-Saturday, 11am-2pm and 4-8pm
943 32 65 68
This modern space in the old city is part beauty salon and part clothing gallery. Upstairs, you can get a cut and dry from 69.50€, and downstairs peruse a carefully appointed selection of global designers, from Marc Jacobs to Ann Demenlemeester. The store carries a wide selection of Brazilian label Melissa’s plastic shoes, featuring guest designer and starchitect Zaha Hadid (200€), and Cutler + Gross glasses.
Wares: Contemporary men’s and women’s clothing, shoes, accessories, and personal care.
Price Range: Women’s jewelry from 35€ to leather sack bags 822€.
Don’t Miss: Photo-printed cotton throws from Lost & Found (240€), jewelry from around the world, Hache wool-silk dresses from 270€.
Calle Mayor 3, Parte Vieja
943 42 07 60
You might notice that everyone in San Sebastián–from the naked youngsters on the beach to the gathering elderly women on the boardwalk–seems to be sporting exceptional eyewear. Get in on the scene at Ricardo Óptico, where you can pick up a new pair of prescription glasses in just 1-2 days. Aside from the requisite array of Ray Bans, you’ll find quirky reversible-stems from Danish line inface, to the latest Versace, Dior, and Prada collections.
Price Range: Roxy and Quiksilver from 45€ to Chanel Titanium frames 321€. From 60€ for most general prescriptions to 600€ for progressive lenses.
Don’t Miss: Seriously cool and classy tortoiseshell frames from Austrian designer Andy Wolf (179€)
Loyola 9, Centro
Monday-Friday, 9:30am-1pm and 4-8pm; Saturday, 10am-1:30pm
943 42 28 56
Family- owned and operated for three generations, Casa Tiburcio serves up excellent seafood and pintxos in both the standard bar and sit-down restaurant setting. While all the standard fare is available, some of the more inventive pintxos are labeled for convenience.
Try: Percebes (14€/100g), simply “the best thing ever.” A shellfish grown in few parts of the world, this delicacy is boiled-to-order in only the seasonings of the sea.
Fermin Calbeton 40, Parte Vieja
Friday-Tuesday, 11am-4pm and 6:30-11pm; Wednesday, 6:30-11pm
943 420 680
This four-year-old Gros eatery offers one of the best set menus in a city teeming with great options. The subterranean restaurant provides a quiet atmosphere to enjoy the chef’s creative meats and starters, like foie gras with apple purée and orange peel, and turkey brochettes.
Try: The set menu, (26€ for dinner, 16€ weekday lunch), including wine and dessert.
Paseo Colón 21, Gros
Wednesday-Monday, 12pm-4pm and 8-close; Tuesdays, dinner only
943 29 01 24
You can’t walk 50 meters without running into one of the city’s heladerías (ice cream parlors). Stop in for some of San Sebastián’s finest at Oiartzun, on the corner of the Parque de Alderdi-Eder. If that doesn’t sate your sugar lust, drop in at the neighboring confitería to sample local confections and pastries.
Try: Oiartzun’s pear and coconut flavors (2€ for a small cone).
Every day, 12pm-midnight (at least!)
943 42 62 09
If you want to pack a picnic and hit the hills or the beaches of the Basque country, make Solbes your first stop. This market is a summer feast’s dream, carrying everything from wine and fresh produce to tinned anchovies and Vasco pâtés. Get a taste of the region’s finest delicacies, from the seafood spreads to pickled asparagus.
Try: Candied Navarra almonds (6.90€ for 100g), jamón Ibérico (59.95€/kilo), Bonito del Norte (17.95€/240g)
Monday-Saturday, 9am-9pm; Sunday 9am-2:30pm
943 42 78 18
If you find yourself a little pintxo-ed out, visit Tedone, a bio-organic diner specializing in vegetarian pastas and grains (though carnivorous options are available). The menu includes a popular salad with edible flowers,
Calle Corta 10
Tuesday-Saturday, 1-3:30pm and 8-11pm; Sunday, 1-3:30pm
943 27 35 61
Hotel Arrizul’s two locations in Gros offer centrality away from the crowds in Parte Vieja and close to the city’s other beach, the Playa de la Zurriola. The rooms are modern, spare, and tranquil. For longer stays (3 nights minimum), you can also rent one of six apartments from the hotel with a living area and kitchen, that sleeps from 2-6 people. If you plan to explore more of the Basque Country, parking is available for your car from 15€ a day.
Rates: From 75€/double winter, 129€/double high season. Apartments, 125€/double winter, 159€/double high season.
Peña y Goñi 1, Iparraguire 3
943 32 28 04, 043 32 70 26
This bright hostal is located just one block away from the Playa de la Concha. Its 22 rooms, split among two floors, offer tranquil street views from the softly lit, modern interiors. A sunny dining room provides a fresh start to plan your day, either over your guide book or the WiFi.
Rates: From 72€/double low season to 105€/double high season.
San Martín 53
943 46 25 44
The Hotel Londres is one of the city’s best-known hotels, due to its highly-visible location embracing the shores of the Playa de la Concha and its building heritage, dating back to 1865. The hotel oozes old-school British charm from its turreted corner roof down to its lounge overlooking the spectacular boardwalk.
Rates: From 120€/double low season to 225€/double high season.
943 44 07 70
Chiming distance from the historic Catedral del Buen Pastor, La Perla offers its guests a no-frills central location. Although classified as a two-star pensión, each of La Perla’s ten rooms have private bathrooms, and nine have balconies that open to the bustling streets from its second-story vistas.
Rates: 50€/double/winter, 38€weekdays. 60€/double/summer
943 42 81 23
Get cozy in one of the six rooms at Hostal Urumea, a quaint lodging in the downtown shopping district. From the pair of sisters who run the place to the floral curtains, you’ll feel like you’re on a weekend retreat with distant family friends. All of the rooms have small balconies overlooking the pedestrian zone, though you’re still just a five-minute walk from the beach.
Rates: from 70€/double
Guetaria 14, Primero
943 42 46 05