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In 2016 San Sebastián will be the official European City of Culture. It should also be given the title of the European City of Food, European City of Beach Life, European City of Nightlife and, well, why not, the European City of Feeling Good. Yes San Sebastián, stunningly set between blue sea and green mountain and just a stone's throw from the border of France, is the kind of city that makes everyone smile. First impressions of the city are always of the beach. Playa de la Concha, the city’s main beach, is everything a city beach should be: sexy, glamorous, with a non-stop carnival atmosphere. This beautiful swathe of sand might well be ...

In 2016 San Sebastián will be the official European City of Culture. It should also be given the title of the European City of Food, European City of Beach Life, European City of Nightlife and, well, why not, the European City of Feeling Good. Yes San Sebastián, stunningly set between blue sea and green mountain and just a stone's throw from the border of France, is the kind of city that makes everyone smile. First impressions of the city are always of the beach. Playa de la Concha, the city’s main beach, is everything a city beach should be: sexy, glamorous, with a non-stop carnival atmosphere. This beautiful swathe of sand might well be the finest urban beach in Europe.

Then there’s Playa de la Gros, on the other side of town, which has a much more local vibe with its surfers, sultry beach goers and backdrop of bars. And talking about bars, you can't speak of San Sebastián without mentioning the city’s fabulous food and drink scene. San Sebastián may have more Michelin stars per capita than any other large city and it might be home to some of the best restaurants in Spain, but its real culinary star is the pintxo (Basque for tapa). Every bar in this city (and there's a lot of them) tries to outdo its neighbors in the creation of ever more outrageous morsels of culinary art, and it’s this that has led many top chefs to describe San Sebastián as the culinary capital of the world.

Stuart Butler
About the Expert

Based in the French Basque Country, Stuart Butler writes guidebooks for Lonely Planet and Bradt on France, Spain, Norway and large parts of Africa and South Asia. He also works with numerous international surf magazines exploring the remoter coastlines of the world.

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Stuart Butler for Triporati

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