San Sebastian: Exploring the Michelin Star Capital of the World

Attention to all you foodies

Welcome to my mouthwatering post about San Sebastian, officially known as Donostia is a beautiful coastal city in Spain’s northern Basque Country region that is referred to as the “Michelin capital of the world.” The city has more Michelin-starred restaurants per capita than any other city in the world, but here’s the thing… you don’t have to spend big to eat like royalty in this city. In fact, you will not need to go near a Michelin-star restaurant during your time in San Sebastian, just do as the locals do and flow through the tiny streets, Pintxos bar hoping!

San Sebastian is a city that boasts a distinctive fusion of Basque and Spanish cultures, resulting in a diverse selection of culinary offerings. From classic pintxos bars to innovative modern cuisine, In this article, I will delve into the ideal times of year to plan a trip to San Sebastian, highlight some of the renowned Michelin-starred restaurants, and showcase the top-rated hotels and pintxos bars in the area.

Michelin Star Restaurants

Restaurante Arzak

Arzak, run by father-daughter duo Juan Mari Arzak and Elena Arzak, has been serving their spenders for four generations since 1897. It is one of the most famous Michelin-starred restaurants in San Sebastian. The restaurant has held three Michelin stars since 1989 and has been ranked among the top 50 restaurants in the world for over a decade. Arzak’s avant-garde Basque cuisine features dishes like “egg yolk with asparagus and truffles” and “squid with coconut and sea lettuce.” The restaurant also has an extensive wine list that features over 1,500 bottles.

Some of Arzak’s signature dishes include “egg yolk with asparagus and truffles,” “sea urchin with vanilla and passion fruit,” and “duck foie gras with apple and celery.”

Arzak – Some of Arzak’s signature dishes include “egg yolk with asparagus and truffles,” “sea urchin with vanilla and passion fruit,” and “duck foie gras with apple and celery.”


Mugaritz, located in the countryside just outside San Sebastian, is another renowned Michelin-starred restaurant. Chef Andoni Luis Aduriz’s innovative cuisine has earned the restaurant two Michelin stars and a spot on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list for over a decade.

Mugaritz’s tasting menu features around 20 dishes that showcase the chef’s creativity and attention to detail. Dishes like “rock with mushrooms and its essence” and “sea urchin with smoked butter” are among the highlights.


Restaurante Akelarre is located on a hilltop overlooking the Bay of Biscay, is a stunning Michelin-starred restaurant that boasts three Michelin Stars. Chef Pedro Subijana’s cuisine combines traditional Basque flavours with modern techniques. The restaurant’s tasting menu features dishes like “turbot in different textures” and “squab with beetroot and green tea.

Signature dishes include, “turbot in different textures,” “squab with beetroot and green tea,” and “cauliflower cream with caviar.” Akelarre also offers an extensive wine list and a dessert menu that includes creative options like “strawberry ice cream with tomato and olive oil.”


Martín Berasategui

Martín Berasategui, located in the nearby town of Lasarte-Oria, is a Michelin-starred restaurant that has held 3 stars since 2001. Chef Martín Berasategui’s cuisine is a mix of traditional Basque and international flavours.

The restaurant’s tasting menu includes dishes like Martín Berasategui’s tasting menu includes dishes like  “scallops with squid ink and pear,” and “suckling pig with honey and thyme.” “lobster with green curry and coconut” and “lamb with black garlic and sweetbreads.” Martín Berasategui also has an impressive wine cellar that features over 3,000 bottles from around the world.

Asador Etxebarri

Asador Etxebarri in the nearby town of Axpe, is a Michelin-starred restaurant that specializes in grilled meats and vegetables. Chef Victor Arguinzoniz’s cooking technique involves grilling over carefully selected wood, resulting in dishes with a unique smoky flavour.

Asador Etxebarri’s menu includes dishes like “smoked beef tartare” “grilled squid with red pepper and garlic. grilled octopus with potato and paprika, and “grilled lamb chops with red peppers.”  The restaurant also has an extensive wine list that features both local and international wines.


Where to stay

San Sebastian offers visitors an array of options for accommodation, ranging from budget-friendly hostels to luxurious hotels. Here are some of the best hotels in San Sebastian.

Hotel Maria Cristina

The Hotel Maria Cristina, a lavish five-star hotel nestled in the centre of San Sebastian, radiates timeless charm. Constructed in 1912, the hotel offers 136 generously sized and finely adorned rooms and suites, complete with contemporary facilities. Alongside a fitness centre and a spa, the hotel proudly boasts the Michelin-starred Eme Be Garrote restaurant. For those travellers who crave luxury and relaxation, the Hotel Maria Cristina is the ultimate destination

Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra

The Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra is a four-star hotel located on the beachfront in San Sebastian. The hotel features 167 rooms and suites that are tastefully decorated, and many offer stunning views of the sea. The hotel also has an excellent restaurant, La Brasserie Mari Galant, that serves Basque cuisine, a rooftop bar, and a terrace. The Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra is an excellent choice for those who want to be close to the beach and enjoy the city’s vibrant atmosphere.

Lasala Plaza Hotel

The Lasala Plaza is a boutique hotel located in the heart of San Sebastián. With 58 rooms and suites, the hotel offers a comfortable and luxurious stay for its guests. Each room is decorated in a modern and elegant style, equipped with the latest technology and designed to provide guests with a relaxing and rejuvenating experience.

One of the hotel’s highlights is its rooftop terrace, which offers breathtaking views of the city and the sea. Guests can enjoy a drink or a meal while taking in the stunning vistas. The hotel also features a fitness centre and a spa, offering a range of treatments and massages.

Lasala Plaza Hotel is ideally situated for exploring San Sebastián’s rich cultural and culinary offerings. The city’s Old Town, with its narrow streets and bustling pintxos bars, is just a short walk away, while the beach and the famous La Concha promenade are also within easy reach

Hotel Astoria7

The Hotel Astoria7 is a four-star hotel located in the city centre of San Sebastian. The hotel features 102 rooms that are individually decorated and inspired by famous movies and directors. The hotel also has an excellent restaurant, La Cafeteria Astoria7, a rooftop terrace, and a fitness centre. The Hotel Astoria7 is an excellent choice for those who love cinema and want to stay in a hotel with a unique concept.

NH Collection San Sebastian Aranzazu

The NH Collection San Sebastian Aranzazu is a four-star hotel located in the residential area of Ondarreta, a short walk from the beach. The hotel features 180 rooms that are modern, spacious, and equipped with modern amenities. The hotel also has an excellent restaurant, Kukuarri, a fitness centre, and a terrace. The NH Collection San Sebastian Aranzazu is a perfect choice for travellers who want to be close to the beach and enjoy a peaceful atmosphere.

Street Food


Pintxos Bars

The streets of San Sebastián especially the old town are studded with pintxos, traditional Basque tapas bars, that flaunt the highest quality of ingredients sourced from the adjacent coastline and countryside, combined with the culinary ingenuity of Basque chefs. No other city rivals San Sebastián when it comes to this style of gastronomic offerings.

Pintxos bars are one of the city’s most beloved culinary traditions since the 1950’s. Pintxos (pronounced “pinchos”) are small, bite-sized snacks typically served on a skewer or piece of bread. They are meant to be enjoyed as a social experience, with locals and tourists alike mingling over plates of delicious pintxos and glasses of wine, beer or cider. In this article, I will introduce you to some of the best pintxos bars in San Sebastian, offering an insight into this city’s vibrant food culture.

Bar Zeruko

Located at Calle Pescaderia, 10, Donostia, Gipuzkoa, in the heart of the Old Town, Bar Zeruko is a popular spot for pintxos enthusiasts. The bar is known for its inventive pintxos, which are beautifully presented and bursting with flavour. Some of the most popular options include the Foie Gras Micuit con Manzana Caramelizada (Foie Gras with Caramelized Apple) and the Txipiron en su Tinta (Squid in its Ink). The bar also offers an extensive wine list to pair with the pintxos.

Bar Txepetxa

For seafood lovers, Bar Txepetxa, Calle de Pescaderia, 5
2003 San Sebastian, is a must-visit. This cosy pintxos bar specializes in anchovies, with over a dozen different varieties on offer. The anchovies are served on slices of bread, accompanied by toppings such as tomato, peppers, and olives. The bar’s signature dish is the Gilda, a skewer of anchovy, olive, and pickled pepper, named after the character played by Rita Hayworth in the eponymous film.

La Cuchara de San Telmo

La Cuchara de San Telmo is a popular pintxos bar that attracts crowds with its creative, contemporary take on traditional Basque cuisine. Some of the standout dishes include the Beef Cheeks in Red Wine Sauce and the Grilled Octopus with Potatoes and Paprika Oil. The bar also has an excellent selection of local wines and craft beers.

Bar Sport

Bar Sport is a local institution, known for its relaxed, friendly atmosphere and its excellent pintxos. The bar offers a wide range of options, from classic favourites like the Tortilla de Bacalao (Cod Omelette) to more unusual options like the Morcilla con Manzana (Black Pudding with Apple). The bar also has a great selection of craft beers and ciders.


Located in the heart of the Old Town, Gandarias is a classic pintxos bar that has been serving up delicious Basque cuisine since 1936. The bar has a warm, cosy atmosphere and an extensive menu of pintxos, including some of the best Jamón Ibérico (Iberian Ham) in the city. Other standout dishes include the Grilled Prawns with Garlic and Parsley and the Beef Cheeks in Red Wine.

Bar Borda Berri

Bar Borda Berri is a trendy, modern pintxos bar that is popular with both locals and tourists. The bar has a sleek, contemporary design and a menu that focuses on fresh, seasonal ingredients. Some of the must-try dishes include Grilled Foie Gras with Caramelized Onions and the Slow-Cooked Beef Cheeks with Truffle Mash.

A Fuego Negro

For a more avant-garde pintxos experience, head to A Fuego Negro. This innovative bar combines traditional Basque flavours with modern techniques and presentation, resulting in a menu that is both exciting and delicious. Some of the standout dishes include the Kobe Beef Tartare with Egg Yolk and Truffle Oil and the Foie Gras with Black Garlic.

La Viña

La Viña is a traditional Basque bar that is famous for its cheesecake. The recipe for the cheesecake is a closely guarded secret, but it is said to contain a generous amount of cream cheese and a hint of sherry. The bar also offers a selection of savoury pintxos, including Grilled Prawns and the Txangurro (Crab) Stuffed Peppers.

Bar Bergara

Bar Bergara is a neighbourhood pintxos bar that is popular with locals. The bar has a friendly, laid-back atmosphere and an extensive menu of classic pintxos, including the Gilda and the Croquetas de Jamón (Ham Croquettes). The bar also has an excellent selection of local wines and ciders.

Bar Nestor

Tucked away in the old town of San Sebastian, Spain, Bar Nestor has a warm ambience and mouth-watering offerings. Step inside and you’ll discover a delightful tradition: the owner lovingly crafts just two tortillas de patatas daily, ensuring each slice is a slice of perfection. And to ensure everyone gets a taste, they’ve introduced a fun ticketing system – adding a touch of excitement to your visit!

But that’s not all – Bar Nestor is also famous for its delicious Basque-style chuletas, cooked to juicy, succulent perfection on the grill. It’s the kind of place where every bite feels like a warm hug from the chef.

So, if you’re looking for a welcoming atmosphere, delectable dishes, and a sprinkle of tradition, look no further than Bar Nestor. It’s a place where every visit feels like catching up with an old friend – comforting, familiar, and always a delight.

San Sebastian is truly a foodie paradise, with countless Pintxos bars. While we’ve highlighted some of the best bars, many more are still waiting to be discovered. One helpful tool to make your Pintxos crawl easier is the Pintxos app, available for download on the app store. This app was created with the help of local chefs, and it provides a comprehensive guide to the best Pintxos bars in the city, along with recommendations for dishes to try.



Helpful Tips

Check out these tips and tricks to get the most out of a successful pintxos crawl:

Make sure you’re good and hungry, and wear something comfy: Pintxos might be small, but they’re super filling, and you’ll want to try as many as possible. Skip breakfast if you need to, and make sure you’re wearing clothes that have some wiggle room.

Cash is King: While most pintxos bars now take cards, some of them are still cash-only. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so bring some cash with you just in case.

Share with your friends: Pintxos are meant to be shared, so order a few different plates and share them with your mates. It’s a great way to try lots of different dishes and make the most of your experience.

Check the opening hours: Lots of pintxos bars in San Sebastian follow the Spanish schedule, which means they might be closed for a few hours between lunch and dinner. By using the Pintxos App, Make sure you double-check the hours for each place you’re planning on visiting.

Get ready for crowds: The best pintxos bars in San Sebastian will get really busy during peak hours, which is a good sign that they’re popular for a reason. If you’re not a fan of crowds, try visiting during off-peak times instead.

Ask for recommendations: The bartenders and waitstaff at Pintxos bars are usually super passionate and knowledgeable about their food. Don’t be afraid to ask them for recommendations or their favourite dishes. They might suggest something that’s made with local ingredients, or a speciality that you won’t want to miss.

If you follow these tips, you’ll be all set to enjoy some delicious pintxos and soak up the awesome vibe of San Sebastian’s culinary scene.


For a city of its size, San Sebastián hosts an impressive array of festivals and cultural events. The International Film Festival, held in September, attracts a bevvy of European and Hollywood luminaries to the city, while the Semana Grande in August is marked by a week of street revelries and merriment. The city also hosts a medley of music festivals, expansive culinary fairs and folk festivals that celebrate the manifold facets of Basque culture. Besides these major events, San Sebastián always has something going on, with performances at the cutting-edge Kursaal, the belle époque Teatro Victoria Eugenia, or the Tabakalera, the city’s latest cultural hub.

Best Times to Visit San Sebastian

San Sebastian is a year-round destination, but the best time to visit depends on what you want to do and see. Here are the best times to visit San Sebastian:

Spring (March to May)

Spring is a great time to visit San Sebastian if you want to avoid the crowds. The weather is mild and sunny, and the city’s gardens and parks are in full bloom. The city’s cider season starts in April, and it’s a great time to taste some of the region’s best cider.

Summer (June to August)

Summer is the peak tourist season in San Sebastian, and it’s easy to see why. The city’s beaches are crowded with sunbathers, surfers, and swimmers, and the streets are bustling with activity. The weather is warm and sunny, and there are plenty of outdoor events and festivals to enjoy.

Autumn (September to November)

Fall is a great time to visit San Sebastian, especially if you’re a foodie. The city’s food festival, Gastronomika, takes place in October and attracts some of the world’s best chefs. The weather is mild and pleasant, and the crowds are thinner than in the summer months.

Winter (December to February)

Winter in San Sebastian is chilly and rainy, but it’s still a great time to visit if you’re a fan of pintxos. The city’s pintxos bars are warm and cosy, and the food is hearty and delicious. The San Sebastian International Film Festival takes place in September, attracting film buffs from all over the world.

Overall, San Sebastian is a city that is sure to delight all of your senses, offering a blend of gastronomy, culture, and luxury that is hard to find elsewhere. Whether you’re a foodie, a film lover, or just looking for a relaxing holiday, San Sebastian is the perfect destination.