Every year, one city of the European Union is chosen out of the many who apply for the Cultural Capital for the year. In 2016, Spain (along with Poland, in Wrocław) will host this one-year event in San Sebastian, the beautiful coastal city of the Basque Country. While there are many reasons to visit Basque Country (think ferias, sangria and delicious food), this year is especially enticing for those looking to experience a unique international cultural event and Spain at its finest. Basques who are always glad for a celebration will be happy to welcome visitors in their most beautiful city.
European Capital of Culture 2016
From January to December 2016, more than 400 cultural activities will take place in San Sebastian, showcasing more than 500 artists from all over Europe. Combined with world famous film festival, international jazz festival and one of the most time-honoured classical music festival in Europe, San Sebastian is definitely the destination to visit in 2016!
Local masters of art, design, music, performance, culinary expertise, and more have collaborated with their international cohorts to create celebrations of culture, peace, and life throughout the year. For the food lovers, the best regional fare will be celebrated with the work of local and top European chefs, and will give you one more reason to visit.
Gastronomy and architecture
If it is often said that San Sebastian is the heart of Basque culture, food takes a big part of it. Local cuisine is among the top in the world with 9 restaurants Michelin-starred, second only to Kyoto Japan in the number of stars per capita. And if you enjoy discovering the finest spanish food in crowded bars, you will never be disappointed while choosing among hundreds of different types of pintxos – the basque name for tapas: these miniature cheap and tasty pieces of haute cuisine are one of the delicious specialities of the Basque city you can’t miss.
And after such a feast, why not to have a digestive walk along the coast to admire the diversity of Donostia’s (this is the name of San Sebastian in Basque language) architecture? You will be surprised by the coexistence of so many styles – from Gothic to Belle Epoque and Contemporary – and the general harmony of old and modern shapes built along the Concha Bay.
Find your way in the shady streets of the Old Town, laying at the foot of Mount Urgull, and lead to the paseo nuevo to have a quick overview of both the city’s architecture and the magnificent bay it sits in. In bonus, if you choose the good timing, this is the perfect place for a sunset view!
Drive around San Sebastian
While you are visiting Basque Country, do not forget to drive around with your rental to discover other great places within quite short distances. Go a bit south and west and you will find Bilbao, the biggest city of the region, famous for hosting the Guggenheim Museum. Drive 1h30 to the east, across the gorgeous Aiako-Harria National Park to enjoy breathtaking views of the pyrenees – the range of mountains that forms natural border between France and Spain.
If you are more into a surfing mood, then you should drive to the west (in direction of Zarautz) where the coast offers top class surf spots (Mundaka is world wide famous for its huge left-hand wave) as well as scenic roads and panoramas along the 200km of Basque coastline. Along the ocean you will find plenty of lovely fishers village where you can stop for a swim or some fried calamari (squids).
From music to dance, from painting to performances, the wide range of cultural events offered during a year-long major european event, plus its world-renowned gastronomy, together with prestigious international festivals and beautiful surroundings in the area make San Sebastian a place not to be missed. Don’t miss your chance to drive there in 2016 with Europcar!