The Best Trendy Cafes in San Sebastián
If you’re spending any considerable amount of time in San Sebastián – you’ll be looking for a place to take the weight off your feet. A cafe perhaps? You can drink a coffee or tea in almost any establishment in San Sebastián, but have you noticed that almost everywhere is a bar setting? Hard seats. Hard bar stools. Hard wooden chairs. Unlike the south of Spain, the Basque culture can be very ‘get-up-and-go’ as they seek out the next place to find a drink or ravish a pintxo. So, this doesn’t give tourists the option to lounge around the city much – unless you’ve read this post! Here’s a list of my favourite cafes to take a book, take a laptop or take a friend and relax for a couple hours.
Named after the Thai island, Koh Tao is as scenster as it gets in San Sebastián. Mix-matched and chipped cups and saucers, school chairs and rickety tables. In the poorly lit area upstairs you sit on beanbags, shipping containers and wooden boxes for your table. There’s also a massive chalkboard wall to play hangman or leave messages for the next visitors. It’s a cafe for all occasions: a place to grab your afternoon brunch, a place to meet up with friends, or a place to order €7 cocktails before you head out for the night. Koh Tao is my favourite cafe as they support the local community by hosting live music, displaying art work or promoting the book of a local writer. The drinks menu can be a bit complicated for a traveller as it mixes Spanish and Basque together to describe the drinks. For example: Milk is Leche in Spanish, but here it receives a Basque spelling, Letxe. This is common in most of the cafes and bars and you’ll soon understand how playful the Basque are between their dual languages. Bar staff here are especially friendly, don’t be afraid to ask them questions. FYI: There’s always a large white mug on the bar, from time to time it gets filled with Haribo sweets – they’re complimentary, so stick your hand in! Koh Tao Facebook Page
Address: C/Bengoetxea, 2
For me, this place has always been a ‘lazy weekend’ kind of cafe. Probably because it was a stone’s throw from where I lived, but also because the people who come in aren’t usually passerbys, but regulars. Botanika at lunchtime is the busiest it gets, if you want a table it has to be reserved as everyone books themselves in for their €9.50 two-course set menu. Mostly vegetarian, they have amazing ingredients that is well worth your time and money. Botanika would be the place to come if you wanted to write in a journal or do some work on your laptop. There’s a sense of seclusion as this cafe faces the river and sits at the back of it’s own gated terrace. A perfect place to have a coffee in the morning or a beer before you head home. In the summer, their conservatory is the best place to be! Botanika Facebook Page
Address: C/ Arbol de Gernika, 8
Bideluze translates from Basque as ‘wide or long path’ and is is generally a family favourite. No matter how many people seem to be spilling out of this cafe, wait one moment and you’ll find a seat. From old ladies drinking red wine to students smoking and drinking coffee outside – this is a good stop-off point if you want to nibble whilst you drink. The bar food here is very well priced, with the mini Bocatas filled with ham, cheese and green peppers setting you back around €1.80. I have a habit of ordering the Calamares (€6.90!) each time I go in – this ración is certainly enough for two people as everything you order comes with a basket of bread and a handful of salad. I recently realised that Bideluze is actually a franchise (I’ve only seen one other one), but the interior wood panelling, French art, medical case oddities and London 20th Century British transport posters all creates a rather wonderful décor. It’s so warm and comfy you’ll never want to leave!
Address: Gipuzkoa Plaza, 14
La Guinda Deli & Coffee
Located on the other side of the river in Gros, La Guinda is both modern and cute – like a 1950s housewife who wants to smother you in sugar. Fresh cakes, biscuits and an assortment of other delicious items are baked fresh every day. This is the perfect Tea Time treat, but if you’re after something more wholesome they also have a fabulous rotating Menu Del Día which varies from Cous Cous, creamy potatoes to fillet of beef, panna cotta and more. With such an elegant and well planned interior, this place is perfect for breakfast and lunch! Did I mention the cake?! La Guinda Facebook Page
Address: C/ Zabaleta, 55
San Telmo Museum Cafe
More for it’s location than it’s vibe, this super modern, open space cafe is perfect for when you’re in la parte vieja and need to escape from the sudden downpour of rain (trust me, it rains a lot in San Sebastián!). The high tables and creamy coffee is a perfect ‘pause and assess’ location for planning the rest of your day. The separate entrance means the museum cafe is open to the general public – not just ticket purchasers; but if you did want to take a peek at the museum collection, it’s FREE on Wednesdays.
Address: Plaza Zuloaga, 1
If you headed to any of the cafes I’ve mentioned then let me know what you think! ALSO, if you have any questions or need more tips about planning your San Sebastian adventure then get in touch. Don’t be shy. Follow me on Google+, Bloglovin or Instagram!