City and Sea: London to San Sebastian by Train
Slow it down as you travel by train down France to the Basque country and the Spanish city of San Sebastian on this fabulous five-day trip. During your stay, feast on tasty tapas, learn to surf the waves at Zurriola Beach and visit the beautiful Biosphere Reserve of Urdaibai.
Itinerary at a Glance:
- Admire the beautiful Basque Country as you travel by train from London to San Sebastian
- Learn about San Sebastian's history, architecture and famous food culture on a city tour
- Take a tour of the city's most famous pintxos (delicious bite-sized tapas) bars
- Learn to surf on Zurriola Beach
- Visit the Biosphere Reserve of Urdaibai and learn about its native and migratory bird species
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Day 1: Train to San Sebastian
Your London to San Sebastian by train trip begins today with an early morning Eurostar train from London St. Pancras International to Paris Gare du Nord, a journey that takes approximately two-and-a-half-hours.
Nab a seat by the window and watch the world go by as you wind your way through the countryside, arriving into Paris late morning. From here, make your way to Gare Montparnasse. We recommend catching the metro on line M4 in the direction of Mairie de Montrouge. It's a journey of 14 stops that takes just under 20 minutes and at the far end there is a longish walk but you will still have time to relax and refuel with a hot coffee and croissant before your next train departs.
From Paris Montparnasse, you'll be travelling to the town of Hendaye in the extreme south west of the country, close to the border with Spain. You'll be on the train for four-hours-and-45-minutes so sit back, relax and enjoy the French countryside speed by. While the gastronomic offerings aboard the train may underwhelm, we can guarantee that on arrival into San Sebastian, your taste buds are truly in for a treat so don't despair if your lunch doesn't quite hit the mark.
The final leg of your journey is a short 40-minute metro train ride to the Spanish Basque capital of San Sebastian. After checking into your historical boutique hotel where you will be staying for the next four nights, it's time for dinner in a city with more Michelin stars per capita than anywhere on the planet. Our Concierge can recommend the best places for a taste of the city's sensational cuisine, whether you fancy a leisurely sit-down meal or a pintxos (Basque tapas) crawl around the lovely old town.
Day 2: San Sebastian Stroll
After filling up on a tasty al fresco buffet breakfast in the hotel's gorgeous gardens, the second day of your London to San Sebastian by train trip will see you strolling your way around the city on a guided tour.
By day, wind your way along the Old Town's endless narrow streets and learn about San Sebastian's history, architecture and famous food culture as you pass iconic landmarks, ancient churches, pretty plazas and buzzing bars.
Come evening, take a tour of the city's most famous pintxo bars to sample the sublime stick-skewered snacks. Feast on everything from fresh prawns and line-caught squid to perfectly charred steak, all washed down with local wines and fruity (and seriously potent) cider. Do as the locals do and toss your napkin on the floor once you're finished devouring the dishes - the sign of any good tapas bar is how many carpet the floor by the end of the night.
- Enjoy lunch with one of the secretive gastronomic societies that San Sebastian is famous for. The quality of the produce available and the innately competitive nature of these Basque societies are arguably the two reasons the cuisine has reached such heights.
Day 3: Surf’s Up
After your fabulous foodie day yesterday, today you'll be burning off the calories with a surf lesson on Zurriola beach, San Sebastian's liveliest stretch of sand and one of the country's top city surf beaches.
Your two-hour surf lesson will introduce you to the fundamentals of this uber-cool sport. Learn how to perfect your paddling technique, pop up on your board and duck dive waves.
After your lesson, return to your hotel for a hot shower to wash off the saltwater and then spend your afternoon as you please. Perhaps you're in the mood for more Old Town strolling or you may choose to head on a hilltop hike up Monte Igueldo for a panoramic view over the city.
Enjoy dinner in the city and then get an early night ready for a busy day tomorrow.
Day 4: Private Visit to the Urdaibai Biosphere
Today, on the penultimate day of your London to San Sebastian by train trip, you will be immersed in nature on a private visit to the UNESCO-protected Urdaibai Biosphere, one of the most richly diverse natural landscapes in the Basque Country.
You will be met at your hotel by your guide and taken to the gorgeous golden sands of Laida Beach where your tour will begin. Breathe in the fresh sea air as you stroll along the shore and look out over the boats bobbing in the water. From here, walk towards the Hermitage of Atxarre. Cool off along the way with a salty swim at the lovely Laga beach and then hike towards Ogono and picturesque fishing village of Elantxobe.
In the afternoon, after a sensational seafood lunch, you will visit Urdaibai's interpretation centre. Recognised by UNESCO as an area of special protection, the Biosphere Reserve of Urdaibai boasts the renowned Urdaibai Bird Centre where you will learn about the hundreds of native and migratory bird species in the area.
At the end of the day you will be privately transferred to San Sebastian for your final evening in the city. After all that activity today we think you've probably earned another pintxos crawl…
Day 5: Home Time
Today is the final day of your London to San Sebastian by train trip. After breakfast at your hotel, pack your bags and make your way to the station for your early morning train to Hendaye.
Following the same route as on your outbound journey, you will be spending four-hours-and-forty-five-minutes on the train from Hendaye to Paris Montparnasse, arriving into the French capital in the early evening. Then the final leg of your journey is aboard the Eurostar from Gare du Nord to London St. Pancras, a journey that takes approximately two-and-a-half-hours.
Use the time to unwind and slow down. Gaze out the window at the changing scenery, read a good book and reminisce over the success of your San Sebastian trip.
Harriet and Arran are our experts for this itinerary and as seasoned travellers they have the inside track on the most memorable adventures.