What are Pintxos in San Sebastián?

What are Pintxos in San Sebastián?

We recently descended on the beautiful city of San Sebastian in Spain and were pleasantly surprised to discover Pintxos culture!

What is Pintxos then? Pintxos (pronounced “peen-chos”) are the Basque Country’s version of tapas – small, savoury bites served on slices of bread or skewered with a toothpick. While similar to tapas, pintxos have their own unique style and traditions that set them apart.

Pintxos are typically prepared with high-quality, locally-sourced ingredients and presented as visually stunning small plates. They can range from classic combinations like anchovy, olive, and roasted red pepper to more creative, chef-driven compositions. The variety is endless, making pintxo hopping a thrilling way to sample the vibrant flavours of Basque cuisine.

Unlike tapas which are often served complimentary with a drink, pintxos are generally individually priced, allowing diners to custom-build their own tasting experience as they hop from bar to bar. This dynamic pintxo culture is a beloved tradition that is deeply ingrained in the social fabric of the Basque region.

Pintxos in San Sebastián


Why San Sebastián for Pintxos?

San Sebastián, a picturesque coastal city in northern Spain, is widely regarded as the pintxo capital of the world. Pintxos are not just a snack here – they are a way of life, an art form, and a point of pride for the Basque people.

The sheer density of high-quality pintxo bars in San Sebastián is staggering. The old town (Parte Vieja) alone is home to over 100 establishments serving innovative, meticulously-crafted pintxos.

San Sebastian Old Town

Venture outside the historic centre and you’ll find even more pintxo hotspots, each with their own unique culinary personality.

What sets San Sebastián apart is the city’s deep reverence for culinary excellence. As the home of numerous Michelin-starred restaurants, San Sebastián has established itself as one of the world’s great gastronomic destinations. This culture of culinary mastery extends to the humble pintxo, elevating it to an art form.

La Concha San Sebastian


How Much Are Pintxos?

Pintxos in San Sebastián are generally very affordable, typically ranging from €2 to €4 per piece. This makes it easy to sample a wide variety of dishes as you bar hop through the city.

Some of the more elaborate or premium pintxos may cost a bit more, up to around €6-€8. But even at the higher end, pintxos remain a remarkably good value considering the quality of the ingredients and the skill required to prepare them.

Many bars also offer set “menu del día” options, where you can get a selection of 3-5 pintxos for a fixed price, usually around €10-€15. This is a great way to experience a broader cross-section of a bar’s pintxo offerings.

The low cost of pintxos allows you to indulge in as many or as few as you’d like without breaking the bank. This flexibility is part of what makes the pintxo crawl such a fun and social dining experience.

Pintxos in San Sebastián Old Town


When to Eat Pintxos

Pintxos are traditionally enjoyed during two main times of day in San Sebastián:

Siesta Time (around 1-4pm): This is the prime pintxo eating window when locals take a break from work to socialize over a few plates of pintxos and drinks. Many bars will have their best and most creative offerings available during this period.

Evening (around 8pm-midnight): As the sun sets, the pintxo bars come alive again as people gather to enjoy the vibrant nightlife. The vibe is lively and convivial, with both locals and tourists mingling over plates of pintxos and glasses of txakoli (the local sparkling white wine).

Cooper and fun in San Sebastian TBEX

While you can certainly find pintxos available throughout the day, these two time slots are when the experience is at its most authentic and energetic. Timing your pintxo crawl around these prime windows will allow you to soak up the full cultural atmosphere.


Where to Eat Pintxos

The Parte Vieja (Old Town) of San Sebastián is the epicenter of the city’s pintxo culture, with bar after bar serving up inventive and delicious bites. Some of the must-visit pintxo spots in this area include:

  • Bar Sport
  • Borda Berri
  • Bar Martinez
  • Casa Vergara
  • Gandarias
  • Txepetxa
  • La Viña for the Basque cheesecake :)
  • Bar Antonio for the BEST tortilla you’ll ever have!
Beyond the Old Town, you’ll also find excellent pintxo bars sprinkled throughout San Sebastián‘s neighbourhoods.

pintxos in San Sebastian


A few other top picks include:

  • Ganbara (Gros neighbourhood)
  • Rekondo (Ondarreta Beach area)
  • Zeruko (Parte Vieja)


No matter where you go, the key is to embrace the ritual of the pintxo crawl – hopping from bar to bar, sampling the unique offerings at each establishment. This allows you to fully immerse yourself in San Sebastián‘s vibrant food culture.


The 3 Best Neighbourhoods to Stay in San Sebastian, Spain

The 3 Best Neighbourhoods to Stay in San Sebastian, Spain

San Sebastian is one of Spain’s most alluring destinations. It is renowned for a stunning coastal setting, vibrant pintxo culture, and exceptional cuisine. But what are the best neighbourhoods to stay in San Sebastian and the Basque Country then?
When planning a visit, choosing the right neighbourhood to stay in can greatly enhance your experience.
Here are the three best areas to consider for your San Sebastian accommodation.


Best Neighbourhoods to Stay in San Sebastian Spain


Parte Vieja (Old Town)

If you want to be at the heart of the action, the Parte Vieja, or Old Town, is the place to be. This historic district is the epicentre of San Sebastian‘s famous pintxo scene. It’s brimming with an array of bars and restaurants serving up wonderful and innovative small plates.

Wandering the charming, narrow streets of the Parte Vieja, you’ll be surrounded by beautiful Basque architecture, local boutiques, and lively plazas. It’s an absolutely captivating neighbourhood, with a tangible sense of history and community. Many of the best pintxo bars, such as Borda Berri and Gandarias, are located right in the heart of the Parte Vieja.

San Sebastian Old Town

The trade-off is that this lively atmosphere can mean the area gets quite crowded, especially in the evenings when the pintxo crawl is in full swing. Accommodation options may also be more limited and pricier in the Old Town. But for those who want to fully immerse in San Sebastian‘s vibrant culture, the Parte Vieja is the ideal choice.



Located just across the River Urumea from the Old Town, the Gros neighbourhood offers a slightly more laid-back alternative. We stayed in this area in an Airbnb opposite the Kursaal Convention Centre where we attended TBEX Europe. This trendy, up-and-coming district is known for its dynamic food and art scene. We would also advocate for staying here – the Old Town is just a short stroll away – very accessible.

Sarah and Cooper TBEX San Sebastian

In Gros, you’ll find excellent pintxo bars like Ganbara, as well as an increasing number of innovative restaurants. The area also has a thriving creative community, with independent boutiques, art galleries, and design studios. It has a youthful, bohemian vibe that contrasts nicely with the historic charm of the Parte Vieja.

Accommodation options in Gros tend to be a bit more affordable than the Old Town. You’ll often get more space and modern amenities here. The area is well-connected via public transport, making it easy to hop over the river to explore the Parte Vieja. For those seeking a slightly quieter yet still very vibrant neighbourhood, Gros is an excellent choice.

Top tip: visit Abba Hotel rooftop bar in this area :)

Neighbourhoods to Stay in San Sebastian, Spain



For a more tranquil, residential feel, consider basing yourself in the Ondarreta area, situated along San Sebastian‘s picturesque beachfront. This upscale neighbourhood is home to the Ondarreta Beach, one of the city’s most beautiful stretches of golden sand.

While Ondarreta may lack the frenetic energy of the Old Town or Gros, it offers a serene and luxurious setting, with elegant hotels, chic boutiques, and excellent dining options. You’ll find refined pintxo bars like Rekondo, as well as some of San Sebastian‘s celebrated Michelin-starred restaurants.

Cooper filming San Sebastian

The appeal of Ondarreta lies in its ability to provide a peaceful respite from the bustling city centre, while still keeping you within easy reach of all the top sights and culinary delights. It’s an ideal choice for those who want to experience San Sebastian at a more relaxed pace, perhaps combined with a day or two exploring the vibrant neighbourhoods closer to the heart of the action.

Marina San Sebastian Spain


Choosing Your Perfect San Sebastian Neighbourhood

Ultimately, the best neighbourhood for you in San Sebastian will depend on the type of experience you’re seeking. Are you drawn to the historic charm and lively social scene of the Parte Vieja? The trendy, creative vibe of Gros? Or the serene luxury of Ondarreta?

No matter which you choose, you’re sure to be captivated by San Sebastian‘s unique blend of natural beauty, architectural splendour, and world-class gastronomy. With this guide to the city’s top neighbourhoods, you can find the perfect home base to explore all that this Basque gem has to offer.

TBEX fun San Sebastian