The Spanish city break with three beaches, slumber parties in an aquarium and new direct flights with British Airways

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WITH three stunning beaches and plenty of culture, San Sebastian strikes the perfect balance between seaside fun and city break.

And now that British Airways has launched the UK’s only direct route, it’s putting the city – on Spain’s mountainous north coast – within easy reach.

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The vast La Concha Bay is the jewel in the city’s crown – a stretch of white sand, bordered by a grand promenade and surrounded by breathtaking mountainsCredit: Getty
Take a bike to explore San Sebastian and you'll have the best of all worlds, with nearly 20 miles of cycle paths winding their way through the city

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Take a bike to explore San Sebastian and you’ll have the best of all worlds, with nearly 20 miles of cycle paths winding their way through the cityCredit: Alamy
A visit to a sagardotegia (literally a

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A visit to a sagardotegia (literally an “apple wine house”) is essentialCredit: Alamy

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CLASSIC VIEW: This region of Spain has been a vacation destination for kings and queens throughout the ages. And you can see why the Spanish Royal Family made their official summer residence here.

Miramar Palace – once the Basque Country’s answer to Balmoral – is literally a must-see, perched proudly atop a grassy hill and overlooking La Concha Bay.

Queen Victoria stopped here in 1889.

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FUN NEIGHBORHOOD: A stone’s throw from San Sebastian is the elegant fishing village of Hondar-ribia. Its quiet cobbled streets are an art lover’s paradise, with galleries and unusually decorated houses.

France is five minutes across the border by ferry (€2 each way).

THE WOW MOMENT: The vast La Concha Bay is the jewel in the city’s crown – a stretch of white sand, bordered by a grand promenade and surrounded by breathtaking mountains.

When the tide is out, you can walk along the shore to nearby Ondarreta Beach, with its calmer, family-friendly waters.

Thrill seekers should venture to the surfer paradise of Zurriola, on the other side of Mount Urgull.

NEW FOR 2022: British Airways’ lavish City Flyer fleet now ferries passengers twice a week from London City Airport, where sleek new X-ray technology means there’s no more fumbling with liquids and cases for laptop – just put everything in a tray and it all flies away. You will pass the door in 20 minutes.

FANTASTIC PARTY: With its proud Basque heritage, in San Sebastian you’ll see locals in bars enjoying pintxos rather than tapas.

Originally a slice of baguette topped with food of all kinds held in place with a cocktail stick or pintxo, dishes have evolved to include all manner of local delicacies in miniature form, from gilda, to olives, peppers and anchovies, leek and prawns in filo pastry.

Try Borda Berri or Bar Txepetxa in the city center.

CULTURAL FIX: If food comes first here, football comes second. Real Sociedad shirts are everywhere and the team’s blue and white colors dominate the building exteriors.

A trip to the 40,000-seat Anoeta Stadium, a short walk from the city center, is a must.

Prices are lower than attending games in England, so grab a bargain while you can.

UPPER TOWER: Take a bike to explore San Sebastian and you’ll have the best of all worlds, with nearly 20 miles of cycle paths winding their way through the city.

Prices start from just £36 for a two and a half hour tour. See sansebastianturismoa.eus/en.

WITH CHILDREN: The aquarium is much more than your average local museum.

It’s spread over three floors and even has a rooftop restaurant with stunning views of the bay.

What makes it unique are its fishy sleepovers, where you camp out in a glass tunnel, admiring sharks and rays before taking a nap.

General admission costs around £12 per adult and £6 per child. See aquariumss.com/fr.

ONE MORE PLEASURE: A visit to a sagardotegia (literally an “apple wine house”) is essential, and Sidras Saizar runs guided tours detailing the entire process, from pressing to pouring.

Listen for the cry of “Txotx” (pronounced “Tchoch”) which will direct you to the giant chestnut barrels where the cider is kept.

Watch the amber liquid uncork and flow directly into your glass. See www.sidrassaizar.com.

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THE GRAND HOTEL: Villa Magalean is a superb spa hotel in Hondar-ribia, with eight sumptuous suites.

The stained glass windows give the rooms a majestic aspect and the secluded terraces offer total tranquility.

For budget-conscious travellers, the NH Collection San Sebastián Aránzazu hotel offers double rooms from £68 (see nh-collection.com).

With its proud Basque heritage, in San Sebastian you'll see locals in bars enjoying pintxos rather than tapas

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With its proud Basque heritage, in San Sebastian you’ll see locals in bars enjoying pintxos rather than tapasCredit: Getty
Miramar Palace - once the Basque Country's answer to Balmoral - is literally a must-see, perched proudly atop a grassy hill and overlooking La Concha Bay

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Miramar Palace – once the Basque Country’s answer to Balmoral – is literally a must-see, perched proudly atop a grassy hill and overlooking La Concha BayCredit: Shutterstock

GO: SAN SEBASTIAN

gGETTING THERE : British Airways offers flights from London City to San Sebastian from £293 return. See britishairways.com.

STAY: Double rooms at Villa Magalean Hotel & Spa cost from £152. See villamagalean.com.

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