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San Sebastian is a perfect destination for anyone left cold by the idea of traditional sightseeing. It is not that this city, located in the Basque region of northern Spain and just 20km (12 miles) from the French border, is short of attractions but rather because it specialises in convincing its visitors to relax and take in the local way of life, making the search for landmarks, museums and other curiosities appear unnecessary.

This is no doubt in part due to the fact that it is a popular destination for Spanish as well as foreign tourists. These ultra short-haul visitors are, perhaps, less moved by the sights than the average tourist arriving from cheap flights to San Sebastian.

Despite the Michelin stars its restaurants have garnered, San Sebastian probably can't claim the title of culinary capital of Spain (that would probably go to a larger city like Barcelona or even Madrid) and despite its wonderful stretch of beach, it probably can't claim to be Spain's finest (that would have to be somewhere on the Costa del Sol or even one of the country's islands). However, those arriving on flights to Spain would agree that if there were something to signify the highest combined rating, San Sebastian would be crowned the undisputed culinary beach town in Spain and quite possibly the world.

Beware that even the most thought-out plans for sightseeing can fall by the wayside in this town. Whether that happens as soon as you set foot on the Bahía de la Concha, a gorgeous city beach that stands comparison with any other depends on you. It may be that you abandon your best-laid plans while wandering through the maze of tiny streets and the small intimate bars and restaurants that call them home in the old town (La Parte Vieja).

However, if you are the type of traveller to stick to your itinerary, be sure to include the local houses of worship. After all, this would not be a town in Spain if it did not have a selection of churches worth a visit. Two of the oldest in San Sebastian qualify: the Church of San Vicente, built in the Gothic style, and the Church of Santa María (Baroque) will reward those dedicated enough to seek them out.

As discussed, San Sebastian is a place where haute cuisine served up by the town's Michelin star-endowed eateries is readily on offer. However, don't be blinded by the awards as traditionally hearty fare is available from a wide variety of restaurants in the town. This is particularly true in the vicinity of the fishing port where, as one would expect, seafood is a specialty. Where ever you end up eating in San Sebastian, be sure to try Pintxos, the Basque equivalent of tapas.

If you're a dedicated culture vulture and the idea of being swayed from your pre-planned itinerary fills you with dread, make sure to check the travel guide to Spain for countless alternative Hispanic destinations.