With its countless tapas bars, it feels like San Sebastian really comes to life at happy hour! The evenings are always animated in this seaside city that wears its Basque culture loud and proud. But it can be difficult for a visitor to escape the tourist traps and discover the real neighborhood joints and local favorites. But we’re here to help! Here are our five favorite spots to check out in San Sebastian.
Beltza Records: A record store with lots of soul
“Beltza” means “black” in Basque. So it’s no surprise, Beltza specializes in black music. Don’t be fooled by the small size of the shop. It’s overflowing with records, both new and used, carefully categorized by genre and in alphabetical order. Soul, jazz, R&B, Jamaican music…you could spend hours crate diving here. They’ve also got sections dedicated to rock, experimental music, new wave, punk, and more. Luis, the owner, as truly passionate about music. He founded his own label (also called Beltza Records) and organizes shows throughout San Sebastian!
San Juan Kalea, 9
Dabadaba: Temple of indie music
Pop into the alley and you’ll see a lit-up sign for “Dabadaba.” Welcome to Dabadaba, a favorite venue for local lovers of alternative music. The list of bands who have played the tiny stage since it opened in 2014 sounds like an Underground Hall of Fame: The Black Lips, Mdou Moctar, Kevin Morby, Moon Duo, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Meridian Brothers, The Space Lady, and more. All artists you’d have a hard time seeing in such an intimate setting in any big city! But Dabadaba isn’t just a concert venue. It opens at 9AM every day and serves food and drinks, organizes exhibitions, film screenings, markets, DJ sets, etc. Basically, you’ll be happy you came no matter what the day or hour!
Mundaitz Kalea, 8
Le Bukowski: To keep you dancing all night long
A few steps from Dabadaba, in the Egia neighborhood, you’ll find another local favorite: Le Bukowski. Open since the late 1980s, the venue is a major reference for music lovers. Today, it still draws rock fans thanks to its excellent lineups. It’s also a great spot to dance to DJ sets all night long.
Egia Kalea, 18
Akerbeltz: Craft beer and a view of the port
From the outside, bar Akerbeltz doesn’t look like much. But it’s a well-known local favorite! On sunny days and at sunset, the terrace overlooking the port is jam packed. If you can’t squeeze onto the terrace, lots of people grab a cold bottle of beer and drink it on the steps leading to the neighboring Monte Urgull. Akerbeltz has the best selection of local and international craft beer in the city, so we recommend getting a bottle instead of a caña (draught beer). On top of it all, the music here is always great.
Mari Kalea, 19
Eiger Edaritegia: Rock’n’roll headquarters
Once you step inside Eiger Edaritegia, you’ll know you’re at the rock’n’roll headquarters of San Sebastian. The walls are covered in album artwork from rock records from the 60s and 70s…when they’re not plastered with audio cassettes! Rock, soul, punk…the music here is perfectly curated and on weekends, DJs are spinning records one after another.
General Jauregi Kalea, 6
Cover photo: Miguel Mendez
Article translated by Andrea Perdue
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