Alternative ‘First Time’ Cities Ep. 4

Favourite destinations around the world are matched with lesser known places that offer an equally awesome experience when it comes to culture, food, nightlife and attractions. Here is the forth match guide to find your perfect first time trip!

If you like RIO, why not try SAN SEBASTIAN?

Rio de Janero

Sao Joao (beside the Sugarloaf) and Santa Cruz (below right) Fortifications, located at Guanabara Bay entrance

Landscape: Think beautiful long beaches, tropical landscapes with forested mountains and smaller islands dotted around the coastline. The cinematic landscape is dominated by various iconic landmarks such as world famous Corcovado Mountain and Christ the Redeemer Statue, Sugarloaf Mountain and Ipanema beach.

Culture: Music is at the heart of Rio, dominated by the samba and celebrated via the city’s Carnival Samba Parade holiday in February. Overall, it’s a vibrant city, filled with cinema, theatre, dance and strong traditional family values.

Points of interest: You can’t miss Ipanema Beach for a spot of football, volleyball, surfing or people watching. Providing it’s not too hot, take a hike through the rainforest, rent a sail boat or take advantage of the various rock climbing activities on offer. After all that activity, take a relaxed walk around the Botanical Gardens or a cog train to visit the Christ the Redeemer Statue.

Food: Brazilian food is vibrant, meaty and delicious. It has a BBQ focus, as well as stews – the most famous being the ‘feijoada’ stew – beef gravy, with potatoes, pork cracking, kale and orange. Street food is also huge so be sure to make a visit to local street vendors for pastries or ‘pastels’ and pancakes.

Nightlife: Head to the Lapa district if you’re after some authentic samba, live music destinations and all night parties. But if dancing isn’t your thing, then the Flying Circus provides a brilliant music venue for emerging bands, or sample the variety of bars filled with cooling beers and refreshing ‘caipirinhas’.

Did you know? Why not take the kids to the newly open AquaRio, the largest aquarium in all of Latin America.

San Sebastian

Island in the sea, a gulf and harbour

Landscape: San Sebastian is a charismatic Spanish city with stunning beaches and gothic style basilica’s, squares and castles wherever you look.

Culture: The city houses a mix of the old town – filled with bars and charming places to stay – together with the shopping filled Area Romantica, the more relaxed Gros with its beach – perfect for surfing – or the more up market area surrounding the half-moon shaped Ondarreta Beach.

Points of Interest: The Playa de la Concha beach is striking and filled with beautiful people. The Parque de Cristina Enea is another picturesque must visit, as is a walk to the Monte Urgull castle for stunning views across the city. For when the sun gets too hot, there is a brilliant aquarium and a variety of art museums to keep the whole family entertained.

Food: Tapas culture is big and San Sebastian has the Michelin stars to match – it regularly tops the list of best places to eat in the world and is a real foodie destination. The quality of the food is excellent, whether dining at the best restaurants or smaller pintxos bars. It’s safe to say that San Sebastian is a food lover’s dream – try its many delicacies for an authentic flavour, including aged beef, superb bean dishes, tortillas, salted cod and baked egg custard.

Nightlife: San Sebastian houses a lively but fairly small bar scene with a mix of traditional wine bars, small music clubs and chic modern bars in the old town, versus the slightly more relaxed area of Gros. There’s something for everyone – including a casino for those not ready to call it a night.

Did you know? The city offers over 30km of cycle paths, known locally as ‘bidegorris’, which can conveniently take you around the entire city centre, promenades and surrounding areas.

Stay tune for the next episode: If you like BERLIN..
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