Tour guide @ San Sebastián Urban Adventures. Just another Basque hoping to explore the world. Passionate gamer, repressed prose writer, and language nerd.
Coming home from an unforgettable trip and bearing gifts for friends and family is common vacation practice. Travellers want to bring a piece of their trip home and share it, but it can be hard to find meaningful items that feel authentic and that really represent the destination. That’s why we want to help you with your gift list. From local wines to jewellery, here are a few of the best Basque souvenirs to buy in San Sebastián.
A txapela or boneta is a traditional Basque beret still worn by some locals, and also used as part of our regional folk costumes. You can get your own txapela at Casa Ponsol, which has been in the business of creating the iconic hats since 1838. They also make an variety of other hats, but a txapela from San Sebastian, from such a long-standing family-run business, makes for a great local souvenir.
Txakoli (pronounced cha-co-li), is a local Basque white wine that’s very dry. It is exclusively produced in the Basque region, and doesn’t get exported in huge quantities to other countries or locations in Spain, so if there are any wine drinkers on your souvenir list, I recommend picking up a bottle or two. The average price for a bottle of txakoli is around EUR 7 to 8 in local stores. Frequently, txakoli is compared to champagne because it is slightly sparkling, and the bubbles get increased by the traditional way the wine is poured. Most Basques pour the wine from up high with the help of a special pouring device called an escanciador, which aerates the wine and increases the amount of bubbles in the glass. You can also get an escanciador in local souvenir shops for around EUR 3. A good brand of txakoli to keep your eye out for is Txomin Etxaniz.
The Basque Country is also well-known for its cider. Cider bottles usually cost about EUR 3 in local supermarkets and the drink is typically combined with cod and red meat, and consumed at local celebrations and social gatherings. It’s even more fun to drink it in a cider house, where you can have as many rounds as your stomach can handle and your glass gets filled straight from the barrel. Locals love to sip their cider at cider houses, so they also make a great place to meet new people in your travels. Just like txakoli, cider should be poured from a height and so, inexperienced cider drinkers might want to use the escanciador we previously mentioned. If you’re going to pick some up, the brand I recommend is Petritegi.
Jewellery with local symbols
Basques love to wear the symbols of their culture because they are driven by both fashion and nationalism. The lauburu, for instance, is the most popular symbol in the Basque culture. This traditional cross is a reflection of the unity of our people and the Basque land, which is thousands of years old. It can be found on any object you can think of. Newborns, for example, are typically given lauburu earrings or pendants.
Another interesting symbol is the sunflower, locally called eguzkilore. The popularity of sunflowers comes from the local belief that sunflowers shoo away evil spirits and witches. It is said that if you hang a sunflower on your main door, bad spirits won’t be able to come in at night. Instead, they’ll keep removing the leaves until you replace the sunflower with a new one for further protection.
Finally, the most characteristic symbol of San Sebastián is the famous barandilla, in other words, the railing of La Concha. The city of San Sebastián is usually associated with the breathtaking landscape of La Concha Bay, which is lined by a gorgeous white railing. This will probably be the easiest symbol to find in local jewellery stores and could be one of the most charming gifts from your delightful trip to San Sebastián. My recommended store is Joyería Ayestarán.
Discover the oh-so-local way of life in Basque country on a San Sebastian tour, with a local guide. With our tours you can take to the hills and discover the gorgeous coastline of the St. James Way, or get to know Basque food by tucking into some delicious pintxos. When it comes to San Sebastian travel, we’ve got you covered!