There are a few reasons why San Sebastian is so popular. One of them is the picturesque scenery which is manly created by the three hills: Monte Ulia, Monte Urgull and Monte Igueldo. Read how to get up the famous hill, what things to avoid and how to fully enjoy your panoramic Monte Igueldo hike.
Mount Igueldo is the second highest hill and it is famous for the stunning views of the city from its slopes. Even though it’s one of the main points of interest of San Sebastian, there are a couple of things you should know about this hill.
I can tell you that Monte Igueldo really surprised me – in a good way! – like no other place I saw on my solo trip in San Sebastian.
I knew it was a crazily popular feature of this city, packed with nature lovers and large groups of tourists. I also knew about the not-too-appealing amusement park full of garish attractions which really doesn’t fit in with the natural beauty of this area.
I planned to take a funicular, take in some of the views of the town, snap some pictures and go back to the centre to grab some pinchitos.
Luckily, I followed my curious intuition and discovered panoramas I’ve never dreamed about! If you want to enjoy Monte Igueldo at its best, check out my 3 very simple tips.
3 Tips to Enjoy Monte Igueldo at Its Best:
1. Avoid the Peak Time of the Amusement Park
No offense, but the amusement park on the top of the Igueldo hill is the only thing which spoils the romantic spirit of the place! I had enough luck to be able to explore the area at a time when the attractions where closed.
Even at that, just a single look at all these cheesy Swiss Mountains, Labyrinths and ‘haunted houses’ left me feeling queasy. They say that these are remains of the past, monumental landmarks which should be preserved for further generations.
My guess is that the whole Igueldo area would look much better without these ridiculous colourful plastic and metal creatures. I don’t have one single picture of this crap (maybe because I am naturally attracted to attractive stuff).
Check this site to see the amusement park’s schedule (where you can discover the times to avoid) and have a look at some truly horrendous pictures.
2. Walk Down the Hill, Don’t Even Bother with the Funicular
I really wasn’t sure if it was possible to hike up the hill, because I didn’t find a lot of information about getting up Mount Igueldo from any other guide.
I just found information about the funicular and lots of fancy pictures taken from the hill. Monte Igueldo is very different to my other favourite hill of San Sebastian, Monte Urgull.
While Monte Urgull has lots of small pathways and routes to take, Igueldo has just one curvy road built mainly for cars, and that’s it. I didn’t find any trekking paths. There are just groups of steps at the bottom of the hill and the rest is a road!
That’s why 99% of all Monte Igueldo visitors take the funicular. But you’re not them, you’re in the 1% of adventurers who prefer walking down the twisting road because that’s where you find the best views!
The loveliest secret natural gems you would never see from above are hidden right there! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the shiny green cliffs meeting the turquoise waves of Viscay Bay.
The only thing I regret is that I didn’t explore the area more and didn’t walk farther west, in search of more nature.
3. The Lower, the Better
The top of Monte Igueldo looks like a flat terrace with walls around the edges. There are some benches to take a seat, a kiosk with refreshments, toilets and those ugly attractions.
This is the most popular and so the most packed area. The reason for this is very straightforward, it’s the funicular’s first and last stop so everybody arrives down there and many people stay there.
Yes, the views from Monte Igueldo’s terrace are fantastic, beautiful, and so romantic that you could easily cry for hours. However, if you want to have a bit of privacy and some peace to enjoy those precious moments, go lower. Take the steps which lead down to the road (you will easily see them) and escape the noise of the crowds.
When you decide to walk back to the town, just follow the descending steps and the road, don’t get scared of the closed ramp. It’s just for cars, walkers are free in their movements – at least I think so.
Nobody caught me and gave me a fine at least! You can’t even get lost at Monte Igueldo since there is just this one and only road. Just follow the path, enjoy the stunning views around you, soak in the peaceful atmosphere and get back down safe and with a healthy appetite for some pinchos!
How to get to Mont Igueldo
There are at least 4 ways to get to the top of this hill: taking a funicular, walking up, driving or biking. The funicular starts in the station located at the very end of Bahia de la Concha (directly at the very end of Ondaretta beach) .
I paid around €3 for a return ticket.
If you are too lazy to climb up the hill – as I was – feel free to take the funicular. It is not a very enjoyable ride (it’s small, packed with people and old), but it does the job. It takes you up the 180-metres-high Monte Igueldo in just a few minutes.
If you decide to walk, find the steps which are built in between the houses and connect to the curved parts of the road.
At some point you get to a place where there are no houses, and this is where you have to walk up the road and share it with cars, motorbikes, bikers and other walkers. It was very quiet when I walked down so don’t worry about having to dodge traffic all the time.
I hope you find these Monte Igueldo tips pretty helpful. I wish you a great hike and remember, walking down the road is worth it! The best views are just right there.