Hiking to the top of Monte Igueldo… or almost

The city of San Sebastián in Spain has three small mountains that shape its topography and gives it its particular look: Mount Urgull, at the foot of which extends the Old Quarter, Mount Ulia, which rises to the east of the town, at the end of Zurriola Beach, then finally Mount Igueldo, which rises to the west of the city, at the end of Ondarreta Beach.

So after exploring Mount Urgull and Mount Ulia, I only had Mount Igueldo left to hike. And at 413 metres, it is the highest of the three mounts.

Monte Igueldo
Beaches and mountains

I must specify here that it is possible to get to the summit of Mount Igueldo by taking an old funicular. But, as was the case when I went to the top of Tibidabo in Barcelona, I decided to ignore the funicular and hike to the summit, because the hike to the top is for me often much more interesting than the summit itself.


So one evening after finishing my day’s work, I headed to Mount Igueldo. I followed the boardwalk along Ondarreta Beach, then I found myself in front of the funicular station. I quickly noticed a sign indicating stairs.

Going up!

In fact, the stairs serve as shortcuts to climb through the neighborhood that is on the side of the mountain. The road to the summit is not clearly indicated, but by taking the stairs between the opulent residences and following the winding road in the neighborhood, I gradually climb towards the summit. With, on the way, beautiful landscapes unfolding before my eyes.

Sea in San Sebastian
Golden hour in San Sebastián

The road eventually left the neighborhood to follow the northern flank of the mountain, before zigzagging again to the summit. I walked at the foot of a cute little white lighthouse, then I continued to follow the road. At this point, it then seemed to me that all the teenagers of San Sebastián decided to meet on the side of the road to listen to music, smoke and admire the landscape. I must admit that it is a nice place to hang out.

Monte Igueldo
Little white lighthouse

Then, when I felt like I was almost at the top, the road ended in front of a locked barrier and I couldn’t walk further. There is an amusement park at the top of Igueldo, and the opening hours were over. I probably could have slipped under the fence, but instead I decided to wisely retrace my steps, telling myself that I would only have to come back another day.

A colleague later told me that there was another way to get to the top on foot, but since my work schedule was rather busy, I never finally had time to look for this path. So when, on my last day in San Sebastián, another colleague invited me to take the funicular, I decided to accept, seeing there my last opportunity to get to the top of Igueldo.

Funicular of Mount Igueldo
Dear funicular, I was trying to avoid you, but here we are

The funicular (apparently the third oldest in Spain) quickly brought us to the top. And the view of San Sebastián from there was simply spectacular.

San Sebastian
Postcard view

The amusement park was closed that day, so the summit was not too busy. We decided to pay a few extra euros to climb to the top of the tower on Igueldo. Despite its military look, the tower used to be an old lighthouse that was rebuilt as a tourist attraction in the early 20th century. Inside, there is an exhibition of old photos depicting the history of San Sebastián, but the real attraction is the view from the platform at the top.

Mount Igueldo
A pool with a view

We took the opportunity to lunch and have a drink there (there is a restaurant at the top of Igueldo – it’s expensive, but it certainly has the most beautiful view in town!) before descending back to San Sebastián.

I still feel like I cheated a bit to get to the top, but there was no better way to end my stay in this beautiful region! Hoping to have the opportunity to come back one day to explore it further!

Mount Igueldo
Goodbye beautiful Basque Country

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