Peñas de Aia, the 1st mountain of the Pyrenees
One of the visually spectacular elements of San Sebastián is its unique setting between the mountains and the sea. One of these mountains, Peñas de Aia, is a mere 15 kilometers from San Sebastian. It is approximately 850 meters (about half a mile) high. It is a rocky mountain of rugged beauty and dominates the city’s horizon. It is considered the first mountain in the Pyrenees from the western end. In addition, it is located in a truly spectacular conservation area, whose slopes are crisscrossed by rivers and punctuated by waterfalls in the rainy season. The views from up there are spectacular – on one side, you have the Atlantic coastline of Spain and France, and on the other, the Pyrenees stretch out before you. On most days, you can see the first snow capped peaks in the distance.
There are two ways to reach the summit. You can start from the base of the mountain, at the source of the Oiartzun river. From here the climb is hard and steep, but at a good pace you can reach the summit in about 2 hours. The other option is to park the car in an area near the summit on the north side. From here we have a 1 hour walk.
During the ascent you can enjoy the local fauna and flora, like wild horses and sheep grazing placidly on mountain slopes. Our local pride is the Latza breed sheep, which produces the milk that is used to make Idiazabal cheese, one of the best known local products in the Basque Country.
It is an easy route, suitable for all people with a minimum of physical ability.
Cider house restaurant
After the hike, it’s time to eat! Since we are in the Basque Country we will go to a traditional cider house to eat fresh fish, tender beef, and cheese from the local farms. These foods go perfectly with a tart, lightly carbonated hard apple cider, always poured directly from the barrel. While cider is a very tasty and even healthful drink, it’s easy to drink fast after a hike, so we encourage moderation.