Mount Igeldo, amazing views and a vintage amusement park

Mount Igeldo rises over Donostia-San Sebastián, one of the most touristic cities in the Basque Country. This corner is, at the same time, a lookout, an amusement park and a natural jewel that everyone staying in Donostia should visit. In fact, it is one of the three peaks of the bay of La Concha, apart from the Santa Clara Island and the mountain Urgull.

Reaching Mount Igeldo on a hundred-year-old cable car

Our visit to Mount Igeldo will start by stepping on a cable car that will take us to the top of the mountain. One can also access the amusement park by car, but this old vehicle just makes the entrance more exciting. Indeed, the cable travels vertically through the trees, offering a fantastic view.

A red cable car on a rail between trees

The cable car of Mount Igeldo. | Shutterstock

The most interesting fact about this vehicle is perhaps that it still keeps its original wooden cabins, which date back to 1912: this makes the Igeldo cable car the oldest one in the Basque Country yet. It departs from a beautiful station in the square called Plaza del Funicular, where the inhabitants of Donostia used to take the cable car to get to the casino or to the dance hall up on the mountain. This cable car ride will definitely be a fun adventure for the kids heading to the amusement park.

Besides, this station is really close to the Comb of the Wind, one of the most popular monuments in Donostia, which we can easily visit before or after being to Mount Igeldo. The Comb of the Wind is a set of sculptures by Eduardo Chillida that awaits us at the end of the beach of Ondarreta, standing among the waves and rocks of the Basque coast.

The most spectacular views in Donostia-San Sebastián

The cable car reaches the entrance of the amusement park on top of the mountain, and the first thing that will amaze us is the magnificent sight of the bay and the city. This lookout grants the possibility of taking the best pictures of Donostia, including the beach of La Concha, the Santa Clara Island, the cathedral or the bridge of María Cristina.

A panoramic view of the Bay of Donostia, with an island and two beaches

A view from Mount Igeldo. | Shutterstock

In fact, when we google this gorgeous city, most of the pictures the search engine will show us were shot from this very place, as well as many postcards they sell on gift shops. It makes perfect sense, considering that, from this perspective, we see the most iconic picture of Donostia. We can even walk up to the tower of Mount Igeldo to enjoy the views from its highest point.

Mount Igeldo: a vintage amusement park

Once the visitors take all the beautiful pictures they wish, they will start to explore the amusement park of Mount Igeldo. This vintage amusement park was inaugurated on 25 August 1912, and all of its 20 devices for entertainment are still up and running. In the early 20th century, there were two more amusement parks in Donsotia, one in Ulia and one in Martutene, but only Mount Igeldo has persisted to this day.

It was a lawyer called Evaristo San Martín who came up with the idea of building this amusement park, and the architect Luis Elizalde designed both the station and the restaurant. Back then, Mount Igeldo also had a casino, an assembly hall, a dance hall and two cinemas. However, time has considerably changed this amusement park.

One of the most remarkable rides in the park is the Mysterious River, a narrow channel leading boats around the mountain and displaying all sorts of spectacular sights of Donostia and its surroundings. The Swiss Mountain will also grant us a great ride where we will feel like flying over the Cantabrian Sea. It is also the oldest functioning steel rollercoaster in the world. In addition, the bravest kids and adults will really enjoy the Horror House.

A rollercoaster and the sea in the background

The Swiss Mountain in Igeldo. | Shutterstock

In the Labyrinth, the visitors will have to find the exit through a series of never-ending corridors, impossible crossroads and slides. On the other hand, those who would prefer a calm and relaxing evening will love the Boat Pond. Other fun activities include bumper cars, the Kosmikar, the carrousel or Igeldo’s Train.

Besides all that, the amusement park of Mount Igeldo holds trampolines, slides, all kinds of games, food stalls and a restaurant where one can eat with fantastic views. All in all, one can easily spend at least a few hours enjoying this place. It is also worth mentioning that both the amusement park and the cable car were declared Assets of Cultural Interest in 2014.

The old lighthouse of Donostia-San Sebastián

Another interesting spot in Mount Igeldo is its beautiful tower, which used to be a lighthouse. At a height of 130 metres above the sea level, this tower guided the ships when they had to access the harbour. Besides, its strategic location allowed the tower to escape from the fog, a rather common phenomenon in this area.

A tower above some stairs as seen from below

The tower of Mount Igeldo, a former lighthouse. | Shutterstock

We can walk up the five floors of the tower through a spiral staircase. There is a lift there, but it is not in operation anymore. Once up there, we will see a crenellated terrace where we can admire a landscape that extends from the cape Matxitxako in Bizkaia to the French Landas. Likewise, we can use our way through the spiral staircase to observe the rich nuances of Donostia.

In short, Mount Igeldo is a must-see corner for anyone visiting Gipuzkoa for many reasons, like its rides, the views, its natural surroundings or the fantastic experience of sitting on a cable car that is more than a hundred years old.

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