On the northern coast of Spain’s Basque Country lies the magical city of San Sebastián. It has the perfect mix of mountains, beaches, and city life! Plus, even in a country known for its delicious cuisine, San Sebastián stands out as a foodies paradise! Beautiful views + lots to do + good food? Sounds like an ideal spot to me! For the ultimate San Sebastián trip, read below for the best things to do, see, and eat!
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San Sebastián, Spain - Top Things To Do
San Sebastián really packs a punch for being a smaller city in Spain. With some of the most beautiful nature, a distinct Basque culture, and seriously amazing food, there’s no shortage of fun things to do in San Sebastián
Hit the Beach at Playa de La Concha
Playa de La Concha, known as one of the most beautiful city beaches in all of Europe, is a must-visit during your time in San Sebastián. Located right near downtown, you can cool off with a swim after a morning of exploring the city. The wide, soft sand is also a fantastic place to get that Spanish sun-kissed glow!
Stroll Along La Concha Promenade/Paseo de la Concha
Right next to Playa de La Concha you’ll find Paseo de la Concha, or La Concha Promenade, a wide walkway that spans about 3 miles from Monte Igueldo to De Okendo Plaza. With ocean views and a pretty iconic white banister (IYKYK), it’s a gorgeous spot to take a walk. Plus, there are a ton of cool restaurants and bars to grab a drink or meal!
Explore Old Town San Sebastian (Parte Vieja)
Get to know the unique culture and history of San Sebastián by walking around Old Town, also known as Parte Vieja. You can’t miss:
Plaza de la Constitución
Plaza de la Constitución, the center of Old Town, is the perfect spot to seat your stroll around. Stop by to see the old bullring before heading out to other sights. Or find a terraced bar to enjoy a glass of Spanish vino at the end of your exploring!
Mercado de la Brexta
Since 1870, Mercado de la Brexta has been the culinary nerve center of San Sebastián. Try some local dishes at the food stalls or grab ingredients for later!
Iglesia de San Vicente
Built in the early 16th century, Iglesias de San Vicente is the perfect example of traditional Basque Gothic architecture, unique to the San Sebastián area.
Basilica of Santa María del Coro
As the oldest church in San Sebastián, Basilica of Santa Maria del Coro is a must-visit with its beautiful mix of Gothic and Neo-Classical architecture.
Try ALLLL the Pintxos in San Sebastian
San Sebastián is a food city. Their Crown Jewels? Pintxos: small snacks traditionally shared amongst friends at bars. Think of them as the Basque equivalent of a tapa, but held together with a tiny skewer (and usually a piece of bread).
The most common types of pintxos in San Sebastián are made with locally sourced ingredients like fish, beef, and vegetables. Some of the most popular pintxos to try in San Sebastián are:
- Mejillones tigres: tiger mussels in a spicy tomato sauce
- Carrillera de ternera: beef cheek covered in a red wine sauce
- Gilda: olives, anchovies, and spicy peppers
- Bacalao: salted cod usually with an olive oil and thyme sauce
- Brochetas de gambas: shrimp skewers
There’s so many amazing spots throughout the city to get pintxos! For the best experience, book a pintxos tour. Your local guide will take you to their favourite spots, explain the history and importance of pintxos culture, and let you see the real San Sebastián.
Enjoy the Views From San Sebastián’s Mountains
Basque Country, where San Sebastian is located, is one of the most mountainous regions of Spain. So while people may think of San Sebastian as a beach city thanks to its famous swimming spots, it also has three close-by mountains to visit and enjoy!
Monte Igueldo, the highest point in the city, has amazing views of San Sebastián and the Cantabrian Sea. The best part is? It’s really easy to get to! Plus, there’s cheap parking everywhere.
Once you’ve taken all the panoramic pics your phone’s storage will allow, the fun doesn’t end. That’s because there is an entire amusement park right at the top of the mountain! Riding a rollercoaster while enjoying ocean views is a pretty ideal way to spend an afternoon if I do say so myself!
You can also take the funicular up to the top for a slower ride to enjoy the views even more!
Located to the East of Gros district in San Sebastian, Monte Ulia offers a relaxing escape from the hustle and bustle of the city center.
In Old Town, you’ll find the tranquil, natural area around Monte Urgull. With gorgeous views of the city and La Concha beach, lush gardens, and the 12th-century Castillo de la Mota fortress, you can spend hours exploring.
Take a Hop On, Hop Off Tour
Sit back and relax by leaving all the planning and logistics to the experts with a hop on, hop off tour. They’ll take you to all the hotspots like Old Town, Playa de La Concha, and more to see at your own pace. You won’t have to worry about getting lost, parking, or trying to find a taxi.
They also offer a sightseeing train ride that takes you past all the most beautiful sights in San Sebastián on a comfortable, open-air train!
Surf at Zurriola Beach
Better known as “Zurri” by locals, Zurriola Beach is the perfect beach to catch some waves and rays. It’s in the Gros district of San Sebastián, only a short distance from the city center. If you’re not a pro surfer yet, you can join a surf school to practice getting gnarly!
Get Aquatic at the San Sebastian Aquarium
To admire the ocean from a different perspective, visit the San Sebastián Aquarium! Walk through their famous 360˚ tunnel to be completely surrounded by over 200 species of sea creatures!
Visit Museo San Telmo
Learn more about Basque culture and history at the Museo San Telmo. Located in Old Town, in a 16th-century Dominican convent, it’s the perfect spot to stop by on your tour through town!
Admire the Beauty of Palacio de Miramar
Right in between Playa de La Concha and Playa de Ondarreta is the magnificent Palacio de Miramar, a 19th-century palace originally for the Spanish Royal Family. The house isn’t always open for tours, but the grounds alone are worth a visit. With stunning vistas of the ocean and beaches and lush green lawns, it’s a great spot for a relaxing afternoon!
Ferry Over to Isla de Santa Clara
As soon as you reach Playa de La Concha, you’ll notice Island de Santa Clara jutting out of the blue ocean waters. Take in its beauty from even closer by taking a ferry over! Once you’re there, enjoy the views, try your hand at birdwatching, or hike up to the lighthouse. After you’ve made the most of your trip over, stop by the adorable beach bar for a well-deserved drink!
Have a Beach Day at Playa de Ondarreta
For a quiet, relaxing beach day, head over to Playa de Ondarreta. As the least busy of the three city beaches in San Sebastián, you’ll have the soft, golden sand to yourself. Don’t forget to pack a picnic lunch with some treats from your favorite cafe!
Relax at Parque de Aiete
For a tranquil start to your day, take a stroll around Parque de Aiete’s lush gardens. With meandering pathways, a beautiful lake, and an old palace, it’s the perfect spot to catch your breath! Plus, there’s a small cafe on the grounds where you can grab some coffee or tapas depending on the time of day.
Contemplate the Strength of the Sea at the Peine del Viento Sculptures
Public art rarely gets your adrenaline pumping, but it will at El Peine del Viento! Meaning “the wind comb”, these sculptures stand amongst the jagged rocks of the coast, combing the wind and ocean as it approaches San Sebastián! Mother Nature puts on a performance with whistling wind and crashing waves.
On rougher days, the police have to tape off the area for safety, so say attention to the signs!
Day Trips from San Sebastian
If you’re in San Sebastián for a while, you’re in luck! Not only is there a lot to do in the city, but it’s also very easy to get around to other underrated cities near Basque Country! Here are some of the best day trips from San Sebastián:
- Parque Natural de Montes Obarenes-San Zadornil
For more details and more day trips, check out this post: Best Day Trips from San Sebastian.
Best Places to Eat + Drink in San Sebastián, Spain
Highest Rated Restaurants:
Here is a list of the highest-rated + best restaurants in San Sebastian, Spain:
- La Cuchara de San Telmo
- Casa Urola
- Atari Gastroleku
- TrikuHarri Taberna Jatetxea
- La Txuleteria
- Restaurante Kokotxa
- Bodegon Alejandro
- Restaurante Ikaitz
- Polka San Sebastián
- La Madame
- Restaurante La Rampa
- Narru Restaurant
- Sirimiri Gastroleku
- Sidreria Beharri
- Bodega Donostiarra Gros
- Asador Portuetxe
- Bar Sport
- La Cepa
- La Viña
- Itxaropena 1910
- Topa Sukaldería
- Bartolo House
- Juantxo Taberna
There you have it–the best things to do, see, and eat in the beautiful city of San Sebastián! With relaxing days at the beach, fun day trips along the coast, and as many pintxos as you can handle, it’s the perfect spot for a Spanish getaway!
Headed to San Sebastián soon? Don’t forget to tag me in your pictures, so I can see all of your adventures! And as always, DM me on Instagram if you have any questions! Happy travels!!
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