strand san sebastian

Things to do in San Sebastian: the best attractions

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A visit to San Sebastian is good to combine during your surf vacation through Spain or France. Besides good surf, you will also find other fine sights in San Sebastian. For example, one of the best things is the delicious “food. Because of its coastal location with mountainous surroundings, San Sebastian is also a great outdoor destination. Who wouldn’t fall for San Sebastian’s Basque charm? Check out our list of the best things to do in the San Sebastián.

1. Visit La Parte Vieja, the old town

La Parte Vieja is the old part of San Sebastián and an unmissable highlight of San Sebastian during your city break. In this part of town you will find many pinxto bars, boutiques, old buildings and other beautiful cultural sights such as the churches of Santa Maria and San Vincente. Be sure to try some fine Spanish food in the old town and wander or drift through its streets.

Located just south of the Urgull hill, this neighborhood also offers nice traditional stores where you can buy local delicacies. You should also be here if you are looking for a nice souvenir.

2. Eat in one of the many Pintxos bars

San Sebastian is great for food lovers. It is the culinary destination of Spain. In San Sebastian you will find many Michelin-starred restaurants and pintxos bars. Especially in the old part of the city, Parte Vieja, you will find a lot of pintxos bars.

What are pintxos?

Pintxos are Basque snacks, similar to tapas. Tapas and Pinchos what is the difference? Pintxos or Pinchos originate from the northern part of Spain and are actually small sandwiches: bread tapas. On the sandwich go Spanish ingredients such as dried ham, grilled vegetables and cheese. Want to eat cheaply in San Sebastian? Then do a bite of pintxos – per bite you pay around €2 – and a glass of sangria.

3. See the cathedral Buen Pastor

Right in the center of San Sebastian is the impressive Buen Pastor Cathedral. A huge building in neo-Gothic style. You can also go inside to see the extraordinary interior.

Nice tip: around the cathedral you will find nice cafes and restaurants where you can settle down for a drink and snack.

4. Visit the island of Santa Clara

In the bay of Concha, between the mountains Urgull and Igueldo, lies the idyllic island of Santa Clara, one of the most beautiful sights of San Sebastián.

You can visit this island when the ferry sails there: from May to August. On the island you will have beautiful views of the city of San Sebastián. You will find a small café where you can take a break.

There is also a cute lighthouse and even a lifeguard (!). So you can safely dive into the water to cool off.

5. Take a walk on the city beach

The Concha beach or “Playa de la Concha” is considered one of Europe’s most beautiful urban beach bays. And it’s not just any city beach. In fact, La Concha is located in the impressive, shell-shaped Concha Bay, hence the name Concha or shell.

Playa de la Concha

On one side you will find Mount Urgull and on the other side Mount Igueldo. Because the bay is surrounded by mountains, the beach is well sheltered from waves and wind.

From the town hall in San Sebastian you descend in a few minutes to the beautiful beach and clear waters.

6. Climb Monte Urgull

A highlight during your visit in San Sebastian is climbing Monte Urgull. Atop the hill or mountain you will find a castle and 30-meter-high statue of Christ, Sagrado Corazón.

The hill is about 120 meters high and requires a short climb. Once at the top, you have magnificent views of Santa Clara Island, La Concha, Zurriola beaches and the colorful buildings of San Sebastian.

6. Wave surfing at playa de Zurriola

The surf spot of San Sebastián is Playa de Zurriola. This is a popular beach that is perfect for surfers of all levels. The waves here break both left and right. In the summer months, the beach can be very crowded and you will find many surf schools here.

On the beach you will find several surf schools. And in the Gros district you also have several surf shops that rent surfboards.

Want to book surf lessons? Then check out the surf lessons from Manawa, the outdoor activities site.

7. Explore San Sebastian by bike

Discover San Sebastian at its best with one of Baja Bikes’ bike tours. In no time, you’ll see everything this top destination has to offer, learn more about the city’s history and get a taste of the local culture, literally and figuratively. At Baja Bikes, they offer best tours in San Sebastian, so you won’t miss a thing of this beautiful city by the sea and its delicious pintxos, or Basque tapas!

San Sebastian travel tips

Places to stay in San Sebastian

Unfortunately, staying overnight in San Sebastian can be pricey. But you do have very nice accommodations where you can spend the night.

Camping: Camping Bungalows Igueldo San Sebastian
Budget: for budget travelers, we recommend the Surfing Etxea hostel. This hostel is 2 minutes from surf beach Zurriola. and is less than 1 km from the Old Town.
Luxury: hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra (stately 19th-century building on the beach and overlooks La Concha bay.

Check out ’s selection of all accommodations in San Sebastián.

This destination is also ideal as part of a road trip through France and Spain.

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