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15 Best Things To Do In San Sebastian

San Sebastián is a beautiful coastal city in the Basque Country of Spain. It is renowned for its stunning beaches, amazing architecture and vibrant culture that attract tourists from around the world. With its unique blend of culture and natural beauty, there are plenty of things to see in San Sebastián. From outdoor adventures to cultural attractions, this article will discuss some of the best things to do in San Sebastián.

1. Plaza de la Constitucion

Plaza de la Constitucion in San Sebastian

The Plaza de la Constitución in San Sebastian is a vibrant and essential part of the city's culture. Located in the heart of the old town, it has been an integral gathering place since its founding in 1813. It features a grand fountain at its centre, surrounded by lush gardens and beautiful architectural designs that help create an atmosphere of sophistication and elegance.

The surrounding area also includes several important monuments and statues celebrating famous figures from Spanish history, providing tourists with a glimpse into the rich cultural past of this vibrant city.

On any given day, locals can be found strolling around the plaza enjoying ice cream or simply taking in their surroundings. It is here where people come to celebrate festivals or attend various events such as concerts or outdoor cinema screenings during the warmer months.


Address: Juan de Bilbao Kalea, 2-18, 20003 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain

2. La Concha Bay

La Concha Bay

La Concha Beach is one of the most beloved beaches in the north of Spain, renowned for its beauty and unique atmosphere. This stunning beach is located along the coast of northern Spain, boasting a picturesque view of both the mountains and sea.

The sandy shoreline curves around a large bay, creating a peaceful crescent-shaped beach that invites visitors to experience its natural wonders. Playa de la concha has been praised for its inviting atmosphere – locals come to soak up the sun, take leisurely strolls on the promenade and bathe in the crystal clear waters.

3. Parte Vieja (Old Town)

Old Town in San Sebastian-Basilica of Saint Mary of the Chorus

Parte Vieja or Old Town, is a must-see for any traveler that visits San Sebastián. It is the oldest part of the city and home to some of the most iconic sights in San Sebastián. Here one can find cobblestone streets lined with rustic restaurants and colorful buildings that have been standing for centuries. This area of town has a distinct old-world charm that draws tourists from all over the world.

At Parte Vieja you can not only explore historical sites such as the Murallas de San Telmo, but also soak up the atmosphere by strolling around its narrow alleyways or enjoying a leisurely meal at one of its many traditional taverns. To top it off, there are stunning views from several vantage points where you can take in breathtaking sights of the Bay of Biscay while admiring some unique art installations scattered around town.

4. Monte Urgull

Monte Urgull

As a picturesque hillside landmark in the Basque region of Spain, Monte Urgull is an incredible historic area that overlooks the stunning city of San Sebastian. The mountain itself is steeped in history and legend and was declared a cultural monument back in 1930. Sitting 127 meters above sea level it offers spectacular views over the city with vistas stretching all around from the iconic rococo statue of Jesus that rests atop its peak.

Monte Urgull houses many interesting historical landmarks including an old castle, Plaza de Carlos Blasco de Imaz which commemorates those who died on the Spanish Civil War, and various monuments. It’s also home to some beautiful gardens, picnic areas and fountains as well as being a popular spot for bird watching enthusiasts.

5. Monasterio de San Ignacio de Loyola

Monasterio de San Ignacio de Loyola

Monasterio de San Ignacio de Loyola is a beautiful and inspiring place a day trip away from San Sebastian. Located on the hillside overlooking the town, the monastery and its grounds provide a peaceful atmosphere that encourages reflection and contemplation. Established in 1620 by St. Ignatius of Loyola, this monastery was originally constructed to house pilgrims traveling along the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route. Today, it continues to be an important spiritual center for many visitors who come to experience its serenity and beauty.

The monastery itself is comprised of a central courtyard surrounded by various buildings such as chapels, dormitories, cloisters and gardens.


Address: Lugar Barrio Loiola - Núcleo, 16, 20730 Loyola, Gipuzkoa, Spain

Phone: +34 943 02 50 00

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6. Museo San Telmo

Museo San Telmo San Sebastian

Museo de San Telmo is one of the most iconic top attractions and one of the best places to visit in San Sebastian. Located in heart of San Sebastián its old town, it occupies an impressive building that dates back to the 16th century; at one time, it was a Dominican convent.

Beyond the stunning building and artworks, many tourists come for its extensive selection of temporary exhibitions which cover a range of topics such as Basque culture, fashion design and photography. These displays are often interactive, making them particularly popular with children who can learn while they explore. The museum also features audio guides and educational programs for schools, allowing guests to gain even more insight into the museum's fascinating works.


Address: Plaza Zuloaga, 1, 20003 Donostia-San Sebastian, Gipuzkoa, Spain

Phone: +34 943 48 15 80

7. Palacio de Miramar

Palacio de Miramar in San Sebastián

Palacio de Miramar in San Sebastián is a spectacular building that dates back to the late 19th century. Located on the Urumea River, it was built as a summer residence for the Spanish Royal Family. The palace has since been converted into a cultural center and public museum with many activities and events held on its grounds throughout the year.

The palatial building stands out from other buildings in San Sebastián with its grand neoclassical architecture and bright white limestone walls. Inside, visitors can explore several rooms, including two large salons hosting many of the palace's special events. Outside, travelers can take in stunning views of La Concha Beach and beyond while enjoying lush gardens and lawns that encompass much of the grounds.


Address: Paseo Miraconcha, 48, 20007 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain

Phone: +34 943 21 90 22

8. Monte Igueldo

Monte Igueldo

Monte Igueldo in San Sebastian is a historic landmark of immense importance. Located on the Cantabrian Sea, this beautiful beach and viewpoint attracts countless tourists each year. With its incredible panoramic views of the city and ocean, Monte Igueldo is renowned for its natural beauty and iconic tourist attractions in San Sebastian.

The area features numerous outdoor activities, from nature trails along the cliffs to amusement park rides to an aquarium at the top of Monte Igueldo itself. A visit to this remarkable place will provide something for everyone; be it relaxing on the beach or taking in a show at one of the many performance venues nearby. The shoreside restaurants offer local seafood dishes that are sure to delight even the most discerning foodie.

9. Isla de Santa Clara

Santa Clara Island

Santa Clara Island is a tiny island located off the coast of San Sebastian. It is connected to mainland Spain by a bridge which was built in 1766, and it has become an iconic landmark of the Spanish Basque Country. The island itself covers 5 hectares and is home to two attractions: El Monasterio de Santa Clara la Real, a former monastery; and the Castillo de La Mota, a castle from the 14th century.

The small island has plenty of history to offer visitors; El Monasterio dates back to 1348 when it was founded by Queen Leonor of Castile. In addition, many other historical figures such as Christopher Columbus and King Fernando VII have visited the island over its long history.

10. Basilica de Santa Maria del Coro

Basilica de Santa Maria del Coro

The Basílica de Santa María del Coro, located in San Sebastián, Spain, is a stunning example of neo-Gothic architecture. The building was initially constructed between 1712 and 1754 by the Jesuits and later expanded by the Franciscans. It stands as a testament to the ornate style of Gothic architecture with its stunning façade featuring two towers, an ornate entranceway and three entrance doors. Inside the church are numerous works of art including 16th century tapestries from Italy along with several sculptures depicting various saints.

The basilica is one of the most popular landmarks in San Sebastián boasting over two million visitors annually who come to explore its intricate beauty or simply soak up its timeless atmosphere.


Address: 31 de Agosto Kalea, 46, 20003 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain

Phone: +34 943 42 31 24

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11. Aquarium Donostia San Sebastián

Aquarium Donostia San Sebastián

Aquarium Donostia houses over 500 species of animal and plant life, making it one of the largest aquariums in Europe. As guests explore this underwater paradise, they are able to witness the beauty of different marine habitats and learn about the delicate balance between ocean life and their environment.

The Aquarium offers exhibits ranging from tropical fish to larger predators such as sharks, rays, sea turtles and more. The heart of the aquarium is its Shark Tank which features four species of shark patrolling the 30-meter long tank filled with beautiful coral formations. City trippers can also enjoy interactive activities such as touch tanks filled with colorful sea stars or watch informative shows that demonstrate how to properly care for aquatic creatures.


Address: 1 Plaza de Carlos Blasco Imaz, 20003 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain

Phone: +34 943 44 00 99

12. Catedral del Buen Pastor

Catedral del Buen Pastor

The Catedral del Buen Pastor is a beautiful example of Basque architecture and religious art. Located in the heart of San Sebastian, this Neo-Gothic building is one of the most spectacular sights in the city. Constructed between 1891 and 1897, it was designed by architect Francisco de Cubas who used inspiration from European cathedrals to create a unique look for the church. Inside, visitors can marvel at intricate stained glass windows, detailed mosaics depicting scenes from Jesus' life, and an impressive dome with a gorgeous fresco painted inside.

The San Sebastian Cathedral del Buen Pastor also houses several important works of art including sculptures by Spanish masters like Agustin Querol Subirats and Aurelio Arteta Portús.


Address: Urdaneta Kalea, 12, 20006 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain

Phone: +34 943 46 45 16

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13. Parque de Aiete

Parque de Aiete

Parque de Aiete in San Sebastián is a breathtakingly beautiful park located on the outskirts of this stunning city. It provides an escape from hustle and bustle of the city, taking vacationers away from the noise and chaos to a serene sanctuary of nature.

It is filled with lush vegetation, winding pathways between trees, streams, and small ponds harboring an abundance of wildlife. The park has something for everyone; there are picnic areas with benches to enjoy a family meal outdoors, sports facilities including soccer and basketball courts, as well as playgrounds for kids.

14. Iglesia de San Vicente

Iglesia de San Vicente

The Church of San Vicente in San Sebastián is a stunning example of the grandeur of religious architecture in Spain. Located close to the old town of San Sebastian, this church is well-known for its beautiful baroque style. Built in the 16th century, this structure stands as a reminder of Spain's long and rich cultural history. The façade features an impressive portico with two bell towers that quickly capture visitors' attention.

Inside is just as breathtaking, with its vibrant stonework adorning the walls. The main altar is elaborately decorated and adorned with numerous statues of saints and apostles. There are also several side chapels, each containing intricate artwork including bas reliefs and paintings depicting key moments in religious history of San Sebastian.


Address: San Juan Kalea, 15, 20003 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain

Phone: +34 943 43 35 96

15. Playa de la Zurriola

Playa de la Zurriola

Playa de la Zurriola in San Sebastián is a stunning beach located on the Bay of Biscay and one of the top attractions in San Sebastian. It has long stretches of white sand, crystal-clear water and great waves for surfing which make it one of the most popular beaches in Spain. The shoreline is packed with cafes, restaurants and bars, making it a great place to hang out during summertime.

The beach really comes alive when the sun sets as people come together to enjoy its vibrant nightlife. There's always something going on - from street food festivals to outdoor movie screenings and live music performances - providing plenty of entertainment for everyone. La Zurriola is also home to some impressive sculptures by local artists which add to its beauty and charm.

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Q: What is San Sebastian best known for?

A: Situated on the Bay of Biscay, San Sebastian boasts three beautiful beaches that attract visitors from all over the world. The most famous among them is La Concha Beach, with its sweeping crescent shape and crystal-clear waters.

Moreover, San Sebastian has earned a reputation as a food lover's paradise. The city is home to numerous Michelin-starred restaurants where you can savor exquisite Basque cuisine prepared by renowned chefs. Pintxos bars are also an integral part of San Sebastian's culinary culture. These small bites served on toothpicks are often enjoyed with a glass of local Txakoli wine.

Lastly, San Sebastian hosts one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world - the International Film Festival (known as "San Sebastian Film Festival"). Established in 1953, this annual event attracts acclaimed filmmakers and movie enthusiasts who gather to celebrate cinema and discover new talent.

Q: Is San Sebastian a party town?

A: One cannot deny that San Sebastian offers plenty of opportunities for nighttime revelry. The Old Town, or Parte Vieja as it is locally known, is home to numerous bars and clubs that cater to both locals and tourists.

However, what sets San Sebastian apart from other party towns is its more refined approach to nightlife. While there are certainly bustling nightclubs where you can dance until dawn, there is also an emphasis on quality rather than quantity. The city boasts several Michelin starred restaurants that offer exquisite dining experiences paired with fine wines from the nearby Rioja region. This combination of high-class gastronomy and lively atmosphere creates an ambiance unique to San Sebastian - one that satisfies both food enthusiasts and partygoers looking for a memorable night out.

Q: Is it safe to walk around San Sebastian at night?

A: San Sebastian has a reputation as being a relatively safe place for tourists and locals. The crime rate in the city is generally low compared to other major cities in Europe.  While there may be occasional instances of petty theft or pickpocketing, these incidents are not unique to San Sebastian and can happen anywhere in the world.

Moreover, San Sebastian benefits from an efficient police presence that plays a significant role in maintaining public safety throughout the city. Police patrols are frequently seen on foot and in vehicles during both day and night hours.

Q: Do you need a car in San Sebastian?

A: Firstly, the city itself is relatively small and easily walkable. Most of the main attractions, such as La Concha Beach and the Old Town, are within a reasonable distance from each other. Therefore, if you plan on primarily exploring these areas, a car may not be necessary.

However, if you wish to venture further out of the city and explore the surrounding Basque countryside or nearby towns like Biarritz or Bilbao, having a car can be advantageous.

That being said, parking in San Sebastian can be quite challenging. The city is known for its narrow streets and limited parking spaces. Finding a spot can often prove time-consuming and frustrating. Moreover, parking fees can accumulate quickly if your accommodation does not include free parking facilities.

Q: Why is San Sebastian famous for food?

A: San Sebastianhas has gained international recognition for its incredible culinary scene. The city has an impressive number of restaurants with a Michelin star, more than any other place in the world.

Furthermore, San Sebastian is renowned for its pintxos culture. Pintxos are small bites similar to tapas that are typically served on a slice of bread and held together with a toothpick. The city's Old Town is teeming with bars offering a wide array of pintxos options, from traditional classics like tortilla de patatas (potato omelette) to modern interpretations bursting with flavor combinations you wouldn't expect.

Lastly, San Sebastian benefits from its geographical location as it sits between mountains and the sea. This proximity enables easy access to outstanding fresh seafood as well as top-quality produce from nearby farms. From succulent grilled turbot and hake cheeks to juicy roasted peppers and wild mushrooms, San Sebastian's culinary offerings encompass both land and sea delicacies that cater to diverse palates.

Q: Can you swim in the sea at San Sebastian?

A: One factor that affects swimming in the sea at San Sebastian is the weather conditions. The Bay of Biscay, where San Sebastian is situated, experiences strong waves and currents at times. These can make swimming dangerous and even life-threatening. It's important to check local weather forecasts and pay attention to any warnings or red flags posted by lifeguards before venturing into the water.

Another consideration when determining whether or not you can swim in the sea at San Sebastian is water quality. As with any coastal destination, there may be times when bacterial contamination occurs due to runoff from heavy rainfall or other factors. In such cases, authorities will advise against swimming as it can pose health risks.


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Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance

Travel insurance will protect you against illnesses, an injury, luggage theft, and even trip cancellations. It’s a comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong during your trip. I never travel to San Sebastian without it as I’ve had to use it several times in the past. My favorite travel insurance companies that offer the best service and value are:

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Want More Information on Spain:

Be sure to visit our Spain Travel Guide for even more travel tips.

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