San Sebastian, also known as Donostia, is a city like no other. It is located on the north coast of Spain in the Basque region. There is a lot to do and see here, the city definitely has a lot to offer. World famous cuisine, picture perfect coastline and stunning architecture. San Sebastian feels special, a place where you could really see yourself living. Add this city to your spanish itinerary! Below is a list of all the things you should do and see in San Sebastian. We recommend staying in the area for a good few days to really experience everything.
Check out the where we stayed in the van in San Sebastian below:
1 – Beach
The beautiful beaches in San Sebastian make it a staple for holiday goers. There are 3 beaches in the city, all of which have soft golden sand. The perfect place for taking a dip in the water. Most famous of all is La Concha, this urban beach stretches over 1km, all of which is pristine. Top tip – watch the sunset at the beach. Its magical.
2 – Old Town
Wander around the cobblestone streets of the old town in San Sebastian. Restaurantes, bars and cute little boutique shops line the narrow alleys. There is something for everyone here. There are some incredible buildings such as the magnificent church of Santa Maria. The old town can get quite busy but it really captures the essence of San Sebastian.
3 – Plaza de la Constitución
Plaza De LaConstitución in the Old Town area of San Sebastian used to be a bullfighting ring. Each window facing the square has a number; these were seats to watch the bullfighting from above.This immaculate square is filled with places to eat and a fantastic atmosphere.
4 – Promenade
Walking along the La Concha Promenade is just as refreshing as a dunk in the Atlantic. Photogenic white handrails and intricate lamp posts line the street. Walking along this stretch is a fantastic way to get your bearings within the city. There are also cycle lanes so you can speed your way from one end of the city to the other.
5 – Wind Comb
The “Wind Comb” sculptures were erected in 1977 and consist of three iron anchor like forms welded into surrounding rocks. These sculptures get battered daily by the waves crashing into them. In the same general area there are ‘blowholes’ in the ground which can spit up sea water when the waves are particularly ferocious. They release a pretty loud roar with the water crashing below.
The sculptures are definitely worth a visit, however don’t plan on spending too much time at them as there is little to do / see nearby.
6 – Panoramic views up mount Igueldo
Walk up the winding roads to get some incredible views. The start of the walk begins at the funicular station. There are several great look out points on the journey up the hill for you to make the most of. You meander through the residential area looking out above the wind comb with a direct view of Santa Clara Island. The walk is steep and tiring but ultimately worth it for the view.
7 – Funicular
If you don’t feel like walking up the hill, there is a funicular that takes you straight to the top of Mount Igueldo. At the top of the hill you will find a small theme park and panoramic views of the city. The cute little carriage will take you all the way up for just €3.50. We were hoping to ride the funicular in January 2022 but it was not open, there were no sign saying why it was not open – turns out it is closed for a period in January. Check out the Funicular timetable here to make sure it is open when you visit.
8 – Theme Park
If theme parks and views are your thing, this is the place for you. To be perfectly honest, the theme park isn’t built for thrill seekers. It does however provide sweet family rides with a view of San Sebastian that is difficult to beat. The park has attractions including a small roller coaster, tame boat ride, carousel and more. Check out all of the attractions here.
9 – Pintxos
San Sebastian has a fantastic reputation when it comes to food. In fact it has the most Michelin stars per square metre in Europe. As well as fancy restaurants, the city is well renowned for its Pintxos (pronounced pinch-o) this is the Basque take on tapas. These are small plates of food served at bars usually costing between€1 -€3.50. Although reasonably priced, the snacks can be pretty fancy and elaborate. The etiquette is to have one or two pintxos with a drink at a pub then move onto the next, sort of like a classy pub crawl.
It can get pretty busy outside the bars where everyone is enjoying the pintxos. If you’re anything like us, you may find it a bit daunting, especially if you don’t speak much Spanish. Don’t be afraid to work your way inside where you will normally see all of the dishes laid out on the bar behind a perspex case. From here you can order your drinks and pintxos, we found it so handy that we could just point to the dishes we thought looked tasty. The locals were incredibly welcoming and patient!
10 – Surf
Due to San Sebastian’s ideal location it lends itself well to surfing, particularly Zurriola Beach. The open bay in the Basque Country gets pretty reliable waves year round. There are many surf camps, schools and places to hire equipment here. The other beaches in San Sebastian are also surfable, the waves are just not as dependable.
San Sebastian is a city like no other. There really is something for everyone here. The delicious pintxos and awe-inspiring beaches will leave a lasting impression on you. It will make you wish you lived here permanently.
We hope this list helped inspire you to visit this city and the Basque Country in general. There are many other great things to do in the nearby cities such as Bilbao too.
More Spain content coming soon!
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to comment down below and we will get back to you! Also if you have any suggestions of other things ‘ you must do or see in San Sebastian’, let us know!