Wondering what to do in San Sebastián? This beautiful city is found in the province of Guipúzcoa, in the Basque Country. Located in the Bay of Biscay, it is the perfect setting to enjoy both the sea and the mountains. Also, all along its streets, you’ll be witness to its fascinating history and the distinctive design of its buildings.
As you’ll see in this article, its incredible beaches are particularly noteworthy, especially La Concha, and its urban settings, like Calle Mayor and the María Cristina Bridge.
La Concha Beach
This beautiful urban beach is one of the most beautiful in Spain. You’ll love taking a dip in the fresh Cantabrian water! Walking along the shore and admiring the Igueldo and Urgull hills on the horizon is a truly incomparable experience. On the other side, the stately buildings on the promenade create an incredibly picturesque contrast.
Incorporated into the La Concha Bay, the marina invites us to get on one of its boats and enjoy a trip along the coast, to Santa Clara island, for example. Its tranquillity and enveloping atmosphere are perfect for relaxing.
The best way to finish a walk along La Concha is to go to this English-style palace, which would be the perfect setting for a children’s story.
Built at the end of the 19th century, it was one of the summer residences for the Spanish monarchy. It stands out for its neogothic ornaments and its coastal setting. In fact, its beautiful gardens provide excellent views of La Concha.
Its interior, which cannot be visited, includes elegant spaces that have been preserved from its origins. Its main halls, Royal Dining Hall and Library are particularly of note.
Peine del Viento (The Comb of the Wind)
We are now going to change beaches to visit one of the most iconic tourist attractions in Donosti. Eduardo Chillida was the creator of these three steel sculptures found at the end of the Ondarreta beach. They are set on large rocks that bear the continual impact of the swell, which is where the name comes from.
A system of pipes and holes completes the spectacular nature of this space with a unique sound. For a moment, you’ll think that the elements are trying to comminute with you.
Near the Comb of the Wind, you’ll find the funicular railway that goes up the impressive Igueldo hill. The wooden carriages on this railway, which date back to 1913, are fascinating. Don’t think twice about going up to glimpse the incredible surroundings! However, if you prefer, and vertigo isn’t an issue, you can conquer it by car.
What’s more, at the summit, one of the most charismatic theme parks in Spain awaits. With a vintage style, it has nostalgic attractions like trampolines and the Swiss Mountain rollercoaster.
The old town is the epicentre of Donosti’s urban core. It is built around Calle Mayor, under the shelter of the Santa María del Coro basilica. You’ll be surprised by how its initial romantic style is combined with baroque, gothic and neoclassical additions.
The plaza de la Constitución, which was a bullfighting ring in its day, is another iconic spot. It you look closely, you’ll see that the balconies are numbered – they were the box seats!
The town hall, always photogenic and vibrant, will make for a fabulous story to share on your social media networks. Do you know that it was originally a casino? The town council didn’t move in until 1945.
Pintxos (Basque-style tapas) and txikiteo (Basque bar crawl) in the old town
The old town has the greatest concentration of bars. You’ll soon find out how fabulous it is to go from one to another while sampling their delicacies. A txikiteo involves going in a group from bar to bar consuming beer or small classes of wine, called txikitos.
Pintxos are culinary works of art, just the size of a mouthful. They are the most characteristic part of Basque cuisine. A small portion of food, carefully created with the best ingredients, is added to a slice of bread.
If you’ve never tried them, you’ll fall head over heels for them. If you’ve already been lucky enough to taste them, you’ll be wanting to sample them again.
San Sebastián Donostia Aquarium
More than a century old, the San Sebastián aquarium was one of the first oceanographic museums in Europe. Now, it is an essential attraction for any visitor, especially for families.
Among other charms, it has bull sharks in the Oceanarium. Visiting this large tank, which has a 360º tunnel through it, allows you to admire the marine life from a unique point of view. With one and a half million litres of water, 40 species of fish and 5 species of shark, it is an undeniable privilege.
Book your accommodation in San Sebastián
Now that you know what to do in San Sebastián, you just need to think about where to stay. At BasqueStay , we offer a wide range of accommodation options that will meet all your needs. Find yours!