San Sebastian is a must visit!
There are plenty of reasons to visit; the food, nature, and the people are all wonderful.
I’ve been lucky enough to live in there for 4 months, so I thought I’d share my guide to San Sebastian, Spain.
Best things to do in San Sebastian, Spain
There are plenty of things to do in San Sebastian and it’s really a dream destination for foodies since the city has so much delicious food to offer. Actually San Sebastian is the place in the world with most Michellin Stars per capita – pretty awesome record to hold!
The nature around the city gives you the opportunity to get out and explore; you can go hiking in the mountains, swimming in the sea or climb the peaks inside the city to get the most wonderful view.
Pintxo Pote in Gros
This one is for the food-lovers on a budget!
Every Thursday Pintxo pote is going down in San Sebastian and mainly in the area Gros.
Pintxos is essentially a slice of bread with some delicious topping. Mostly at least. There are millions of different types and you will definitely find something you like.
If you want to try Pintxos,
I think Pintxo Pote in San Sebastian is a great way to do it. Pintxo pote is every Thursday night from 19-22 and here you get a pintxo and a drink (pote in Basque) for 2 €. The offer is found in most bars and restaurants around Gros, but you might also stumble upon the concept in other places. I have written a few recommendations for places to go in a previous post.
Visit the top of Monte Igueldo
The view from the top of Monte Igueldo is absolutely amazing.
This is really a classic tourist attraction of San Sebastian, but a visit is well worth it.
Buy a ticket for the funicular and enjoy a short trip up the mountain with the wooden carriage or hike your way up Monte Igueldo. From the top, you’ll have the most spectacular view over the city.
I would recommend going on a day where the sun is out and the skies are clear.
On the top of Monte Igueldo, there is a small amusement park for kids up there. The amusement park has a few small rides and bumper cars. It is really nothing special, but I guess it would be fun for kids.
There is also a restaurant on top of the mountain, where you can grab a coffee and some snacks, while you enjoy the view.
If you want something a little more luxurious, I would recommend you to walk into Hotel Mercure San Sebastian Monte Igueldo (affiliate link) and grab a drink. This is also a great solution if you want to enjoy the view, but it is raining outside. From their lobby, there’s a stunning view to the city as well as to the ocean.
It is worth seeing it at different times of the day and in different weather conditions.
Watch the sunset from the port
The sunset is the most magical time of the day, and watching it from the port of La Concha is absolutely stunning. Furthermore, the place is calm and is a perfect place to sit back and relax after a long day of sightseeing in the city. Bring your favorite people and maybe a cup of hot coffee and you are set for the night. This is actually my favorite place in San Sebastian, why I think it deserved a spot on the 10 best things to do in San Sebastian list .
Visit the island, Santa Clara
This is another of my favorite things to do in San Sebastian. Get up early and get on the first ferry to the island! The island itself is amazingly beautiful and just talking a walk around the island is amazing. The island has a really nice path you can follow all the way around it. Also, you get the feeling of being far away from the city, yet you can see the city at all times. It sounds a little weird, but it is super nice! The views over San Sebastian is amazing and so is the views of the ocean.
Take a stroll through Parte Vieja
Parte Vieja is the old part of San Sebastian. It is an incredibly charming area. Just strolling through the narrow streets, while looking at some of the small shops and bars is a great activity. In Parte Vieja, you also find some of the best Pintxos in town and some of the best restaurants. If you are looking for the best pintxos in the restaurants make sure to order from their menus, instead of buying the pintxos at the counter, as the pintxos on the menu are fresher and usually way more interesting. Most places also have a specialty, so try and ask for that.
One of my favorite things to do in San Sebastian when I lived there, was to go to Parte Vieja and wander around for a bit. The narrow and similar looking streets are a wonderful place to discover new restaurants, stores and short cuts.
Climb Monte Urgull
Monte Urgull is the mountain on the opposite side of Bay of La Concha from Monte Igueldo. Climbing Monte Urgull is fun! If you take the path that starts by the end of the port, you will have a nice view to the city as well as the ocean all the way up to the castle and Jesus (which apparently isn’t Jesus) on top. I did it a couple of times and at different times of the day. I liked being there just before sunset a lot, but you can go any time of the day (except at night, as they close the paths up).
Visit San Juan
San Juan is the coziest little town right outside San Sebastian. From San Sebastian, you have to take bus number 13 from the center of San Sebastian to Pasaia. The trip is about 15 minutes long. Taking the bus is super easy, so I wouldn’t bother taking a taxi. If you want to hike to San Juan it is also possible, you’ll have to start the hike by the end of Zurriola beach and then cross Monte Ulia. When you cross the mountain you’ll have a breathtaking view of San Sebastian.
San Juan is known for its cute houses in all sorts of different colors, which is the first thing you see as you reach the town.
Go shopping in Centro
As you might have noticed the Spaniards have a great sense of fashion and of course the people in San Sebastian is no exception. They find their latest fashion in the area Centro. The city center has a lot of great shopping opportunities whether you prefer the high-street fashion shop or smaller local stores. There is a bit for every taste and you will definitely find something you like.
Spend the day at the beach
The beaches in San Sebastian are all super beautiful, so spending a day here is a great choice if the weather allows it. The beaches each have their own different personality. There is so many options of what you can at the beach! You can play volleyball, go swimming, tan on the beach, go surfing or paddle boarding to sum up a few. The possibilities are endless, so why not try something new?
Enjoy the amazing food scene
The food in San Sebastian is amazing! As I mentioned it is the place on earth with most Michelin Stars pr. capita, so food is a pretty big deal around here. If you want to try one of the Michelin restaurants around here, you have to book in advance, especially if you want to try one of those with more than one star! On the other hand, if your budget is not Michelin-friendly, there are plenty of other good options. Here are a few recommendations:
- Chutney Gastrobar, see more here.
- Atari Gastroteka
- Sirimiri Gastroleku
- Zibbibo Gastrobar (They make the best potatoes in town!)
- Vía Fora (Their lunch menu is amazing)
This was my list of the 10 best things to do in San Sebastian Spain.
However, if you keep reading on,
you will get my secret-super-awesome-local-non-touristic-best-advice. 😉
If you want to read more about Basque Country or some of the other regions in Spain, Perri from Seeking the Spanish Sun has written a great post about it.
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