San Sebastian: what to do, beaches to see and nightlife

Who I am
Lluis Enric Mayans

Author and references

San Sebastian is a seaside resort located on the north coast of Spain, just 100 kilometers from Bilbao, ed it is considered the pearl of the Basque Country and the Cantabrian Sea.
It is the ideal destination for any type of traveler: for those who want to relax and sunbathe, for those traveling with their family, for lovers of surfing and water sports and for those looking for a lively nightlife. And for those who want to combine sea and culture, the city was elected Capital of Culture 2016 and is rich in museums and history, not to mention its characteristic historic center.
Here are some tips on San Sebastian: what to do, beaches to see and nightlife.


  1. All the beaches of San Sebastian
  2. What to see and what to do
  3. Where to eat in San Sebastian: the best restaurants
  4. Nightlife: what to do in the evening in San Sebastian
  5. Plan your stay: info and useful tips
  6. User questions and comments

All the beaches of San Sebastian

1 - Playa de la Concha

It is the most famous beach in the city as well its bay is its symbol.
The term concha means "shell" and its name derives from the curved shape of the bay, which resembles that of a shell.
Often referred to as one of the most beautiful beaches in Spain and the most beautiful bay in Europe, the beach is made up of fine golden sand and is 1.350 meters long and 40 meters wide. Furthermore, the fact that it is enclosed in a bay makes it so that the sea is always calm, without high waves. All these features make it one perfect beach for families with children and for those in search of relaxation. In the summer months it is always very crowded, both by tourists and by locals, but it is absolutely worth at least one visit.

  • Where it is: in Kontxa Pasealekua, on the north coast; easily accessible from all parts of the city thanks to buses 5, 16, 18, 25, 33, 40, 45, B1, B8, G2, T1, T2, T3, T5, T5D which all stop along the seafront, at the La Perla stop (single ticket € 1,75) - Get directions
  • Ideal for: relaxation, family, nightlife
  • Type: fine golden sand

2 - Playa de Onderreta

It is located within the bay of la Concha, to the left of Playa de la Concha. The two beaches are connected to each other by the pico del them, in Italian literally translated into "parrot's beak", a small cove between the rocks that can only be crossed at low tide, because at high tide it is completely submerged by the 'water. In this case, you can go from one beach to another through the tunel de Antiguo, whose walls are decorated with the colors of the sea.
The beach is about 600 meters long and 100 meters wide and the water is very calm and without high waves, perfect for swimming and relaxing. It is mostly frequented by families, as there are various services for children such as different play areas dedicated to them.
Here also in summer there is a canoe and kayak rental service, which can be hired to go around the bay or to reach the Isla de Santa Clara, the island located in the center of the bay.

  • Where it is: in Ondarreta Pasealekua, on the north coast, near Playa de la Concha; easy to reach from all over the city thanks to buses 5, 16, 25, 33, 40, 43, 45, B1 at the Zumalakarregi 10 stop (single ticket € 1,75) - Get directions
  • Ideal for: relaxation, family
  • Type: fine golden sand

3 - Playa de la Zurriola

It is the easternmost beach of the city and is located outside the bay of la Concha, for which it is much more exposed to ocean currents and wind, making it a surfer's paradise. Here you will find several surf schools and board rental services. Of course, if you are in San Sebastian, you cannot miss at least one surf lesson.
Being the reference point for this sport, the playa de la Zurriola is mainly frequented by young people. On the beach there are several bars with loud music all day and on the promenade you will find plenty of trendy clubs they represent the main point of nightlife.
Due to the currents, the high and powerful waves and the many surfers intent on practicing their sport, it is not a beach recommended for those with children or those just looking for relaxation.

  • Where it is: in Zurriola Ibilbidea, on the north west coast; easily reachable from the city center thanks to buses 13, 14, 29, 31, 37, 42, B6 and B10 which stop at the Kursal stop or buses 8, 17, 40 and 41 which stop at the Zurriola stop (single ticket € 1,75) - Get directions
  • Ideal for: surfing, water sports, nightlife
  • Type: fine golden sand

4 - Playa de la Isla Santa Clara

This is the beach located on the island of Santa Clara, located in the center of the bay of la Concha.
Often called the "fourth beach of San Sebastian", at 30 meters it is the smallest. But be careful: the beach disappears at high tide, so always consult the tide conditions before reaching it.
To reach it you have three alternatives: swimming, with one of the many boats that also offer a tour of the bay or by renting a kayak at Playa de Ondarreta. In addition to the beach, here you will find a bar where you can relax and admire the entire Baia de la Concha.

  • Where it is: Kalea Isla de Santa Clara, inside the Baia de la Concha; accessible by swimming, by boat or by renting a kayak at Playa de Ondarreta - Get directions
  • Ideal for: relaxation, nature
  • Type: golden sand, rocks

What to see and what to do

1 - Basilica of Santa Maria del Coro

E' the oldest church. It is located in the heart of the historic center, not far from the San Telmo museum and the Aquarium Donostia and at the foot of Monte Urgull. The one we can see today was built in 1743, on the remains of an ancient Romanesque church.
Its facade is a combination of different styles, the Gothic, Neoclassical and Churrigueresque, or a current of Spanish Baroque. Here there is also the statue of the Patron Saint San Sebastiano, kept inside a niche. IS' dedicated to the Virgin of the Choir, protagonist of a legend: a priest decided to bring the image of the Virgin home, as he was tired of always climbing the stairs to venerate her, as she was placed on the choir. But, the moment he arrived home, he was immobilized. From that time, the image of the Virgin was placed on the main altar of the church and was never moved from there.

  • via 31 de Agosto Kalea is located 450 meters from the information center, 5 minutes walk - Get directions
  • every day from 10:15 to 13:15 and from 16:45 to 19:40
  • € 3,00
  • San Sebastian: Half-Day Private City Tour

2 - Museum of San Telmo

E' the oldest museum in the Basque Country and the most important in the whole city. It is located in the historic center, not far from the basilica of Santa Maria del Coro, at the foot of Mount Urguall.
Founded in 1902, it was opened in its present location, an ancient Dominican convent, in 1932. It is divided into three different sections: Fine Arts, Archeology and History. Here you will learn about the history of the Basque Country, how they have changed socially and culturally over the centuries. The collections feature a large number of sculptures, paintings, drawings, photographs, coins and various objects. Furthermore, being located in an ancient convent, you will also have the opportunity to walk in the sixteenth-century cloister and admire its beautiful architecture.

  • Plaza Zuloaga is 550 meters from the information center, 7 minutes walk - Get directions
  • Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 20:00, closed on Mondays
  • full € 6,00, reduced € 3,00, free every Tuesday and May 18 (International Museum Day)

3 - Monte Urgull

The excursion to Monte Urgull is absolutely a must! It is one of the most beautiful and evocative experiences you can have in the city. From the hill, 123 meters high, you will enjoy a magnificent view across the bay of La Concha and the historic center.
Once used as a defensive fortification of the city, today it is a large public park, where you can get in touch with nature. But be careful: the only way to get to the top is on foot, crossing paths and stairways that follow the ancient fortifications. Access is located near the famous aquarium, at the Paseo Nuovo. The climb is not very easy, indeed, in some points it can be very tiring, so arm yourself with good will and comfortable shoes. But, the more you climb, the more you will find suggestive past that will give you incredible views.
The main attraction is the ancient Castillo de la Mota, a fortress built around the th century with a defensive function. It includes three different chapels and a small museum. Here you will also find one of the symbols of the city, the Cristo de la Mota, a statue 12,5 meters high, built by the sculptor Federico Coullaut in 1950.

  • the north coast of the city is 1,4 kilometers from the information center, a 20 minute walk; the only way to reach the base of the mount and to climb to the top is on foot - Get directions
  • from 1 May to 30 September from 8:00 to 21:00, from 1 October to 30 April from 8:00 to 19:30
  • free

4 - Aquarium Donostia - San Sebastián

E' one of the most important aquariums in all of Europe. It is located in a strategic place: it is in fact located in the port of the city, at the eastern end of the bay, at the height of Paseo Nuevo, the point where the path begins to climb to the top of Mount Urgull.
Opened in 1928, today it is also a natural science museum, the first in Spain, and carries out an important job in the field of the study of the sea. The main attraction is, without a doubt, the oceanarium, the incredible transparent tunnel, about 30 meters long and 16 wide, where visitors can walk admiring the aquatic species that populate the aquarium.

  • 900 meters from the information center, 10 minutes walk - Get directions
  • from October to Holy Week from 10:00 to 19:00, except Saturdays, Sundays and holidays open until 20:00; spring period from 10:00 to 20:00, except Saturdays, Sundays and holidays open until 21:00; in the summer period from 10:00 to 21:00
  • adults € 13,00, children aged 4 to 12 € 6,50, pensioners, people with disabilities and students € 9,00

5 - Peine del viento by Eduardo Chillida

It's a' sculptural work located at the foot of Monte Igueldo, then at the western end of the bay of La Concha. To reach it you will have to walk the entire pedestrian stretch of the bay promenade, until you reach the end.
This work was created by the Spanish artist Eduardo Chillida in 1977 and consists of three different steel sculptures, wedged between the rocks of the cliff. Peine del viento in Italian means "combs of the wind" and the works have the shape of large pincers. L'artist has dedicated his work to uncontaminated nature, especially the wind and the sea, and the beauty of the bay of San Sebastian.
The landscape at this point is very suggestive, far from the noise of the city, all you hear is the sound of the sea waves crashing on the rocks and the wind. But the best time to admire the work is certainly at sunset, when the sky turns red.

  • 2,8 kilometers from the information center, 35 minutes on foot; or by bus 5 or 25 from the Boulevard 17 stop (in front of the information center), to the Matia stop (€ 1,75), from here continue on foot for one kilometer, you will arrive in 25 minutes - Get directions
  • always accessible
  • sweeper

6 - Monte Igueldo funicular

Mount Urgull is not the only panoramic point of the city: at the western end of the bay, in fact, there is this promontory, 181 meters high. This it is accessible to all thanks to the presence of the funicular, is the first to be built in the Basque Country and is one of the oldest in all of Spain. It was in fact inaugurated more than 100 years ago, back in 1912. The departure station is located near the cliff where the Peine del Viento work is located.
The whole uphill path is completely surrounded by greenery, with an incredible view of the bay, which will gradually become smaller in your eyes. And from the top of the mountain you can enjoy the most fascinating view of the bay of La Concha and the whole city. And at sunset the atmosphere is even more magical.
At the top there is also a hotel and the Parque de Atracciones Monte Igueldo, an amusement park for young and old, with various rides and attractions, open only in the summer months, from June and August.

  • 2,7 kilometers from the information center, 35 minutes on foot; or by bus 16 from Plaza Gipuzkoa 2 stop 150 meters from the information center to Funikularea stop (€ 1,75), travel time 20 minutes - Get directions
  • funicular from 21 April to 30 September from 10:00 to 22:00, from 1 October to 20 April from 11:00 to 20:00
  • round trip funicular € 3,15, reduced € 2,35; one way full € 1,75, reduced € 1,35

Where to eat in San Sebastian: the best restaurants

  1. Arzak: Michelin starred restaurant, 3 Michelin stars 2019; signature cuisine and new innovative Basque cuisine
    Average price per person: € 160,00
    Address and contacts: Avenida del, Alcalde J. Elosegi Hiribidea, 273 (Get directions) tel: +34 943278465
  2. La Cuchara de San Telmo: pintxo bar, traditional Basque cuisine
    Average price per person: € 15,00
    Address and contacts: Santa Korda Kalea, 4 (Get directions) tel: +34 943441655
  3. Tedone Jatetxea: Basque cuisine restaurant, with research of organic and km 0 products, wide choice of vegetarian dishes
    Average price per person: € 30,00
    Address and contacts: Calle Corta, 10 (Get directions) tel: +34 943273561

Nightlife: what to do in the evening in San Sebastian

In addition to the beautiful sea and the many activities that can be done in the city, San Sebastian is also known for its lively nightlife! Throughout the city you will find numerous pubs, clubs and discos to spend the evening and night, according to your preferences. There most of the trendiest clubs are located in the Parte Vecja, the area frequented mainly by young people.
If you travel by public transport in the evening, the ticket will no longer cost € 1,75, but the night rate, or € 2,10 per single ride, takes over

The best pubs, clubs and discos

  • Sports Bar: place with excellent pinxtos and cockatil, perfect for spending an evening like a real local / Address: Fermin Calbeton Kalea, 10 (Get directions) / Facebook page
  • Etxekalte: pub with excellent cocktails open until late, live music, different genres according to the evening / Address: Mari Kalea, 11 (Get directions) / Facebook page
  • Bataplan: one of the most famous nightclubs, house music, hip hop R&B, funky / Address: Kontxa Pasealekua, 12 (Get directions) / Facebook page

Plan your stay: info and useful tips

  • Donostiako airport is about 20 kilometers from the center, reachable in 30 minutes by car; by bus line E20, E21, E23, E27 or E28, ticket cost € 2,55; by taxi, average cost € 25,00 - Flights from Milan starting from € 130,00 -
  • Getting around: the best way is on foot; to reach more distant attractions you can use the efficient city bus system, the single ticket costs € 1,75 (bus service map), the night ticket costs € 2,10 for a single trip; there is no metro in the city
  • the best area is that of the Parte Veja, or the historic center, as you will be close to the main attractions and you can easily reach both the western and eastern parts of the city; the alternative is near playa de La Concha, a perfect and quiet place especially if you are with children - Hotel and b & b starting from € 60,00 per room -
  • What to see in the surroundings: Bilbao 102 km away, reachable in an hour and 10 minutes by car or an hour and a half by ALSA bus (€ 7,00); Pamplona 81,0 km, 1 hour 6 min by car, reachable in 45 hour and 13,90 minutes by train (€ 20,8); Zarautz 25 kilometers away reachable in 35 minutes by car or 4,00 minutes by train (€ )
  • Cost of a vacation: on average for 5 days it is about € 600,00, including € 150,00 return flight, € 5,00 of tickets for transfer by bus to / from airport, hotel for 4 nights starting from € 240,00 , 50,00, about € 3 minimum daily budget (including meals a day, excursions, entertainment)

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