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SAN SEBASTIAN

Complete City Guide
Novotravel / SAN SEBASTIAN

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You haven’t been to San Sebastian yet? Then you have no idea what it’s like to raise your head and see the beautiful buildings or walk around its incredible beaches and mountains.

Let yourself be caught by its many charms. The city isn’t very big, so it’s very easy to walk around but, don’t be fooled by its size, there are a lot of things to do!

La Concha Beach: the icon

If you are coming to San Sebastian, you have to walk around the beach of La Concha. It will leave you breathless. There is no visitor who has not fallen in love with its charms. I’m sure you’ve heard of it and its beautiful banister that you’ll find in every travelling instagram. It’s an amazing bay with a small island that adds a special touch to a place that looks taken from a fairy tale.

concha1

CC BY 2.0 ES | FLICKR |  Urko Dorronsoro

 

A beach with that romantic touch, from which you can see one of the best sunsets in the world. You’ll be amazed at the pink sky colors when the sun sets behind the Mount Igueldo.

concha2

CC BY 2.0 ES | FLICKR |  Urko Dorronsoro

 

It is an ideal beach for early morning jogging, if you are a motivated runner, or for a relaxed walk. Any excuse is a good one to approach this incredible corner. You must walk along its shore, getting your feet wet and feeling the coolness of the Cantabrian Sea.
If there is a low tide, do not hesitate to walk to the parrot’s peak and cross it in an adventurous way.

 

Walk along the coast

You can start your walk on the Paseo Nuevo. This walk is amazing because it is between the sea and Mount Urgull. When there is bad weather the waves break wildly against it, be careful because they can get you wet if you are not aware of the waves. In any case, it is never disappointing, either for the bravery of the sea, or for its incredible beauty when it is calm. On this promenade you will also find Jorge Oteiza’s “Empty Construction” and a beautiful viewpoint. Further ahead is the Aquarium and the port, where the typical boats of San Sebastian used to be.

atardecerpaseonuevo

CC BY 2.0 ES | FLICKR |  Urko Dorronsoro

 

Aquarium

The aquarium is beautiful. It is a recommended place for children and not so children. It is very complete because it begins by explaining the history of the fishing village and its evolution. There is a great variety of marine species: turtles, rays, sharks, octopus and hundreds of colorful fish. The jellyfish will mesmerize you and the shark area will surprise you. Without a doubt the glass tunnel is spectacular, it seems that you are submerged in the bottom of the sea. It’s definitely worth stopping by.

aquarium

CC BY 2.0 ES | FLICKR |  Urko Dorronsoro

 

Take a boat to Santa Clara

From the Paseo Marítimo de La Concha, you can see the island of Santa Clara in the middle of the sea, between Urgull and Igueldo mountains. During the summer, small boats depart daily from the port to the island. Don’t hesitate to take it! There you can walk along its paths, discover its viewpoints and bathe watching La Concha. We recommend you stay for lunch at one of their camping tables and enjoy the beach before it magically disappears with the high tide.

santaclara

CC BY 2.0 ES | FLICKR | Rufino Lasaosa

 

The Nautical

In the Nautical there is an area that is very good for a break. The views to the sea and the island are very nice, that’s why there are always people sitting around here eating ice cream. There are also some very curious stairs that go down to the sea. There is also a building that looks like a boat called Gu, it has an ideal terrace to take a good mojito. Here begins the promenade of La Concha, during the summer sunsets, the railing is filled with people who come to enjoy the beautiful scenery. As we have mentioned before, you can not describe the beauty of this beach with words, that’s why you should come to see it yourself.

nautico

CC BY 2.0 ES | FLICKR |  Jesús Gil Hernández

 

Feel like a king in Miramar Palace

If you want to feel like a real king or queen, you have to go. Before it was the summer residence of Queen Maria Cristina and other members of the royal family. It is a very peculiar building because of its architecture and the beautiful park that surrounds it. People often go for a walk in their gardens, relax, play sports or rest. But the best thing is to sit on the grass and see the incomparable landscape that offers the views. It is simply worth a visit.

palaciomiramar

CC BY 2.0 ES | FLICKR | Juan Lupión

 

At the end of Paseo de La Concha, under the Miramar Palace, there is the Antiguo tunnel, when you cross it you will experience the sensation of going for a submarine walk, which will take you to Ondarreta beach. If you keep going, you’ll make it to “el peine del viento”.

 

El Peine del Viento: a show

At the end of the promenade, on Ondarreta beach, is the famous work of Eduardo Chillida,”El peine del viento” (The Wind Comb). The three sculptures are embedded in the rocks. When the wind blows hard, it’s a spectacle. The waves collide strongly with the sculptures, and the perforated holes in the ground emit sounds, and even water, so be careful if you don’t want to end up dripping. It’s amazing to feel the wind, to hear the sea and see how art meets nature. You will feel the authentic essence of the Cantabrian Sea.

peinedelviento

 

Igueldo: the best view of the city

You can also take the famous funicular to Mount Igueldo, a must visit that will remain engraved in your memory. It is a good place to go with the little ones because at the top of the mountain you will find an amusement park. The star attraction is the Swiss Mountain. There’s also a tower that has been used as a lighthouse for a long time. In addition, its viewpoint undoubtedly has the best panoramic views of La Concha Bay.

View tour Monte Igueldo

igueldo

CC BY 2.0 ES | FLICKR | Santiago López Pastor

 

The old town,  the temple of the pintxos

If you go to the old part of the city you will fall in love with the old facades, and the atmosphere of its streets full of bars and people. In the middle is Plaza de la Constitución, with numbered balconies reminiscent of the time he played the bullfighting costume. The drumming takes place in this square every year. The rest of the year is also one of the favorite places of the locals to have a drink on the terrace of their bars. In Calle Mayor you will find the beautiful Basilica of Santa María del Coro, from where you can see the famous Cathedral of the Buen Pastor.

The best gastronomy

This is the perfect place to recharge your batteries when it’s time for lunch. There are so many bars, you won’t even know where to start. The ideal is to make a route of pintxos to discover the gastronomic wonders that offer the different bars and enjoy the environment. A good idea is to start on the 31st of August street, where there is a great variety of bars, some more traditional and others more avant-garde. Its bars full of pintxos will seduce you. I recommend you to eat with a txakoli, cider or a caña, but that depends on taste.

View tour bike and pintxos

pintxos

CC BY 2.0 ES | FLICKR |Boca Dorada

 

Generous portions in the north

When you order a cane you’ll be surprise with the amount of beer they put. They fill your whole glass of cider.

cerveza

CC BY 2.0 ES | FLICKR |Abish Falcón

 

La tamborrada, San Sebastian’s party 

La Tamborrada is the feast of the patron saint of San Sebastian. It is held throughout the day of the 20th of January in Plaza de la Constitución. Drums and melodies of Sarriegui sound. It is a very important and emotional holiday for the locals.  If your visit coincides with these festivities, don’t be afraid, it’s normal the amount of people there is and how they dress, usually  as cooks or French soldiers. As they say “wherever you go, do as you see”, take advantage of this opportunity to join them and feel the party atmosphere. You’ll have a good time!

tamborradaCC BY 2.0 ES | FLICKR | Eneko Goia

 

Donostia, the little Paris

As you stroll through San Sebastian, you will discover facades of buildings of the Belle Époque. You’ll think you’ve moved to 19th-century Paris. An example of this is the City Council of San Sebastian, which used to be a casino. Other of the best examples of the romantic area are the Victoria Eugenia Theatre, the seat of the Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa, and the Urumea River where you will be amazed with the facades of the Paseo de Francia and the Hotel Maria Cristina or the beautiful bridge of Maria Cristina.

ayuntamiento

CC BY 2.0 ES | FLICKR | Antonio de la Mano

 

Gros, the coolest neighborhood

We can’t forget the neighborhood of Gros, where you’ll find the Kursaal Conference Centre, yes, that’s where the Zinemaldi, the famous international film festival, takes place, a building that deserves to be seen. Bordering the neighborhood is Zurriola beach, where all surfers go to ride the waves. If you like the “surfer” atmosphere, it will be your favorite place, people go in long and there are very cool bars. The best place to watch the sunset with your friends and a few beers is at the end of this beach, on the wall of Sagües.   On Thursdays pintxos bars in this area make “pintxopote“, for two euros you can choose a pintxo and a drink. Don’t miss the perfect occasion to eat as much as you can!

gross

CC BY 2.0 ES | FLICKR | Kepa Cobos

 

Cristina Enea, the green lung of the city

If you like nature, you’ll love to stroll around Cristina Enea‘s park, which has lots of vegetation, peacocks and a pond with ducks, swans and turtles. It is a good place to take a walk among the trees, and relax, since it is a very quiet place to be not so touristic. This garden will make you forget you’re in the middle of a city. It is also ideal to go with children as there is a playground and lots of green areas below for them to play.

cristinaeneaFoto de Eneko Goia

 

Monte Ulía, let’s go on an adventure

If you like sports, don’t hesitate to go hiking at Mount Ulía. You have the possibility of making different excursions, for example, crossing the mountain to the lighthouse of San Juan. The route passes through beautiful cliffs. It’s totally worth doing this route. The scenery you’ll find on any of the roads is amazing. Also, the people you come across are very nice and always greet you with a good smile.

VIEW TOUR MOUNT ULÍA

monteulia

CC BY 2.0 ES | FLICKR | David Barrio López

 

Art and culture in San Sebastián

As far as art and culture are concerned, you will find numerous galleries and museums of different themes. For example, the Arteko gallery, if you like contemporary art, or the San Telmo Museum, if you prefer history.  We recommend you go to Tabakalera, an old tobacco factory that has become the new International Centre for Contemporary Culture. It also has a super nice viewpoint on the top floor, from which you can see the city: the Maria Cristina bridge, the Good Shepherd Tower, the train station and more, which you will see yourself when you pass by.

santelmo

CC BY 2.0 ES | FLICKR |Rosa G.

 

Donostia  with children

As we have already mentioned in San Sebastian there are many activities for children, such as going to the Igueldo amusement park, the aquarium, Cristina Enea, going to the beach, and so on. We also recommend you to check the tourism agenda, where you can find children’s events.

As you’ve seen, San Sebastian has it all. What are you waiting for?