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Top 7 Things to Do in San Sebastian

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The top seven things to do in San Sebastian showcase the beauty of Spain’s famous coastline that hugs the Bay of Biscay in the Basque Country.

San Sebastian is a sophisticated city known for its unique culture, alluring beaches along the glistening Balearic Sea, and fabulous cuisine. It embodies the essence of the Basque region, with fascinating architecture, small pintxos bars and Michelin Star restaurants, all offering an authentic experience of the city.

Gorgeous beach promenades, family-friendly cultural experiences, water activities, premier wines, and more are all accessible in charming San Sebastian, so as you plan your trip, be sure to consider these seven things to do.

Overview

  1. 1. Experience Sun and Sand in the Bay of Concha
  2. 2. Discover Spanish History in the Old Town
  3. 3. Indulge in Gourmet Seafood at Michelin-starred Restaurants
  4. 4. Sample Spanish Snacks at Pintxos Bars
  5. 5. Uncover the Secrets Behind Spanish Cider Houses
  6. 6. Explore the Eccentric Bohemian Quarter
  7. 7. View Mediterranean Marine Life in the Aquarium-Sea Palace
  8. Experience the Top Things to Do in San Sebastian

1. Experience Sun and Sand in the Bay of Concha

La Concha Beach in San Sebastian, Spain

La Concha Beach in San Sebastian, Spain

The white sands and turquoise waters at the Bay of Concha have become the iconic image of San Sebastian. Superyachts gather in the sun-washed sea, beachgoers lounge on the sand, and the historic city skyline stands out in the distance.

The calm waters along La Perla beach offer the best opportunity for swimming and enjoying the paradise that surrounds you. The wide shoreline that stretches for miles is a great place for an afternoon stroll. You can also visit lavish spa centers on the promenade, offering unrivaled sea views as you enjoy a soothing massage.

As the sun begins to set, visit the shaded Alameda del Boulevard, where shops and restaurants await with surprises. The tree-lined avenue is a dreamy place in which to immerse yourself in the pleasures of San Sebastian.

Best Beaches in San Sebastian: La Concha Beach • Zurriola Beach • Santa Clara Island Beach • Ondarreta Beach • La Perla Beach

2. Discover Spanish History in the Old Town

The detailed architecture of Old Town

Architecture in the Old Town of San Sebastian, Spain

One step over from Alameda del Boulevard you will find yourself in San Sebastian’s Old Town. Tucked beneath the forested hill of Monte Urgull, it is picturesque and has plenty to explore on a stroll.

The Plaza de la Constitución, once home to thrilling bullfights spectators would watch from the balconies, is steeped in Spanish history. While circling Old Town, Neoclassical buildings and history spring to life from cobblestone streets.

The prominent 16th-century San Vicente Church stands over the city as you wander through the historic avenues, encountering shops and traditional Basque restaurants. Every inch of San Sebastian’s Old Town will reveal a piece of Spain’s dramatic past.

Best Experiences in the Old Town: Plaza de la Constitución • San Vicente Church • Culinary tours • Santa María del Coro Basilica • Port of Donostia

3. Indulge in Gourmet Seafood at Michelin-starred Restaurants

Carrillada, braised Iberian pork cheeks

Carrillada, braised Iberian pork cheeks

San Sebastian is a culinary beacon, containing the second-most Michelin Stars of any city in the world. It has the equivalent of more than one Michelin-starred restaurant per four square miles, meaning your journey will be filled with some of northern Spain's best eateries.

Several of the top 10 restaurants in the world can be found in this small city. They represent an introduction to Spanish delicacies and the thriving food scene San Sebastian is now famous for.

Each Michelin-starred restaurant offers unique cuisine, showcasing timeless traditional recipes and modern fusion dishes that capture the essence and innovations of San Sebastian’s renowned culinary heritage.

Best Dishes to Try: Cochinillo • Tortilla de patata • Basque cheesecake • Carrillada • Txuleta

4. Sample Spanish Snacks at Pintxos Bars

Variety of delicious Spanish pintxos waiting to be tasted

Pintxos in San Sebastian, Spain

Basque pintxos are similar to tapas, which are found elsewhere in Spain, but are generally even smaller bites, allowing you to taste a wonderful range of flavors of local ingredients.

Among the most famous delicacies are ham, prawns, anchovies, cheeses, wild mushrooms, and chorizo, all served in unique ways. Many typical pintxos include salt cod, fish cheeks, and whole roasted hake or sole, while among the most common cheeses on a pintxos plate is the Idiazabal cheese.

Pintxos are typically served in pintxos bars that retain the unique culinary tradition, while sharing stunning environments in which to experience the flavors of Spain. You can visit a selection of high-end pintxos bars dressed with fabulous decor and sip sumptuous cocktails as you toast to the tastes of San Sebastian.

Best Spanish Pintxos to Try: Gilda • Patatas bravas • Salt cod • Kokotxas • Pimientos de piquillo

5. Uncover the Secrets Behind Spanish Cider Houses

Fresh cider in a sagardotegi

Fresh cider at a sagardotegi

One of the best-kept secrets of San Sebastian and the Basque region is the cider houses known as sagardotegi. With a centuries-old history of crafting the perfect Spanish cider, these fruity breweries are a fascinating symbol of the past.

The tradition of cider houses in the Basque region dates back to the 11th century, when they provided nutrients to fishermen and whalers at sea. The cider is most often not carbonated, but is poured from a height to give it a delightful effervescence.

Tours of San Sebastian’s cider houses reveal the meticulous brewing process, offer a glimpse inside of the old barreled cellars, and share tasting experiences like none other in the world.

Best Beverages and Cocktails to Try: Basque cider • Txakoli • Rioja Wine • Zurito • Marianito

6. Explore the Eccentric Bohemian Quarter

Gros district in San Sebastian, Spain

Gros district in San Sebastian, Spain

Gros in San Sebastian is a Bohemian neighborhood connected to the Old Town by two main bridges that span the Urumea River. The charming quarter is lined by boulevards and rivers, with bikeable and walkable streets.

Its playful ambiance is accentuated by several of San Sebastian’s most popular pintxo bars. The expressive and eclectic district boasts some of the city’s most impressive art galleries, including Tabakalera, and three of the most popular beaches.

Narrow cobbled alleys connect the main parts of the quarter, inviting travelers to freely stumble upon the secrets of San Sebastian. You can admire the ancient architecture, view evocative art, enjoy the trendy cafés, and walk the soft shores as you explore.

Best Experiences in the Bohemian Quarter: Gourmet culinary tours • Beach walks • Architecture tours • Visit art galleries • Pintxos tours

7. View Mediterranean Marine Life in the Aquarium-Sea Palace

Aquarium-Sea Palace in San Sebastian, Spain

Aquarium-Sea Palace in San Sebastian, Spain

The fantastic Aquarium-Sea Palace in San Sebastian connects the culture of the city to the natural world that surrounds it through the 31 unforgettable aquatic habitats.

The Oceanographic Museum within the aquarium displays the history of seafaring in the region and the underwater tunnel offers a 360-view of the fish, sea turtles, and sharks.

Fun for children and adults alike, this experience lets you discover San Sebastian’s iconic collection of Mediterranean marine life and see what the Spanish seas keep hidden beneath the water’s surface.

Best Marine Life to Spot: Sharks • Eels • Sting rays • Jellyfish • Sea fossils

Experience the Top Things to Do in San Sebastian

Seafood paella in San Sebastian, Spain

Seafood paella in San Sebastian, Spain

Sample exquisite seafood and Spanish tapas, wander charming neighborhoods steeped in history, and enjoy moments of relaxation on sparkling white-sand beaches. Explore San Sebastian on Spain Tours & Vacations to the Basque Country, experiencing these top things to do.

For more information about Spain and the country’s fabulous regions, coastlines, and cities, take a look at our Spain Travel Guide. We share everything that you need to know about the Mediterranean destination and help you plan a spectacular stay in Spain.

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