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Things to Do in San Sebastian Spain

If you’re looking for things to do in San Sebastian, I recommend walking everywhere with an appetite for everything! Between the beaches and the sights, you’ll find plenty to eat and drink. It may be a small city, but there is so much packed into those 25 square miles. Just start walking!

American Living in Germany: Know Before You Go

Almost everyone I’ve met has a favorite place to visit in Spain! Everything is delicious, everyone is nice, and everywhere is beautiful.

Like other European countries, you won’t find air conditioning in most restaurants, shops, and older hotels. Be sure to stay hydrated and pack comfortable clothes!

And don’t worry about renting a car or taking Uber. Walking and buses are the easiest (and cheapest) methods of transportation in the city.

And, most importantly, bring your tourist passport! Your Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) passport lets you reside in Germany, but it doesn’t grant you the same travel privileges as an EU citizen.

Not sure what a SOFA passport is? Read our PCS to Germany: Arrival guide!

Things to Do in San Sebastian: Sightseeing

San Sebastian (also known as Donostia and spelled as San Sebastián) is a city in the Basque Autonomous Community. Just 12 miles from the French border, the city has transformed from a strategic location to a tourist destination over the past few centuries.

The Cathedral of the Good Shepherd in San Sebastian, Spain

Cathedral of the Good Shepherd (San Sebastian Cathedral)

The San Sebastian Cathedral was completed in 1897, and is the largest in Gipuzkoa province. It was built in the neo-Gothic style and designed by architect Manuel Echave. You can visit from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 5 to 8 p.m. Be sure to check out the organ when you visit – it’s the largest in Spain!

The carousel in Alderdi Eder Park is a must see in San Sebastian!

Alderdi Eder Park

Just down the street from the San Sebastian Cathedral is Alderdi Eder Park. You can enjoy some of the most Instagram-worthy views from anywhere in this park! And in addition to the gardens and San Sebastian City Hall, there’s a carousel for all ages.

Parte Vieja is the Old Town in San Sebastian, where you'll find pintxos, cider, and music

Parte Vieja

Parte Vieja (the Old Town) is full of life that you just can’t miss! As you navigate the streets, you’ll find a cacophony of food, music, shops, dancing, and drinks. You can easily spend the entire day walking around Parte Vieja and never get bored.

Looking for what to eat in San Sebastian? Check out my previous post about bar hopping and pintxos!

Famous cheese cake at la viña restaurant in san sebastian spain

And be sure to hit up La Viña for the cheesecake! It’s absolutely worth the wait.

Standing in front of the Basilica of Santa Maria del Coro in san sebastian spain

Basilica of Santa Maria del Coro

As you wander through Parte Vieja, you may stumble upon the Basilica of Santa Maria del Coro. In fact, you can walk straight down the road from the San Sebastian Cathedral to the Basilica! Its impressive, Baroque style portal faces the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd.

The climb up Monte Urgull to Mota Castle is a must to do in San Sebastian, Spain

Mota Castle on Monte Urgull

From Mota Castle at the top of Monte Urgull, you can see the entire city. But this fortification wasn’t always just for beautiful views – it was a strategic outpost for the military.

Not only did it have an all-encompassing view of the city, but it’s quite a hike to reach! Be sure to wear comfortable clothes and shoes when you visit Mota Castle.

Playa de la concha beach views in San Sebastian Spain

Things to Do in San Sebastian: Beaches

San Sebastian has three beaches, all of which are perfect for a nap (aka “siesta”) between meals. And unlike the beaches in the Greek islands, you don’t necessarily have to rent an umbrella or cabana.

Looking for a beach getaway? Check out my vlogs about Greece!

Enjoy the longest stretch of beach - Play de La Concha!

Playa de la Concha

You can easily find a spot to lay out on the longest of the three beaches. And for additional beach activities, Playa de la Concha also has water slides and diving boards set up in the water!

Ondaretta beach is smaller than Playa de La Concha, but it still shares the same bay

Playa de Ondarreta

Playa de Ondarreta shares La Concha Bay with Playa de la Concha, but offers a slightly different experience. It’s a bit smaller and has more activities on the beach, such as volleyball and beach tennis.

Zurriola Beach is perfect for laying out and catching some rays

Playa de la Zurriola

If you enjoy surfing, this is your destination! Just across the Urumea Itsasadarra, this beach is not really recommended for swimming, but it’s great for just relaxing on the sand.

Frequently Asked Questions about Things to Do in San Sebastian

Don’t see your question here? Let me know in the comments!

When is the best time to visit San Sebastian?

Spring to early Fall. It’s significantly cooler in the north than other parts of Spain during summer time! We were burning in Barcelona in July, but then trained to San Sebastian where it was at least 20 degrees cooler (Fahrenheit, of course).

Where to stay in San Sebastian?

Everything in San Sebastian is within a walk or cheap bus ride right to the beach and old town! But I recommend staying as close to the beach as possible, preferably at a hotel near a bus stop.

We stayed at Hotel Codina, which is within walking distance to Ondarreta Beach. Pensión Kaia in old town is a good budget friendly option. If you want a more luxurious place with beautiful beach views, check out Tryp San Sebastian Orly.

Where is the best San Sebastian cider house?

It’s hard to go wrong at any of them. We went to Albiztur, a nice sit down restaurant and cider house off the beaten path. But you’ll also find great ones right in Old Town!

Various Pintxos inside of San Sebastian restaurants

Looking for More Things to Do in San Sebastian?

This city will be one of the most beautiful, delicious vacations you will ever plan. But before you finish planning your trip, be sure to watch my video about eating pintxos in San Sebastian!

And if you want more travel tips, subscribe to my Youtube channel and follow me on Instagram


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