Photo courtesy of San Sebastián Turismo & Convention Bureau
Top 10 things to do in San Sebastian 2019
On your next vacation in Spain why not tour the spectacular city of San Sebastian, renowned as the best city to eat in Spain, if not the world and also known as the wonderful “beach in the city”. The city of San Sebastian spreads around the famous La Concha beach, whilst inland are the beautiful green mountain landscapes of Guipuzcoa of which San Sebastian is the provincial capital. Although tapas were invented in Andalucia they became perfected in San Sebastian and here are known as pintxos, so why not come and experience the best of San Sebastian with us on your private Northern Spain food & wine tour
1) La Concha Beach
Capturing almost every imagination of how a spectacular city beach should be, La Concha is a perfect mixture of soft, turquoise waters, peace and quiet and has a few great places to eat nearby. The extensive gorgeous bay is just five minutes’ walk from the vibrant center of Parte Vieja, the port area and from the cathedral quarter. La Concha is the most beautiful of Donostia´s three beaches (the others are Ondarreta and Gros) but if you get a chance visit them all. Make sure you also at least experience one stunning pink and orange sunset one evening, you won´t be disappointed!
2) Parte Vieja
Between the two spectacular beaches you will find the beating heart of the city, the “Old Town” of San Sebastian. Explore the unique romantic corners, take in the vibrant atmosphere, wander by foot to the numerous, creative pintxos bars an experience the city’s history. Spanish tradition suggests having one or two pintxos and a wine in one bar and move on to the next. For sure you will try a glass (or two…) of the best local Txakoli wine! Surrounded by narrow streets this charming old town is a pleasure given the architecture, quaint shops, bakeries, churches and local food markets. There are so many delicious places to try that it is almost impossible to choose!
3) Monte Urgull
Hike up the winding stone paths of Monte Urgull for a picturesque journey with stunning views, a great way to walk off all the delicious San Sebastian food! Along the way you will be surrounded by gorgeous flowers and lushes greenery, with many fascinating historical notes en route. At the top you will enjoy a bird’s eye view of La Concha beach, the city’s old quarter and a tall statue of Christ blessing San Sebastian, standing at the highest point. On your way back down why not go via the backside of the hill if you are interested in seeing the cemetery of the British soldiers, fortifications and cannons.
4) Buen Pastor Cathedral
San Sebastian’s largest church has a stunning Neo-Gothic sandstone exterior that is hard to miss; no matter where you are in the old town you can always find your way from this spectacular, tall structure. Make sure you have your camera in hand as the view of the cathedral from the narrow streets makes for a great photo opportunity! Although the cathedral seems like it could be from the medieval times, the Gothic revival structure actually dates back to 1897. The stone interior is complete with beautiful stained glass windows representing the 12 apostles and the sacred hearts of both Jesus and Mary, best viewed during the brighter hours for full magnificence. Once you leave make sure you try the delicious ice cream shop just outside.
5) San Telmo Museoa
If you love history and culture then visit one of the best and oldest museums in the Basque County, which showcases a thought-provoking collection from prehistoric times to today’s modernity. Featuring over 26,000 historic artifacts you will surely be fascinated by a mix of Gothic, contemporary and renaissance creations providing an intriguing insight into Spanish history. Exhibitions are featured across a restored Dominican convent dating back to the sixteenth century, and an incredible modern newer division, that blends into the natural sounding backdrop of Mount Urgull.
6) Mercado de la Bretxa
Traditional food markets such as La Bretxa and San Martin are where many of the famous local chefs personally select their produce from, within the hustle and bustle of industrial style warehouses. Whilst visiting new places it is always fun to experience the local foodie stalls, you will find a large array of typical, local and good quality Spanish food, a must see for food lovers! Expect to see the likes of the freshest fruit and vegetables, a unique display of sea life, deli meats, cheeses, olives, and of course the typical Txakoli wine. The traditional markets are always kept clean, the produce is very affordable and all the stall operators are very friendly and helpful.
7) Monte Igueldo
On the other side of San Sebastian you will spot Mount Igueldo which has one of the best viewpoints over the beautiful Conaha bay, and if you’re lucky, the coast of France on a fine day! The best way to get to the top is by using the funicular railway, which has been operating since 1912 and is the oldest in the Basque Country, alternatively you can drive or walk up the hill depending how you are feeling in the moment. Once you reach the top there is a hotel with a nice terrace, bars to have a snack or drink and a vintage amusement park for the kid. Marvell at the incredible views, relax and enjoy!
8) Santa Clara Island
For something a little different in the hot summer months why not cool down at the remote, uninhabited island of Santa Clara. Whether you only have just a few hours on your hands, or a whole day, it is still worth visiting this relaxing haven, via the water taxi that runs every 30 minutes. Unwind from the busy city, swim under the warm summer rays and take in nature. Why not walk to the top of the island, it is a steady incline but you can still easily reach the top to the lighthouse, with minimal effort. There is also a small seasonal restaurant on the island which is well known for its Paella if you fancy lunch, alternatively, prepare a picnic as there are numerous benches and tables throughout the island.
For something unique why not visit the great collection of sea creatures and amazing fish, fantastically displayed in San Sebastian’s Aquarium, there is something for everyone! The visit begins with local maritime culture where you view and learn about the history of ancient boat, artifacts and other marine exhibits. Next, you will surely be amazed with the variations for sea life from sharks, stingrays, sardines, jelly fish to beautiful corals in the extensive, cinema sized aquarium. If you want to see the feeding session make sure you visit around lunchtime.
10) Miramar Palace
Take a break away from the hustle and bustle of this vibrant city and head on a short walk to the nineteenth century English summer palace used by Isabella II. This picturesque place is the perfect spot for a picnic or quiet retreat, taking in the stunning views of the coastline. Bath in the warmth of the sun on the luscious lawn or sit on the benches and make sure to stop and read the small signs around, to learn about the history and palace itself. Unfortunately don´t expect to enter the old summer resident as usually it is closed, neither less the exterior is gorgeous and is surrounded with beautiful formal gardens.
With our charismatic officially licensed San Sebastian guide you will be able to see these Top 10 places and much more as part of your private Gourmet & Cultural Basque Country Tour. Feel free to browse our website and get inspired!