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Top 5 things to do in San Sebastián

San Sebastian is located in the Basque Country in northern Spain, close to the French border.

San Sebastian developed as a tourist resort for the rich and famous of Spain more than a century ago. Since those days, many things happened, including war and terror in the streets of the old district of the city. 

But the city rediscovered peace and reinvented itself with a new vibe that has in food and cinema its main components. The city is tucked away in a magical natural setting.

  To get the most out of your trip to San Sebastián, our local contributors have put together a list of the best things to enjoy in San Sebastian, no matter what type of traveler you are. Plan your perfect San Sebastián experience. 

You can also have a look at our San Sebastián visitors guide or a more visual and interactive look at the fully interactive San Sebastián tourist map

Enjoy planning your trip to San Sebastián! 

Table of Contents

The top 5 things to do in San Sebastian

Take a dip at Playa de la Concha

La Concha is one of the two souls of the city (the second one is the old district or Casco Viejo). La Concha is one of the most beautiful urban beaches in the world, and probably the most elegant one. But we are in Northern Spain and it si the Cantabrian sea, and not the Mediterranean, that bathes the beach.  In case you are not too keen on the rather cold waters at La Concha today, you should at least enjoy a walk along its beautiful promenade.

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La Concha beach San Sebastian, Spain.  La Concha is one of the most emblematic beaches of the Basque Country, and Spain for that matter. La Concha is the urban beach of the city of San Sebastián, The Basque Countries second largest city. The beach is located within a small bay with the same name. La Concha is widely considered to be one of the best urban beaches in the world, and is easily the best in Europe:

Discover La concha »

Discover the Golden age and the Belle Epoque of San Sebastian

We could easily claim that San Sebastian lives a new Golden age today. But for the sake of architecture and nostalgia, we recommend you take a walk to discover some of the highlights from the “previous” Golden Age of San Sebastian.
Next to La Concha you will discover the impressive building of La Perla Spa. This Spa was built in the early 20th century, at a time when San Sebastian was a favorite destination amongst part of the European aristocracy. But competition was tough (Cannes, Biarritz, Royan, Bath in the United Kingdom…) La Perla aimed at being no less than the largest and most modern spa center in the world!
If the Spa building is impressive, the Hotel that hosted the majority of the “rich and famous” needs also special attention: The María Cristina hotel was inaugurated in 1912. Although it is already more than a century old, its charm remains intact. Imagine if those walls were to speak one day!

Maria Cristina

Maria Cristina, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Sebastian – Review Maria Cristina, a Luxury Collection is a 5-star hotel is located in the heart of San Sebastian, right in front of the Victoria Eugenia theater, and enjoys spectacular views of the Cantabrian sea and the Urumea River. This Hotel has been in operation since 1912 and offers some of the elegant and comfortable lodgings you will find in San Sebastián. The rooms are equipped with air conditioning,

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We continue our walk throuhg history and arrive at the María Cristina bridge. San Sebastian´s most famous bridge also has a name dedicated to the Queen. Queen María Cristina used to spend seasons in San Sebastián, and the bridge that holds her name was inaugurated in 1905. Four huge obelisks stand out, two at each end of the bridge.
And we will end this Golden age walk with attention to the Miramar Palace, the one that the Kings used when they visited San Sebastian. It cannot be visited but the views from here are amongst the best ones in San Sebastian.

Take a pintxo route

San Sebastián is a perfect place to fall in love with pintxo or tapas eating. Relax and get ready to enjoy bar hopping! You can eat wonderfully well by visiting different bars that specialize in one or more pintxos. The city has the reputation of hosting some of the best pintxo bars in Spain. You can opt for the bars in the Casco Viejo or old district, although if you want to be more adventurous you can also go to the Gros neighborhood, on the other side of the Urumea river, where less traditional and more fashionable bars have emerged in recent years.

Practical information

With an increasing number of tourists arriving to San Sebastian every year, and with so many bars and tours to choose from, finding the best options for you may sometimes be a daunting experience. But worry not! Our local team has put together a list with some of the top bars to enjoy pintxos

Learnm more about pintxos in San Sebastian »

Enjoy the Michelin experience

If you prefer fine dining to pintxos, you are not too keen on the idea of eating standing up, or simply enjoy both and do not want to miss the opportunity to enjoy one of the top restaurants in Spain, you are in good luck: in San Sebastián and its surrounding area there are some 10 superb Michelin starred restaurants that compete in search for the ultimate dining experience. Names like these ones make all foodies dream!  Martín Berasategui, Akelarre, Arzak or Mugaritz

Dish at a Michelin starred restaurant in San Sebastian
Practical information

With an increasing number of tourists arriving to San Sebastian every year, and with so many bars and tours to choose from, finding the best options for you may sometimes be a daunting experience. But worry not! Our local team has put together a list with some of the top bars to enjoy pintxos

Discover the top restaurants in San Sebastian »

Make your children smile

San Sebastian offers two fantastic activities for children: the Monte Igueldo theme park and the aquarium of San Sebastian. The Monte Igueldo theme park brings you back in time. The rides are not may be impressive, but there is lots of charm in this small park and to get there you will take the funicular which offers the best views of the city! If the day is wet and you need to look for an indoor activity, don´t think it twice and visit the San Sebastian Aquarium. It is not as impressive as other larger aquariums in Barcelona or Valencia, but it is for sure worth visiting.

san sebastian aquarium

San Sebastián Aquarium The Donosti Aquarium or San Sebastián Aquarium is located in one of the most emblematic areas of in the city of San sebastian: the harbor, right next to San Sebastián’s old quarter, and just a few minutes from the city center. The Aquarium is one of the cities most popular attractions, attracting over 300,000 visitors annually. There are other larger and more famous aquariums in Spain, wether it be L’Oceanogràfic of Valencia or the

Disocver the Aquarium of San Sebastian »