There’s a reason the lovely city of San Sebastián, Spain was rated the “European Capital of Culture” for 2016. San Sebastián, also known as Donostia by the locals, is a small coastal city framed by mountains and the sea in the Basque Country of Spain. Known for its rich food culture, surfing beaches, and overall charm, “San Seb” is filled with things to do and see. To start, here’s 9 Things to do in San Sebastian, Spain!
1. Monte Urgal
This relatively quick hike will take you to one of the most famous views of San Sebastián. From this outrageous lookout, you will defiantly realize and appreciate where you are. The city’s colorful insides and the curving coastline will make you wonder why you have never been to San Seb before and exactly how many hidden cities like this exist in the world. On top of the hill, you’ll also find the famous Sacred Heart statue which can be seen from nearly anywhere in San Seb. The Statue measures over 12m in height! While you’re up there, check out the small castle, forts, and cannons.
2. The Beaches
San Sebastián’s coastline runs in and out of headlands which creates 3 main beaches. The 2 most common ones are Zurriola and La Concha. Zurriola is where you’ll find big waves, sports of all kinds, and locals overlooking the sea often smoking joints. This famous surf beach also has basketball courts, volleyball nets, a skating rink, and many cafes and bars nearby. La Concha Beach, tucked away in a hidden cove, is more suitable for days basking in the sun, spotting topless grannies, and kids playing in calmer waters. Just a few steps from the sand, the city meets the beach; you will be able to find the town hall and the famous old town. Tons of things to do in San Sebastian, Spain at one of their many beaches.
3. Pincho Ponte
Pincho Ponte is a food focused gathering that takes over the streets of San Seb once a week. Every Thursday in the Gros district, you will find bars offering one hell of a deal: 1 Pincho and 1 drink for 2 euros or less! The crowds spill out from the bars and end up eating and drinking on the streets of San Seb. You’ll find locals, tourists, families, and kids hanging out enjoying live music, conversation, smokes, and quick bites. Generally, the feast begins at 6:30 and ends at about 10.
4. Coastal Walk
This walk along the sea will take you through many of San Seb’s “Must See” spots. First decide if you want to travel by foot, bike, board, or the popular rollerblades option and head down to the beach. Follow the walking or bike path to discover all of San Seb’s beaches, striking sculptures, the Basque landscape, and the Grand Opera House. Stop along and hang out in the many plazas for some good people watching or take a seat on seaside benches to watch the local fisherman and listen to the many nearby jazz musicians. This was defiantly one of my top things to do in San Sebastian, Spain!
5. Walk Over A Bridge
Walk a bridge? Hmmm… May seem boring, but the bridges will get you from the old town to the new town of San Seb in style. This striking set of 4 bridges leads you over the river mouth and are what the locals use to distinguish their location in the city. Perfect for a late evening stroll, make sure you find yourself crossing one of these beauties and be on the look out for all the decorative features. The Bridge of Maria Cristina is considered one of the best.
6. Sit on “El Muro” for a sunset.
Follow the locals to el muro (the wall) that aligns the surf beach, Zurriola, for a free show and sunset. From here, admire the view, listen to buskers, and watch the surfers, skaters, and people of all kinds. This wall is a great place to chill out and talk with friends during the evening. Don’t forget to bring your sidra and joints, just like the locals do! A must out of all the things to do in San Sebastian, Spain.
7. Eat like a king or queen
San Sebastián has a global reputation among foodies for holding (nearly) the most Michelin stars per square meter in the world. Don’t know what a Michelin star is? It’s a rating system for fine dining all around the world. Here you can get world class meals (or pinchos if you’re on a budget) from nearly any corner of the city. Consider booking a pincho tour if you are looking for a lot of good food and info all at once! SanSebestian.travel recommends starting with these bars in the Old Town area:
Astelehena, A Fuego Negro, Goiz-Argi, Gambara, La Cuchara de San Telmo, Paco Bueno, La Cepa, Gandarias, Borda-Berri
8. Parte Vinja – The Old Town
Who wouldn’t love walking through lively narrow streets from tapas bar to tapas bar with a glass of wine in hand? The Old Town of San Seb, known as Parte Vieja, is where the locals mix in with tourists. Located right behind Town Hall, this is a must. You’ll find fiestas or concerts happening in main Square, Plaza de la Consitiucion, two ordinate churches (the Santa Maria Church and the San Vicente Church), and even more pinchos bars with delicious food waiting for your arrival. Whether you stroll through day or night, these alleyways are full of life, food, and good times.
9. Combs of the Winds
The most artsy out of all the things to do in San Sebastian, Spain – Take a walk and check out these modern sculptures fixed along San Seb’s rugged waterfront. Designed and built by the Basque architect, Eduaro Chillida, these strong shapes were installed in 1976, yet are currently being renovated. Either way, you can still appreciate these abstract beauties from afar to soak in the man-made art vs. landscape.
What things to do in San Sebastian have I missed? Comment your answer below!
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