San Sebastian is a destination that has something for everyone. There are sandy beaches, historic architecture and a range of pintxo bars to sample Basque tapas.
Start your visit with a tour of the Parte Vieja, San Sebastian’s Old Quarter. Here, you’ll find most of the city’s most iconic attractions like the Basilica de Santa Maria del Coro and the Iglesia de San Vicente.
1. Palacio Miramar
The palace overlooks La Concha Bay and is a stunning 19th-century structure. Originally a summer getaway for the royal family, it was built in English style.
It's a Belle Epoque landmark that catered to aristocrats in the 19th century, and it still offers luxury accommodations and impeccable service. It also features a fine-dining restaurant and a pintxos bar.
2. Ondaretta Beach
A sheltered bay shielded by Monte Igueldo, Ondarreta Beach is perfect for families with children. It has golden sand and offers a host of activities including canoe hire, volleyball and paddle-ball.
For art enthusiasts, Ondarreta has an excellent collection of sculptures in large gardens. Two pieces stand out among them: El Peine del Viento ('Wind Comb') by Eduardo Chillida and Zeharki by Juan Ramon Anda.
3. Mount Igueldo
One of two headlands that guards the entrance of San Sebastian's La Concha Bay, Monte Igueldo stands to the west of town and offers the ideal vantage point for views of the bay, La Concha Beach, Santa Clara Island, and Monte Urgull.
Take a vintage funicular to the top of the hill and see a stunning panorama of Concha Bay and San Sebastian. Or, explore the small, old-fashioned fairground with rides and attractions including a roller coaster, boat ride, carousel, and haunted house.
4. Santa Clara Island
Santa Clara Island is located between two of San Sebastian’s most famous mountains, Urgull and Igueldo. It has a tiny beach that only appears at low tide, and the island is also home to a lighthouse.
It’s possible to kayak or swim to the island any time of year, but it’s most accessible from June to September when ferries run from the fishing port. During these months, there are cafes and bars open.
5. Alderdi Eder Gardens
A recreation area that stretches from the City Hall to La Concha Beach, Alderdi Eder Gardens is one of the most picturesque spots in San Sebastian. The park features flower beds and native tamarind trees.
It’s also worth taking a stroll along the promenade, which is lined with Chillida sculptures. The first work is the Monument to Fleming, dedicated to Sir Alexander Fleming.
6. San Telmo Museoa
San Telmo Museoa is a museum that deals with ancient and contemporary Basque culture, arts and history in a European, global context. It opened in 1932 and is located on Zuloaga plaza in the old city, at the foot of Monte Urgull.
The museum is a former Dominican convent, which also served as an artillery barracks. Inside the building you'll find a Renaissance style cloister and a church.
The quaint and charming Centro is San Sebastian's historical heart. It's a great place to soak up the atmosphere, sample pintxos, shop for souvenirs and visit museums.
You can't miss the City Hall, one of the most impressive architectural beauties in town. The neoclassical building is a blend of Neo-Gothic and Baroque styles.
8. Playa de la Concha
Playa de la Concha, aka the Pearl of the Sea, is one of San Sebastian's most classic and famous beaches. It's also a popular spot for water sports, like boating or kayaking.
During summertime, the beach is packed with blue-white striped parasols and sun beds which make it look extra pretty. It's also known for its local swimmers who swim daily here, even in the winter months when it is colder.
9. Basilica de Santa Maria del Coro
Erected over the Roman ruins, this 18th century Basilica is one of the most striking buildings in San Sebastian. Its Baroque facade has a mixture of Gothic, Churrigueresque and Neo-classical elements.
Aside from the impressive facade, this church has an altarpiece containing a painting by Luis Boccia dedicated to San Sebastian’s patron saint, the Virgen del Coro. This image presides over masses in this basilica, from a pedestal in front of the main altar.
10. Parque de Aiete
The Parque de Aiete is a beautiful park that's perfect for relaxing and spending time with family. Located on the grounds of the Palacio de Aiete, a former Royal palace that was built in 1878, it's an oasis for everyone to enjoy.
It also features a Bonsai pavilion and a children's playground. Plus, it's home to a stunning neo-classical palace. It's worth a visit when you're in San Sebastian.