San Sebastian had been on my bucket list for quite some time and this summer we finally made it to this area. If you want to enjoy a few days on the beach, but also have the wide array of restaurants and shops at your display, San Sebastian is the perfect destination. I personally found that San Sebastian does not have a list of top sights that you should see, but I really liked the overall vibe of the city. Culturally I found it less interesting than its neighbor Bilbao and rivaling Barcelona, but it was a good visit nonetheless. I tried to capture San Sebastian’s vibe in pictures, to give you a good idea of what to expect when visiting this charming place.
San Sebastian is located in Basque Country, an autonomous community in Spain. It is known for the great beaches, that you will find near the city center. If you are looking for an active holiday, San Sebastian is a great spot as it is very good for surfing. Zurriola beach is at the other side of town and a famous surfing spot. Pinxtos are the Basque version of tapas and you should definitely visit a pinxtos bar if you are in San Sebastian. Beware that parking is very difficult in San Sebastian, there are some parking garages at the edges of the city, but there are hight restrictions and we were not able to park our van in those garages. We ended up finding a residential street (Mandasko Dukearen Pasealekua) where we could park the van. The weather in San Sebastian can be a bit unpredictable, it. is very nice in summer time, but it also has extensive periods of rain. If you want to visit during the off-season, make sure you do your research on the weather and prepare that you might not be lucky.
The old town (Parte Vieja) of San Sebastian mainly consists of atmospheric, narrow alleyways with lowrise buildings. This is the area that is best when you want to eat some pinxtos. When we visited in August it was incredibly crowded in San Sebastian and there were queues for many pinxtos bars, so you needed a little patience to find a good seat. It is smart to do some research on the quality of the bars; the first one we visited was very good with lots of fresh food, while the second one reheated the food. The business is one of the reasons I did not take a lot of pics in this area, the streets were full of tourists and the old town seemed very chaotic because of it.
When you walk to the beach from the old town, you will pass the old harbor. For a resort town I did not find the boats very fancy, but this was a really relaxed spot nonetheless. If you are looking for a more quiet place in San Sebastian, this is your spot! Great to sit on a bench and do some people watching and enjoying the sounds of the water.
San Sebastian has two main beaches: Playa de la Concha and Playa da Ondarreta. The beaches are surrounded by a beautiful promenade and great beach bars. We had some drinks at one of the beach bars overlooking the coast and that real holiday feeling kicked in! The water is insanely blue and super refreshing for a dip. To me, the beaches were the real star of San Sebastian. In Barcelona I also love the combination of a city and the sea, but the sights are much more interesting than in San Sebastian. The old town of San Sebastian cannot be compared to the much more beautiful Gothic Quarter of Barcelona. However, the beaches in San Sebastian are so much more authentic than those in Barcelona. Just don’t expect them to be a hidden gem, in my last picture you see how incredibly crowded they were. Despite the crowds, I found San Sebastian very affordable when it came to food and drinks.