There are many things to see in San Sebastian, and the best thing about it is that, being a fairly small city, everything is very close at hand. Most of the tourist attractions can be visited on foot, which is the main attraction of the city.
There are also many people who decide to visit the city by bicycle, as it is one of the cities in Spain that is best adapted to this means of transport, so renting a bike to visit the city can be very comfortable and even fun.
If your time in Donosti is limited and you don’t want to miss its main attractions, here is a list of places not to miss on your next visit. Will you join us?
10 Things to see in San Sebastian and not to be missed
1. Strolling through the “Old Town” of San Sebastián
Undoubtedly its main attraction is the old part of the city. Its streets are full of charm and it is located in a unique enclave next to the port and the “Paseo Nuevo”, which you cannot miss. It is a very pretty walk along the seafront to end at the small port and enter through one of the main arches into the Old Town.
Once inside, as well as the fabulous bars where you can taste the famous pintxos, you should visit the Basilica of Santa Maria and to a lesser extent the Church of San Vicente, two of the most characteristic religious buildings in the city.
The Constitution Square, in the centre of the old town, will also attract your attention, especially its balconies, which still have the numbers with which each of the boxes used to identify each of the boxes used to watch the bullfights, as this was their function in the past.
2. Visit to the City Hall and Boulevard
The City hall is a very beautiful building that deserves to be visited. It is best to walk around the building to see it completely, as for example, it is striking that the main entrance through which citizens can enter is at the back.
The Boulevard is a pedestrian avenue that separates the old town from the rest of the newer city. The central “kiosk” and the gardens that decorate the entire length of the Boulevard are striking.
3. Walk along the “Paseo de la Concha”
La Concha beach is not only the most famous beach in San Sebastian but also one of the most recognised worldwide thanks to the numerous awards it has won.
The beginning of the promenade starts next to the town hall and you can walk along it all the way to the end of Ondarreta beach, in the Antiguo neighbourhood. It is a very beautiful walk around the bay that is spectacular if you find yourself on a sunny day. If the tide is low, you can even walk along the shore if the weather is good and soak your feet a little bit 🙂
4. Miramar Palace
This Miramar Palace, the former residence of the monarchy, is today one of the most beautiful buildings in the city and enjoys a privileged location in the city.
You can take advantage of the walk along the bay that we recommended earlier to stop off and visit it, as it is located halfway between La Concha and Ondarreta beaches.
The views from its gardens are equally spectacular. Personally, it is one of my favourite views of the city.
5. Peine del viento (Wind Comb) and ascent of Monte Igueldo
At the end of the walk, you will come across Eduardo Chillida’s Peinde del Viento. This sculpture by the famous sculptor is an outstanding image of the city and will certainly not leave you indifferent. If the day you visit it is a bad sea… even better! Once you are there you will see why we say so.
After visiting the Peine, the best thing to do is to take the funicular (which is just behind the Real Club de Tenis) and go up to the top of Mount Igueldo to enjoy the best panoramic view of Donosti. Also, if you’re travelling with children, you’ll find an old but pleasant amusement park that they’re sure to love.
6. Buen Pastor Cathedral
The Buen Pastor Cathedral, located in the square of the same name, is an emblematic building from the 19th century (specifically, it was built in 1897) and is neo-Gothic in style. Its organ, which is considered to be one of the largest in Europe, stands out.
It has recently been refurbished to allow access to the bell tower in the future for those visitors who wish to do so.
Access to the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd is currently free, so if you go, do not hesitate to go inside and see its interior, where its large stained glass windows stand out.
7. San Sebastian Aquarium
The Aquarium of San Sebastian is one of the most outstanding attractions without any doubt. After its remodelling it has become one of the largest in Europe and has a tunnel that crosses the main pool that will delight the little ones.
It is currently the most visited attraction in all of Guipúzcoa, so if you like this type of visit, the Aquarium is not to be missed. The best thing about it is that it is close to the Old Town and the Port, so you have no excuse not to spend some time there.
8. Kursaal and Zurriola beach
The Kurssal congress building, which consists of two buildings, is one of the architectural highlights. It consists of two large glass cubes located next to Zurriola beach, which are illuminated at night, attracting a lot of attention.
It is the venue for major conferences and concerts throughout the year. The Film Festival, for example, has been held there since its inauguration.
The beach is a favourite destination for surfers from all over the world. The atmosphere and sport on this beach are guaranteed.
9. Climbing to Urgull
If you have already climbed Monte Igueldo you may think that this other climb is too much for you, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Mount Urgull, unlike Igueldo, is a 20-minute walk, but it is well worth it, both the walk and the views from the top.
At the top you will find the great figure of the Sacred Heart along with the ancient walls and cannons that protected the city.
Urgull can be accessed from several sides. We recommend that you go up from the access between the port and the Old Town, up some stairs at the beginning, or from the back of the hill if you go from the New Promenade, up a slope that you will see easily at the end of the walk.
10. Taste the best pintxos in the city
If there is something that everyone enjoys and that no one leaves without trying, it is the famous pintxos donostiarras.
OK, it’s not something to see, but it’s definitely one of the things you must do, if you can’t. To tell the truth, you can find good pintxos in almost any neighbourhood in the city.
To tell the truth, you can find good bars in practically any neighbourhood in the city, but the most famous and popular pintxos are to be found in the Old Quarter and in the Gros neighbourhood, which has become more and more popular over the years and nowadays has a large number of bars where you can try them.
In both places you can try a wide variety of tapas, both traditional and haute cuisine.
Other things to do around San Sebastian
If you are lucky enough to visit San Sebastian for several days, you will have time to do a lot more, which is great as there are plenty of things to do in the surrounding area.
Places like Zarautz, Orio, Fuenterrabía (Hondarribia) or even Biarritz (France) are a must for anyone who enjoys a holiday here. They are half-day or even full-day visits.
If you are travelling with children, a visit to the amusement park at the top of Monte Igueldo is a must. The kids will enjoy the rides and the grown-ups will enjoy the most famous views of the city.