Visiting San Sebastian was like having a short vacation away from Spain while I was living in Spain. This small beautiful town in Basque Country in Northern Spain presents a completely different facade of Spain.
San Sebastián is one of the cultural capitals of Europe in 2016 but there are many other good excuses to visit San Sebastián (Donastia in Basque language). Surfing, eating delicious Basque tapas (pintxos), sun bathing in Playa de la Concha or climbing the Urgull Hill for breathtaking views of Bay of La Concha are only some of the many good reasons I can think of.
To make it easier for you here is a list of top things to do in San Sebastián.
The 123 meter high Urgull Hill is the perfect place to start your tour in San Sebastián. The tree covered shady path from Plaza de Zuloaga leads you to the top of the hill from where you have outstanding views of the Bay of la Concha and of the city of San Sebastián.
At the top of the hill you will see the stronghold Mota Castle dating back from 16th century, and the 12 metre tall statue of Jesus Christ. Once you see the walls of the castle you automatically start imagine about the battles this mount and this castle witnessed throughout the European history.
Playa de la Concha
Beach of La Concha (concha means shell in Spanish) is the most famous one in San Sebastián. The perfectly arced bay is the very reason why this city in Northern Spain became the summer residency of the Spanish Aristocracy in 19th century and today of the sun bathers.
City Hall of San Sebastián
The Ayuntamiento with its belle époque towers, located right in the middle between the Playa de la Concha and the Parte Vieja, is one of the cutest city halls I’ve seen in Spain. Is it actually ok to call a building cute?
Parte Vieja – Old Town
The hearth of San Sebastián is located at the foot of Mount Urgull and is famous for its countless bars and restaurants. If you are looking for where to eat in San Sebastian, here you are in the right place. Simply choose one of the restaurants in this part of the town and enjoy the taste of basque tapas, Pintxos!
San Sebastián Cathedral
Well, if you’ve been following my blog, for a while you’ll know I’m kind of a fan of gothic architecture and in San Sebastian I found another remarkable one. The Cathedral of the Good Shepherd located in the hearth of San Sebastián is a pretty impressive sample of European gothic architecture.
Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Coro
If you prefer rather baroque architecture, the basilica of Nuestra Señora del Coro will be your favourite. Alone studying its facade will keep you busy for a while.
Plaza de la Constitucion
The Square of San Sebastián where the “Consti” is located is shaped as a square indeed and as many other Spanish city squares it was used for bull fights in the 19th century. Luckily such primitive shows do not take place in public squares anymore and I hope the bull fights will be forbidden soon completely.
Bridge of Maria Cristina
San Sebastián does not only have a lovely sea but also a river, called Río Urumea. The most beautiful bridge over the river is without a question the Puente de Maria Cristina which is protected by the gold/bronze angels at both sides.
Say hello to Don Quixote and Sancho Panza
In the Alderdi-Eder Park by the beach you can meet the bravest Spanish roman figure Don Quixote and his dear companion Sancho Panzo. If you haven’t read the book yet, start with it right after reading this blog post 🙂
Which language to speak?
Don’t forget that you’re Basque Country and remember that they speak a different language which is NOT just a dialect of Spanish. Even though all Basque people can speak Spanish, don’t take it for granted. Ask the person which language they prefer.
What to pack specially for San Sebastián?
Check my Pack List for more useful travel items! By buying products or booking accommodation with these links you’ll be supporting my blog without paying anything extra. Thanks already ❤️
For more insights from real pros I recommend Lonely Planet's Travel Guide for San Sebastián. For price worthy accommodation check Booking.com or Agoda.com.
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