Unforgettable Travel Company

The city of San Sebastian in Spain, known officially as Donostia, is located in the Basque region in the north of the country. Home to world-class cuisine, an enchanting cityscape, and breathtaking natural surroundings, it’s a haven for both Spaniards and tourists alike, the former of which treat the city as their picture-perfect winter escape. 

Like many other settlements in the Basque region, San Sebastian has developed a reputation for its fantastic food. It holds a status as the city with the second most Michelin Stars in the world and has developed a thriving gastronomic scene that has visitors flocking to it from far and wide.

The city’s streets blend modern with art nouveau in its buildings and feature elegant and ornate landmarks, meaning there’s something to visually entice visitors at every turn. The city is also teeming with Spanish tradition and heritage, from its boutique and artisanal storefronts to the buzz of the local Pintxos bars, portraying the best of Basque culture. And when it comes to natural beauty, San Sebastian is not short of spectacular shorelines and nearby beauty spots to uncover the wildlife of this famed northern settlement. 

So, if this is enough to entice you to visit the city, or you’ve already had it on your radar for a while, we’ve recommended the top ten things to do in San Sebastian for you to experience its potential to the full. Whether you encounter a rainy day, or you’re traveling with young ones, we’ve broken down the most worthwhile San Sebastian activities for your next trip, and, trust us, they won’t disappoint. 

Pintxos
Cycling in San Sebastian

Unusual Things to Do in San Sebastian

Go on a Pintxos Tour

For those unfamiliar with the term ‘pintxos’, these are the Basque Region’s own version of the traditional Spanish tapas. This is a small plate or snack typically consumed in bars, which are an integral part of Spain’s gastronomic culture and heritage.

One of the best places to visit in the Basque region to sample the north of the country’s pintxos scene is undoubtedly San Sebastian, given its reputation globally as a gastronomic paradise. Hundreds of pintxos bars are dotted across the city, serving everything from traditional tortilla to fresh mussels and even mouthwatering Basque cheesecake. 

Those wanting to get a taste of the city’s food and drink scene can best do so during a pintxos tour. Stopping at taverns and bars through the city’s main streets and off-the-beaten-path locations, this way you can experience the range of diverse plates of traditional and authentic eats in San Sebastian. 

Sightsee Whilst Cycling

For something truly unique to do in the city for those in search of some San Sebastian sightseeing, taking in this city of culture from a new perspective on two wheels can be one of the best activities to hit your itinerary. 

Riding across the city allows you to see more of what it has to offer in less time, making for a great way to maximize your vacation in San Sebastian if you’re visiting for a shorter trip. Many of the city’s highlights can be observed from the comforts of your trusty two-wheeled steed, including the likes of the Old Quarter, nearby the Urumea River, and the Bahía de la Concha. 

Equally, for those looking to explore off-the-beaten-track San Sebastian, there are many bike routes in its surrounding natural landscapes to connect with nature and explore what the city has to offer beyond its central streets.

Bay of San Sebastian
Hondarribia

Things to Do With Kids in San Sebastian

Visit The Bay of San Sebastian

Also known as Bahía de la Concha, San Sebastian Bay is the city’s most central natural beauty. Set right beside the city, the shell-shaped curved bay is home to San Sebastian’s two most central beaches, with locals and tourists alike flocking here to savor a quintessential sun, sea, and sand experience. 

The bay’s convenient location means that anyone looking to spend a day out on its shores is always within easy reach of the city’s amenities and facilities, particularly along the waterfront promenade with its host of shops and eateries. 

Other than spending a day on the golden sands of the bay’s two beaches, visitors can enjoy watersports activities to make the most of the sea’s beautiful waters and favorable conditions. Kayaking is a popular water-based pass time here and is a great way to take in the bay from a new perspective, whilst paddling to the nearby Isla Santa Clara and along the craggy coastline. 

Take a Day Trip to Pasai Donibane and Hondarribia 

San Sebastian’s prime location means visitors are never far from reaching the rest of the Basque Country to broaden their horizons whilst visiting the city. So, if you find yourself with some extra time, or are spending a longer trip here, one of the best things to do in San Sebastian is uncover its neighbors. 

Some of the best day trips from San Sebastian include Hondarribia, a coastal town situated nearby to the border of France. It’s brimming with a mix of Spanish, and French, history, home to Renaissance and Gothic landmarks alongside a vibrant, yet charming, atmosphere. 

Similarly, Pasai Donibane is another quaint fishing town located nearby to San Sebastian. It offers a unique glimpse into traditional living in the Basque Country as it has perfectly preserved all of the charms and traditions of the region.

Wine tasting
Cooking lesson

Fun Things to Do in San Sebastian

Indulge in a Wine Tasting

The Basque Region is known for its rolling vineyards and beautiful wineries spread throughout its landscapes. And given San Sebastian’s foodie reputation, it’d be silly not to savor the delicate and delectable wines that its surrounding scenery has to offer. 

The Txakoli region, for example, is the closest wine region to San Sebastian. Here, vineyards weave through the hilly landscape ripening a variety of juicy grapes beneath the Mediterranean sunshine to produce some of the country’s best wines. 

You should consider stopping at a local winery here, where you can go on a wine tour. This way you can sample the range of local wines and meander through the vines whilst learning about the traditions and history of this region’s thriving wine industry.

Have a Private Cooking Lesson

One of the most fun activities in San Sebastian that you can get your hands dirty with is cooking up a storm during a private basque cooking lesson. For some, it may be enough to say you’ve tasted the complex flavors and smelt the addictive aromas of San Sebastian’s foodie scene. But, for those looking to take their gastronomic experience to the next level, a cooking class is a portal to understanding the local cuisine in greater depth.

Offering a market-to-table experience, many private cooking lessons allow you to venture through the local artisanal markets of San Sebastian and choose the freshest ingredients for yourself, and others, to eat later. You’ll learn of the culinary traditions from experts first-hand and produce some of the most delicious traditional Basque dishes. 

So, for those looking to roll up their sleeves and don a chef’s hat, this is one of the best things to do in San Sebastian for gastronomes. 

Basilica de Santa Maria del Coro
museum

Things to Do in San Sebastian in the Rain

Admire Basilica de Santa Maria del Coro 

If you’re visiting San Sebastian but you find that the forecast is not in your favor, fear not, as the city offers a wealth of opportunities that can be enjoyed in bad weather which don’t take away from your vacation experience. 

Basilica de Santa Maria del Coro, or the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Chorus, is a Roman Catholic parish church from the 18th century. Impressive in both size and structure, this Baroque architectural masterpiece is the beating heart of the San Sebastian old town, or ‘Parte Vieje’. 

It is one of the city’s most famous churches and tourist attractions. Even if you’re simply spending the day dipping in and out of the shops in Parte Vieje’s charming cobblestone streets, you’ll no doubt come across the Basilica at some point. You can go inside and admire its arched ceilings, pillars, sculptures, and frescoes in all of their glory should you need a rainy day activity during your stay. 

Explore the Eureka! Zientzia Museum

Perfect for children and adults alike, the Eureka! Zientzia Museum is a fascinating science museum located in Miramón technology park in the city. It offers much to entice and entrance visitors, with many interactive displays and exhibits that are both interesting but also educational. 

The planetarium at the museum is one of visitors’ favorite attractions, offering real-time astronomical projection and simulation to show what lies beyond the skies of planet Earth. Visitors can also expect to see live animals in different ecosystems, including marine fish, jungle snakes, and desert lizards. 

And, when you start to get hungry, the museum has a cafeteria in which you can get a variety of drinks and snacks to fuel the rest of your visit. If you’re looking for things to do in San Sebastian in the rain, a day can easily be spent, and put to good use, at Eureka.

Monte Urgull
Old town

Free Things to Do in San Sebastian

Climb Monte Urgull

For those who like to conquer, climb, and clamber as a way of exploring a new destination on their vacations, the highest point in San Sebastian, known as Mount Urgull, is the best location in the city to do this. 

Situated at the end of La Concha Bay, Monte Urgull is covered in verdant forestry and overlooks the city’s old town. On its peak, you’ll find a 12th-century military fortress that acted as the city’s stronghold in past decades and offers a glimpse into its past.

To reach Monte Urgull is very easy, just following the bay along to Parte Vieja will allow you to start your venture up to the top of the hill, and it is easily one of the top things to do in San Sebastian for nature and history lovers. 

Explore the Historic Old Town

San Sebastian old town, or Parte Vieja, is one of the most visited and favored quarters of the city. Its winding cobblestone streets are home to historic buildings, charming independent shops, and, of course, plenty of pintxos bars for you to stop in and have a quick bite to eat. 

 A day can simply be spent wandering around this historic center of the city, especially if you’re planning on visiting the famed Basilica of St Mary of the Chorus or St Vincent’s Church, which are two of the most significant religious sites in the city. 

The buzz and character of this area of the city are incomparable and addictive during daytime and nighttime. If you’re planning on visiting in the evening, watch in awe as the sun sets and the bars and clubs of the city begin to light up and open their doors, allowing you to experience what the Basque Country nightlife is all about.

Ready to Start Planning?

Here at Unforgettable Travel, our team of specialists have handcrafted our tours to showcase the very best of Spain’s regions and cities so that you can experience them for all they have to offer.

You may be interested in