From 2 to 13 years old
Under 2 years old
26 October 2023


From the Alameda del Boulevard, leaving the Old Town behind you, an area completely different from the others opens up: the city center. In this guide to the center of San Sebastián, you’ll travel back in time to the Belle Époque, between palatial-style buildings and Parisian architecture, you’ll visit one of the traditional markets and discover the elegance that is breathed while walking through Miraconcha.

What’s to see in the center of San Sebastián?

1. Victoria Eugenia Theater, Plaza Gipuzkoa and Avenida de la Libertad

The façades of the center and the emblematic buildings that were built since Queen María Cristina enjoyed summers in the city brought a French style to San Sebastián. Starting with the Victoria Eugenia Theater, on the banks of the Urumea River with views of the Kursaal, this neo-Plateresque and Renaissance-style building became a meeting point for high society. Today it has a variety of the most interesting leisure and cultural activities for children and adults, such as the renowned San Sebastián International Film Festival, among others.

Behind this historic building is Plaza Gipuzkoa, surrounded by palatial-style houses. The charming cafés around it are the perfect place to enjoy a moment of tranquility, while the children have fun feeding the ducks that live in the square’s pond. You can’t leave here without discovering its meteorological temple, the sun dial and the large flower clock!

Through the streets of the city center you can see characteristic details of Parisian architecture, and an example of this is Avenida de la Libertad. A wide street that since the demolition of the walls in 1864 has become the main commercial area of San Sebastián, where the elegance of the 19th century elite can still be felt today.

2. San Martín Market and Buen Pastor Cathedral

San Sebastián is a city alive with customs where there’s no shortage of visits to traditional markets, such as San Martín. Inspired by the galleries of Les Halles de Bayonne, this historic food market was built in 1884. Today, it remains the trusted establishment of many renowned chefs and families in the city for the wide range of local and seasonal products it offers, and the friendly treatment that the people who come receive. Without a doubt, an experience worth having on a visit to San Sebastián.

While the San Martín market took its first steps in the 19th century, the city watched as Buen Pastor Cathedral was built. A few meters from the market, the cathedral is the tallest religious building in the city, located in a large square surrounded by small local businesses, cafés and restaurants where you can enjoy an aperitif or a good meal. The visit becomes even more interesting when you discover that the cathedral’s organ is one of the largest in Europe. A mandatory stop that has even more charm at night, due to the lighting of the cathedral in combination with the city lights.

3. The City Hall and La Perla

If something comes to mind when we talk about San Sebastián it is, without a doubt, La Concha beach. A paradise in the heart of the city that leaves any traveller mesmerized. Its iconic railing will take you on a journey to the Belle Époque. There are three emblems that you have to check out on this walk – you’ll surely be surprised by their architectural beauty.

Have you ever seen the casinos with large dream gardens in Côte d’Azur cities? Without going any further, the San Sebastián City Hall recreates that scene with a typical building from the south of France, which curiously when it was built in 1887 was a casino. It is accompanied by the Alderdi Eder gardens, full of colorful flowers and a carousel with views of La Concha Bay, ideal for kids to enjoy.

With stately buildings on one side and Santa Clara Island – which we encourage you to visit – in the middle of the bay, on the La Concha promenade you’ll find La Perla thalassotherapy center, another symbol of the Belle Époque in the city. It is known that Queen María Cristina was amazed by the beauty of San Sebastián and relaxing baths were always on the royal agenda. Hence, the old wooden spa was renovated to build a new one, considered one of the most beautiful in the world, according to media reports at the beginning of the 20th century. Today it continues to maintain its essence and beauty and has become the perfect place to disconnect for locals and travellers. The views of the bay will make you fall in love, just as they did the queen!

4. The beauty of the pearl of the Cantabrian Sea

It is undeniable that San Sebastián has stood out for its sophisticated style, already attracting the eyes of aristocrats in the 19th century, and travellers from all over the world today. Since the City Center began to expand, each area has managed to maintain the essence and beauty that has always characterized the city.

The charm of its gardens, the excellence of the buildings and its spectacular views facing the sea have turned the City Center into a real dream. And don’t forget the gastronomy, which will hardly disappoint you in this destination full of bars and restaurants where you can enjoy authentic Basque cuisine.


We hope that this area surprises you as much as it did us and that you want to continue walking through La Concha until you reach the Antiguo – a neighborhood with another beach and even an amusement park! –. Furthermore, to make your experience as enriching as possible, we encourage you to visit our blog and discover what to see in San Sebastián and its surroundings. And if you’re travelling with the whole family, discover what to see in San Sebastián with children!