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2 November 2023

WHAT TO SEE IN SAN SEBASTIÁN IN A WEEKEND

If you’re planning a trip to San Sebastián and only have a weekend to visit the city, this guide to activities can be very useful. Although San Sebastián has a lot to offer, with a bit of planning, you can make the most of a shorter visit by exploring its iconic places and enjoying some surprises: strolls along La Concha, nights of pintxos and txikitos (small glasses of wine), a palace, and even a funicular ride. Shall we begin?

dAY 1

On Friday afternoon, after arriving at your apartment, dropping off your luggage, and taking a short rest on the couch, it’s time to head out and explore. How about a walk by the sea?

Paseo Nuevo

The Paseo Nuevo is a beautiful route with views of the sea and Mount Urgull, ideal for taking photos whether the sea is calm or stormy. However, while the rough sea can be striking to watch, it’s important to exercise caution, as the waves can be dangerous. In such cases, we recommend going up to Urgull to enjoy the spectacle.

SAN SEBASTIÁN AQUARIUM

At the end of Paseo Nuevo, next to the harbor, you’ll find the San Sebastián Aquarium, one of the oldest in Europe. It houses over 4,000 marine species and features an underwater tunnel to observe sharks. Moreover, the Aquarium offers workshops and interactive activities perfect for families with children, including private tours where you can get closer to the animals.

Pintxos in the old town

After visiting the Aquarium, it’s time for dinner, and what better place than the Old Town to enjoy some pintxos (small snacks) in one of its many bars and restaurants, accompanied by a “txikito” (a small glass of red wine) or “zurito” (beer). Wandering through the historic center, you’ll reach Plaza Gipuzkoa and the Baroque Church of Santa María. Don’t hesitate to explore our guide to the Old Town to learn more about the area.

dAY 2

After a restful night’s sleep, start the day with breakfast in your apartment featuring treats from Casa Otaegui, a family bakery that has been baking delicious croissants, “pantxinetas,” Basque cakes, and other delights since 1886 in San Sebastián.

Monte Igueldo

Once you’re ready to go, begin your itinerary with a visit to Monte Igueldo, the highest point in the city, offering the best views of San Sebastián. To reach the summit, Monte Igueldo has a funicular dating back to 1812 that still has its original wooden carriages. Once at the top, you can visit the Torreón (tower) and the Amusement Park, which still features original rides like the Swiss Mountain

Peine del Viento

Right after descending from Monte Igueldo, you’ll find the “Peine del Viento” (Comb of the Wind), located at the end of Ondarreta Beach. If you haven’t heard of the Peine del Viento, it consists of three iron sculptures by Eduardo Chillida, paying homage to the winds that blow in San Sebastián, and it’s well worth a visit. These sculptures are embedded in the rocks and have various openings through which the wind blows, creating a kind of melody.

Palacio de Miramar

Returning from the Peine del Viento, between Ondarreta and La Concha Beaches, you’ll come across the Miramar Palace, an impressive 19th-century palace commissioned by Queen María Cristina as a summer residence. Today, you can visit it to appreciate its architecture and enjoy the sea views from its gardens.

LA CONCHA BEACH

Lunchtime has arrived, and the terraces along the La Concha promenade offer an excellent option to stop and enjoy a meal with views of Santa Clara Island and the bay. The beauty of La Concha makes it hard to look away, but if you manage to do so, you can also appreciate the grand architecture of the Belle Époque era, found in the buildings surrounding the bay. Continuing along the promenade towards the city center, you’ll come across other San Sebastián landmarks, such as the city hall and the carousel in Alderdi Eder gardens.

SHOPPING IN THE AFTERNOON

If you’d like to take a piece of San Sebastián home with you, we recommend a visit to some of the city’s classic boutiques, such as Munoa Jewelers. Munoa is known for its wide variety of unique designs and the quality of its locally crafted products, including traditional jewelry like their seashell-shaped pendant, as well as more contemporary pieces. Another souvenir you can pack in your suitcase is preserved food and other culinary delights that you can find at markets like San Martín or La Bretxa. Did you know that these markets have such high-quality goods that even renowned chefs shop here every morning?

VICTORIA EUGENIA THEATER

If shopping isn’t your thing, you may prefer to visit the Victoria Eugenia Theater, located next to the gardens of Okendo, with equally beautiful views both on the outside and inside. This monumental building is another icon of San Sebastián, with over 100 years of history hosting international ballets and top-notch cultural events.

Buen pastor cathedral

After some shopping, we recommend visiting Buen Pastor Cathedral, a true architectural treasure with its neo-Gothic style and imposing façade.

WALK ALONG THE URUMEA RIVER

On your way back to the apartment, it’s worth taking a slight detour to return by strolling along the tree-lined avenue that surrounds the Urumea River, with views of the sea and the María Cristina Bridge. You’ll recognize it easily by its four obelisks at the ends.

Michelin star dinner

It’s time to dress up for dinner at one of the Michelin-starred restaurants in San Sebastián and its surroundings. Did you know that within a 25 km radius from the center of San Sebastián, there are 16 Michelin stars? Except for Kyoto, Japan, there’s no other place in the world with a higher concentration per square meter. However, keep in mind that these restaurants have high demand. Many of them have waiting lists, so if you plan to visit one, remember to make your reservation well in advance.

As an alternative plan, we suggest enjoying the fully equipped kitchen in your FeelFree apartment, where you can prepare a meal using the market-fresh ingredients you purchased at La Bretxa or San Martín markets.

dAY 3

How about starting the day with a freshly made breakfast, featuring organic products prepared with care, in a relaxed atmosphere with views of a private garden? Right in front of the Urumea River, very close to Buen Pastor Cathedral, you’ll find Kafe Botanika. This café has a charming indoor area and a private garden where you can enjoy organic eggs cooked to your liking, natural juices and smoothies, toast, and artisanal pastries, among other offerings.

SAN TELMO MUSEUM

After breakfast, we recommend taking a leisurely walk to the San Telmo Museum in the Old Town – if you didn’t have a chance to visit the Victoria Eugenia Theater the previous afternoon, this is a perfect opportunity since it’s halfway there! The San Telmo Museum is one of the city’s most important museums and features a wide variety of permanent and temporary exhibitions that delve into the history of the city and the region, as well as Basque popular culture. Additionally, the building itself is impressive – a restored 16th-century monastery.

ZURRIOLA BEACH

After your visit to the San Telmo Museum, we recommend leaving the historic center behind and crossing the Urumea River for a stroll on Zurriola Beach in the Gros district – did you know that Gros is considered the trendy neighborhood of San Sebastián? This beach is known for being one of the most popular among surfers and offers surf lessons tailored to all ages and skill levels for the more adventurous. If surfing isn’t your thing, you can still enjoy the spectacle from the promenade while walking along the beach.

Pintxos and contemporary cuisine in Gros

Upon returning from your walk, explore Gros, a lively and youthful neighborhood where locals and travelers mingle in a healthy and relaxed atmosphere. Here, among long-standing businesses, you can find everything from traditional pintxos bars to innovative eateries that blend the roots of Basque cuisine with flavors from Mexico or Peru, among others.

If you want to learn more about the cuisine in this area, we recommend checking out our Gros guide, where we share some of our favorite recommendations.

After a weekend immersed in the city, it’s time to bid farewell to San Sebastián. We hope you enjoyed it nearly as much as we do and that you’ll want to return!