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Bucket list destination:

Last updated: 04 July, 2023
Expert travel writer: Dana Facaros

San Sebastian – also known as Donostia – has the charm of an elegant, aristocratic beach resort, mashed up with some of the best fine dining in the world. With 18 Michelin-starred restaurants in total – the most stars per square kilometre of anywhere outside of Kyoto – foodies come flocking from all over the globe to taste its boundary-pushing cuisine. There are hundreds of informal, laid-back bars, too, nearly all serving glorious pintxos (the Basque of tapas, skewered on toothpicks) late into the night.

The setting is pure enchantment: three beautiful beaches (including the enormous city centre La Concha and Zurriola, the Basque country’s top surfing beach) framed by emerald mountains facing the rolling Atlantic. It’s a gateway to the Basque Country, too – home to rolling green countryside, fishing villages, wineries and historic buildings so dramatically set that they were used in Game of Thrones.

San Sebastian is a city of great character, with an active, as well as an indulgent, side: try surfing, paddle a kayak or SUP to the pretty wooded islet of Santa Clara, or cycle the invigorating coastline.

Tours, tickets & transfers

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this destination, plus helpful tickets and transfers

Small-Group Electric Bike Tour in San Sebastián

San Sebastian

Small-Group Electric Bike Tour in San Sebastián
San Sebastian has a large network of bike lanes. We have decided to take advantage of them and take you to explore the different districts of the city to see how we, the “donostiarras”, live our day to day life and show you the nicest corners. Discover the most authentic neighbourhoods of the city thanks to our Orbea electric bikes. Visit places of interest in the districts that are further away from the touristic areas of the city. Choose the tour that adapts better to your schedule, in the morning or in the afternoon. The small size of the group makes the experience more comfortable and safe. All of our guides are English speaking locals that love and enjoy the city.  

Price: €56

Min age: 0

Rating 4.92 / 5 [418 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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PRIVATE San Sebastian and Basque Coast Tour from Bilbao

Bilbao

 PRIVATE San Sebastian and Basque Coast Tour from Bilbao
This PRIVATE San Sebastian city and coastal tour gives you the opportunity to experience the amazing Basque city of San Sebastain. San Sebastian is one of the most beautiful and elegant cities in Europe. The city has some of the best gourmet pintxo (tapas) bars in the the region, a quaint old quarter, and an absolutely stunning beach in the city center. You will also experience the dramatic and rugged coastline of the Basque Country where we will stop for some visually stunning photo opportunities. We make a stop to see ancient Flysch cliff formations of Zumaia and the GeoPark. The scene overlooking the Atlantic Ocean will leave a lasting impression. This was also a shooting site for season 7 of the Game of Thrones television show. Lastly, we will stop off in the small port city of Getaria for lunch (not included) where you will have the chance to taste some of the finest grilled fish/seafood in Europe!

Price: €265

Min age: 1

Rating 5 / 5 [72 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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San Sebastian Bike Tour

San Sebastian

San Sebastian Bike Tour
San Sebastian is the perfect city to move around on a bike. Visiting the city's hot-spots while riding a bike is a must-do that should not be skipped. Join this 2.5-hour guided tour to discover San Sebastian's most spectacular corners that otherwise would be missed while touring its three beaches .

Price: €43

Min age: 0

Rating 4.55 / 5 [40 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Private San Sebastian City Walking Tour

San Sebastian

Private San Sebastian City Walking Tour
Meet San Sebastian's most interesting spots by walking across its historic area. With a private tour guide do not miss any of the secrets that this emblematic city hides, learning every detail of its buildings and its people. Departing from the border of Old and New Towns (where the 19th century city walls were built!) we will take you through the serpentine Old Town streets, visiting the two main churches and the pintxo streets. Later on we will show you the expansion of the city during the early 20th century with the influence of the Spanish Queen Maria Cristina in the construction of many of San Sebastian's most characteristic buildings such as Hotel de Londres and Maria Cristina (named after her), the catherdal of Buen Pastor (Good Shepherd), Victoria Eugenia auditorium and many more.

Price: €120

Min age: 0

Rating 4.57 / 5 [26 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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San Sebastian Highlights Private City Tour with Hotel Pick up

San Sebastian

San Sebastian Highlights Private City Tour with Hotel Pick up
The city’s unique location, rich history – particularly as the royal summer resort of Europe’s elite during the Belle Epoque, its international reputation as a food mecca and unique combination of seaside and metropolitan appeal, and, last but not least the superb quality of life in the city help to make it one of the happiest in the world. And one we love to share with guests and visitors by taking them on fabulous walking tours. Join us on one (or more) of our Donostia / San Sebastian tours, and experience it all – adventure, history, amazing food, local color, exercise, and fun! Enjoy!

Price: €120

Min age: 18

Rating 4.94 / 5 [19 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Travel advice

When to go

The downside of San Sebastian is its 200 days of rain a year – but June and September are generally dry, warm and not as jam-packed as July and August (when hotels are filled to the brim).

Book well in advance for the third week of September, however, when the city fills up for Spain’s biggest film festival.

The rainiest months are January, April and November.

Getting there and away

There are several flights from the UK to San Sebastian, with some operating seasonal flights between spring and autumn only. City buses E20, E21, E27 and E77 link the city’s small airport with Plaza Gipuzkoa – the drive in takes about half an hour. Taxis and car hire are readily available.

Far more flights land in Bilbao’s airport, just over an hour’s drive away, and linked directly to San Sebastian by Donostiako Autobus Geltokia bus DO50B.

Getting around

The city is compact, so for the most part you won’t need a bus (although No. 33 from the historic centre will take you within a 10-minute walk of the Monte Igueldo funicular). Taxis can usually be found at taxi stands in key spots.

Hire a bike to explore the 12km seafront cycle path, looping around the mountains. Driving here isn’t difficult, but finding parking in the centre can be.

Where to stay

If you can bag a room with a sea view over La Concha beach, snap it up – not only for the mesmerizing views, but to be in easy walking distance of all the beaches, bars and restaurants.

For something more relaxed, look at Gros, the younger, laid-back and less-touristy neighbourhood just to the east, overlooking wave-pummelled Zurriola Beach and its wetsuited surfers.

Who to go with: tour operators

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YellowWood Adventures [N Spain]

YellowWood Adventures [N Spain]

London, United Kingdom (UK)

Well-regarded tour operator specialising in small group and private/bespoke tours to the undiscovered parts of Northern Spain. They’re renowned for cultural & hiking tours that take the ‘lesser known path’, avoiding the crowds, but still taking in the main sights.

Destination guides

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Other guides relevant to this destination

Basque Country

Basque Country, Spain

External view looking to the entrance. The curvy building has mountains behind

Fascinating ancient traditions, world-famous gourmet treats, Spain’s finest wine region and a gorgeous golden coastline.