no alt text

Bucket list experience:

exterior facade of museum, golden sandstone
Last updated: 10 November, 2022
Expert travel writer: Dana Facaros

If you want to understand the unique and proud Basque culture (believed to be the oldest civilisation, with the oldest language, in Europe), this San Sebastian museum of history and fine arts is the place to go. It recently had a complete makeover – now the beautifully displayed collection covers everything from model ships and prehistoric carvings to regional armour, traditional costume and games, as well as exceptional special exhibitions, often on photography.

The museum also encompasses the must-see former church of San Telmo, decorated with 11 enormous, golden-hued canvases depicting key moments in Basque history – painted in 1932 by Jose Maria Sert.

Recommended itineraries by our writers that include this experience

Price from: £5
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

The museum is in the pedestrian-only area of San Sebastián’s old town. If you’re driving, the nearest car parks are Okendo and Boulevard. Be sure to ask for a free audio guide in English, and allow at least one hour – although you may well spend two. The museum is also a good way to spend rainy days (which are not uncommon here).

When to do it

The museum is open all year round, from Tuesday to Sunday. Closed on Monday.

Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay near this experience, closest first

Hotel Lasala Plaza

San Sebastian, Basque Country, Spain[0.3 miles]

A stylish and romantic boutique hotel with a rooftop pool, in a fantastic setting overlooking San Sebastian’s bay.

Official star rating:

Hotel Maria Cristina

San Sebastian, Basque Country, Spain[0.5 miles]

Belle Epoque glamour and buckets of history wait at this film-star favourite in San Sebastian next to the festival theatre.

Official star rating:

Hotel Arrizul Congress

San Sebastian, Basque Country, Spain[0.7 miles]

In central San Sebastian, by the beaches, this modern hotel has rooms of all shapes and sizes. Brilliant value for groups or families.

Official star rating:

Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra

San Sebastian, Basque Country, Spain[0.8 miles]

A Belle Epoque beauty right on San Sebastian’s La Concha beach, a short walk from the lively bar-filled old town.

Official star rating:

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Our writer’s recommendations of other bucket list experiences our writer says you must do in this destination, closest first

Getaria Wine Region

Getaria, Basque Country, Spain[18.6 miles]

A delightful fishing village with pretty architecture, food, beaches and superb wine – and it’s largely undiscovered by tourists.

Best for ages: Any | Free

Website >
Overview >

Other worthwhile experiences near this experience if you have time or interest..

external facade and entrance of the museum

San Sebastian Aquarium

San Sebastian, Basque Country, Spain[0.6 miles]

Dedicated to fascinating underwater life in the Bay of Biscay, San Sebastian’s aquarium boasts a walk through 360-degree tunnel.

Best for ages: Any | £11

Website >
Overview >
Spanish ham hanging on a stall in the Boqueria market in Barcelona.

San Martin Market

San Sebastian, Basque Country, Spain[0.8 miles]

San Sebastian’s central market, just in from La Concha bay, opened its doors in 1884, and underwent a complete transformation in 2006; along with traditional food stalls, San Martin now hosts concerts and cultural events.

Best for ages: 13+ | Free

Website >
Overview >
small amusement park with castle tower behind on the mount summit, views of sea behind

Monte Igueldo Theme Park [& cable car]

San Sebastian, Basque Country, Spain[1.9 miles]

Ride the cable car up San Sebastian’s Monte Igueldo for superb panoramic views of the bay from the summit (head to Bar Danontzat). At the top, you’ll also find the historic Monte Igueldo amusement park, a charming, old-fashioned funfair with some inevitably enjoyable rides.

Best for ages: 6+ | £3

Website >
Overview >


San Sebastian, Basque Country, Spain[2.9 miles]

San Sebastian’s world-famous three-Michelin-star restaurant (since 1989!), run by Juan Mari Arzak and his daughter Elena Arzak, who won the prize for the world’s best female chef in 2012. There cellar holds some 100,000 bottles of wine.

Best for ages: 18+ | £40

Website >
Overview >