The Best of Basque

Donostia-San Sebastián: The Jewel of the Basque Country

San Sebastián's history dates back to the 12th century, with the old town, known as Parte Vieja, showcasing its rich heritage through narrow streets, historical buildings, and the beautiful Basilica of Saint Mary of the Chorus. The city boasts breathtaking beaches like La Concha, Ondarreta, and Zurriola, perfect for relaxation, swimming, and surfing.
Table of Contents

Located on the northern coast of Spain, Donostia-San Sebastián, often simply referred to as San Sebastián, is renowned for its stunning beaches, vibrant culture, and exquisite cuisine. This elegant city is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the Basque Country.


Beaches and Coastal Beauty

San Sebastián is famous for its breathtaking beaches. La Concha Beach, often considered one of the best city beaches in Europe, offers golden sands and clear waters, perfect for a day of relaxation or a swim. Ondarreta Beach and Zurriola Beach are also popular, with the latter being a hotspot for surfers.

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Culinary Excellence

The city is a gastronomic paradise. San Sebastián boasts numerous Michelin-starred restaurants, including the world-renowned Arzak and Akelarre. However, the true heart of Basque cuisine can be found in the city’s pintxos bars. These small, flavorful snacks are a staple of the local culture, and hopping from bar to bar in the Parte Vieja to sample them is a must-do activity.


A City Rich in History

San Sebastián’s history dates back to the 12th century. The city has seen many transformations, from a military stronghold to a summer retreat for Spanish royalty. The old town, known as Parte Vieja, is a testament to its rich history, with narrow streets, historical buildings, and the beautiful Basilica of Saint Mary of the Chorus.

Cultural Vibrancy

San Sebastián is a cultural hub, hosting several festivals throughout the year. The San Sebastián International Film Festival, held every September, attracts stars and cinephiles from around the world. The city also celebrates the Tamborrada drum festival in January, a lively event with parades and traditional Basque music.


Stunning Architecture

The city’s architecture is a mix of Belle Époque elegance and modern design. The Miramar Palace, with its beautiful gardens and stunning views of the Bay of Biscay, is a highlight. The Kursaal Congress Centre, designed by Rafael Moneo, is an example of contemporary architecture and serves as a cultural venue for concerts and events.

Ayuntamiento San Sebastián

Outdoor Activities and Natural Beauty

Beyond the beaches, San Sebastián offers numerous outdoor activities. Monte Igueldo and Monte Urgull provide hiking opportunities with panoramic views of the city and the sea. A funicular ride to the top of Monte Igueldo offers not only stunning vistas but also a charming amusement park.

Monte Igueldo

Visitor Information


San Sebastián is well-connected by road, rail, and air, making it easily accessible. The city offers a range of accommodations, from luxury hotels to cozy guesthouses, catering to all types of travelers. Whether you are strolling along the picturesque promenade of La Concha, indulging in world-class cuisine, or soaking in the cultural atmosphere, Donostia-San Sebastián promises an unforgettable experience in the heart of the Basque Country.

Author Profile
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Zachary was born in Michigan, USA. He has lived in the Basque Country for over 10 years, and fell in love with the natural beauty and quality of life found here. He earned a Bachelors degree in economics from DePaul University in Chicago.