Owner and tour guide @ San Sebastian Urban Adventures. Tour leader @ Intrepid Travel. Love the Basque Country, gastronomy, pintxos, and San Sebastian.
The city of San Sebastian isn’t quite what you might call a metropolis, so 24 hours in San Sebastian isn’t as daunting as in other cities around the world. Having said that, there’s still so much to do! One thing we can promise you is that you will most definitely leave wanting to stay longer and planning your trip back. That’s the secret of San Sebastian – it take its hold very easily.
If you’re visiting San Sebastian for just one short day, here’s what our locals would recommend you do during your visit.
Before you kick off your day in San Sebastian, you’ll need two things: comfortable shoes, because you should do lots of walking around like the locals do, and an umbrella, because even though this is Spain there might be a chance of rain!
Morning is the best time for you to see some pilgrims walking in the city. As the St. James Way passes through San Sebastian, you may even want to feel like a pilgrim yourself by walking along the beautiful La Concha, and making your way to Ondarreta beach. Along this walk you may well be joined by pilgrims, and if you continue the walk you’ll eventually find yourself at the 3-part monument ‘Peine del Viento’ by the internationally renowned artist Eduardo Chillida.
After taking some pictures at this spot, head to the top of Mount Igueldo by taking the funicular, which is over 100 years old and an amazing experience in itself. Once at the top, you can enjoy the best views over the city while drinking your morning coffee in the little café here. To head back down to the bottom, you can either take the funicular or walk.
Lunch and Afternoon
Walk back along the bay, but before you cross the bridge turn right and enter the Antiguo district, a local neighbourhood full of charm with some great places to have lunch. All the places around here are very good, so pick whatever takes your fancy and choose a daily menu for lunch.
With your batteries recharged after lunch, head back to the Old City through the Miramar Palace. You can stop at the gardens here for a bit of a siesta (you can also go to the nearby La Concha beach for that!), after which you can head right through the Old Town to the Mount Urgull. As well as this being another place for great hikes, there is a little museum in this area too, where you can go to learn about the history of San Sebastian, before it became a summer town.
As you come down Mount Urgull, walk towards the Kursaal, a modern building designed by Moneo. While you’re here, you can reflect on the artistic feel of San Sebastian; look out towards the river and at the Maria Cristina Hotel and Victoria Eugenia Theatre, two of the most important spots during the International Film Festival that goes on in San Sebastian each year.
After you’ve taken in the view here, turn right and enter the Gros district, where you can find some excellent bars for pintxos. Enjoy a light dinner here with some of the an Sebastian’s most iconic food, and take in the local life around you.
For a sweet bite after your pintxos, buy an ice cream at one of the many shops in this neighbourhood, and enjoy San Sebastian by night. If you want to dance the night away, many of the parties in San Sebastian go on in the clubs of the Old Town.
Want to see San Sebastian with a local? Take a peek at our San Sebastian tours!