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Planning to visit San Sebastian? – Here’s an ultimate guide on spending one day in San Sebastian, with many unique things to see and do in the city in 1 single day.

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Visiting San Sebastian

My Trips to San Sebastian

My blog readers would already know that San Sebastian is one of my favorite places to visit in Spain.

My first visits to San Sebastian took place back in 2011 when the city had completely stolen my heart. Even though it was in June, during the summer peak season, back then San Sebastian sort of felt like a hidden gem and one of the most underrated Spanish cities. Well, not anymore. A few years ago on a new Basque Country Road Trip, I visited San Sebastian once again to discover that now it has become quite popular for international travelers.

There´s a reason for that: San Sebastian is unapologetically beautiful. I often call it one of the top destinations for Romantic getaways in Spain, but the truth is that I enjoy visiting San Sebastian solo or on a family trip in Spain as well.

San Sebastian is one of the must-stops on any Northern Spain Road Trip.

Where is San Sebastian

San Sebastian is located on the Northern coast of Spain, only 20km away from the French border. It is one of the main cities of The Basque Country (or Pais Vasco in Spanish).

What is San Sebastian known for

San Sebastian has been a popular upper-class destination in Spain. Especially after the Spanish Queen Isabella II visited in on a summer vacation to escape the heat of Madrid.

The most picture-perfect place in San Sebastian, La Concha Beach. The area is full of unique seafront villas showing off the town’s wealthy past. The Spanish royals also used to spend their summers at Palacio de Miramar in San Sebastian.

While The Basque Country is one of the best dining destinations in the world (with 40 Michelin-starred restaurants over only 21,000 square km), the coastal town of San Sebastian is especially known for its pintxo culture. Pintxos are diverse mini-bites laid out in front of you in Spanish bars (especially popular in the Northern regions).

Also, every September the city of San Sebastian houses one of the most important International Film Festivals in Spain – Festival Internacional de Cine de San Sebastián.

San Sebastian is also mentioned in the end of Ernest Hemingway´s novel Fiesta (or The Sun Also Rises in English), when one of the protagonists enjoys a solo trip to San Sebastian after being tired of the festive lifestyle during San Fermin, one of the most iconic Spanish fiestas.

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One day in San Sebastian, one of the most beautiful towns in Spain

How to get to San Sebastian

The easiest way to get to San Sebastian is to find a flight to Bilbao (Spain) or Biarritz (France). Additionally, you can reach San Sebastian by car from Madrid (4,5 hours) and Barcelona (6 hours). Another alternative is the train (from any major Spanish city , usually via Madrid).

How long to stay in San Sebastian

One day in San Sebastian is enough to get a first impression of the city, but if you add a few day trips to your sightseeing plan, it´s easy to spend 3-4 days in San Sebastian.

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Enjoying the views on a babymoon trip to San Sebastian (in case you thought it was my belly after a local foodie tour lol)

The weather in San Sebastian

Let me warn you that despite the sunny vibe of my pictures, San Sebastian is known as the rainy destination in Spain.

You have a higher chance of catching a sunny day in summer, but it is not granted either. Over the last few years, I have experienced a bit of everything in San Sebastian and always bring with me an umbrella and extra layers.

Where to stay in San Sebastian

San Sebastian is full of unique hotels with beautiful views. One of the most iconic luxury places is Hotel Londres, known for its belle epoque architecture and unmatched seafront location.

One day in San Sebastian: Top Things to See and Do

1. La Concha Beach of San Sebastian

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One day in San Sebastian – La Concha Beach

The Beach of La Concha is one of the most recognized places in Northern Spain, that has been a popular upper-class coastal destination in Spain for centuries.

I am honestly never tired of enjoying a casual walk along La Concha every time I get to visit San Sebastian, even though the beach is usually packed with locals and visitors on sunny summer days.

La Concha Beach is often called one of the most unique beaches in Northern Spain and one of the top urban beaches in the whole of Europe.

At the end of La Concha broadwalk, you can also spot the famous local sculpture of Eduardo Chillida – “The Comb of the Wind” (or “El Peine del Viento” in Spanish).

2. A Foodie Tour to Discover the Best Pintxos in San Sebastian

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One day in San Sebastian – trying local pintxos

The foodie experiences in San Sebastian mainly roll around the famous pintxos (diverse mini-bites all laid out in front of you in most of the local bars).

Every year an official competition Euskal Herria Pintxo Championship takes place, where bars and restaurants of San Sebastian pitch themselves against each other to make the yummiest creations. 

I´d recommend you take a pintxo tour or at least research the recent winners to make the most of your foodie experience in San Sebastian. Although it´s almost impossible to choose a bad place to dine since everything everywhere is delicious. You can spend a whole evening pintxo-hopping from bar to bar. Pay attention to the walls, they usually display certificates from past pintxo competitions so you´ll know exactly what to order.

Also, San Sebastian is a great destination for Michelin-star dining in Spain with top-rated restaurants like Kokotxa, Mirador de Ulia, Arzak, and Akelarre.

Top-rated food tours in San Sebastian:

Foodie tours from San Sebastian:

3. The Old Town of San Sebastian

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One day in San Sebastian – Local Architecture

While exploring San Sebastian, make sure not to miss the central square Plaza de Constitucion, which years ago was used as a bullring. Today it houses some of the most important local festivities like tamborrada or Saint Tomas feast. At this main square, you can find the San Telmo Museum dedicated to the history of the Basque Region.

During your one day in San Sebastian, you can also make a stop at the church Basilica of Santa Maria del Coro and the local market Mercado de la Bretxa.

Alternatively, you can book one of the popular walking tours in San Sebastian:

4. A Boat Tour of the Basque Coast

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One day in San Sebastian – The boats in La Concha bay
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Zumaia Beach visited during my Basque Country Road Trip

One of the most unique things about the Basque Country is its stunning coast. Therefore, if you get lucky with the weather during your one day in San Sebastian, consider taking a boat tour to enjoy the Atlantic cliffs.

5. Hiking & biking in San Sebastian and its surroundings

If you are visiting Spain in search of active and adventurous activities, San Sebastian is a great place for hiking and bike tours.

6. Best views of San Sebastian

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One day in San Sebastian – The views from Monte Urgull

For the best panoramic views of San Sebastian head to the top of Monte Igeldo (182m), Monte Urgull (123m), or Monte Ulia (234m). The first two are located on the opposite sides of La Concha beach. Monte Igeldo is the easiest option since it has a funicular railway service.

Although my personal favorite is Monte Urgull – walking up for its views is still a must-do for me, despite numerous visits to San Sebastian.

7. San Sebastian Day Trips

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Hondarribia (also called Fuenterrabia) – one of the most colorful villages in Spain

If you are thinking of spending more than one day in San Sebastian, it´s easy to explore the nearest landmarks via day trips:

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