From rugged natural wonders to chic, stylish luxury, San Sebastian really does have it all.
Throw in a unique local culture and some of the best food in the world, and it’s the perfect place to spend a couple of days! 3 days in San Sebastian is the perfect amount of time to see the best of the city itself and then some. Here’s how to spend an unforgettable 3 days in San Sebastian and experience everything this fascinating city has to offer!
Day 1: Parte Vieja & pintxos tour
Start off your 3 days in San Sebastian by visiting its most emblematic quarter: the Parte Vieja, or Old Town. The quaint cobblestone streets hold centuries’ worth of stories, so your best bet is to simply wander and see where they take you. However, there are definitely a few unmissable sights in the Old Town that you should be sure to check out on your wanderings!
Nestled right into the heart of the Old Town, you’ll find a bustling plaza with an intriguing past. Today, Plaza de la Constitución is the heart of modern life in the city, filled with locals and visitors alike on any given day. In the past, it was often equally crowded with spectators watching bullfights! Look for the numbers above each window. These mark where each of the numbered gates used to be in the plaza’s days as a bullring!
The Old Town is also home to some of the city’s best churches. The local cathedral, Catedral del Buen Pastor (Urdaneta Kalea,12), isn’t as old as other cathedrals in Europe. However, its towering spire and jaw-dropping interior (including one of the largest pipe organs in the world) make it a must. Another fascinating church is the Basilica of St. Mary of the Chorus (31 de Agosto Kalea, 46), a gorgeous example of Spanish Baroque architecture dating back to 1774.
You’re sure to get hungry during your wanderings, so be sure to stop for lunch at one of the many incredible restaurants in the Old Town! Walk off your meal by hiking up Mount Urgull. This hill just north of the Old Town offers spectacular views of the city and seaside. The walk up takes about 20-30 minutes and is quite pleasant.
End the first of your 3 days in San Sebastian with an insider’s look at the city’s best cuisine! Our Ultimate Pintxos & Wine Tour is the perfect way to experience San Sebastian’s unforgettable gastronomy. In addition to tasting some of the best local bites, you’ll pick up valuable insider information about how to eat like a local during the rest of your trip.
Day 2: Museums, markets & more
Start the second of your 3 days in San Sebastian with a relaxing walk along Playa de la Concha. This stunning arch-shaped beach is considered one of the best in Europe. Its chic, picturesque promenade and lush green mountainsides captivate visitors from all over the world. We recommend taking a relaxing stroll here in the morning to avoid the crowds!
At the eastern end of the beach, you’ll find San Sebastian’s city hall (Ijentea Kalea, 1), another one of the city’s many buildings with a unique past. Though it’s now the seat of local government, the building itself used to be a casino! Politicians, writers and artists from all over Europe came here to try their luck during the Belle Époque, until the prohibition of gambling forced it to close its doors in 1924.
As you continue making your way through the city center, consider stopping for lunch at a vibrant local market. While some tourists occasionally wander in, the atmosphere at San Sebastian’s markets is overwhelmingly local. Two of our favorites are classic, traditional Mercado de la Bretxa (Boulevard Zumardia, 3) or the more modern Mercado de San Martín (Urbieta Kalea, 9).
After you eat, be sure to take a short, relaxing stroll (and feed the ducks!) in beautiful Plaza Gipuzkoa before heading to the oldest of San Sebastian’s many museums. The San Telmo Museum (Plaza Zuloaga, 1) might even be worth the visit for its location alone—part 16th century Dominican convent, part modern marvel! However, beyond its one-of-a-kind architecture, the museum is a living testament to the history and culture of the Basque Country. A visit here will surely give you a new appreciation for this unique region and its people.
Top things off with a self-guided pintxos crawl! Use the knowledge you gleaned on your food tour and head out to some of the best pintxos bars and cider houses for dinner.
Day 3: Monte Igueldo & Santa Clara Island
Your 3 days in San Sebastian are coming to a close! End things on a high note (literally and figuratively) by heading out of the city center and up Monte Igueldo for more unforgettable views! Take the cable car (in continuous operation since 1912!) or walk up to the top of the hill. Once you’re there, you can also visit an incredible amusement park! Fun for all ages, Parque de Atraciones Monte Igueldo is a great place to relax and have fun on the last of your 3 days in San Sebastian.
When you come back down, head out to Santa Clara Island on one of the boat services. This is truly a one-of-a-kind experience—not many cities have an island just a stone’s throw away! The small but picturesque beach is just as beautiful as La Concha on the mainland. It’s also a stunning place to wander around and enjoy a picnic when you get hungry.
Finally, head to the western end of La Concha Bay to see one of the most unique sculptures in Spain. Built directly into the surrounding rocks, Peine del Viento (Comb of the Wind) is a striking testament to the power of nature. Wind and water have oxidized the metal sculpture over the years. However, it still stands strong as a must-visit sight to end your 3 days in San Sebastian.
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Life is too short to speak one language and stay in one place. In 2015, this philosophy took her from familiar Ohio to sunny southern Spain. Usually drinking tinto de verano, reading Lorca, or attempting to dance flamenco (not all at once). Follow her blog, Viatic Couture, for more.