Every summer, without fail, thousands of locals and visitors alike take to San Sebastian’s stunning beaches for some much-needed sun and fun.
However, no matter what time of year you find yourself in town, it’s always worth going down to the beach even just for a quick walk. After all, you’re in the city with some of Europe’s best beaches—how can you resist? The best part: each of San Sebastian’s beaches has a completely different feel and vibe, meaning there’s something for everyone. We’re breaking down the best beaches in San Sebastian so that no matter what you’re looking for, you’re sure to have an unforgettable time.
1. La Concha: Europe’s best urban beach
It’s easy to see why La Concha Beach isn’t just one of the best beaches in San Sebastian, but rather the best in any city on the entire continent. Its unique shell shape, lined with a pristine white promenade and surrounded by gorgeous urban architecture and rugged green mountains, draws more visitors than any other beach in the city each year. A kilometer and a half of sophisticated elegance awaits, whether you prefer to lounge on the fine golden sand or swim in the calm, relaxing waters.
One thing to keep in mind is that this iconic beach does tend to get quite crowded in the summer due to its popularity, but it’s absolutely worth dropping by if only for a quick photo op.
Nearby neighborhoods: The Old Town and city center both provide easy access to one of the best beaches in San Sebastian.
2. Ondarreta: Family fun
Located just west of legendary La Concha, Ondarreta Beach offers something completely different. This lovely beach is about half the size of its better-known counterpart, making it a calmer and more relaxing alternative. Situated at the foot of Mount Igueldo and just downshore from the famous Peine del Viento sculpture, it offers easy access to some of San Sebastian’s most unique attractions without feeling touristy.
If you’re traveling with little ones, Ondarreta also happens to be one of the best beaches in San Sebastian for families. The laid-back vibe combined with plenty of family-friendly amenities (such as a playground and canoe rental) make it the perfect place to enjoy some fun in the sun even with little ones in tow.
Nearby neighborhoods: The rejuvenated working-class barrio of Antiguo borders the beach.
3. Zurriola: Surf & sun
A youthful, vibrant ambiance that’s a verifiable surfer’s paradise—no, we’re not talking about one of the laid-back beaches of Southern California, but rather one of the best beaches in San Sebastian! Flanked by Mount Urgull to the west and Mount Ulía to the east, the rugged natural landscape surrounding Zurriola Beach helps contribute to its status as an unpretentious, youthful hangout and home to the best waves (and coolest beach bars) in town. From outdoor sports to live music, there’s always something going on.
Want to catch some waves yourself? There are plenty of excellent surf schools near Zurriola where you can learn the basics and be riding the waves in no time. Keep in mind that the reason the waves are so strong here is because it’s not protected by the bay, unlike the other three beaches. If you’re not quite ready to hop on the board just yet, there are plenty of other activities going on at the beach, such as volleyball and soccer.
Nearby neighborhoods: Zurriola Beach lies on the northern edge of the laid-back Gros neighborhood, and hipster Egia isn’t far, either.
4. Santa Clara Island: Secluded paradise
Rounding out our list of the best beaches in San Sebastian is a tiny hidden pocket of paradise that most visitors won’t even notice. Santa Clara Island, located out in the middle of La Concha Bay, is home to its own small (only 30 meters in length!) but perfectly charming little beach. Home to its own beach bar, terrace, and even a natural swimming pool, the island offers the opportunity to escape the city and enjoy your own little corner of bliss.
You can reach the island via boat with the service Motoras de la Isla. In high season, the boat out to the island leaves Plaza La Lasta every half hour, and roundtrip tickets for adults start at just €4. Adventurous athletes can make their way there on their own via kayak, canoe, or even swimming the 400 meters from Ondarreta Beach!
Before making your plans to visit the beach, keep in mind that the tiny cala all but disappears at high tide. Be sure to plan your getaway for the low tide period.
Nearby neighborhoods: The island itself is uninhabited, but the boat service leaves from the port on the edge of the Old Town. Geographically speaking, Antiguo is the closest neighborhood to the island itself.
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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.