Every traveler has experienced that disappointing moment of arriving to a popular tourist attraction, only for it not to live up to their expectations.
We’ve been there—it’s not fun! Luckily, you won’t have to worry about that happening in San Sebastian. This beautiful, charming Basque city is full of incredible sights and places that are sure to impress. Here are our favorite tourist attractions that are worth the hype in San Sebastian so you can experience the best of the best.
The incredible gastronomic scene
As home to more Michelin-starred restaurants per capita than anywhere else in the world (as well as dozens of equally fantastic restaurants without the prestigious star), San Sebastian is considered the best city on the planet for foodies. From rustic pintxos to more elegant, high-end fare, you’ll find it all here. San Sebastian is truly foodie heaven.
Monte Igueldo lookout & amusement park
Want incredible views of the entire city? Head to the westernmost point of the Concha Bay and take the cable car up to Monte Igueldo, one of our favorite places that’s definitely worth the hype in San Sebastian. This amusement park, beloved by kids and adults alike, dates back to 1912! Despite its ever-growing popularity, it still manages to retain its old-world charm.
Need a break from amusement park rides? Climb the 18th-century former lighthouse tower in the center of the park. The stunning views over the bay will take your breath away!
Address: De Igeldo Ibilbidea, 187
Playa de la Concha
After experiencing the jaw-dropping views from up above, be sure to come down and take a walk on the beach! However, this isn’t just any beach. Playa de la Concha is the most famous and picturesque of San Sebastian’s three beaches. Its unique arch shape and picturesque promenade have earned it the title of one of Europe’s best urban beaches.
Museo de San Telmo
As you may have noticed, San Sebastian feels quite different than the typical image of Spain many travelers may have in mind. In fact, many inhabitants feel closer to their Basque, rather than Spanish, heritage. This makes San Sebastian a modern, cosmopolitan destination that’s still filled with rich history and a strong sense of identity.
San Sebastian is home to many fabulous museums, but for a primer on Basque history and culture, the San Telmo Museum is a must. Home to more than 26,000 historic artifacts spanning from prehistory up until today, this incredible museum holds the story of the Basque people in a single building. It’s one of our favorite museums and definitely worth the hype in San Sebastian.
Address: Plaza Zuloaga, 1
You’ll find the heart and soul of San Sebastian in the historic Old Town, or Parte Vieja in Spanish. Surprisingly, despite its name, it is only the second oldest neighborhood in the city! However, the incredible history hidden in its winding streets combined with the city’s unique modern flair make it one of the neighborhoods that’s most worth the hype in San Sebastian.
Nestled between the port and the Urumea River, San Sebastian’s Old Town holds some of the most incredible architecture and cuisine in the city. Take some time to stroll through the storybook streets, then pop into a local cider house or gastrobar for something to eat.
Yes, every city has one, but this particular ayuntamiento‘s fascinating, tumultuous history make it one of the places that’s most worth the hype in San Sebastian. What is today the city hall originally opened in 1887 as a casino! The most important politicians and artists of the Belle Époque gathered here for gambling and entertainment. It closed due to the prohibition of gambling in the 1920s, but later became the scene of a bloody fight between nationalists and republicans during the Spanish Civil War. Even 80 years later, you can still see the bullet holes in the façade. Luckily, today this magnificent building takes on a much more peaceful role as the seat of the city’s local government.
Address: Ijentea Kalea, 1
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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.