So you’re off to San Sebastian – smart choice! Here’s a guide to everything you need to know about San Sebastian travel, from getting around, to the best local festivities, and cool hidden gems you should check out. Keep in mind that Basque cities have two names, one in Basque and one in Spanish. In Basque, San Sebastian is known as Donostia and you may notice other places are also referred to by two different names.
Getting To San Sebastian
San Sebastian has two main airports – Bilbao Airport, located in Loiu, and the smaller San Sebastian/Donostia Airport, located in Hondarribi/Fuenterrabía.
If you’re coming from France, Barcelona, or Madrid, taking the bus or train is a great option to get to San Sebastian.
Both the San Sebastian bus and train station are located in the city centre. As of January 16, 2016, there is a new bus station located next to the train station, in the city centre. The new station is located at the crossroads of the Maria Cristina bridge and Calle de Federico Garcia Lorca. The old station was at Plaza de Pio XII.
Getting To and From the Airport
From Bilbao Airport – The most economical way to get into town is by taking a Pesa bus for about 17€ one way. Buses run every hour to the San Sebastian bus station at Plaza de Pio XII in Amara Nuevo.
From Donostia Airport – You can take public transport to the city centre. Take the Lurraldebus E21 bus for 1.60-2.30€ that drops you off at Gipuzkoa Plaza. Check the timetable for bus times.
Getting Around San Sebastian
Bus: San Sebastian is well connected by the local public bus service, D-Bus. Buses run from 7am-11pm with a reduced service at night. You can buy a ticket from the driver when you board the bus and the cost is the same whether you travel for one stop or for half an hour. You can also buy a San Sebastian Turista card for cheaper bus fare and discounts to select museums, restaurants, and shops. The San Sebastian Turista Card can be used by more than one person and is available at the tourist information office.
One-way ticket: 1.65€
3 days – 9€ for 6 trips
5 days – 16€ for 12 trips
Taxi: Although buses can get you almost everywhere, taxis are an option for a quick commute. Taxis are metred and cost about 7€ for a 5km ride. If you are travelling with luggage, be prepared to pay an extra 2.50€ per piece. It is quite difficult to wave down a taxi so go to the specially marked “TAXI” stands or call 943 40 40 40 / 943 46 46 46. Remember to always look for white taxis!
Bikes: There are several places you can rent bikes. One of them is on Calle Reyes Católicos, just behind the Buen Pastor Cathedral.
Walk: We think the best way to enjoy the city, take in the views, and experience the atmosphere is by foot! It’s safe and walking is something locals do a lot of.
Things To Do In San Sebastian
If you want to cheer alongside the locals, make sure to check out one of the oldest and most famous rowing regattas along the Bay of Biscay on the second and third weekends of September. The whole of Basque Country comes out to the Bandera de la Concha with each team represented by the 10,000 colourful fans showing their support along the shore. It’s an amazing atmosphere and a great way to get a feel for the Basque vivacity.
The San Sebastian Jazz Festival in July is another great time of year to visit San Sebastian. Catch some of the best jazz musicians in concert or take in the free music on Zurriola beach as the sun sets. Playa de Zurriola is a great place to visit all-year-round to relax and maybe catch some waves.
Make sure to join in the seasonal celebrations and festivities to get a taste of local culture. Most importantly, San Sebastian Day on January 20th and Semana Grande Fiestas in August, where you’ll see all the city involved in celebrating the fact that, well, it’s a city!
Beyond that, here are some of our favourite tried and true things to see in a day, and if you fancy indulging in some Basque cuisine, sample some pintxos or go on the hunt for a mysterious Gastronomy Club.
San Sebastian Day Tours
Looking for more things to do? Urban Adventures offers several day tours in San Sebastian, all led by local experts that will give you a taste for local life in the city:
Royals, Stars, and Surfers
For years, San Sebastian was the ultimate place to see and be seen. Aristocrats in search of seaside vacations flocked to this city known for its parties, games, and perfect surf, but things weren’t always easy. Take a walk and learn about the city’s trials, its Belle Époque, and why it’s still awesome today.
Basque by Bike
What do you get when you mash up history, art, and culture, add a sprinkling of beaches and palaces, and mix it all up with some Basque charm on two wheels? The best San Sebastian bike tour ever, that’s what! Give your brain a workout along with your legs and learn all about San Seb while riding the city’s fabulous bike trails.
Grab Your Pintxo
Forget museums, textbooks, and culture lessons, one of the best ways to understand Basque culture is through its food. Join this San Sebastian tour to taste (and drink) your way through the Basque territories with a local guide and learn the most important facts about culture and history.
St. James Way Adventure
Don’t have enough time to walk the entire Camino de Santiago? Join this San Sebastian tour to get a taste of ‘The Way’ in a day. Hike a stunning stretch of coastline, cross an inlet by boat, then kick back in a bar with a wine in hand.
San Sebastian On the Big Screen
Although San Sebastian hasn’t been featured in many English films, catch a flick at the San Sebastian International Film Festival if you find yourself visiting in September.
San Sebastian On Record
La Oreja de Van Gogh is a Latin Grammy-winning band who sing a lot about their home town of San Sebastian. Their song “La Chica Del Gorro Azul” will take you straight to Mount Urgull.
San Sebastian in Books
Looking for a good book to read that oozes San Sebastian? Try The Accordionist Son – it paints a picture of the evolution of Basque society over the last century and is by one of the best Basque fiction writers Bernardo Atxaga.
What’s On in San Sebastian
Donostia Kultura is a great resource for keeping in the loop of what’s happening around San Sebastian. From cultural activities, to arts festivals, to exhibitions, this website lists it all!
Get In Touch With Us
Give us ring at +34 633 302 594 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get Social With Us
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…and because we’re always around town posting about our San Sebastian travel adventures, so if you want to know what’s happening in real time, we’re your guys!