San Sebastián is a city truly blessed. It has not one, but two, of the few really nice city beaches in Europe - Playa de la Concha, right near some of the city's major historical buildings, and Playa de Gros, where there's also great surfing. Our picks of the best places to stay in San Sebastian are well placed for access to either, but if you'd prefer a self catering apartment we recommend you visit our online partner, Booking.com.
It also has the wonderful culinary culture of the Basque country, a lively and beautiful old town, the Parte Vieja, and plenty of interesting local museums, markets and charming old buildings.
The swimming off Playa de la Concha is almost always safe, and there's plenty of sand to share between the thousands of tanned bodies. Playa de la Concha even has its own little isle, sitting neatly in the pretty harbour, just 700metres off shore. At low tide this has its own beach, and you can reach it aboard glass-bottomed boats which leave every half hour or so.
Playa de Gros is a bit more dangerous for swimmers, but that's what makes it a great surf beach, both for beginners and more experienced surfers.
For a good view of the whole town take the old funicular up Monte Igueldo and appreciate the Bahia de la Concha as a panorama. As well as the views you'll also find a slightly kitschy little theme park.
San Sebastián is also a stylish city, and it wouldn't get that way without its own collection of high end boutiques.
Famous for its food, San Sebastián has three Michelin star restaurants, but what they're really known for are their pintxos - Basque tapas. Like many of the best places to stay in San Sebastián, you can also find many of the best pintxos bars in Parte Vieja.
The beach is free, many of the museums are free - and appreciating the architecture of the old town certainly is! - and many places serve a complimentary plate of pintxos when you order drinks, so despite its beauty and graceful manners, San Sebastián has a lot to offer those travelling on a more modest budget. It has a modestly priced bike hire scheme, so you can also get out and do a bit of exploring for not a lot of money. There are also some beautiful coastal walks.
If you want to explore more of the Basque country surrounding San Sebastian, maybe a country house hotel style property will suit you better?
San Sebastian (Hondarribia)
A charmingly traditional stone townhouse close to the beach. Simple rooms have wooden beamed ceilings, iron framed beds, and stone floors. Within striking distance of the best restaurants, the sea, and the nature park around. A good value spot for an active holiday.
San Sebastian (Getaria)
A charming hotel with great views. Traditional rooms and suites all elegant in style with four poster beds, exposed stone walls, attractive furnishings and pretty fabrics. Sea views from the terraces. A good value, family friendly spot with a peaceful ambience.
San Sebastian (Donostia-San Sebastián)
A sleek contemporary hotel in the town centre and close to the beach. Large modern rooms and suites with all the mod cons. Restaurant, library, gym and meeting rooms. A stylish spot with easy access to the city's best restaurants.
A stately country house surrounded by beautiful grounds and valleys. Gorgeous rooms and suites have parquet floors, rugs, fireplaces and elegant furniture. Terraces dotted around have excellent views and there is a fantastic restaurant. Romantic, gourmet, and family friendly.
San Sebastian (Donostia-San Sebastián)
A lovely country house close to the beach. Sophisticated rooms with elegant furniture and private terraces. Beautiful gardens and smart living areas. Walking distance to some fantastic restaurants. A lovely base to explore the city from.
San Sebastian (Donostia)
A truly magnificent hotel with Belle Epoque splendour. Exquisitely decorated rooms and suites have romantic paintings, glamourous furniture and all the mod cons. Two fantastic restaurants, banquet rooms, terraces, and meeting areas. A magical spot.
San Sebastian (Guipúzcua)
A gorgeous country house in a rural setting, but close to the beach. Sumptuous rooms and suites are beautifully furnished, spacious, and have enormous bathrooms. Lovely gardens, pool, and terraces. Driving distance to nearby restaurants and sights. A rather romantic choice near the sea.