San Sebastian is located on the northern coastline of the Basque Country, lying on the coast of the Bay of Biscay. It is one of Spain’s most attractive, charming and popular Atlantic resorts.
In addition to its reputation for culinary excellence, the city boasts a variety of interesting places to visit, most of which can be seen on this walking tour!
Aquarium de San Sebastián
Starting from parking on the Paseo Neuvo at the foot of Monte Urgull walking in an anticlockwise direction along the seafront. Lookout for the historic fountain, La Fuente Acorazada at the back of the car park and the rusted looking sculpture Construcción Vacía as you walk towards the Aquarium overlooking the harbor.
The aquarium is housed in the Palace of the Sea and features about 30 exhibits showcasing more than 200 species. Not only turtles, sharks, sea stars and stingrays, as well as plenty of fish there’s also a giant skeleton of a North Atlantic whale that acts as the center piece within the aquarium, as well as a 360-degree underwater tunnel that goes right through one of the aquarium’s tanks.Read more about the Aquarium Donostia-San Sebastian
Basilica of Santa María del Coro
Continue past the aquarium with the harbor on your right and Monte Urgull on your left. Walk past the Untzi Naval Museum San Sebastian and you will come to the old city walls, walk along them for 10om until you come to Kaimingaintxo Plaza, pass through and turn left, keeping the walls on your left. Turn right into Calle Virgen del Coro and you will come to the Basilica of Santa María del Coro.
The Basilica of Santa María del Coro dates from 1750 was built on the site of an old Roman church. It is one of the most visited architectural works in Donostia-San Sebastián. Architecturally the Basílica has Gothic, Churrigueresque and Neo-classical elements and its portico is of Plateresque style.
San Sebastián, the Patron Saint of the city appears twice, in a sculpture located in the facade and on a painting by Luis Boccia placed in the altar presided by the Virgen del Coro, patron saint of the city.Read more about the Basílica de Santa María del Coro
Head out of the main doors of the Basilica down the busy Calle Mayor or Main Street. At the end is the rear of the city hall turn right and head anti clockwise around the building. You will pass the Royal Nautical Club of Donostia-San Sebastián on your right.
The Real Club Náutico was founded in 1896 to improve the availability of water sports in Donostia-San Sebastián. The building was designed in 1928 by the architects José Manuel Aizpurúa and Joaquín Labayen in the rationalist style – its in the shape of a boat!Read more about the Real Club Náutico de San Sebastián
Ayuntamiento de San Sebastian
Just past the Real Club Náutico you come to the Alderdi Eder Gardens and San Sebastian’s City Hall.
San Sebastian’s City Hall or Ayuntamiento was built between 1882 and 1887 and is an architectural gem. It is located by La Concha Beach in the grounds of the Alderdi Eder Gardens.
Originally it was home to a casino, where politicians and artists of the [link_tooltip title=”Belle Époque – The period of settled and comfortable life preceding the First World War.”]Belle Époque[/link_tooltip] enjoyed entertainment until gambling was outlawed in 1924. In 1937 the building set the scene for one of the many fights between nationalists and republicans in the Spanish Civil War and the bullet holes can still be found in the facade.
Since 1947 it has hosted the city council, which governs the Basque city.Read more about the Ayuntamiento de San Sebastian
Alderdi Eder Gardens
The front of the City hall looks out over the Alderdi Eder Gardens. Walk through them keeping Concha Bay on your right.
Alderdi Eder is Basque for “a beautiful place”. This elegant park resembles an elongated tree lined plaza, dotted with benches, with shade offered by Indian tamarinds trees and palm trees. Not only is the park great for views out over La Concha Beach and Monte Urgull it is also home to an enormous old-fashioned carousel in Belle Epoque style, a huge favourite with young children. In summer it also hosts numerous street performers.
The park leads into Plaza Cervantes – look out for its bronze statue of Don Quixote riding a horse and his faithful companion Sancho Panza on his donkey.Read more about the Parque de Alderdi Eder
La Concha Promenade
Continue to walk along La Concha Promenade.
La Concha Promenade with its elegant railing and street lamps, encircles the bay along the beach. The beach is called shell beach due to the iconic shape of the bay and has earned it the title of one of Europe’s most beautiful urban shorelines.
Walk along the promenades kilometre and a half, and enjoy either its delightful city views or look out into the Cantabrian Sea and Santa Clara Island. You will walk past the La Perla Spa built overlooking the beach.
Declared the summer capital of Europe by the Queen Regent Maria Cristina.Read more about the Playa de la Concha
La Concha beach is separated from the Ondaretta beach by and a outcrop of rocks called Pico de Loro or the Parrot’s beak. The promenade takes you under the Pico de Loro via the Antiguako tunela ( also called the Miramart Tunnel), which is painted to look like a beautiful underwater tunnel. When you exit the tunnel turn right up the step to reach the Miramar Palace.
El Pico de Loro was originally called is Pico de Loretopea after the Loreto hermitage, which occupied this spot until the construction of Miramar Palace in 1876.
The Miramar Palace was built in 1893 for Queen María Cristina of Austria, who spent her summers in San Sebastián. The palace designed by the English architect Selden Womun and built by the master craftsman José Goikoa and looks like an English country house. For years it served as the summer residence of the Spanish Royal Family.Read more about the Miramar Palace
Below the Miramar Palace lies the sandy Ondarreta Beach with its golden sands and blue and white striped tents. The beach is perfect place for families as it is protected from the wind by the mountains.
Blue and white are also the colors of the city flag and the local football club Real Sociedad.
Read more about the Ondarreta Beach
Peine del Viento
Continue either to walk on the beach promenade or through the gardens of Miramar Palace overlooking the beach. You will pass the Real Club de Tenis
El Peine del Viento or the Comb of the Wind is a collection of three steel sculptures installed in 1977 by sculptor Eduardo Chillida, sitting below Monte Igueldo. The sculptures are anchored to the rocks, and the onshore wind would be continually ‘combed’ at La Concha Bay.Read more about the Peine del Viento
Go up the Igueldo Funicular
Head back past the Tennis courts and you will see a sign to the right for the funicular. Turn right and right again.
The Igueldo Funicular is over a hundred years old and connects the Ondarreta Beach area to Monte Igeldo in only 3 minutes. It was originally built to allow easy access to the old casino or the Dance hall at the top of Monte Igeldo, it now gives access to the iconic fairground at the summit and spectacular views over La Concha Bay.Read more about the Mount Igueldo
Torreón de Monte Igueldo
At the top of Monte Igueldo there is an amusement park which dates back to 1912. You have to pay to enter the park, and the attractions are paid separately. A highlight of a visit is climbing up the top of the old lighthouse which gives spectacular views over the city and Playa de la Concha. You should be able to catch glimpses below of the new lighthouse Faro Monte Igueldo.Read more about the Torreón de Monte Igueldo
Plaza de Gipuzkoa
Head back the way you came past Plaza Cervantes to the start Alderdi Eder Gardens, head away from the beach down Andia Kalea.
You will come across the charming Plaza de Gipuzkoa that resembles a small English wood right in the center of San Sebastián. It was designed by the prestigious French gardener, Pierre Ducasse and houses large number and variety of trees, flowers and plants, it also has a pond where ducks and swans swim around. Also notable are its large multicoloured flower clock.Read more about the Plaza de Gipuzkoa
Victoria Eugenia Theater
The stunning Victoria Eugenia Theater was designed by the architect Francisco de Urcola and opened its doors in 1912. This lavish, belle époque venue is built in an Italian and Neo-Plateresque style. The building has hosted the Musical Fortnight and the until 1999 the prestigious San Sebastian International Film Festival Later, before the event moved across the river to the
Kursaal conference center, where it is still held today.
Mercado de la Bretxa
As you look at the entrance to the Theater turn right, and the left around the building. You will walk between the Theater and grassed over area with a small pond. At the end of this across the main street you can see the market.
Following its recent transformation, Mercado de La Bretxa is now undoubtedly one of the most emblematic features of San Sebastián’s old town. The name of the market stems from local history when invading troops gained access to the city through a breach in the walls where the market now stands.Read more about the Mercado de la Bretxa
Plaza de la Constitución
Walk down San Juan Kalea alongside Mercado de La Bretxa, and turn down Called Pescaderia, across Calle Narrica and you will come to Plaza de la Constitución.
Plaza de la Constitución or Constitution Square is a large arcaded plaza located in the heart of the Old Town ringed by various restaurants and pintxos bars. It is a great place to stop and grab a bite. Built in 1817, the Plaza was once a bullring, and you can still see the numbers which denoted ticketholders’ boxes on the walls.Read more about the Plaza de la Constitución
Iglesia de San Vicente
Head back the way you came and turn left onto Calle Narrica. At the end of this road you will see the Iglesia de San Vicente.
Located in the heart of Old Town, San Vicente Church is one of the most typical San Sebastian churches. An old temple was here from the 12th century, while its current Gothic church was built between the 15th and 16th centuries.
The towering facade leads through to a rectangular floor plan and the interior features an elaborate gold altarpiece and a 19th-century French organ.Read more about the Iglesia de San Vicente
San Telmo Museum
On the north side of the San Vicente Church is Plaza de Zuloaga, walk across this to the San Telmo Museum.
originally opened in 1902, the San Telmo Museum is the oldest museum of the Basque Country. It has been reopened after a five-year restoration and extension process in 2011. The museum covers the interpretation of Basque society, from prehistory to the present. The older part of the museum was originally a Dominican monastery built in the 16th century.Read more about the San Telmo Museum
To the east side of the museum are some steps, head up these for climb Monte Urgull.
The summit of Monte Urgull is topped by the low castle walls of the 12th century Castillo de la Mota and a 40 foot tall San Sebastian Christ statue, Sagrado Corazon or Sacred Heart. It’s really a nice shaded walk, the views are breathtaking. While the paths are nicely paved, some parts are steep and there are stairs in some places.
You should be able to continue down the far side to reach the Aquarium.Read more about the Monte Urgull