Top 10 Things to Do in San Sebastian, Spain: A Culinary and Cultural Adventure

by Mark Chang

From Author

Hey adventurers, I’m Mark Chang, your guide to everything cultural! Today, we’re diving into the heart of the Basque Country. With its stunning landscapes, rich history, and mouthwatering cuisine, San Sebastian is a must-visit. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or someone who simply loves to enjoy life’s little pleasures, I’ve got you covered with my top 10 San Sebastian picks.

Top 10 Things to Do in San Sebastian, Spain: A Culinary and Cultural Adventure

1) La Concha Beach: Sun, Surf, and Sand
Imagine the perfect beach—golden sands, turquoise waters, and a sky so blue it feels surreal. That’s La Concha Beach for you. I spent my morning jogging along the waterfront as the waves gently caressed the shoreline. Sunbathing here is a luxury; the softness of the sand felt like a cushion beneath me as I basked in the glorious sunlight. The afternoon called for some water sports. Paddleboarding seemed like the perfect way to explore the bay further. Finally, as evening set in, the promenade came alive with couples, families, and solo wanderers like me, all captivated by the magnificent sunset. No wonder this place consistently ranks as one of the top 10 things to do in San Sebastian.

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2) Pintxos Crawl: A Culinary Journey
I’m not exaggerating when I say that the pintxos crawl in San Sebastian might just be the ultimate food experience. I started off at a traditional Basque tavern, where I tried pintxos made with fresh anchovies and olives. Then I moved on to a modern establishment where the chefs were pushing the boundaries, serving pintxos topped with seared foie gras and truffle oil. The flavors were bold, intricate, and downright delicious. The sense of community was palpable; locals and tourists alike were bonding over food and drinks, exchanging stories and recommendations. I wrapped up the night savoring a mouthwatering piece of Tarta de Santiago, a traditional Spanish almond cake. It was an evening of culinary discovery that I’ll never forget, a must in the list of top 10 San Sebastian experiences.
3) Old Town: Time-Traveling to the Past
You can’t come to San Sebastian and not immerse yourself in the historic beauty of the Old Town. The moment I stepped onto the cobblestone streets, I was transported back in time. The architecture here is stunning—each building with its unique history and charm. I spent hours window-shopping, tasting local goodies, and even stumbled upon an impromptu street performance near Plaza de la Constitución. As the sun set, I ended up at a charming little café that served the best churros I’ve ever had. Sitting there, savoring each bite while gazing at the 16th-century buildings around me, I truly understood the magic of the Old Town.

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San Sebastian Old Town
Old Town: Time-Traveling to the Past
4) San Telmo Museoa: Art and History Combined
If you’re an art and history enthusiast like me, San Telmo Museoa is your sanctuary. This 16th-century Dominican convent turned museum is a labyrinth of Basque history, contemporary art, and ancient artifacts. The best part? Each exhibit is organized in a way that allows you to flow seamlessly from one era to another. The museum also houses an impressive collection of Basque art, showcasing how the local culture has evolved and adapted over centuries. I particularly enjoyed the modern art section, which featured thought-provoking installations by local artists. Whether you spend an hour or a day here, it’s an enriching experience that provides valuable insights into the Basque Country’s complex identity.
5) Urgull Mountain: Natural Beauty Meets History
A visit to San Sebastian isn’t complete without scaling the heights of Urgull Mountain. It’s not a difficult hike, and trust me, the views from the top are nothing short of spectacular. As you walk up, you’ll pass through lush greenery, ancient walls, and even a small chapel dedicated to the city’s patron saint. I recommend taking a guided tour of Castillo de la Mota at the summit; the guides are incredibly knowledgeable and bring the fort’s turbulent history to life. From the top, you can see everything—La Concha Bay, the Old Town, and even the distant Pyrenees. It’s a humbling experience, one that made me appreciate the natural beauty and historical significance of San Sebastian even more.
6) Miramar Palace: Royal Splendor
Miramar Palace isn’t just a palace; it’s a storybook experience. Overlooking La Concha Bay, this 19th-century palace is the epitome of opulence. I explored the grand halls and ornate rooms, each with a history as rich as its decor. But what took my breath away were the gardens. Landscaped to perfection, they offer incredible views of the bay and are dotted with benches that are perfect for a moment of quiet reflection. The royal chapel, with its intricate woodwork and beautiful stained glass, adds another layer of grandeur to the experience. Of all the top 10 San Sebastian attractions, this one struck me as a vivid testimony to the city’s luxurious past.
Miramar Palace, San Sebastian, Spain
Miramar Palace: Royal Splendor
7) La Perla Thalassotherapy Center: Ultimate Relaxation
Let’s face it; exploring can be tiring. So, what better way to unwind than a day at La Perla Thalassotherapy Center? I treated myself to a full-body seawater spa and felt the stress melt away as the mineral-rich water rejuvenated my skin. Next up was a seaweed wrap, which was as nourishing as it was relaxing. With its state-of-the-art facilities and breathtaking views of La Concha Beach, La Perla offers a slice of paradise amidst the bustling city. If you’re looking for a luxurious, rejuvenating experience, this is it.
8) Monte Igueldo: Beyond the Horizon
Imagine standing atop a mountain, the wind gently tousling your hair, as you overlook a panoramic landscape that stretches from the rustic charm of the Old Town to the serene waters of La Concha Bay. That’s Monte Igueldo for you. I took the century-old funicular up to the summit, and the experience was like traveling back in time. Once up there, I discovered a quaint amusement park with vintage rides and games. Taking a spin on the antique carousel was a delightful nostalgia trip. But let’s not forget the view. Watching the sunset from Monte Igueldo is something you simply can’t put a price on; it’s an experience that should be on everyone’s list of top 10 things to do in San Sebastian.
9) Festival de San Sebastián: Movie Magic
If you time your visit right, you’ll get to experience the cinematic magic of the San Sebastian International Film Festival. This annual event is a week-long celebration of films, documentaries, and shorts from around the globe. I was fortunate enough to catch screenings of both critically acclaimed films and underground indie gems. What stood out was the diversity of the audience—it was a true gathering of movie lovers, united by their passion for storytelling. I even had the chance to attend a panel discussion with renowned filmmakers, which was an enriching experience on its own.
10) Txakoli Tasting: Sip the Local Flavor
To understand a place, you have to taste it, and in San Sebastian, that means savoring Txakoli, the region’s signature wine. I joined a day trip to a local vineyard in the rolling Basque hills. It was fascinating to learn about the traditional methods of winemaking that have been passed down through generations. The tasting session itself was an enlightening experience. Each sip revealed new layers of flavor—fruity, slightly acidic, with a hint of effervescence. Pairing it with some local cheese and fresh bread made for a perfect ending to my top 10 San Sebastian adventure.


So there you have it! San Sebastian is a city of many charms, and I can’t wait to explore it further. Whether you’re here for the food, the history, or the stunning landscapes, there’s something for everyone. Happy travels! 

And the same experience you can find in another part of Spain, get this top 10 attractions in Alicante list to plan your next trip.