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San Sebastian, also known by its Basque name Donostia, is a coastal city on the edge of the Bay of Biscay in the Basque Autonomous Community of Spain. The resort-like city draws visitors with its pristine La Concha and Ondarreta beaches, as well as its many enticing restaurants and bars where you can feast on local pintxos and delicious drinks. Named a European Capital of Culture in 2016, San Sebastian is packed with exciting things to do, from exploring history in the old town of Parte Vieja to partaking in its many festival and celebrations, including the San Sebastian International Film Festival, throughout the year.
The city of San Sebastian can be divided into 3 main areas: Ondarreta, Parte Vieja, and Gros. Within each area are a multitude of neighborhoods, beaches, and streets that together form the vibrant and friendly character of the city.
Antiguo - Antiguo is the original nucleus of San Sebastian and is near beautiful Ondarreta Beach and majestic Monte Igeldo. The historic area is home to Miramar Palace, a 19 th -century palace commissioned by the Spanish Royal Family. The palace features spectacular views of La Concha Bay from its sprawling gardens.
Parte Vieja - Parte Vieja, or the Old Town of San Sebastian, serves as the traditional core of the city and is its second-oldest neighborhood. Set at the foot of Mount Urgull, the area features the San Telmo Museoa and bustling Plaza de la Constitucion, as well as the historic Basilica of Santa Maria and San Vincente Church, 2 of the oldest churches in the city. Visit Parte Vieja for a wide selection of pintxos bars where you can sample delicious dishes and txakoli wine.
Mount Ulía - The minor ridge of Mount Ulia lies to the east of Gros and reaches 797 feet (243 m) at its highest point. Part of the Mount Ulía Park, the natural area is a popular lookout point from which to spot whales, and features the Saint James Way hiking trail along the coast. Take time to explore the Park of Nurseries of Ulía, which is home to 39 tree species as well as fauna like salamanders and birds.
Explore the culture of San Sebastian by visiting its many museums. The San Telmo Museoa, housed in a former Dominican convent, emphasizes ancient and modern Basque culture in a global context with the aim to educate visitors. The Balenciaga Museum, located in the nearby town of Getaria, showcases the works and legacy of fashion designer Cristóbal Balenciaga. San Sebastian is also beloved for its beautiful beaches, such as long Ondarreta Beach, where even stormy weather attracts visitors in the form of surfers and bodyboarders looking to catch a wave. La Concha is the city's most iconic beach-fine white sands lead into pristine waters, and its nearly mile-long shore provides clear views of San Sebastian's a beautiful skyline.
A city famous for its food and drink, you can't go wrong with dining in San Sebastian. The city boasts 16 Michelin stars, making it the city with the second most Michelin stars per capita in the world, and prides itself on its traditional Basque cuisine. San Sebastian's Parte Vieja is beloved for its innumerable pintxos bars where you can taste a range of mouthwatering small plates, while you can find excellent
wine from the Basque Country and traditional cider through town. Build up your appetite or work off a meal by playing on San Sebastian's gorgeous shores, taking advantage of the sparkling waves to surf, swim, or just people-watch during a stroll. The city also plays host to a number of vibrant celebrations all year around, including the annual San Sebastian International Film Festival-held at the Kursaal Auditoriam and Victoria Eugenia Theater-and the San Sebastian Jazz Festival, or Jazzaldia. Celebrate local culture as well by joining the festivities of San Sebastian Day, also known as Tamborrada, or Basque Week, the highlight of which is a boat-rowing competition where teams from regional towns contend for the Flag of la Concha.
There's fun for the whole family wherever you go in San Sebastian. Here are some family friendly experiences you can try together that promise to make your trip unforgettable:
Some say the best things in life are free. Be sure to explore the following around San Sebastian:
Eureka! Science Museum - See if there are any major exhibits, displays or guided tours on at this fascinating museum.
El Peine de los Vientos - Organize a visit and get an insight into the arts and culture of the area.
San Sebastian City Hall - If you'd like to explore the history of the area through its landmarks, pencil this one in your itinerary.
Plaza de La Constitucion - Find out why tourists and locals alike are enchanted by the unique atmosphere of this place.
San Sebastian Technology Park - Spend some time here and find out the significance of this place to the local community.
San Vicente Church - Do some soul searching or simply enjoy the peaceful ambiance at this religious site.
Zurriola Beach - Breathe in the fresh, salty air and watch the waves rolling in at this beautiful coastal spot.
Monte Urgull - Appreciate the stark contrast between the urban jungle and nature's rugged beauty at this spectacular spot.
Pagoeta Natural Park - Find your green thumb and enjoy admiring the beautiful and diverse plants on show.