What to see in San Sebastián in 2 days
San Sebastián, or Donostia in the Basque language, is an attractive city of 186,000 inhabitants located on the shores of the Cantabrian Sea. The city is globally recognised for its haute cuisine and pintxo bars, but also for its international film festival, iconic monuments, elegant buildings, glamourous history and spectacular natural surroundings. Get ready to immerse yourself in the wonders of this city on a 2-day short break.
It is possible to visit San Sebastián for two days and not miss any of its main attractions. We suggest you take your time exploring San Sebastián’s old town, because that is where the essence of the city, and most of its artistic heritage, is to be found. Stroll quietly along the promenade of the magnificent La Concha beach, until you reach The Comb of the Wind, the iconic sculpture in Ondarreta. You can then tuck into some traditional Basque food in one of the many fantastic restaurants, but you’ll need to leave room for some Basque tapas-style pintxos later on. Check out just how much you can see and do in San Sebastián in just two days.
Itinerary day 1
10:00 – 11:00 h
San Sebastián’s Town Hall is a great starting point for your tour of the city. Situated between the beautiful Alderdi Eder gardens and the seafront, the building was a casino in the city’s Belle Époque heyday.
11:30 - 12:30 h
Considered the best urban beach in Europe, La Concha is surely the most beautiful and symbolic place in San Sebastián. Located next to the mouth of the Urumea River, and separated from it by Monte Urgell, this is one of the most unique and stylish beaches in Spain. There is always someone walking on it, rain or shine.
13:00 – 14:00 h
This is where you’ll find some of the oldest buildings, as well as many bars, restaurants and gastronomy clubs. If you’d like to buy some real local food products, make your way to La Bretxa market. Make sure you go through Plaza de la Constitución for a truly authentic experience; and don’t miss the numbered balconies. The square used to be a bullring and the numbers indicate the boxes from which spectators viewed the bull fights.
14:30 - 16:00 h
You cannot visit San Sebastián without going for pintxos in the Parte Vieja, or old town. Pintxos have been described as haute cuisine in miniature. Immerse yourself in the local culture by exploring some of the most popular eateries offering these Basque tapas-style bites.
16:30 – 18:00 h
This museum is located in a magnificent 16th-century building that was originally a Dominican monastery, and then army barracks. It has a spectacular Renaissance cloister and the old church is decorated with paintings by Josep María Sert, a Catalan mural artist and friend of Salvador Dalí. The museum portrays the evolution of Basque society through artifacts and artwork.
18:30 – 20 h
This hill offers some unbeatable views. At the top of the hill there is a small castle (Castillo de la Mota), which still has cannons on display. It is one of the most emblematic historic monuments in the city and was occupied by both the French and the English at different points in history. In the 20th century, the hill became an attractive public park.
21:00 – 23:00
This central restaurant offers haute cuisine with international influences using local produce. Make sure you try the award-winning sweetbreads with black garlic. Chef Paulo proudly serves traditionally humble ingredients, such as sweetbreads and chicken wings, because he really knows how to showcase their qualities. You really have to give them a try.
Itinerary day 2
10:00 - 11:00 h
Start the day in the popular Antiguo district and on Ondarreta beach, one of the three best beaches in the city and, possibly, the least busy of all of them. It’s perfect for relaxing and enjoying the spectacular views of the bay. You can also walk through the pretty, well-manicured Ondarreta Gardens.
11:30 - 12:30 h
This sculpture is the great icon of San San Sebastián. The Comb of the Wind (Peine del Viento) is a set of three sculptures, each weighing nine tonnes, created by Eduardo Chillida to bring nature and art together. It is quite a spectacle on stormy days when the wind whips the waves up and the water is ‘combed’ by the sculptures.
13:00 - 14:00 h
Aiete Palace and its spectacular gardens are well worth a visit. It is located in one of the most exclusive areas of the city and the grounds cover an area of 80,000 m2. For several years the palace was the summer residence of the Dictator General Franco. Today it is the green lung of San Sebastián.
14:30 – 16:30 h
If you are in San Sebastián during the week, try to book a table at the Basque Culinary Center. Book in advance to make sure you get a table; there are only 50 places available. Failing that, there are a plethora of fantastic restaurants in San Sebastián that will more than suffice.
17:00 - 18:30 h
You can’t leave without admiring the Kursaal building – a hub for culture and recreation in San Sebastián. Located at the mouth of the Urumea River, it is a bold and striking architectural complex designed by the architect Rafael Moneo. It has two large terraces overlooking the river and Zurriola beach.
19:00 - 20:30 h
In 2015, San Sebastián’s old tobacco factory was transformed into the International Centre for Contemporary Culture, and is today an emblematic spot in the city. It is worth visiting Tabakalera just to see the unique building and to take in the amazing views from the Prism on the fifth-floor roof terrace.
21:00 – 23:00 h
Of the eleven Spanish restaurants with three Michelin stars, three are in San Sebastián. Say your final farewell and end your short break on a high note by booking a table at Akelarre. Some other equally spectacular options are: Arzak and Martín Berasategui.