Are you off to explore the charms of the Spanish Basque country? Discover our selection of the best neighbourhoods to stay in San Sebastián!
Known as Donostia – in Basque – and San Sebastián – in Spanish – San Sebastian is bordered by the Cantabrian Sea in northern Spain, at the mouth of the Urumea River. Famous for its Concha Bay as well as the Igeldo and Urgull hills, the city is home to an array of historic landmarks and countless museums. While the city of San Sebastián is populated by 186,122 inhabitants, the entire metropolitan area has a population of 436,500.
There are countless options to stay in San Sebastián, ranging from guest houses to luxury hotels, from youth hostels to homestay accommodation options. Read our selection of the best neighborhoods to stay in San Sebastián.
One of the city’s oldest districts, Antiguo offers a unique blend of tradition and modernity. It can be accessed via the Concha Promenade, leading to the beach of Ondarreta where you can take a refreshing dip. You can also board a funicular to reach Igueldo amusement park, the perfect leisure activity for families with children. Visiting Antiguo is like taking a leap into the past, into early 20th century Spain. Wander through its narrow alleyways, gardens, squares, and parks, all home to a dynamic and young local social life, infusing good vibes into Antiguo’s atmosphere. An excellent neighborhood to stay in San Sebastián.
The Old Town
A nerve center and the heart of the city’s social activity, the historic district is located at the foot of Monte Urgull between the port and the Urumea River. Wander through a maze of cobbled pedestrian streets, lined with numerous “pintxos” bars – typically Basque tapas bars – where you can enjoy delicious local food while sipping on a glass of wine. This quarter hosts the famous Tamborrada of Donostia, a celebratory drum festival held every year on January 20th since 1836, to commemorate the Napoleonic occupation. The old town exudes an authentic and charming atmosphere. An ideal place to stay in San Sebastián if you want to be part of a buzzing nightlife in this heritage-infused urban scenery.
Be aware, however, that many tourists come here just to drink until dawn: the locals are sometimes exasperated to see their neighborhood transformed into a boisterous party-goer’s den. To the north of the district, the Zuloaga Plaza and the San Telmo Museum provide visitors with the opportunity to discover the history of the Basque country. Finally, on both sides of Gipuscoa Square, vast green spaces are ideal for a lazy afternoon nap. A very touristy neighborhood to stay in San Sebastián, and more expensive than elsewhere in the city.
The Gros District
Across the Urumea River, Gros is San Sebastián’s trendy, youthful, and cosmopolitan neighborhood, home to the famous Zurriola beach, the favorite haunt of local surfers. The area also houses reputed Pintxo bars and affordable hotels. To the south, Cristina Enea Park offers picnic opportunities on vast green lawns. Monte Ulia, to the east, provides a magnificent viewpoint, particularly at sunset. Everything you need for a successful romantic stay if you’re traveling as a couple. If you are young, and enjoy partying and surfing, this is your best place to stay in San Sebastián.
Follow the curve of the Urumea River leading to Amara, one of San Sebastián’s largest and newest neighborhoods. Situated far from the well-trodden tourist area of the city, Amara exudes an authentic, local atmosphere. It offers many areas to walk to, including the promenade along the banks of the river. Amara’s streets are packed with a myriad of cafés, great restaurants, and pintxo bars. A lively neighborhood to stay in San Sebastian, a place generously enlivened by occasional concerts, flea markets, flower markets, and a swarming population all year round, from Sancho el Sabio Avenue to Madrid Avenue.
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