Dive In: Guide to the Best Beaches in San Sebastian

With three beautiful beaches, a gorgeous bay and surrounded by green hills, San Sebastian stands out for more than its food and chic city center. SanSe is a nature lovers paradise and you are in luck if relaxing on some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe is your thing!

Whether you are ready to catch some serious waves or just want to chill and relax, we put this brief guide together to help you out. As the season heats up we’ll go more in depth in future blog posts so stay tuned. For now, let’s catch that beach vibe and chill!

San Sebastian is one of the most beloved spots on the Basque Coast because it is surrounded by surf, sand and beach. You can go up and down the north coast of Spain and never find a spot as beautiful as this. Plus all the tabernas, restaurants and pintxos? Too much of a good thing!

The Beachscape of San Sebastián

The beaches of San Sebastián do not touch the ocean but the Cantabrian Sea

Each of San Sebastian’s three beaches has a different vibe and something special for everyone young and old. All across the Basque region, locals, surfers, visitors from abroad flock to the city for a bite to eat and a bit of surf. We’ve got your good vibes!

•Zurriola Beach

Zurriola Playa is a great spot for surf, sport and fun

Let’s start our exploration of beaches on the Eastern side of town at the beloved Zurriola Beach. If you’re into water sports, wanna sea what the local surfers are up to and want a dynamic beach experience, Playa de la Zurriola awaits.

Nestled up against the cliffs of Mount Ulia (part of a nature preserve) and bordered with the Kursaal Convention Center to the west, Zurriola Beach clocks in at just under 1 kilometer–it’s an ideal place for a nice walk.

With late sunsets, one can surf into the night

Not 100% natural, Zurriola was originally about half the size it is now, but was expanded in the 1990’s around the time surf caught on as a major sport in San Sebastian.

La Zurri is a fun beach! How can it not be with such a cute nickname and, oh yeah, IT IS A SURFER’S PARADISE! There is almost always a break at Zurriola and surfistas flock here day and night for good waves. Surf schools and newbies tend to stick closer to the jetty, while the rocks on the cliff side is for experienced surfers–beware.

Pulsating with energetic vibes this is definitely a fun beach. Volleyball matches are held on the east side and rentals stands will pop up, along with some watering holes, in the warm months.

Do not miss the opportunity to get local and check out Barrio Sagües and Gros which both border Zurriola. There are some great eats and discoveries to be had in these distinctive barrios!

•Ondarreta Beach

Ondarreta Playa is a best kept secret

On the complete opposite end of San Sebastian is the westernmost Ondarreta beach. This fabulous spot offers a contrasting charm of tranquility and family-friendly ambiance to Zurriola.

The smallest beach in San Sebastian does not dissapoint! Here you’ll be swept away with expansive views of of La Conch Bay plus the Old Town and the adorable Santa Clara Island.

You didn’t hear it from us, but the founder of Basque Bites, Gregory, says this is his favorite beach. He says it’s the more laid back vibe and the beach bars in the sand during summer.

Chringuitos or "txiringitos" pop up in summer serving beer, wine and snacks

Ondaretta Beach has more of a secluded feel to it, in fact we frequently feel like we’re on holiday when we visit! It’s a bit more natural and indeed is frequently less crowded than the other beaches in town.

Nature lovers will enjoy combing the rocks of Pico de Loro in front of Miramar Palace at low tide. And more sporty types might want foot it or take the funicular up to Mount Igueldo which acts as a gateway to the coastal mountains to the west.

+Santa Clara Island

Sant Clara Island in the middle of Bahia La Concha

I can’t talk about Ondaretta Beach without mentioning the island! To the north of the shores and the promenade is Santa Clara Island is a sweet spot for a picnic in nature or a look at the XYZ lighthouse–the only building on site.

Swimming out to the island is great fun, but so is renting a kayak or SUP is not a bad idea either. Not feeling sporty? A boat can ferry you out–look for the kiosk in the port.

Santa Clara Island in summer

Back on the coastline are locations for rentals set up on the beaches during summer months or from one of the local sports clubs at the westernmost end or this one located more in the middle of La Concha Beach.

Come to think of it, there IS an extra beach on the south of the island–a tiny little stretch facing the village of San Sebastian. The surroundings here are quiet and it’s an ideal spot for a little walk and special views of town.

•La Concha Beach AKA San Sebastian Beach Spain

Playa La Concha, a regal spot to catch some rays

La Concha stands as the crown jewel of Basque Country’s beaches. Why? Because it is so damn gorgeous!

Playa de la Concha is unquestionably the epitome of northern Spain and the Basque Country’s coastal allure. With its lengthy sandy beach, azure waters and iconic crescent shape it has become iconic and synonymous with San Sebastian. Indeed, many visitors mislabel it ‘San Sebastian Beach’.

The Cantabiran Sea touches the Bay of Biscaye and 800km to the west the Atlantic Ocean

But the real name refers to La Concha Bay and the way it resembles a scallop shell (a symbol used to identify pilgrims on El Camino). The foot of the bay facing the sea is small protecting the coast. Thus La Bahía is almost always calm and only rarely do surfers catch waves in its waters.

Long before surfing was a thing, La Bahia was quite important in Spain. It was known as a safe haven for ships and later international pirates flocked here for provisions–especially local cider!

Views of Bahia La Concha from the beach

The largest and most popular beach in San Sebastian, La Concha frequently wins readers polls for best beach in Europe in popular magazines and websites like national Geographic, Conde Naste and Trip Advisor. And with good reason, it’s one of the best places to feel the pulse of the city

Hugging the harbour and city hall to one side and Palacio Miramar to the west, La Concha Beach has it all. Gentle waters, facilities and rentals, access to the city center and some truly breathatking views and sunsets. It is hard not to fall in love with this remarkable spot.

Ah, and the palace! Yes, separating Ondarreta and Playa La Concha is the palae the royal family of Spain had constructed in 1889. NOT A BAD LOCATION! Queen Maria Cristina started the trend of summering in San Sebastian to escape the heat of central Spain. Soon all the aristocrats and royal families of Europe were flocking here cool off and relax on the beach.

From the Cliffs to the Sand to the Sea   

Gorgeous sunsets are par for the course in the Basque Country

San Sebastian and its three (or four if you count the island) beaches offer something for everyone. Beyond surfing and water sports, our beaches host family fun and romantic escapism, bits of nature and pours of cold beer.

Want more info? Stay tuned as we’ll be writing more about the beaches soon. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions and be sure to let us know what’s your favorite beach in San Sebastian.