If you only have one day to spend in San Sebastián, you have our sympathy! You’re going to get a tantalizing taste of our incredible city that will leave you hungry for more.
So before we give some advice on how to spend a day in San Sebastián, we’d recommend trying to extend your stay!
Of course, there’s no singular perfect way to spend a day here. You can barely scratch the surface of the city, and its culture and history, in less than 24 hours.
And then there’s the fact that every visitor has their personal interests and preferences.
But having explored this city for countless hours as a resident and as part of our San Sebastián and Basque Country day tours, we’re here to provide you with a sample itinerary for a day of discovery!
Scroll down to find our suggestions, and if any questions come to mind as you read, please contact us for the answers you need.
Your Morning in San Sebastián
La Concha Beach
Begin your day in San Sebastián with a dose of natural beauty that will take your breath away—La Concha Beach.
With its pristine sweep of golden sand and the gentle lull of the waves, it’s the perfect spot to soak in the early morning serenity.
Stroll along the promenade, breathe in the salty sea air, and if you’re feeling adventurous, take a refreshing dip!
Playa de la Concha is one of three beautiful beaches in the city, along with Playa de Zurriola and Playa de Ondarreta.
Ondarreta is next to La Concha, so you can easily visit it at the same time. We’ll spend some time at Zurriola later in the day!
We included these gorgeous urban beaches in our list of the things San Sebastián is known for.
At the eastern end of La Concha Bay, you will find Mount Urgull, a green guardian overlooking the city.
Don’t worry; this isn’t a mountain-climbing expedition! Reaching Urgull’s peak is a pleasant walk through lush greenery and historical landmarks.
Just some of the sights to see on Mount Urgull include a large statue of Jesus, numerous fortifications, old cannons, a historic cemetery, and many other fascinating hidden sites.
At the summit, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of San Sebastián and the coastline. It’s the perfect selfie spot!
Old Town (Parte Vieja)
After descending from Monte Urgull, wander into the heart of San Sebastián’s historic center—Parte Vieja.
This small neighborhood made up the entire city of San Sebastián for more than 800 years!
Cobblestone streets, colorful facades, gorgeous architecture, lively squares, and inviting aromas will welcome you. Explore the hidden corners of the old town, where local artisans and charming shops await.
But this is far from an open-air museum! Some 5,000 people still call Parte Vieja home, so it’s full of life, energy, and, most importantly, dozens of pintxo tabernas.
Enjoy a Pintxo Lunch in San Sebastián
San Sebastián Pintxo Tour with Basque Bites
No visit to San Sebastián is complete without a pintxo experience! These small plates are a culinary cornerstone in a city renowned for exceptional cuisine.
So, for lunch, look no further than our Market and Pintxo Lunch Tour in San Sebastián.
Let us guide you around La Bretxa Market, one of the city’s most vibrant and immersive hubs and meeting spots. This is the perfect place to pick up outstanding local produce too!
Then it’s time to hit the city’s best pintxos bars. Our expert guides know the places favored by locals, so you can be sure of an authentic San Sebastián experience.
Pintxo bars are where artistry meets gastronomy, where each offering bursts with flavors.
Savor mouthwatering bites, paired with local wines or sidra (cider) as you learn about our city’s cuisine, culture, and history.
Our Guide to San Sebastián’s Pintxos is the perfect read to prep for your culinary adventure!
And if your day doesn’t allow for the lunch experience, we also offer a San Sebastián Pintxo Dinner Tour!
An Afternoon Dive into Basque Culture
San Telmo Museum
Your ability to enjoy activities in the afternoon depends on how energetic you feel after lunch!
But a great first option is the San Telmo Museum, a wonderful showcase of Basque art, heritage, and traditions.
Primarily housed in a stunning 16th-century building, this museum is a treasure trove of old and contemporary Basque culture, art, and history.
Other cultural points of interest nearby include Plaza de la Constitución (Konstituzio Plaza) and San Sebastián Cathedral (Artzain Onaren Katedrala).
If you’re a culture vulture on your travels, we think you’ll love reading through our blog Essential Cultural Events in San Sebastián.
An Evening Feast for the Senses
Dinner in a Culinary Capital
While visiting San Sebastián, you may be surprised that dinner is served relatively ‘early’ compared to other areas in Spain. There are, in fact, set hours for our signature pintxo bars, which typically open from 11am – 3pm and 7pm – 11pm.
But back to dinner! San Sebastián is a world-renowned culinary capital. Only Kyoto, Japan, has more Michelin-star restaurants per square kilometer.
This means that if you only have one night to play with, there’s a world-class dining experience waiting for you!
Check out our blog Is San Sebastián the World’s Best City for Foodies? for a deeper dive into this tasty topic.
However, on our Private Pintxo Tour in San Sebastián: Chef-Led Dinner Experience, as on all of our tours, our local guides will teach you how to order pintxos and drinks in the best tabernas, so you can also put this advice to good use on your own independent pintxo crawl!
Sample Local Libations
Raise a glass to your San Sebastián adventure with some local drinks—they’re the perfect pairing with the mouthwatering Basque food on offer.
There’s tangy Basque sidra, the effervescent Txakoli, or the rich red wines from La Rioja.
Explore Barrio Gros
While exploring, take a stroll through Barrio Gros. Located across the river, this is where locals spend the majority of their free time. The Old Town is another lively neighborhood, great for a night out within its narrow streets.
Along with nearby Sagües, this is arguably the hottest part of town, so it’s an absolute must for itineraries of any length!
Gros buzzes with youthful energy, has an eclectic mix of bars, and is a hub for young, experimental chefs trying to make a name for themselves.
Walking through this pulsing neighborhood is one of the best things to do in San Sebastián.
Walk Along Zurriola Beach and Watch the Sunset
To end your day on a tranquil note, head to Zurriola Beach, where surfers ride the waves and the sun sets over the horizon.
It’s a serene spot to reflect on your San Sebastián adventure and capture that picture-perfect sunset.
A Nighttime Stroll through San Sebastián’s Heart
If you still have some energy left, take a leisurely walk back through the heart of San Sebastián. The city comes alive at night, with its vibrant bars and bustling streets.
Explore the charming squares, listen to locals having lively conversations, and stumble upon a hidden gem of a bar where you can sip a nightcap.
You can find even more ideas and inspiration for your visit in our Ultimate Guide to San San Sebastián!
A Perfect Day in San Sebastián Starts with Our Tours!
So, how to spend one day in San Sebastián? Well, that’s up to you! Remember, this is only a sample itinerary so it’s far from exhaustive. There’s so much more to see and do!
If you want a truly authentic dining experience at the heart of your visit, browse our range of San Sebastián and Basque Country day tours.