San Sebastian - ( Donostia ) Basque Region
San Sebastian is one of Spain's pearls of touristic supremacy. The city, situated on the shores of the Bay of Biscay, in the Basque Region of northern Spain, is a modern, cosmopolitan hub for the best tourism and exploration in the country. San Sebastian, or Donostia for its true Spanish name, boasts a fashionable atmosphere, flanked by a number of promenades and amazing beaches, the most famous of which is the Playa de la Concha. The La Concha Bay houses a small offshore island, perfect for a few hours of enjoyment. The nearby popular Ondaretta Beach is much better for those searching for relaxation right by the sea, or swimming in clean , although somewhat chilly water.
San Sebastian, despite being a relatively small city geographically, is divided into areas, all of which are worthy of visiting. The Old Part is peppered with a variety of cosy restaurants and pintxo (tapas) bars of an excellent reputation among locals and foreigners alike. The city boasts numerous Michelin Star restaurants, so finding something to eat of the finest quality is on hand if your happy to go that extra mile with your holiday budgey . If you wish, you can take a stroll by the seafront on a warm afternoon just as the sun sets – you are sure to find the best of fresh fish and shellfish, with a charming and vibrant nightlife springing up all over the city.
Don't forget to hit the back streets for some really affordable and homely menus.
San Sebastian hosts several parades and festivals throughout the year, though most of them take place during the summer months – this is the best time to visit the city; the climate is mild at night and offers comforting warmth, not to hot, during the day. I would recommend coinciding with the Basque Week in early September, seven days of Basque-related activities and the ideal opportunity to fully blend in with the local atmosphere and traditions.
Top 10 Cultural Attractions in San Sebastian, Spain
Culture in San Sebastian, Spain, which the Basque speakers call Donostia, is a coastal beauty best experienced in summer with its music, film festivals and pintxos (bar snacks). There is always some form of culture that visitors can immerse themselves in, no matter the time of their visit.
Summer Festivals in San Sebastian, Spain
1. dFeria, March
dFeria is a festival of theater and dance, held in order to present performing arts creations with particular attention given to Basque theater groups. This festival, which runs for 5 days, brings the global theater world down to Donostia with a festive ambiance. dFeria is not to be missed by dance and theater enthusiasts.
2. The San Sebastian Heineken Jazz Festival, July
The Heineken Jazz Festival is held every year, usually in the third week of July, a tradition that has been going on since 1966. The festival usually hosts a hundred concerts across 12 indoor and open air venues. The shows at Kursaal Auditorium and Zurriola Beach are particularly popular.
3. San Sebastian International Film Festival, September
The International Film Festival is an annual Donostia festival that is considered just as important as the Cannes festival. It is held in late September, showcases about 200-250 international films and awards the Golden Shell.
Museums in San Sebastian, Spain
4. San Telmo Museo
This is the oldest museum in the Basque country. It was created in 1902 and is dedicated to the interpretation and showcase of Basque prehistoric to modern society. The museum is situated below Mount Urgull and houses over 26,000 art pieces across 11,000 square meters of display space.
The Tabakalera museum houses avant-garde and contemporary displays across the media of sound, science, films and television, design, contemporary art, technical observatory, gastronomical showcases, etc. This is a must-visit for the enthusiasts of innovative art.
Art Galleries and Theaters in San Sebastian, Spain
6. Arteko Gallery
Established in 1996, Arteko aims to promote the contemporary artwork of young foreign and national artists, with spaces showcasing drawing, sculpture, photography, painting, artist books, and more. Artists that have exhibited here include Andres Nagel, Nori Ushijima, Dora Salazar, and others.
7. Victoria Eugenia Theater
This iconic building first opened in 1912 as an important cultural stage in San Sebastian. Recently renovated, the theater today is one of the most beautiful buildings in town and is a host to musicals, plays and other cultural events throughout the year.
8. The Kursaal
The Kursaal exhibition center is an icon of San Sebastian with a large auditorium, chamber music hall and exhibition rooms. It hosts the Film Festival and other concerts ranging from classical to contemporary pop and rock. The unusual design of the building with its translucent crystal structure also makes it an admirable attraction in itself.
9. Basilica of Santa Maria
The Basilica of Santa Maria is emblematic of the city and is an important element of Donostia history. Its construction was completed in 1764, and today it is considered important by both atheists and believers.
10. Urgull Mount
Urgull Mount towers over the center of Donostia, offers magnificent views over the city and houses a public park with remnants of 18th century cannons and fortifications. It has played an important role in the conflict between the French and the local population.
The picturesque island of Santa Clara is situated closely offshore in the centre of the La Concha Bay and can be accessed from the pier located on the eastern side of the isle. It is home to one of the areas prettiest beaches in the area, although due to the tides it can only be used for part of the day. The island can be accessed by boat or you could join some of the locals and swim across !!.
Zurriola Bridge also known as the Kursaal Bridge , proudly shows off its original lamps of expressionist and futuristic styles which light up the mouth of the Urumea river. The bridge was built on the site of the old Kursaal Casino.
The San Sebastian Town Hall is now a famous landmark which was inaugurated in 1897 as a casino although due to gambling prohibition laws in 1924 the Casino was closed down to be renovated and reopened as the City,s Town Hall and continues to be used for that function to this day.
San Sebastian has three beaches: the Playa de la Concha, Ondaretta and the Playa de Gros. La Concha is probably the prettiest, with a wide crescent of sand stretching around the bay, but it's also the busiest . Ondaretta is less packed considered to be the best beach for swimming. The atmosphere here is more calm than La Concha's bikini party atmosphere, and locals call the beach La Diplomática.
Once you're off the beach, you'll probably want to hit the old
quarter for a go at the bars and waterside restaurants
crowding the narrow and noisy streets. Tapas are laid out at
all but the fanciest bars for delectable bites of special treats,
and shellfish merchants hang out by the harbor to hawk the
freshest of fish.
Once you're off the beach, you'll probably want to hit the old quarter for a go at the bars and waterside restaurants crowding the narrow and busy streets. Tapas are laid out at all but the fanciest bars for delectable bites of special treats, fresh fish and seafood are a plenty here, search around the back streets for the best prices and you will not be disappointed.
However, the wildest, weirdest party of the year is the
Procession of Drummers, or Tamborrada, an all-night
celebration that lasts from midnight January 19 to noon
January 20. Adults and children take to the street to beat on
drums and barrels, mimicking the rhythms played by the
smartly-uniformed bands. Many of the Tamborrada tunes
were composed especially for the occasion by famed
composer Raimundo Sarriegi.