Apartments in San Sebastian
San Sebastián is one of the most beautiful cities in the whole of Spain. Known in Basque as Donostia, it boasts beautiful views, delicious cuisine (including its famous pintxos, morsels of food served on small pieces of bread), hospitable people and, of course, the ever-present sea. Its location on the Gulf of Biscay, on the north coast of Spain, makes it the ideal city for a summer holiday, surfing and enjoying all the sea has to offer. San Sebastián has a warm oceanic climate: mild temperatures for most of the year with plenty of rain. The nearby green hills make their presence known wherever you are in the city. The Tamborrada and Semana Grande are two of its most famous festivities. San Sebastián also has lots to offer children: the San Sebastián Aquarium and Mount Igueldo Funfair are always a hit. Other sights include the lively historic city centre, City Hall, La Concha bay, the striking Comb of the Wind sculpture and Miramar Palace, with breathtaking views over La Concha.
And then there’s Basque cuisine… Don’t even think of leaving with trying some of their tasty pintxos or the traditional Goxua dessert: a layer of whipped cream, then a layer of sponge cake soaked in syrup topped off with a layer of caramelised custard. Delicious!
At Friendly Rentals we have carefully selected a range of superb apartments in San Sebastián: spacious apartments with a terrace, central, close to La Concha bay, flooded with light, with spectacular views, ideal for families or a romantic getaway… whatever you’re looking for, at Friendly Rentals we’ve got it! All our apartments are fully equipped to make you feel right at home as you discover the city. We offer the best apartments in the centre of San Sebastián and the young Gros district, close to Zurriola beach and very popular with surfers. Booking an apartment in San Sebastián is a far more affordable option than staying in a luxury hotel and with the added benefit of having a much bigger space all to yourself.
Our holiday apartments in San Sebastián give you the chance to discover the city at your own pace and get to know locals’ way of life, sample the delicious Basque cuisine and take part in the city’s many festivities, including the San Sebastián Jazz Festival and the San Sebastián Film Festival—two annual events to put in your diary right away!
What is there to see in San Sebastián?
A trip to San Sebastián is always a delight. A stroll along the beautiful La Concha bay brings you to one of the city’s emblems: the Comb of the Wind. Right at the end of Ondarreta beach, this famous set of sculptures by Eduardo Chillida is set into the rocks just a few metres above sea level. On windy days, the waves crash against the steel sculptures to create a spectacular show of nature at its wildest.
At the foot of the Mount Urgull, between the mouth of the River Urumea and the harbour, the historic city centre is well worth exploring in depth. Lose yourself among the narrow, winding streets and typical squares as you savour the best pintxos in the whole of Donostia.
We also recommend walking up to the top of Mount Urgull. It only takes 20 minutes and you’ll be rewarded with some of the best views of the bay and the city. You’ll also find the ruins of the city walls and cannons, evidence of San Sebastián’s military past. Right at the very top of the hill is the Castillo de la Mota, once a key piece in the city’s defences. A sculpture of the Sacred Heart, also known as the Cristo de la Mota, towers over the hill and can be seen from far and wide. Running round the hill, from Calle Salamanca to the harbour, is the Paseo Nuevo promenade, famous for the huge waves that crash against it on stormy days. This is also the closest point on the shore to the beautiful island of Santa Klara.
For some peace and quiet, as well as great views, head over to the Miramar Palace, designed in English style with neo-Gothic flourishes by architect Ralph Selden Wornum. Previously the Spanish royal family’s summer residence, it now houses the San Sebastián Music Academy and hosts parties and major events. The gardens are an absolute delight.
The neo-Gothic Catedral del Buen Pastor was built in 1897 from sandstone quarried from Mount Igueldo. Check out its stained-glass windows, pinnacles, gargoyles and organ, one of the biggest in Europe.
The most beautiful building in San Sebastián, though, has to be the Ayuntamiento, or City Hall, set in the lovely Alderdi Eder Gardens by La Concha bay, an unbeatable location!
The top museum in San Sebastián is the Museo de San Telmo. Its collection encompasses photography, archaeology, fine art, ethnography and history, among others. Located at the end of the Paseo Nuevo, it puts on permanent and temporary exhibitions.
Eating out in San Sebastián
Basque cuisine is world famous, so you’ll find plenty of places to eat out in San Sebastián. In fact, the city is home to several restaurants run by top chefs. They’re not cheap, but a meal at Juan Mari Arzak’s, Pedro Subijana’s or Martín Berasategui’s restaurant is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Pintxos, tasty morsels washed down with a glass of txakoli (Basque white wine) or beer, are the stars of Basque cuisine. But there are lots of other dishes to discover as well. Our favourites are porrusalda(leek soup with meat or fish), cocochas de bacalao (cod cheeks), anguilas a la donostiarra (eels) or bacalao al pil pil (cod with pil sauce). Other typical Donostia dishes include besugo asado (baked sea bream), almejas a la marinera (clams), chipirones en su tinta (baby squid in their ink), merluza a la donostiarra (hake) and baked txangurro (spider crab).
You could also try roast suckling lamb, baby peas (known locally as green caviar), Ibarra chilli peppers, Idiazabal cheese, blood sausages and Tolosa beans. Those with a sweet tooth will love desserts such as baked or stewed apple, sheep’s curds, pantxineta (puff pastry filled with custard cream and topped with almonds), intxaursaltsa (walnut sauce) and walnuts and cheese. Delicious!
Shopping in San Sebastián
Shopping in San Sebastián is a dream. It’s a compact city with lots of different shops within easy reach. You’ll find traditional shops alongside modern stores and glamorous boutiques. There’s something for everyone! The three main shopping areas are in the historic city centre (traditional shops, gourmet delis and concept stores), the Gros district (the most bohemian and mixed area, with lots of art galleries, antique shops and fantastic sports and surf shops) and the city centre (small shops and international stores).
If you feel peckish, head to one of the city’s traditional food markets, such as Bretxa or San Martín, where you’ll find high-quality, fresh local produce. You might well bump into one of the city’s famous chefs!
San Sebastián by night
You’ll love going out in San Sebastián at night. There are three areas where people head to for a good time. One of the busiest is the old town, perfect for trying different kinds of pintxos during the day and enjoying a drink at night. You’ll find a wide range of different kinds of bars. Behind the Catedral del Buen Pastor is the Calle de los Reyes Católicos, packed with trendy bars playing alternative music, as well as regular bars with terraces where you can have a quiet drink. The Gros neighbourhood also has lots of different kinds of bars, some with the perfect atmosphere for a couple on a romantic getaway.
Visiting San Sebastián with kids
Travelling to San Sebastián with kids is a great idea for a family holiday. San Sebastián has lots of wonderful places for keeping kids and grownups entertained. The Mount Igueldo Funfair is one. You can take the oldest funicular railway in the Basque Country up Monte Igueldo and admire one of the best panoramic views of San Sebastián. The funfair has wonderful old attractions, including the Swiss Mountain roller coaster and trampolines, among others.
The San Sebastián Aquarium is almost 100 years old, but has been recently renovated and is now one of the most modern oceanographic museums in Europe. Its 360º tunnel is a hit with kids and grownups alike: you’re surrounded by sharks and giant manta rays.
The Eureka Science Museum is another popular children’s attraction in San Sebastián, with 169 interactive models, a 300 m² play area with various simulators, a digital planetarium, the Theatre of Electricity and Animalia, with impressive ecosystems and natural spaces. An engaging museum with lots to see.
Albaola, the Basque Maritime Factory, also offers a range of children’s activities. And Ekogunea is a space where children aged 12 or under can play and learn about nature at different workshops.
The weather in San Sebastián
San Sebastián has a warm, oceanic climate. Winters are generally mild with temperatures around 10 ºC, and summers are very pleasant, with temperatures between 22 ºC and 25 ºC. The average annual temperature is 14.5 ºC. San Sebastián is famed for its generous rainfall all year round, but November, December and January are the wettest months.
When is the best time of year to visit San Sebastián?
There’s no one best time of year to visit San Sebastián: the weather is generally mild all year round and there’s always something interesting happening whenever you go. The Tamborrada drum festival is held on 20 January, when the city’s streets throb to a festive beat. Carnival is also popular, especially in Tolosa. The San Sebastián Jazz Festival, or Heineken Jazzaldia, is great for music lovers in general and jazz fans in particular.
The one date you really need to circle on your calendar is 15 August, when the city fills with concerts, bonfires and a whole host of street activities for the Semana Grande. This is the perfect time for partying! The festivities reach their peak with the incredible fireworks concert, when La Concha bay takes on an added beauty.
If you like food and craft markets, you’ll love Saint Thomas’s Day in San Sebastián. On 21 December the city holds a fair in his honour, where you can enjoy a whole range of culinary delights, with txistorra and cider as the stars of the show. Film buffs should come in September for the world-famous San Sebastián Film Festival, attended in the past by the likes of Woody Allen, Francis Ford Coppola, Alfred Hitchcock and Audrey Hepburn.
What is there to see near San Sebastián?
There are lots of fantastic places to visit near Donostia. One of our favourites is Zumaia, whose breathtaking rocky coastline and striking sea views have made it a hit with filmmakers: the film 8 apellidos vascos and scenes for Game of Thrones were shot there. The San Telmo Chapel is well worth a visit! If you like being out in nature, head for the Urkulu Reservoir, next to Mount Aretxabaleta. It’s a wonderful place for bird-spotting, mountain-biking or canoeing.
We also suggest you visit Hendaye, the first town over the border in the French Basque Country. You should definitely visit the Château d'Abbadie, on the beach near the two rocks known as “The Twins”. Back over the border, the queen of all beaches in Gipuzkoa is Zarautz. The spectacular Santuario de Loyola, in Azpeitia, is also worth a visit, if you have time, especially the front gardens.
Why rent an apartment with Friendly Rentals?
At Friendly Rentals we are specialists in managing holiday apartments. With over 14 years’ experience under our belt, we now operate in 21 cities around the world. Our apartments in San Sebastián are located in the best neighbourhoods and fitted with everything you need to make you feel right at home in the utmost comfort. We have welcoming apartments that are perfect for couples, right in the centre, with stunning sea views, with a terrace and with up to four bedrooms that are perfect for families, among many others. Simply choose your favourite and enjoy your holiday in San Sebastián! All our apartments in San Sebastián are regularly inspected to ensure they meet the highest quality standards. We aim to offer customers the very best service possible. You can contact us at any time, both within office hours and on our 24-hour hotline.