Things to know before visiting San Sebastián

Before traveling it is always a good idea to know the basic things related to the place you are visiting so that you can make the most out of your time there. In that post we focused on four main ideas related to going on a trip to San Sebastian. We will have a look at its location, touch upon the language alternatives you have there, consider the safety of the city and also discuss the fact that it is a great place for foodies!

Where is San Sebastian located?

San Sebastian is a city located in the North of Spain in the Basque Autonomous Community. It is the capital of the province in which it is situated – Gipuzkoa. Furthermore, you might notice San Sebastian referred to as Donostia (in the Basque language). Officially, it is known as Donostia-San Sebastian.

To the south it borders Alava province, and to the west Bizkaia province. Indeed, the largest city that is located close to San Sebastian is Bilbao, namely in the province of Bizkaia. What is more, San Sebastian is 21 km away from the border with France. That means one could reach the border with a car in about 25 minutes.

Not many know that San Sebastian has three airports – San Sebastian, Bilbao, and Biarritz. San Sebastian Airport is located in the municipality of Hondarribia. It is approximately 20km away from the city. Propably, you would like to reach the city by catching a bus. In that case, you might take bus numbers E20 or E21 from the airport bus station and be in the city centre in 40 minutes. While San Sebastian Airport has mostly domestic flights, but not only, Bilbao Airport is more international even if it is a quite smaller one. This one is situated 117 km away by car. As for the Biarritz Pays Basque Airport it is much closer – 32 km.

What about the language in San Sebastian?

When going to San Sebastian be prepared to hear Basque language from the locals in the region. You will often encounter the Basque there that is quite different than Spanish. Actually Euskera, which is the Basque word for Basque language, is one that  has its own roots without relations to any other. For that reason it might be challenging to understand or learn it. Even so, do not worry – you can still communicate in Spanish. 

However, if you are now reading this and thinking “I don´t speak neither Spanish nor Basque, will that be a problem?”, keep in mind that English is spoken too. Even if it is less common to use English in San Sebastian than it would be in bigger touristic places, going to restaurants, bars etc. will not be a problem. As for the accommodation, you can easily find one without having knowledge in Spanish.

How safe is San Sebastian?

In comparison to other larger cities in Spain, walking down the small streets of San Sebastian, no matter whether it is day-time or night-time is safe. Of course, in more crowded tourist areas (like the Old Town for an example) one should always be more careful. Aside from that, it is certainly not a place where people would steal from you or where you would hear about crime. Overall, it is a very safe city both for the residents and the tourists. For these reasons, San Sebastian could be considered a family-friendly destination as well.

Is San Sebastian really a heaven for foodies?

San Sebastian has one of the best culinary scenes of all and food in general plays a significant role in the local culture. The pintxos are among the San Sebastian must-try foods. These are similar to what is known as tapas in the rest of Spain. However, pintxos are not the usual tapas you might expect to see. Even though they are not served at fancy bars, the quality is good! While you can find certain traditional pintxos anywhere, each bar has its own distinctive specialty.

Nonetheless, it is not only about the pintxos, of course. In San Sebastian you have the chance to try a variety of good drinks. One example is the txakoli or chacolí which is semi-sparkling, dry white wine. Also, you might want to try the cider that is generally more popular in the north part of Spain but drinking it in San Sebastian is also an experience.

As you can see San Sebastian is a city providing comfort in a variety ways. Its location allows to travel to different places around. When it comes to the language, you certainly don’t have to speak Basque in order to have a good time and explore the region. Regarding the safety of the city, it is known to be peaceful. Last but not least, in San Sebastian you might have one of the best experiences when it comes to gastronomy! 

In the coming posts, we would be giving you much more detailed infomation on certain topics related to your visit. This would help you to have a few starting points before arriving there and enjoy your vacation in San Sebastian to the fullest.

We could suggest a first step to planning your vacation in San Sebastian which is making sure to have accommodation! On our webpage below you can find a variety of alternatives for accommodation in San Sebastian:


Sources of photos: 

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