San Sebastian - Where to Stay for first time travelers

Where to Stay in San Sebastian for a first time visit? An insider’s guide 2024

San Sebastian, officially known by its bilingual name, Donosti, is located in the municipality of Gipuzkoa, Spain. Once you visit this beautiful town, you will never forget the beauty of the southern Bay of Biscay.

One of the most famous popular Spanish tourist destinations is a great place for a holiday with its lovely beaches, picturesque landscapes, and extraordinary restaurants, most of them having a Michelin star and a cultural hub.

The oceanic climate offers warm summers and cool winters, and that is why San Sebastian is cloudy with a bit of precipitation throughout the year.

Interestingly, this town with 185.000 inhabitants was visited by more than 2.000.000 tourists last year. This fourth-ranked city to visit in Spain has a lot to offer since the number of tourists doubled by half a few years ago.

Question: Where to stay in San Sebastian for a first-time visit?

Where to stay San Sebastian, the most beautiful city in the Basque Country. Keep in mind that it isn’t that big and finding appropriate accommodation can be a bit tricky during the year, especially in the busiest months. San Sebastian is a walkable city, and most of the time, there is no need for a car or taxi, so you can wander around.

There are different neighbourhoods in the city, and you can take an imaginative walk through France from the 19th century, then go back to the present and visit the vintage fairground, enjoy a dose of culture, art, and relax while tasting the finest authentic cuisine.

Places worth seeing are

  • The city centre or the Old Town – a romantic area.
  • Gros – the most youthful surfing area.
  • Antiguo – the oldest and most distinctive neighbourhood in the city.
  • Amara – a residential area, very near to the downtown.
  • Egia – a fusion point of culture, art, nature and avant-garde.
  • Aiete – Miramon – the lofty neighbourhoods for tranquil wandering.

We know that different types of people require different advice on travel accommodations. This guide includes the best areas for

  • the first time visitor
  • Families
  • Couples
  • Luxury & Design
  • Solo-Traveler
  • on a budget

Are you more of a visual learner/travel planner?

Lucky for you, we’ve included a map with all of our favorite neighborhoods and handpicked hotels for all of your travel needs.

Check it out below to get a better idea of where you should stay for your first or next visit to the San Sebastian.

This is the extension of our guide to 7 days in Spain.

(This guide is always up to date, the last updated April 2024.)

But, first things first:

Here is the question: Where to stay in San Sebastian for a first-time visit?

The answer is simple: Old Town (Parte Vieja)

The second oldest neighbourhood after Antiguo, the Old Town of San Sebastian is the most visited part of the city. Located at the bottom of the Urgull Mountain, it is protected from both the sea and the Urumea River.

It is the real social centre with streets full of bars that offer the best pintxos. The most iconic landmarks of the neighbourhood are The Basilica of St. Mary of Chorus and St Vincent’s church, along with the Plaza de la Constitucion.

Some of these areas include:

  • La Bretxa Market
  • Plaza de la Constitución
  • Church of San Vicente
  • Tapas and Pintxos Bars

Why do we recommend these areas?

La Bretxa Market

Symbol of the great Old Town of San Sebastian, and its name has a historical origin. Long ago, the invading troops approached the city and made a breach inside it through a hole that was created in what is not the La Bretxa Market. In the past, the market was an ordinary marketplace. Meanwhile, today, it is a shopping centre.

Plaza de la Constitución

It is the main building at this square, which served as a City Hall till the 1940s. Plaza de la Constitucion, located in the Old Town, served as a setting for the local festival held on January 20th, the San Sebastian Day. The Plaza has many colourful buildings in the square, and the numbers displayed on them are from times when it was used as a bullring.

Church of San Vicente

The oldest church in the city of San Sebastian. The Church of San Vicente was built in the Gothic style and is significant for the “Pietà” statue. San Vicente, or more popularly, Basilica of San Vicente, is well-known for its amazing interior and is part of the World Heritage Site.

Tapas and Pintxos Bars

Tapas are Spanish dishes which are part of every local bar. Tapas are the most popular delicacies among bars and restaurants; they come in three forms: Cosas de Picar, Pintxos and Cazuelas. Even though there are three types of Tapas, they are all small dishes and are used as appetizers. According to tradition, Tapas is eaten twice a day, once in the afternoon and once before dinner. If you are looking for Pintxos bars to try these unique dishes, the best locals are on Street 31.

Here’s a full map for you to understand the different areas.

Please note: those might not be the exact names of the districts, neither its absolute borders. I just tried to simplify this information.

📍Best Area:Old Town (Parte Vieja)
👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 Best for Families:Apartamento en Playa de Ondarreta
👩‍❤️‍👨 Best for Couples:Go Donosti Santa Maria
💎 Best Luxury HotelLa Concha Best View
🤩 Best Design Hotel:Maria Cristina Hotel
😎 Best for Groups:Zurriola Surf
🦸 Best for Solo-Traveller:Pensión Itxasoa
💃 Best Hotel for Nightlife:Ur-Alde
🤑 Cheapest Place to stay:Pension Anoeta
👌 Safest Area: Gros

1. Best areas and handpicked hotels for San Sebastian

Below is a list of the accommodations that will meet your needs and expectations, whatever traveller you might be.

Continue scrolling or pick your group and travel type on the menu:

1.1 Families
1.2 Couples
1.3 Luxury Traveler
1.4 Design Traveler
1.5 Groups
1.6 Solo-Traveler
1.7 Nightlife-seeking traveler
1.8 Budget Traveler

1.1 Families

San Sebastian besides being a gastronome destination with more than enough Michelin Star restaurants per capita than any other town, is a perfect place for a family holiday. The beautiful beaches and variety of family-friendly attractions make it a desirable destination.

Ondarreta Beach Area

What makes this beach perfect is the quietness that is suitable for a relaxing family holiday. The beach is in the centre of La Concha Bay, surrounded by Miramar Palace and Monte Igeldo. The playground makes it even more attractive for those who come with kids. The water is crystal clear, and the beach is well equipped with blue and white tents, which give a vintage touch.


This oldest neighbourhood in San Sebastian is distinctive and charming, moving forward through time without losing its spark. Also, during you walks through the streets, you can see many traditional shops and restaurants. Particularly interesting places to visit are Funicular to Mount Igueldo, The Amusement Park, Miramar Palace and others.

Handpicked accommodations for families

Apartamento en Playa de Ondarreta, Ondarreta Beach Area

Apartamento en Playa de Ondarreta is located in Antiguo, where you can enjoy the vicinity of Ondarreta Beach. For the commodity of your family, there are two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a patio offering city views. Also, there is an equipped kitchen and a dining area.

Book Apartamento en Playa de Ondarreta here

Relax and unwind at Apartamento en Playa de Ondarreta

Have a great time at Apartamento en Playa de Ondarreta

Satori Suite, Antiguo

Located near La Concha Beach and Monte Igueldo Funicular, not far from Ondarreta Beach, this fast check-in and check-out guest house offers air-conditioned rooms and a private bathroom. Satori Suite is a perfect family-friendly lodging offering great facilities like a fridge, minibar, coffee machine, and flat-screen TV. These are excellent amenities to have when on a family holiday.

Book Satori Suites here

Private room at Satori Suites

Have a pleasant stay at Satori Suites

 1.2 Couples

Where to stay in San Sebastian, and what are the best accommodations? These are just some of the questions asked by couples looking to spend the most romantic holiday. Go east of La Concha Bay to the historic area of the Old Town and then to the Urumea River to the east. San Sebastian is attractive for its romantic face you’ll adore. Here are some places to go with your beloved: enjoy sailing on a sea breeze, walk along San Sebastian’s parks or climb Mount Ulia for breathtaking views.

Old Town (Parte Vieja)

Plaza de la Constituciôn is set in this part of the town, as well as streets full of bars, sacred churches and basilicas. However, don’t let the spiritual practice mislead you, as Tamborrada, one of the best-known drumming festivals, is held there. Therefore, the place is lively and full of tourists.

La Concha Beach Areas

La Concha is the most recognizable postcard of San Sebastian. Many, but couples especially, enjoy the view from the seaside promenade or dip in the water. All of this can be seen at the 1500-metre-long beach.

Handpicked accommodations for couples

Go Donosti Santa Maria, Old Town (Parte Vieja)

Wondering where to stay in San Sebastian? Perfect! Imagine having your own apartment for at least a few days. You will have a bedroom, a bathroom, a kitchen, and a balcony. Moreover, you will feel at home at Go Donosti Santa Maria and also have a few important points nearby, such as Santa Clara Island Beach, Calle Mayor, and several more.

Book Go Donosti Santa Maria here

Make yourself at home at Go Donosti Santa Maria

Enjoy your time at Go Donosti Santa Maria

Pensión Urkia, La Conchita Beach Area

The centre of San Sebastian no pension could have a better location. Pensión Urkia offers a computer, Wi-Fi, and a private bathroom. The rooms are equipped with refrigerators and microwaves, while you can enjoy a free coffee at the property during the day. On top of that, almost all city attractions are very close by; you can take a romantic walk to reach them

Book Pensión Urkia here

Experience comfort at Pensión Urkia

Have a wonderful stay at Pensión Urkia

1.3 Luxury traveler

Can’t decide where to stay in San Sebastian, a luxury hotel or flat? We will decide for you. Till then, the luxury gastronomy is set. Indulge in the 22 restaurants that can show off with a total of 32 Michelin Stars, two famous areas, Pedro Subijana’s Akelarre Restaurant at the top of the Mountain Igueldo and Zuberoa Restaurant, by Hilario Arbelaitz, located in the old farmhouse Oiartzun.

La Concha Beachfront

This area is very popular and stands as Europe’s most well-known and exceptionally urbanized beach. Elegant hotels with glamorous 19th-century settings make it a fashionable resort and a great place for luxury travellers.

Miramar Palace Arena

Designed by an English architect, Selden Wornum, on behalf of the Spanish royal family. It is by all means the most spectacular seafront building located just in front of La Concha Bay. It is a venue for all kinds of events, the rooms are diverse, and it is up-to-date technologically.

Handpicked accommodations for the luxury traveler

La Concha Best View, La Concha Beachfront

Commodity goes with luxury hand in hand, so what you get in this beachfront property is nothing but magnificent. La Concha Best View comes with a great terrace, five bedrooms, a flat-screen TV, and a spacious dining area with a kitchen. All of this is made to meet the demands of every luxury traveller. Additionally, three famous beaches are nearby: La Concha, Zurriola and Ondarreta Beach.

Book La Concha Best View here

Enjoy your stay at La Concha Best View

Have fun at La Concha Best View

Nobu Hotel San Sebastián, Miramar Palace Area

Are you hoping for celebrity treatment in a luxury hotel? Hop in this hotel and get it to the fullest. Nobu Hotel San Sebastián offers a sea view, but few have a balcony for a better sensation. You can enjoy the morning with a continental or Italian breakfast and later go to the fitness centre, to the nearby beach or chill in the restaurant on the terrace.

Book Nobu Hotel San Sebastián here

Relax and unwind at Nobu Hotel San Sebastián

Have a great time at Nobu Hotel San Sebastián

1.4 Design-lovers

Contemplating where to stay in San Sebastian, then you should definitely try the romantic area of Gros. Imagine being accompanied by Mata Hari and Queen Maria Cristina. These are some of the things this city provides, including its history, architectural significance and aesthetics.


If you wish to stay in a place where the waves are so big as if the ocean is taking a breath while you enjoy visiting bars and cafes and, of course, the unique Pintxo Bars, then look no further than Gros. All of this and more is waiting for you.

Therefore, let us begin with the Kursaal Hall, which hosts many events and festivals; the outstanding one is an internationally famous city’s film festival. However, if you are more into fashion and art than Egia, Tabakalera might be for you.

Area Romantica

Best public spaces and best shopping will do for a traveller like you. However, don’t forget Area Romantica’s tapestry of the Belle Epoque architecture style. Also, this area has a special charm thanks to the Maria Cristina Bridge and the Catedral del Buen Pastor.

Handpicked accommodations for the design lover

Hotel Maria Cristina, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Sebastian, Gros

Even though this hotel was built in 1912, it offers elegant light rooms and a marble bathroom. Maria Cristina Hotel is located opposite San Sebastian’s Victoria Eugenia Theater. You can enjoy your breakfast served in a nice restaurant and may have a drink during the day in a Dry Martini cocktail bar. Furthermore, this accommodation is renowned because of the stay of famous movie stars like Elisabeth Taylor and Woody Allen.

Book Hotel Maria Cristina here

Private room at Hotel Maria Cristina, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Sebastian

Have a pleasant stay at Hotel Maria Cristina, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Sebastian

La Concha Beach Deluxe, Centro Romántico

This amazing six-bedroom apartment is located in San Sebastian’s country region. La Concha Beach Deluxe offers full commodities and relaxation with a kitchen equipped with all the necessary devices. Two minutes walk from the apartment is the Concha Promenade.

Book La Concha Beach Deluxe here

Make yourself at home at La Concha Beach Deluxe

Enjoy your time at La Concha Beach Deluxe

1.5 Groups

San Sebastian welcomes you with diverse, famous beaches, the Old Town, which has a special charm and first-class restaurants. There are many cultural events and venues, so you will have plenty to do and see.


Down from the slopes of Monte Ulía to the mouth of the Urumea River, looking over the Cantabrian Sea, lies Gros, the most hipster neighbourhood of San Sebastian. To get there from the centre of the city, you must cross Santa Catalina Bridge, Kursaal Bridge and the surrounding Art Deco streets at night.

The road takes you by Hotel Maria Cristina and Teatro Victoria Eugenia, through the Kursaal Conference Centre and Auditorium. Also, you can see Playa de Zurriola, where one of the most significant venues in July is the Jazz Festival.

Old Town (Parte Vieja)

The Old Town combines the modern and the traditional into a single area. If you walk through the fishing port and spontaneously enter the street labyrinth, you will get to the historical quarter and Pintxos. There is much to see and feel the vibes, so walk as much as possible, and don’t forget to take breaks.

Handpicked accommodations for groups

Zurriola Surf, Gros

Zurriola Surf is a great accommodation for a group, offering a very light and spacious apartment with four bedrooms, a living room, an equipped kitchen, two bathrooms, bike parking, and free Wi-Fi. Your proximity to Zurriola Beach and La Concha Beach is convenient for a nice holiday.

Book Zurriola Surf here

Experience comfort at Zurriola Surf

Have a wonderful stay at Zurriola Surf

Pension Kaia, Old Town (Parte Vieja)

Super location and facilities. Pension Kaia offers multiple commodities like an elevator, the city’s centre at the Old Town, and a cozy room with a private bathroom. Never wonder what to eat because this pension is surrounded by many tapas bars. Just by the harbour, you can enjoy seafood in the restaurants.

Book Pension Kaia here

Have fun at Pension Kaia

1.6 Solo-travelers

No need to worry if you are traveling alone where to stay in San Sebastian because it is well-recommended for solo adventurers. Accordingly, you can choose your preferences and interests. You will have a pleasant holiday either in the lively Old Town or in the hipster Grosarea.

Old Town (Parte Viaje)

Immerse yourself and discover the most frequent part of San Sebastian by walking in the pedestrian streets and wandering from the Urumea River to the port. The cobbled August 31st street, commemorating the horrible fire from 1813, is lined with bars to taste the best pintxos. Plaza de la Constitución is the best spot for a solo adventurer to socialize.


It was Queen Maria Cristina who had begun coming to San Sebastian after her husband’s death, so there isn’t a place like this better for a solo traveller. There are countless opportunities for water sports, such as surfing, scuba diving and snorkelling.

Handpicked accommodations for a solo traveler

Pensión Itxasoa, Old Town (Parte Vieja)

Pensión Itxasoa is located near the beach and you are in the centre, having a nice room with a balcony and a private bathroom. Complementary are the heating and a flat-screen TV. You can count on various shops, bars, and cafes in the centre.

Book Pensión Itxasoa here

Have a great time at Pensión Itxasoa

Leonardo Boutique Hotel San Sebastian, Gros

Enjoy your holiday in accommodation close to the beach. Leonardo Boutique Hotel provides free Wi-Fi, and the rooms are equipped with a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom. The terrace is exceptional for extra relaxation.

Book Leonardo Boutique Hotel here

Private room at Leonardo Boutique Hotel San Sebastián

Have a pleasant stay at Leonardo Boutique Hotel San Sebastián

1.7 Nightlife Traveler

Everybody will find what they are looking for when it comes to nightlife in San Sebastian. Old Town, Reyes Católicos, Egia and Gros are the four most famous neighbourhoods for nightlife.

Old Town (Parte Vieja)

Old Town or Parte Vieja offers diverse and lively bars and pubs. Therefore, no matter your age, you will find a reasonable amount of fun and long-needed night entertainment. The most memorable clubs that will bring the energy in your body are Bar Iguana, Sin Número and ¡BE! Club.


This part of San Sebastian is for young and alternative audiences and their music. However, there are also bars, ideal for elderly people who enjoy a drink slowly.

Handpicked accommodations for nightlife

Ur-Alde, Old Town San Sebastian

Ur-Alde is only five minutes walk from La Concha Beach, you will enjoy nice rooms with a private bathroom. These attractive rooms have air-conditioning, a minibar, a smart TV, and a balcony.

Book Ur-Alde here

Make yourself at home at Ur-Alde

Enjoy your time at Ur-Alde

Iraun – Basque Stay, Gros

The apartment, near Santa Clara Beach and Ondarreta Beach, provides fantastic mountain and sea views. Iraun – Basque Stay has two bedrooms, a living room and an equipped kitchen. Two bathrooms are set with a bath and shower and a hot tub after.

Book Iraun – Basque Stay here

Experience comfort at Iraun - Basque Stay

Have a wonderful stay at Iraun - Basque Stay

1.8 For the Budget Traveler

This small town offers a lot for everybody. Therefore, you will easily find where to stay in San Sebastian and feel the vibes of the neighbourhoods, enjoy the sandy beaches, walk around, and enjoy your holiday without breaking the bank.


A buzzing shopping area during the day, transforms into a nice place where the residents visit the bars. Moreover, the paths by the Urumea River and the parks are sights that easily fit the budget-friendly group.


This area of contrasts, located close to the centre of San Sebastian, offers bars where you can taste the best pintxo-pote, a park with peacocks and ornamental ponds. On top of that, there is a very avant-garde cultural centre filled with concert halls and theatres.

Handpicked accommodations for budget traveler

Pension Anoeta, Amara

Basic functional decorated rooms with a private bathroom are enough for a decent budget-friendly stay at Pension Anoeta. Besides a sofa and a terrace, some rooms have air conditioning and a courtyard view. Additionally, the places of interest are close enough, so you can walk.

Book Pension Anoeta here

Enjoy your stay at Pension Anoeta

Have fun at Pension Anoeta

Luminoso Atico en San-Sebastián + Wifi, Egia

You can really be a great saver in Luminoso Atico en San-Sebastián. You can enjoy a terrace, the city views and outdoor activities like water sports, boating and kayaking. Two bedrooms, a living room, an equipped kitchen and a private bathroom are even more than enough for a solo adventurer.

Book Luminoso Atico en San-Sebastián here

Relax and unwind at Luminoso Atico en San-Sebastián + Wifi

Have a great time at Luminoso Atico en San-Sebastián + Wifi

2. Best Neighborhood to Stay in San Sebastian

Each of the districts in San Sebastian offers perfect accommodations, promising a nice stay no matter the type of traveller. Anyhow, you’ll be able to explore this walkable city and enjoy the charm and the vibes, including all its historical, architectural and modern attractions.

These are the best areas to stay while in San Sebastian for the first-time visit:

  • Old Town (Parte Vieja)
  • Gros
  • La Concha Beach Area
  • Centro Romanticó

3. FAQs

What is the best neighborhood to stay in San Sebastian?

The best neighborhood to stay in San Sebastian for a first-time visit is the Old Town (Parte Vieja). It offers a vibrant atmosphere, picturesque streets, and easy access to many attractions, including historic landmarks, pintxos bars, and beautiful plazas.

Where should you not stay in San Sebastian?

While San Sebastian is generally a safe city, it's advisable to avoid staying in remote or poorly lit areas, especially late at night. Additionally, areas that are far from public transportation or lack amenities might not offer the best experience for visitors.

What should I avoid in San Sebastian?

Visitors to San Sebastian should avoid leaving their belongings unattended, especially in crowded tourist areas. It's also wise to avoid engaging with aggressive street vendors or accepting unsolicited offers for goods or services. As with any destination, it's essential to exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings.

Where should I stay in San Sebastian for the first time?

For a first-time visit to San Sebastian, the Old Town (Parte Vieja) is highly recommended. It provides an authentic experience of the city's culture, with charming streets, renowned pintxos bars, and easy access to major landmarks and attractions. Plus, its central location makes it convenient for exploring the city on foot.

4. Map + All Sights

5. Summary where to stay in San Sebastian

According to the research I did while compiling this insightful guide featuring appropriate accommodations and safe districts of San Sebastian, each of the places will allow you to enjoy your time in the city.

I do hope that these tips and advice on where to stay in San Sebastian will be of great help to you. If you need more travel inspiration and advice, don’t hesitate to check out my blog page.

Other European Destinations

Before you run off, here is a few more handwritten articles for you. These will help you to find more unique experiences and enjoy your holidays at fullest.

Any Questions?

There you have it. I hope you have no questions and found your home in my home town.

However, please remember: I am not perfect, and it is likely I missed a few things to point out.

Therefore: Do you have questions? Is anything not clear?

Please please please drop me a comment below with your email! I will reply to you ASAP via email and here in the comments.

In fact, your questions help me to make this article better. So I help you to help me.

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