Top 10 Fun Things to Do in San Sebastian with Kids (Or Without Them)

This post may contain affiliate links. Please visit our Disclosure page for details.

You’re going to love exploring things to do in San Sebastian with kids. No kids? No worries. All the things to do in San Sebastian Spain mentioned here are just as fun for solo travelers, for backpackers and for luxury travelers, as well.

If you’re like us, you’ll probably want to stay much longer in San Sebastian than you planned. The city left us wanting more. In fact, if San Sebastian had Valencia‘s warm and sunny winters, we might consider moving there.

Things to do in San Sebastian Spain cover image

Our Top 10 Fun Things to Do in San Sebastian with Kids san-sebastian-pano

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN SAN SEBASTIAN SPAIN

Below is a small list of fun things to do in San Sebastian. Believe me, there’s more to explore than this, and I hope to share more after we visit again.

Save & Share on Pinterest!

Things to do in San Sebastian with Kids PIN 3

San Sebastian Spain: An Introduction

Tower Things to do in San Sebastian with Kids

Where is San Sebastian?

San Sebastian — or Donostia in the Basque language — is in northern Spain only half an hour’s drive from the French border. It’s a beach town, on the Bay of Biscay, and firmly in Basque Country.

Why Visit San Sebastian Spain?

In our opinion, San Sebastian is one of the best cities in Europe, full of unique cultural experiences and amazing food. It’s easily one of our favorite beach towns in the world, and the city is very child-friendly, as well.

What’s San Sebastian Known For?

First and foremost, San Sebastian is famous for its food. There is a higher concentration of  Michelin-starred restaurants here than anywhere else on earth (higher density than Paris, London, New York or Tokyo). Not that I’ve eaten in any of the top San Sebastian restaurants. Even the local places are excellent

Anthony Bourdain loves San Sebastian restaurants. So much so he told his viewers not to come. He wants it for himself.

San Sebastian is famous for pinxos, the Basque culture’s answer to Spanish tapas. Pinxo restaurants are everywhere, and one of the best things to do in San Sebastian is to eat your weight in San Sebastian pinxos. Kids are welcome in these places too, and it’s a great way to eat with kids since they can try many things to discover what they like.

San Sebastian is also famous as one of the most beautiful cities in Spain, and one of the best beach towns in the world. The architecture and the way the city is laid out around its three main beaches is breathtaking.

San Sebastian Weather / When to Visit San Sebastian Spain

The best time to visit San Sebastian is between May and September when the temperature rises and there is significantly less rain. You want to be here during beach season, but if you arrive between late July and September, you’ll hit peak crowds as many Spanish and other European use the month of August to chill in the sand here.

For the rest of the year, San Sebastian weather isn’t ideal. Temperatures usually don’t top 60ºF/15Cº, and it rains a lot.

Getting to San Sebastian Spain

Our recommendation is to rent a car and drive the entire northern coast of Spain. It’s incredible, and there are so many places to go and things to see: Bilbao, Santiago de Compostela, and the Asturias Region barely scratch the surface. The roads are relatively easy to navigate (not nearly as narrow streets at Toledo, for example), and the coast in the summertime is green and beautiful.

Having said that, there are many ways to reach San Sebastian. Here’s a quick rundown of a few of the most popular.

Bilbao to San Sebastian
  • Roughly 90 minutes (give or take) by car or by train. Buses available, as well.
Madrid to San Sebastian
  • As little as 5-7 hours by bus, car or train. Shave 2 hours off to fly there, but the price may spike. Direct flights are a 1 hour 20min, but add up for 3+ hours when considering getting customs & getting to/from the airport and into town.
Barcelona to San Sebastian
  • Around 5-8 hours by car, bus or train. If on car or bus, expect a curvy ride. Direct flights are an hour, but add up for 3+ hours when considering getting customs & getting to/from the airport and into town.
Bordeaux to San Sebastian
  • Approximately 3-5 hours by bus or train, or 2.5 hours by car, depending on how much you stop. San Sebastian is very close to the French border.
Paris to San Sebastian
  • Train/bus combos take less than 6 hours or cheaper long-haul buses take 11-13 hours. There are no direct flights, but you can fly into Bilbao or Biarritz (near the French border).

Related Links

Things to Do in San Sebastian Spain

Whether you’re looking for some relaxing beach time alone or seeking more educational things to do in San Sebastian with kids, we’re certain that you’ll find plenty to do in this dynamic Spanish beach town.

San Sebastian Beaches

Our Top 10 Fun Things to Do in San Sebastian with Kids san-sebastian-donostia-playa-concha

If you like sun, saltwater, and sand, then you’re going to have fun in San Sebastian. I’ve never been to a place that incorporates its coastline so well into the city. San Sebastian has three main playa (beaches). Playa Zurriola is the surf beach, while Playa Ondarreta is calmer and more family-friendly. We spent most of our time on Playa Concha, the most popular beach, for reasons I’ll explain below.

This is one of the main reasons you’re here. One of the most popular things to do in San Sebastian Spain is hit the beach.

Our Top 10 Fun Things to Do in San Sebastian with Kids Zurrilo-beach

Watersports in San Sebastian

Our Top 16 Favorite Places to Go Swimming in Spain with Kids thinng to do in san sebastian with kids

This city has water sports covered. If you’re in San Sebastian with kids in the summertime, then consider getting them paddle board or sea kayaking lessons. Rentals are located right on Playa Concha, amongst many other locations.

One of the most famous things to do in San Sebastian is surfing. Do the kids want to learn to surf? This city has an entire beach for that. We took our lessons in Santander because it was cheaper, and both locations are great, but surfing in San Sebastian is more famous thanks to more consistent waves, we were told.

San Sebastian also has places to practice the fairly new sport of coasteering, which is like canyoning (which we love) but uses the coastline instead of rivers. We missed our opportunity to try coasteering in San Sebastian, but it’s on our list for when we return.

paddleboarding things to do in san sebastian with kids

Santa Clara Island

 

Our Top 10 Fun Things to Do in San Sebastian with Kids santa-clara-island-path

If you’ve got smaller kids or want a mellower activity, then one of the best things to do in San Sebastian is to take the ferry to Santa Clara Island.

This is a great (and short) boat trip out to the small island that faces the beach. Once you get out there, however, you realize that the island is bigger than it seems. No, you won’t get lost on it, but there are lots of secluded nooks and crannies up the hill where you can throw down a blanket and have a private picnic, even on the most crowded summer afternoon.

Santa Clara Island has its own beaches, as well as its own restaurant and bar, but if we had known how long we would end up staying here, we would have brought our own food. Boats come and go from the island every 30 minutes.

santa clara island ferry things to do in san sebastian with kids

Plazas, Playgrounds & Buskers

Things to do in san sebastian spain

One of the easiest and most rewarding San Sebastian activities is to simply soak up the atmosphere. Between the sand and the streets of San Sebastian, you’ll find beautiful plazas with ornate landscaping and wide walking paths.

If this isn’t enough room for you and your brood, or if the kids want somewhere more substantial to run around, then the playgrounds here have much of what young ones want. Swings, carousels, and fountains will keep them occupied for a few hours. In the warmest months, you can also rely on plenty of quality buskers in the plazas as well.

In the warmest months, you can also rely on plenty of quality buskers in the plazas as well. We watched guitarists, breakdancers, and acrobats in the span of 48 hours.

Playground. Things to do in san sebastian spain with kids

 

Trains and Buses

 

Funicular Things to do in San Sebastian Spain with kids

San Sebastian is a remarkably walkable city, but don’t let that deter you from taking their hop-on-hop-off bus or the bright red tourist train that slowly rolls through town.

Then, of course, there is also the funicular railway that brings you to a great view west of town and even more fun (described below).

Monte Igueldo Amusement Park

Monte Igueldo Amusement Park Things to do in San Sebastian Spain with kids

The funicular railway mentioned above takes you to this western summit for spectacular views of the city. After you’ve soaked up the view, your littlest ones will enjoy a ride or two at the fairground here.

This San Sebastian attraction isn’t only for kids, though. Solo travelers will enjoy the people watching, and couples may find it somewhat romantic as the sun sets.

Like Hanayashiki Amusement Park in Asakusa, Tokyo, this place runs on nostalgia and atmosphere more than the latest adrenalin rush. Expect overpriced old-school fairground rides, which are fun if you want them to be. Food and drinks are available here too, but it may be best to pack your own.

 

Parks and Nature

Things to do in San Sebastian Spain

San Sebastian is a remarkably lush and green city, and thanks to its perpetual embrace of the Atlantic Ocean, the city has plenty of fresh air downtown.

However, if you’re in need of greener spaces, then venture over to Ametzagaina Park or Cristina Enea Park. Both feel like the countryside despite being just at the edge of town.

Hikes and Walking Paths

Comb of the Winds Things to do in San Sebastian Spain

Visit San Sebastian Spain and you’ll discover lots of opportunities to stretch your legs. One recommendation is to walk the city’s coastline east to west, ending at the Comb of the Winds (see above). Another is to hike the path up to the La Mota Castle, which overlooks Playa Zurrilo to the east and Santa Clara Island to the west.

Wanna a longer hike? San Sebastian has them in every direction — except north into the Atlantic, of course. Keep in mind that the Camino de Santiago passes right through San Sebastian and doesn’t stop until it reaches its famous endpoint.

What & Where to Eat in San Sebastian Spain: Pinxos, Tapas & More

Possibly *the* most popular thing to so in San Sebastian is eat. Make the time to taste the Basque Country’s greatest culinary contributions to the world: pinxos.

Pintxos are part of the Spanish tapas tradition, usually presented on bread and laid across a countertop in a self-serve manner. We ate pinxos often in Valencia, but wow: San Sebastian pinxos are next-level.

Few pintxos are prepared and presented more beautifully than San Sebastian pinxos. You’ll see them sitting in the front rooms of bars and restaurants everywhere, and there are so many kinds that you and your kids are bound to find more than a few favorites.

Spanish Tapas / Basque Tapas Pinxos Things to do in San Sebastian Spain

Things to Do in San Sebastian on a Rainy Day

San Sebastian weather being what it is, we suggest having a backup plan in case the rain clouds come. Here are a few San Sebastian activities to do indoors.

The Eureka Science Museum

Eureka Science Museum Things to do in San Sebastian with kids

The Eureka Science Museum is full of hands-on exhibits that related to science, weather, and nature. It’s located a little away from the beach area, but easily accessible by public bus.

The San Sebastian Aquarium

San Sebastian Aquarium Things to do in San Sebastian Spain with kids

Perched right next to the water, the San Sebastian Aquarium was renovated in 2008 and is an excellent excursion for kids (or adults) interested in the sea.

MORE SPAIN POSTS

DO YOU KNOW THINGS TO DO IN SAN SEBASTIAN WITH KIDS?

Boat swimming Things to do in San Sebastian Spain

Tell me everything. We really fell in love with this town quickly and want to return as soon as we can. Where did you go? What did you do? And for god’s sake, tell me where did you EAT!

Write your tips in the comments, or contact me directly.

Things to do in San Sebastian Spain with kids PIN 2

Things to do in San Sebastian Spain with Kids PIN 3

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means, at no extra cost to you,  we might receive a small commission if you make a purchase or book using those links. My opinions are my own and I only recommend places/services that I believe will genuinely help you find fun things to do in San Sebastian Spain. Do you know of more things to do in San Sebastian Spain? Have you been to San Sebastian with kids? Tell us more about it so we can keep our San Sebastian travel tips up to date!

Image Credits: #1/1a, #2, #4, #11, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16, #18, #20

Comments

  1. You got pinxos spot on as the quintessential food experience in San Sebastian as they’ve been recently picked by Lonely Planet as the #1 food experience in the world!

Speak Your Mind

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

css.php