Our Pick of The Best San Sebastian Beaches
Bountiful beaches bedeck the Basque Bay of Biscay
Adorning a sparkling bay in the north-eastern corner of Spain lies the quaint yet elegant town of San Sebastian. It’s a great place to try and practice your Spanish, only to realise the language here is Basque (although you should get by with the former). The town is known for its famous film festival, elevating it to a status fast approaching that of Cannes in terms of prestige and glamour. But it also has a charming historic district dotted with cobbled lanes and crumbling buildings. So you can mix up a bit of designer shopping and upmarket restaurant hopping with cultural trips to museums to learn about the region, whose highlights include our impressive array of homes, if we do say so ourselves. And just a skip and a jump (do be careful) from these old-world relics (not you, the sights) lie the dazzling San Sebastian beaches that overlook the picturesque Bay of Biscay. All you have to do is read on, because here at Plum Guide, we've done all the hard work for you (you're welcome), and put together this guide to the region's very best beaches so you don't have to lift a finger.
La Concha Beach
La Concha may be a rude word in some Spanish-speaking regions, but we assure you that this beach is a perfectly appropriate spot for families. Its name quite literally means ‘The Shell’, and there’s nothing upsetting about that, aside from the fact you’ll be shelling out on non-stop drinks, food and souvenirs for your kids while on holiday. Watch the sunset over this popular bay, as the sky turns crimson above San Sebastian. Note that this beach - which stands beside the iconic Kontxa Pasealekua boardwalk - is only accessible early in the day, before high tides sweep across the sand.
This may sound more like a palace (because it is called the Miramar Palace, obviously) than a beach. The truth is: it is. But it makes for an idyllic sunbathing setting. At the western end of La Concha Beach lies this beautiful spot that provides some of the best seaside vistas in the area. The palace itself has spectacular gardens and an intriguing history too - it has served as the summer palace to the Spanish Royal Family. Work up a tan on the sand beside this palace to do as the royals presumably once did.
Santa Clara Island
So, you’ve been watching it closely from the comfort of those aforementioned beaches for hours or even days. Stillness personified, the island sits there beguiling you and willing you on to visit its scenic shores in La Concha Bay. What’s more, it’s exclusive: only opening its shores to holidaymakers in the summer. The island only has a lighthouse and a small dock, making for a secluded hotspot, despite such close proximity to the city centre. Take affordable boat rides from the mainland to spend some time on the island’s sandy circumference.
Back on the mainland, the Ondaretta Beach lies at the western end of the city centre. Here’s the thing about this setting: it’s the primary family hub of all San Sebastian beaches. So, yes, that does mean it’s bound to be a little less quiet, and a little more active. But it also means you can bring your little ones without too much shame. Enjoy the views of the mountains and the boats in the bay in between the tearful fights and gleeful misconduct of your cherubs.
But what if you’re looking for something of a trendier crowd? Cross the bridge to the eastern side of the city for the hip and youthful Zurriola Beach. It typically attracts a younger vacationer, so pick out your most fashionable and youth-appropriate swimwear and get on down here. Watch (or join if you’re brave enough) the surfers, and tackle a game of football or volleyball with these youngsters, forever trying to hide the panting that would give away your real age.
For something a little different, drive west along the coast to the village of Zauratz. It offers something a little more secluded than the San Sebastian Beaches, while also being a popular surfing hub. And it’s long…really long, so you can spend an afternoon walking along it without really bumping into anyone.