An Insider’s Guide to Where to Stay in San Sebastian

Where to stay in San Sebastian? It’s a common question for Spain bound travelers! As the city is quite small, accommodation can be tricky at popular times of the year. Luckily, San Sebastian is home to beautiful, historic, and trendy places to stay– Lindsey shares her favorites below!

Tucked between rugged green mountains and pristine beaches along Spain’s northern coastline, San Sebastian makes for the perfect spot for the vacation of your dreams. Whether you’re in town for a classic summer beach holiday or are dropping in during the low season, you’ll never regret visiting the Basque Country’s most beautiful city. Plus, with a population of just under 200,000 full-time residents, you’ll find that it can have a much more laid-back vibe compared to some of Spain’s more densely populated tourist draws.

Sunshine in San Sebastian
San Sebastian is a picture-perfect choice for your next escape!

However, when it comes to deciding where to stay in San Sebastian, a little bit of research can take your experience from good to great. Having a solid home base can truly make or break your trip, and despite the city’s comfortable size, its neighborhoods and hotel offerings can vary greatly depending on what you’re looking for.

No matter what brings you to this sophisticated coastal gem of a city, there’s sure to be a neighborhood and a hotel that’s perfect for you. This guide to where to stay in San Sebastian can help you narrow it down.

See also: Guide to eating in San Sebastian

Once you've decided where to stay in San Sebastian, you're all set to have an unforgettable trip!
Photo credit: Tomás Fano/Flickr CC

Where to Stay in San Sebastian – My Top Picks by Area

Parte Vieja/Old Town

History, culture and unforgettable sights come together to make the Old Town San Sebastian’s most iconic neighborhood. With its charming cobblestone streets winding among some of the city’s most historic buildings, it’s hard not to fall in love with this beautiful barrio.

No matter what you’re in the mood to do, you’ll find it in the Old Town. Want to visit a museum? The San Telmo Museum, arguably the city’s best, will be right up your alley. Prefer to get out and about in nature? Hike nearby Mount Urgull and drink in the stunning views along the way. And of course, as San Sebastian’s most popular neighborhood, it should come as no surprise that there are plenty of fabulous places to eat (but more on that in a little bit!).

Where to Stay: The most happening street in the Old Town is Calle 31 de Agosto, lined with buzzing pintxos bars and plenty of shops. While you’d be right in the heart of the action here, it can get quite noisy. Consider staying down one of the nearby side streets for a bit more peace and quiet.

If you're not sure where to stay in San Sebastian, the Old Town is a great place to start looking!
The bright balconies of Plaza de la Constitución in the Old Town. Photo credit: Emmanuel Dyan/Flickr CC

Recommended: With stunning views of La Concha Beach and crisp, contemporary rooms, Hotel Sansebay offers excellent value for money. Another lovely option is Artea Narrika, a modern guesthouse with a clean, minimalist feel.

Where to Eat: No matter what you’re craving, you’re sure to find it in the Old Town, where rustic pintxos bars stand side-by-side with internationally recognized restaurants. You can never go wrong with La Cuchara de San Telmo, which rightfully has earned a status as one of San Sebastian’s top bars. For a once-in-a-lifetime meal complete with a fabulous selection of wine, treat yourself to the ultimate San Sebastian experience at Michelin-starred Kokotxa.

places for pintxos in San Sebastian
Delicious salt cod pintxo at La Cuchara de San Telmo

Read More: For more great food picks, check out Devour San Sebastian’s guide to where to eat in the Old Town!

Where to Drink: Enjoy a delicious variety of local and international craft beers at Etxeberria, one of the most popular watering holes in the neighborhood among locals. If wine is more your thing, you’ll love Essencia, a lively bar and shop with more than 70 wines available by the glass.

Insider Tip: With so much going on, the Old Town can be overwhelming for first-time visitors, and unfortunately it can be hard to tell the tourist traps from the real gems. Discover this must-visit neighborhood like a local on Devour San Sebastian’s Ultimate Pintxos & Wine Tour!

Where to stay in San Sebastian: a San Sebastian Pintxos Tour
So many colorful pintxos just waiting to be devoured!

Centro

In terms of location, you can’t get much better than San Sebastian’s most central district. Perfectly sandwiched in between the beach, the Old Town, and Gros, staying in the city center means that you’re never far from the action. Plus, it tends to be more on the quiet side compared to the Old Town, so you’re guaranteed to get a good night’s sleep.

Where to Stay: With wide, sweeping avenues and lush green plazas, the city center offers everything from luxury hotels to no-frills inns.

Where to stay in San Sebastian - centro
San Sebastian’s stately ayuntamiento framed by one of the city center’s gorgeous green spaces.

Recommended: For the ultimate in majestic luxury, you can’t get much better than the Maria Cristina Luxury Collection Hotel. If a more budget-friendly property is what you’re after, Pensión Garibai offers simple yet charming rooms and excellent customer service.

Where to Eat: A bustling modern gastronomic paradise, Mercado San Martín is verifiable foodie paradise.

Where to DrinkThe city center is home to some of San Sebastian’s best specialty coffee shops, including Old Town Coffee (which, despite its name, is not in the Old Town), Botanika, and Koh Tao. In the evenings, try Pub Drop for craft beer or El Bombín for wine.

Where to stay in San Sebastian - city center, coffee
There are so many perfect options for coffee in the city center!

La Concha

We all have different priorities when it comes to vacation. If your #1 is sun and sand, you can’t beat the area surrounding San Sebastian’s emblematic beach, La Concha. Regularly ranked as one of Europe’s top city beaches, its gleaming white promenade and pristine fine sand make it a draw for locals and visitors alike.

Where to Stay: Accommodations along Calle Zubieta offer stunning beach views, but staying a few blocks away from the shore can help you save a few euros.

Recommended: With bright, spacious rooms and a lovely onsite international restaurant, Hotel TRYP San Sebastian Orly offers great value and fair prices. Another standout is the iconic Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra, an upscale choice set in an elegant 19th-century building. A bit further back yet still within walking distance from the beach, A Room in the City is a happening hostel perfect for those seeking a more casual vibe.

Where to Eat: Don’t miss La Madame‘s legendary brunch, or Bar La Espiga‘s perfect pintxos.

Where to Drink: A beachside location means one thing: al fresco cocktails are a must! Check out chic La Perla at the iconic spa of the same name for sweeping bay views and fabulous drinks. And even if you’re not staying at A Room in the City, their gorgeous garden terrace, Convent Garden, is a great place to enjoy drinks, live music and good vibes.

Read More: If spending a day among the waves sounds like your thing, check out Devour San Sebastian’s guide to the city’s best beaches!

Where to stay in San Sebastian - La Concha
La Concha is one of Europe’s top beaches for good reason. Just look at those gorgeous views!

Gros

Head east of the Old Town and the city center, and you’ll find yourself in the laid-back surfers’ paradise that is Gros. Perfect for young couples, adventure lovers and intrepid solo travelers, this relaxing neighborhood has it all: world-class entertainment at Kursaal, great waves at Zurriola Beach, contemporary art and culture at Tabakalera, and a fabulous dining scene that gives more central neighborhoods a run for their money.

Where to Stay: Gros is a great option for budget-conscious travelers, with plenty of great hostels and apartment rentals at unbeatable prices.

Where to stay in San Sebastian - Gros
The wide streets of Gros, perfect for bar hopping

Recommended: Pensión del Mar offers unbeatable value, with bright, beautiful rooms and a shared kitchen area if you’d like to do your own cooking. Another great option is Okako Hotel, an eclectic boutique hotel with an avant-garde, artsy vibe.

Where to Eat: The innovative pintxos at Bar Bergara are a must. For the health-conscious, Tedone offers a unique slow-food concept specializing in ecological dishes, with plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free options.

where to stay in San Sebastian - Gros (Bar Bergara)
Quaint Bar Bergara.

Where to Drink: Spain is famous for their iconic gin & tonics, and in San Sebastian, no place does them better than La Gintonería Donostiarra. Craft beer lovers also won’t want to miss the artisanal brews at Mala Gissona, Kañabikaña or Bar Desy.

Read More: Gros is full of fabulous places to eat and drink—check out some of Lauren’s top picks in her guide to the best pintxos bars in the neighborhood!

Amara

Very few tourists ever make it down to Amara—and trust me, that’s a good thing. As a result, it remains one of San Sebastian’s most thoroughly authentic neighborhoods. Staying here will get you off the beaten path and into local life in a way that’s just not possible in more central, touristic barrios. This quiet, residential corner of town is a great option for families or anyone looking for a more laid-back experience. And as home to San Sebastian’s soccer stadium, it’s a perfect home base for fans who are dropping in to catch a game.

Where to StayAmara’s location a little ways away from the Old Town and city center mean that you can often find accommodation in upscale properties for a fraction of what you’d pay in more popular neighborhoods!

Recommended: Sophisticated and artsy yet unpretentious, Hotel Silken Amara Plaza is a relaxing option with a serene riverside location. Cinephiles will love Hotel Astoria 7, a boutique hotel designed in homage to San Sebastian’s famous annual film festival.

Where to Eat: Restaurante Casa Javier is a humble gem hidden among several lower-quality tourist traps near the train station. If fine dining is what you’re after, don’t miss the mouthwatering tasting menu at Restaurante Amelia.

Where to Drink: For nearly a decade, Vinoteca Syráh has remained one of the most popular wine bars in San Sebastian among locals, with a modern atmosphere and a respectable selection of hard-to-find wines.

Where to stay in San Sebastian - Amara neighborhood, Syrah wine shop
Don’t be afraid to go off the beaten path—you might just find great wine!

Antiguo

Don’t let Antiguo’s far-flung location fool you. This young, trendy neighborhood is home to some of San Sebastian’s top sights: Mount IgueldoMiramar Palace and the Comb of the Wind, just to name a few. Its welcoming, friendly vibe also makes it an excellent option for families.

Where to Stay: Don’t let La Concha steal the show—Antiguo is home to Playa de Ondarreta, and seaside properties in this neighborhood are often less expensive than their counterparts on San Sebastian’s more famous beach.

where to stay in San Sebastian - Antiguo neighborhood (Comb of the Wind sculpture)
A nature-defying sculpture built directly into the rocks along the shore, the Comb of the Wind sculpture is one of San Sebastian’s most offbeat sights. Photo credit: Puffin11k/Flickr CC

Recommended: Located in a stunning 19th century French-inspired building, La Galería offers a perfect blend of vintage charm and all the modern amenities you could need.

Where to Eat: Despite its off-the-beaten-path location, Antiguo is home to a great dining scene. La Mera Mera serves fabulous Mexican fare, and for down-home local eats (including one of the best tortillas de patatas in town), you can’t go wrong with Bar Lobo.

Where to Drink: Plaza de Jose Maria Sert is surrounded by several great bars where you can enjoy outdoor drinks surrounded by good company.

What are your top picks for where to stay in San Sebastian? If there are any places you love that I missed, let me know in the comments below! 

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Once you've decided where to stay in San Sebastian, you're all set to have an unforgettable trip!
Photo credit: Tomás Fano/Flickr CC

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