The beach of La Concha in San Sebastián: a beach you must see!

The Concha beach or the “Playa de la Concha” is without a doubt the most symbolic beach of the coastal city San Sebastián, in the Basque Country. The beach is located in the Concha bay and many times it is referred to as the most beautiful city beach of Europe.
View over the Concha bay with the Concha beach, in the lower right corner you can see the Ondarreta beach
La Concha belongs to the best city beaches around the whole world (the second best city beach according to Travel and Leisure Magazine). The “Donostiarras” or the citizens of “Donostia”, which is the Basque name for San Sebastián, surely are lucky people. In this article we provide you with some advice and information about the bay and we want to make sure you will enjoy your San Sebastián holidays to the fullest.

Where is Playa de la Concha?

San Sebastián, the Concha beach - View of the city hall, the harbour and the Urgell mountain behind it

La Concha is the most centrally located beach of San Sebastián. It is located in the stunningly beautiful, shell shaped Concha bay. The shape of the bay explains the name “Concha” that has been given to it. On one side of the bay you will find the Urgull mountain, next to the harbour and the city hall, and on the other side of the shell you will find the Igueldo mountain. From the city hall you can get to the golden sand beach and the clear blue water in less than a minute. A real luxury, in our opinion!

How big is the beach of La Concha?

La Concha during the Film festival or 'Festival de Cine', San Sebastián

The Concha beach is very spacious. It has a length of 1350 meters and an average width of 40 meters. We say average, since the tides can strongly influence the size of this beach on the Atlantic Ocean. On the picture above you can see the Concha beach during the yearly film festival (“Cine”), but we can assure you that these pretty painting will drown when the tide is high!
You can find the end of the Concha beach at the “Pico de Loro” (the so called parrot’s beak); this is a small passage of rocks which disappears during high tide. Behind this “Pico de Loro” the Ondaretta beach starts, this beach is also located in the Concha bay and its border is marked by the Igueldo mountain. You can see this in the first picture, and in the picture above you can see the “Pico de Loro” passage and the Ondarreta beach. Soon you will also find more information and an overview of the beaches of San Sebastián, including a map, on the website.

A great beach for a walk

View over the Concha from the Palacio Miramar, San Sebastián

Thanks to the fact that the beach is so long, the Concha beach is the best location of the city for a long walk along the coastline. In summer you can do this in your swimsuit, like even the locals like to do, but you enjoy the views here all year long.

Why is La Concha so unique?

Concha, San Sebastián

The beach, affectionately called “La Concha” by the local citizens, is perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and paddling, due to its extensive size. Since the bay is surrounded by mountains, it also perfectly protected against the wind and high waves. Besides this, we can promise you that you will never forget the breathtaking views that you can see from the beach. Because let’s be honest, how many beaches in Europe do you know that are surrounded by green mountains and from which you can see cute, white boats and an island?

A quiet bath in the bay

La Concha beach and the Santa Clara island

The Santa Clara island seems to rise from the sea like a mountain. You can swim to this island from the Concha beach, or you can choose to get on a boat or use a kayak.

Besides this, La Concha is also known for its the local swimmers that you can find here all year long. The water of the Atlantic Ocean might be a bit colder, but this won’t stop the local, especially older, citizens of San Sebastián to go for a daily swim, which is supposed to have a great influence on your condition. Even in winter and when it snows, you will still find some people swimming in the ocean!

The Concha beach during summer

This sandy beach, which is protected from the wind by the mountains, is also a perfect place for families with younger children. You can easily walk many meters into the sea, which makes the water accessible for people of all ages and there is a lot of space for playing in the water. Due to its protection, the water in the bay is also pretty quiet, which makes it extra safe for children.

Real elegance

La Concha is definitely one of the most refined beaches around the world. The blue and white striped parasols and sun beds, which you can rent on the Concha beach, during summertime, are symbolic for San Sebastián, and they make the beach look extra pretty. Fun fact: blue and white are also the colours of the city flag and the local, professional football club Real Sociedad.

The Concha beach, and the Perla Spa centre on the right

On the beach you can also find the elegant, white Perla spa center, which represents the Belle Epoque style. This spa is partially placed on the beach (which you can see in the right part of the picture) and this makes the gracious beach complete. So, you can perfectly end your beach day with an afternoon in the spa and a dinner in the restaurant on top of it. Both in the spa as well as in the restaurant you will enjoy great views of the sea through the big windows.

La Concha, a Royal beach

In the 19th century, La Concha beach was the place where Queen Isabel II came for her bath therapy, after her doctor recommended this. Because of this, San Sebastián automatically turned into the summer residence of the Spanish royal family, and due to this, also other European royals spent their summers in this beautiful city.

The palace “Palacio de Miramar” still towers over the bay. You can go and visit the public garden of the palace and enjoy some majestic views over the Concha bay from there. (You can see the garden in the 4th picture of this article.)

The Concha beach and the promenade

Also the long, higher located promenade with its elegant white fence and the gracious clocks and street lanterns give the Concha beach the grace and fame that it deserves. It offers you a beautiful walk and little benches with spectacular views over the bay. Visitors from all over Spain and all over the world come here to take and pose for pictures.
The symbolic street lanterns of La Concha are made of the little sculptures that are used as the awards during the International Film festival

What other facilities can you find on the Concha beach?

Even though La Concha is a beach in the middle of a city, it always looks clean and neat, and the water is pleasantly clean and refreshing during warm summer days.

One fact that could explain this, is the fact that during nights nobody parties on the beach. There are some clubs and bars along the promenade, but nobody will have a party on the beach. Only during the San Juan summer party, in June, you can find groups of young people on the beach, but it is still a relatively quiet night compared to some other cities located on the Mediterranean coast. We do recommend you to go to one of the cocktail bars, as for example the one of the Perla spa and restaurant, to have a drink on the terrace with fantastic views.

La Concha, San Sebastián

Besides the abovementioned blue-white parasols and sun beds, there is also a zone of the beach reserved for practicing sports. You can play some ball sports for example, even though the better facilities for beach volleyball can be found on the Zurriola surf beach, on the other side of the city. During the lower season, you can also find some young locals playing football or other games on the Concha beach. You are also given the possibility to rent canoes for exploring the bay and the Santa Clara island.
During summer you will also find platforms with water slides in the water. You can swim to these platforms to have some fun and get rid off of some extra energy! The beach is perfect for swimmers and children. 
From the beginning of June till the end of September there is also a Red Cross emergency service on the beach. Besides that, La Concha offers great facilities like beach guards, wheelchairs, wifi, showers (inside and outside), toilets, lockers and changing rooms. When you are spending time on this beach, you will feel as royal as the queen that used to come here many years ago.
The Concha beach has also been mentioned in our Top 10 of most beautiful beaches in Spain