The beaches of San Sebastián

San Sebastián or “Donostia”, as it is called in the Basque language, is definitely among the most beautiful cities of Spain. One of the reasons that it is so beautiful are definitely the three golden sand beaches that are part of the city. The beaches are not only located perfectly in a green bay in the middle of the city, on all beaches you can also find a very special and pleasant atmosphere. In this article you can discover the popular surf beach, an island beach and the “most beautiful city beach of Europe”! Spend a holiday in San Sebastian and get to know this underrated city in the north of Spain!

1. The Concha beach / La Playa de la Concha

The Concha beach, San Sebastián

The location, of the biggest and most central beach (see the map below), in the majestic Concha bay is hard to describe with words. It has been recognised as the most beautiful city beach and bay of Europe several times and you can find it on lists like “the most beautiful beaches of Spain”!

“Concha” means shell, this name refers to the shell shaped bay. The golden sand beach has a length of about 1350 meters, and its width is 40 meter on average, depending on the tide. The bay really offers a unique picture; it is surrounded by great, green mountains, and in the middle of all this you will find the picturesque Santa Clara island.

Concha bay from Igueldo mountain

Swimming on this beach is lovely, especially due to the calm water. The water is so quiet, since it is protected by the bay and the island. More information about the island, which you can also visit, can be found below at number 4! Read more about the Concha beach here.

2. The Ondarreta beach / La Playa de Ondarreta

The Ondarreta beach is also located in the Concha bay (you can see it in the lower right corner in the picture above here). The water is possibly even calmer close to this beach, since it is located at the foot of the Igueldo mountain and right in front of the Santa Clara island, which offers a lot of protection against the wind. It is connected with the Concha beach through the “Pico de Loro” (the parrot’s beak); a small passage made of rocks which disappears when the tide is high (see picture above). This is the Atlantic Ocean after all, which means that the size of the beaches strongly depends on the tides.

The Ondarreta beach, San Sebastián

The Ondarreta beach is only 600 meters long and has an average width of 100 meters, which makes it a lot smaller than the Concha beach. But size doesn’t matter, since the view over the beach and the environment is at least as spectacular as from the Concha beach. It is especially nice for families with children. Here you can find playgrounds, a chiringuito (or a beach bar), and a rental service of canoes during summer. This beach is also the closest to the Santa Clara island. You can reach this island by different ways: swimming, canoeing or by going by boat. Find out more about kayak- and boat excursions along the coast of San Sebastián here.

3. The Zurriola beach / La Playa de la Zurriola

The surf beach Zurriola, Gros, San Sebastián

Zurriola is the surf beach of the city and belongs to the surfer neighbourhood Gros. Every day you will be able to spot some surfers here. You can also try to surf yourself, by taking some classes at one of the several surfing schools. It might be quite hard the first time, but it is definitely a fun experience! For the more experienced surfers; you can rent surfboards all year around.

Due to the surfer atmosphere there are more young people attracted to this beach and you can find several cool beach bars. Because of the younger people you can also expect to hear some music from time to time. You should keep in mind that the waves on this beach are a lot stronger compared to the other beaches, since this one is not protected by the bay. This is important to know when you expect to go for a quiet swim or if you are going with younger children. It still can be fun for children though, definitely if they like to play around in the waves or if they want to do bodyboarding. Here you can read more about the Zurriola beach.

4. The beach of the Santa Clara island / La Playa de la Isla Santa Clara

Santa Clara island, San Sebastian

This little beach on the Santa Clara island is usually called the “4th beach” of San Sebastián. You can only reach it by the water, leaving from either the Ondarreta or the Concha beach. Like mentioned before you can do this by canoe, boat or you can even swim there. Another curious fact is that during the high tide, the little beach almost completely disappears in the water.

Santa Clara truly offers a unique beach trip, since it offers breathtaking views of the Concha beach, the Ondarreta beach and the rest of the beautiful, green environment. There are the simple and necessary beach facilities like showers and a chiringuito or beach bar and you can explore and enjoy the rest of the island. Read more about it in our article about the Santa Clara island!

Another reading tip: A great coastal walk from San Sebastián to the picturesque Pasajes.

Or make a trip to the nearby beautiful little village Hondarribia or the city of the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao.

Map: The beaches of San Sebastián