Guide to San Sebastian, spain, tourist information San Sebastian, hotels in San Sebastian,
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Places in Spain - San Sebastian

 

Just 21km west of the French border, within the Basque Country, lies Donostia-San Sebastian, the summer capital of Spain. It lies against the Bay of Biscay, surrounded by green mountains. During the summer months the population here swells as the Spanish head here to escape the inland heat. It has about 180,000 inhabitants.

 

San Sebastian is a tasteful resort without the normal holiday resort trimmings and makes an ideal base from which to explore the Basque Country. This is the capital of the province of Guipuzcoa, the smallest province in Spain. The city offers quiet, natural places just minutes from the city centre and the city is divided into two by the River Urumea.

 

 

Getting to San Sebastian is relatively easy as it is linked to most of Spain's major cities by bus. The trains from Madrid to the French border at Irun all stop here. Iberia airlines also offer flights from Madrid to San Sebastian airport.

 

Donostia-San Sebastian was once a small fishing village and the inhabitants lived facing the sea. They were known to have hunted whales and fished for cod. At one point it was a thriving port, importing wines and oil for France and England. Over the centuries the city has undergone many sieges and in 1808 it was occupied by Napoleon's soldiers who stayed here until 1813. The city fell into decline in the 19th century but was lifted in 1845 when Queen Isabel II arrived in the city to spend the summer there., a tradition that continued for decades.

 

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No visit to the city is complete without a visit to the old quarter (Parte Vieja) where most of the traditional local life takes place. Its narrow streets are packed with bars and restaurants. The Plaza de la Constitución is where you will find the library, once the Town Hall. The square was once used as a bullring. The Basilica of Santa Maria del Coro, patron saint of the city can be found on the only street that remains from the 1813 fire, the Calle 31 de Agosto. The old quarter opens out to the sea at the harbour, home to the fishing fleet as well as the pleasure craft. Here you will find the Naval Museum and the Aquarium.

Donostia-San Sebastian has three beaches, La Concha, Ondarreta and La Zurriola. La Concha was made popular by Queen Isabel and is considered to be one of the most beautiful city beaches in Europe. Ondarreta beach stands at the foot of Mount Igeldo and has a more aristocratic feel to it because of the villas and gardens that lead to the sand. La Zurriola is to be found on the right bank of the river and has undergone a massive project to increase its size by reclaiming land from the sea. It is now much bigger than La Concha beach. All three beaches offer tourist changing rooms, parasols and sun beds. Standing in the centre of La Concha Bay is the tiny Santa Clara Island with a lighthouse and a small wharf. This island turns into the city's fourth beach in the summer with a ferry service from the harbour.

 

 

There are many monuments to explore in the city, such as the Cathedral, a neo-Gothic structure of the 19th century. Its spire at 75m high can be seen from most of the city. On Mount Urgull you will find the Castillo de la Santa Cruz de la Mota which stands on the site of an earlier fort. All over the city you will find open-air sculptures by local artists. The city also offers several parks and gardens. Wide open spaces of green with manor houses and water features.

 

Wandering round the shops will probably prompt you to indulge in one of the local Basque products such as cotton shirts and berets. Paseo de Muelle is the best shopping area where you will be able to buy almost anything.

 

The sunsets in San Sebastian can be spectacular, as is the nightlife. Much of the nightlife is based in the old quarter, as are most of the best restaurants. They offer a wide selection of cuisine but seafood is the speciality.

 

 

 

The north of Spain is becoming increasingly attractive to other Europeans as the southern part of Spain is bursting at its seams but if you intend to buy a property here then be prepared - its by no means as easy as it is in the south. Most agents speak very little English. San Sebastian is, with Madrid, the most expensive city in Spain! houses are very expensive!

 

The city offers fiestas and celebrations throughout the year, without break, some of the best are:

 

January
20th - San Sebastian Day. The patron saints day with parades.
Two cross-country races
February
Tinkers Parade, prelude to the carnival
Nursemaid's and Shepherd's Day
Carnival, a celebration popular since 1978
March
Domingo de Piñata
Horse racing season starts
April
second fortnight is the book fair
Music festival and festival of Andalucian folklore
May
Dia de las Casas Regionales - different regions of Spain on display
June
23rd-24th San Juan night with bonfires to mark the start of summer
July
Festival of Jazz
Theatre fair
August
Semana Grande - Day of the Virgin
International fireworks competition
Fiesta del 31 de Agosto - marking the fire of 1813
September
Rural sports and folklore fair
International Film festival
October
Fantasy and Horror Film Festival
November
Marathon
December
21st - Feria de Santo Tomás
Arts and crafts market
31st - San Silvestre footrace

The city also offers the visitor a selection of museums, six in all and when you have explored enough, try the La Perla Talasoterapia sea spa centre where you can relax in therapy pools, saunas and a Jacuzzi. For the energetic, the Mount Igeldo attraction park offers over 30 attractions and the ice skating rink is a great visit. You will also find casinos and bingo halls. The best way to explore the city is by tourist bus or the train.

 
     
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