San Sebastian is a Spanish city located in the Basque country near the French border. Yes, this is the rainy part of Spain. 

But wait… because San Sebastian has so much more to give. It’s popular for its stunning beaches, spectacular surf, great restaurants, and its proximity to the mountains.

This vibrant city is home to a variety of neighborhoods and areas, each offering something slightly different to travelers. As a result, knowing where to stay in San Sebastian takes your visit up SEVERAL gears!!

To help you figure it out, I’ve created this guide on the best places to stay in San Sebastian! I’ve included something for every travel style and budget, so you can find the best location for you. Whether you’re looking for nightlife, planning a family vacation, riding some waves, or anything in between – I’ve got you covered.

Meet you by the bay.

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Top 3 Recommendations for Where To Stay In San Sebastian

Donostia Loft | Best Airbnb in San Sebastian

This incredible loft is one of the best Airbnbs in San Sebastian! It’s located right next to Old Town and La Concha Bay, close to cute cafes and restaurants. In case you’re getting sick of wandering through the streets, you can relax inside your loft, which is an experience in itself. With a unique, colorful design, you’ll instantly feel comfortable and welcome.

Koba Hostel | Best Hostel in San Sebastian

The Koba Hostel is located in San Sebastian’s Gros neighborhood. Set up in a refurbished old car workshop, this new hostel offers private rooms with an ensuite bathroom as well as single beds in mixed or female-only dormitory rooms. Each room has air conditioning to make those hot nights more bearable!

Hotel SANSEbay | Best Hotel in San Sebastian

The Hotel SANSEbay is located in San Sebastian’s Old Town. Each modernly decorated room is fitted with a private bathroom, air conditioning, and useful amenities. A lavish breakfast is offered each morning, and free wifi is available throughout the hotel.

San Sebastian Neighborhood Guide – Places to Stay in San Sebastian

FIRST TIME IN SAN SEBASTIAN
FIRST TIME IN SAN SEBASTIAN

Old Town

The old town and the historic part of San Sebastian. It is located on the eastern end of the La Concha beach and regroups many interesting sights.

ON A BUDGET
Centro, Playa del Carmen
ON A BUDGET

Centro

Centro is the new city centre of San Sebastian and is located right next to the old town. It is a true heaven for shopping lovers. All the main Spanish and international brands have set up shop in the area.

NIGHTLIFE
NIGHTLIFE

Gros

Gros is the liveliest area in San Sebastian, and definitely the best place to stay in town for nightlife. During the day, Gros is the best area in San Sebastian for surfing, especially around the beautiful Zurriola beach.

COOLEST PLACE TO STAY
COOLEST PLACE TO STAY

Antiguo

Antiguo has been named that way due to the fact that it is home to the oldest building in San Sebastian. Ironically, the area is actually one of the newer neighbourhoods of the city.

FOR FAMILIES
La Concha
FOR FAMILIES

La Concha

La Concha is the most iconic neighbourhood in San Sebastian. It is most famous for its white sand beach, deemed to be one of the most beautiful urban beaches in Europe.

San Sebastian is a city located in the Spanish Basque country, close to the border with France. As it sits on the Atlantic coast, it is a popular beach and surf destination in Spain.

The Old Town and the historic centre of San Sebastian. It offers plenty of museums, cultural sights, and natural attractions such as the Monte Urgull. It is a bustling area of town, making it the best place to stay if you’re visiting for the first time.

The Centro neighborhood is the newer center of town. It’s the best place to stay if you’re visiting Spain on a budget, offering cheaper accommodation than other areas.

The liveliest neighborhood of San Sebastian is Gros. This is where you should stay if you’re looking for nightlife, as there are many bars that stay open late around here. During the day, the beach in Gros is a great surfing spot.

Antiguo is the most unique place to base yourself in San Sebastian. This quirky neighborhood offers unique architecture and a stunning coastal walk.

Head to La Concha if you’re after somewhere more relaxed. This area is quieter and more suitable if you’re bringing the whole clan. The best time of year to visit this area of Spain is in the warmer months, to enjoy those sensational sands.

If you’re still unsure where to stay in San Sebastian – don’t stress! We’ve got more detailed guides on each area below.

San Sebastian’s 5 Best Neighborhoods io Stay in

San Sebastian is one of Spain’s secret (not so secret) best places to stay. Read on for more detailed information on each area below. Each offers something slightly different, so make sure you pick the right one for you!

1. Old Town – Where to Stay in San Sebastian for Your First Visit

Parte Vieja, San Sebastian

The old town and the historic part of San Sebastian. It is located on the eastern end of the La Concha beach and regroups many interesting sights.

The heart of the neighborhood is the Plaza de la Constitucion, Up until 1940, this is where the city hall used to be located. Today, it remains a major square in San Sebastian where popular events are hosted every year. On normal days, people come here to have a drink or enjoy some pintxos in one of the many restaurants.

To get a bird’s eye view of the city and its surroundings, enjoy one of Spain’s best hikes: Mount Urgull. At the top, you will find old castle walls as well as a statue of Christ.

If you are into museums and interested in knowing more about the history of the Basque country, the San Telmo Museoa is absolutely fascinating and definitely not to be missed.

Donostia Loft | Best Airbnb in Old Town

Visiting San Sebastian for the first time? How about this Airbnb? The loft is located right next to Old Town and La Concha Beach, close to cute cafes and restaurants. In case you’re getting sick of wandering through the streets, you can relax inside your loft, which is an experience in itself. With a unique, colorful design, you’ll instantly feel comfortable and welcome.

Kaixo Guest House | Best Hostel in Old Town

Kaixo Guest House

Kaixo Guest House has been designed as a home away from home for backpackers in San Sebastian. It offers single beds in mixed dormitory rooms with a shared bathroom. The hostel offers many amenities including a communal kitchen, car parking and a book exchange. Activities such as hiking and pintxo workshops are organised regularly.

Hotel SANSEbay | Best Hotel in Old Town

The Hotel SANSEbay is one of the best hotels located in San Sebastian’s Old Town, just a short walk to La Zurriola Beach. Each modernly decorated room is fitted with a private bathroom, air conditioning, soundproofing and a flat-screen TV with international channels. In the morning, guests can enjoy a good breakfast.

Things to See and Do in Old Town:

  1. Try some pintxos and wine tasting in the world’s capital.
  2. Eat some of the best food in the city at Plaza de la Constitucion.
  3. Explore the Basque country’s history at the San Telmo Museoa.
  4. Get breathtaking views of San Sebastian from the top of Monte Urgull.
  5. Relax in the square with a glass of wine and some pintxos.
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2. Centro – Where to Stay in San Sebastian on a Budget

Centro, San Sebastian

Centro is the new city centre of San Sebastian and is located right next to the old town. It’s a true heaven for shopping lovers, as numerous Spanish and international brands have set up shop in the area. The main shopping street is the Avenida de la Libertad.

The new city hall can be found in Centro around the Alderdi Eder Park. Facing La Concha Bay, these gardens are an iconic picture of San Sebastian. Beautiful flowerbeds have been laid out under the tamaris. If you are coming to the area with kids, make sure to take them to the carousel built in Belle Epoque style.

The religious landmark of San Sebastian, the Buen Pastor Cathedral, is also located in Centro. It was inaugurated in 1897 and its architecture was inspired by medieval churches of France and Germany. Standing 75 metres high, the cathedral is the tallest building in San Sebastian.

Superhost by the Beach | Best Airbnb in Centro

If you’re travelling on a budget, this Airbnb is perfect for you. The room in a shared flat is comfortable, with twin beds with an additional room for up to 3 guests, and a little balcony with glorious views. You’ll have full access to the kitchen (great to save some extra pennies) and be able to use the bright and spacious living room.

A Room in the City Hostel | Best Hostel in Centro

This San Sebastian hostel sits in a great city center location between River Urumea and La Concha Beach. It offers single beds in mixed dormitory rooms with a shared bathroom, as well as private rooms. It provides a comfortable place to stay in a fun environment, with all the necessary amenities.

Pension Garibai | Best Hotel in Centro

Pension Garibai

The Pension Garibai is a cheaper hotel, centrally located near Alderdi Eder Park and Cathedral Buen Pastor. Choose between Playa de la Concha or Zurriola Beach – because they’re both super close! It offers modernly decorated rooms fitted with air conditioning, a private bathroom, and a flat-screen TV. Some of the rooms have a patio, and free coffee and tea are available all day.

Things to See and Do in Centro:

  1. Take a city tour to get to know why this city is so iconic.
  2. Go shopping on the Avenida de la Libertad.
  3. Visit the Buen Pastor Cathedral, the biggest religious building in San Sebastian.
  4. Take a stroll in Alderdi Eder Park.

3. Gros – Best Area in San Sebastian for Nightlife

Gros , San Sebastian
This place comes alive at night

Gros is the liveliest area in San Sebastian, and definitely the best place to stay in town for nightlife.

During the day, Gros is ideal for surfing, especially around beautiful Zurriola – the wildest beach in San Sebastian. You will find many surf schools in the area where you can rent all the gear necessary and even hire a teacher if you need to!

At night, the bars come to life with music playing until the early hours of the morning. Gros boasts a hip and alternative vibe. I recommend going to Mala Gissona for the best selection of craft beers in the city.

For a more traditional show, the Kursaal is the place to go. This venue is also interesting for its unique architecture as it is made out of glass cubes piled on top of each other.

Beach Bay View | Best Airbnb in Gros

Entire flat with beach view

If you want to enjoy the best of the beaches and nightlife, this is the place for you. The apartment sits right on the beachfront and has an amazing terrace, perfect for pre-drinks. It’s located in the fashion district with lots of great bars and pubs around, but don’t worry, all you’ll hear at night is the sound of the waves.

Koba Hostel | Best Hostel in Gros

The Koba Hostel is set up in a refurbished old car workshop. This contemporary hostel offers private rooms with an ensuite bathroom, as well as mixed or female-only dormitories. Each dorm room has its own bathroom and air conditioning facilities.

Okako Hotel | Best Hotel in Gros

Okako Hotel

The Okako Hotel is a stylish boutique hotel offering rooms with exposed stone walls and raw materials. Each room has air conditioning and a spacious private bathroom. With free wifi connection, it is ideal for digital nomads. In the morning, guests can enjoy a good buffet breakfast. It’s walking distance to cultural attractions and is close to the coolest bars in town.

Things to See and Do in Gros:

  1. Take a surf lesson on Zurriola Beach.
  2. Go for a crazy night out with friends in the bars.
  3. Go see a show at the Kursaal.
  4. Check out the Church of San Ignacio de Loyola.
  5. View the exhibits at Kubo Kutxa art gallery.
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4. Antiguo – Coolest Place to Stay in San Sebastian

Antiguo, San Sebastian
This quirky area is packed with interesting architecture

Antiguo’s name derives from the fact that it’s home to the oldest building in San Sebastian. Ironically, the area is actually one of the newer neighborhoods of the city. It’s also where the university is located, so there are some young and hip vibes to the place making it one of the coolest areas in town.

The most iconic building around is without a doubt the Miramar Palace, built for the Spanish royals at the end of the 19th century. The mansion was built in a style reminding of English countryside homes. The gardens around it are also very beautiful, and it is free to roam around and just look at the beauty of it all.

For kids and adults, the Monte Igueldo provides an opportunity for hours of fun. There is a theme park open during the summer when you can enjoy all the classic rides. Make sure you take the funicular all the way up the hill to get stunning views over La Concha Bay.

Luxury Beach Apartment | Best Airbnb in Antiguo

Located just a few minutes walk to Ondaretta Beach, and just half an hour to the city center, this modern apartment in Antiguo is ideal for families or small groups visiting San Sebastian. The flat offers three bedrooms and a full-sized kitchen, and free wifi and parking are provided. Great for experiencing local life, it’s bright and airy, with plenty of cool space to relax in.

Koisi Hostel | Best Hostel in Antiguo

The Koisi Hostel offers mixed dormitory rooms with ensuite bathrooms. Rooms are modern and bright, with pod-style beds offering some extra privacy. There’s a cafe and bar onsite, as well as a microwave and kettles. It’s a bit of an uphill climb to get here, but the views over the bay are more than rewarding.

NH Collection San Sebastian Aranzazu | Best Hotel in Antiguo

The NH Collection San Sebastian Aranzazu boasts a great location in Antiguo. You can reach Ondaterra Beach with a short walk. It offers modernly furnished rooms with a spacious ensuite bathroom. A lavish buffet breakfast is provided each morning, so you can fuel up for a day of exploring.

Things to See and Do in Antiguo:

  1. Take the coastal walk to the city centre for unbeatable views over the Atlantic Ocean.
  2. Wander around the gardens of the Miramar Palace and admire the English style of the mansion.
  3. Take the funicular to the top of Monte Igueldo for a fun day at the fairground.
  4. Take a dip at Ondarreta Beach.

5. La Concha – Best Area in San Sebastian for Families

La Concha, San Sebastian
Summer gets hectic.

La Concha is the most iconic neighborhood in San Sebastian. It’s most famous for its white sand beach, deemed to be one of the most beautiful urban beaches in Europe. As such, it is a great neighborhood for families to stay in as there are plenty of activities available and a large choice of hotels and restaurants in the area.

From La Concha, you can also take a trip to Santa Clara, a small island located just off the coast of San Sebastian. Santa Clara island has its own little beach, nice cafés overlooking the sea, and a pleasant walk to the lighthouse.

For a more grown-up and relaxing activity, you could spend the day at La Perla Spa, the nicest of its kind in San Sebastian. There, you can get a massage, relax in the different pools, and have a nice meal in a calming environment.

Love of San Sebastian | Best Airbnb in La Concha

This beachfront apartment in La Concha is one of the best places to stay in San Sebastian! Reach Playa de la Concha, Plaza de la Constitución, and Old Town in 1 minute! It’s spacious, modern, and is flooded with natural light during the day. Staying here you’ll have the beach, restaurants, and nightlife right on your doorstep. With lots of space, toys, and equipment for kids too, it’s perfect for family vacations!

A Room in the City | Best Hostel in La Concha

A Room In The City

A Room In The City is an innovative hostel, part of a bigger social space called the Convent Garden. It offers private rooms with either an ensuite or a shared bathroom, as well as single beds in mixed or female-only dormitory rooms. Guests can enjoy a common living room and a kitchen.

Sercotel Hotel Europa | Best Hotel in La Concha

Sercotel Hotel Europa

The Sercotel Hotel Europa is a great hotel with a beachside location on La Concha Beach. Set in a beautiful early 20th-century building, it offers more charm and character than other luxury hotels. The hotel is exquisitely furnished throughout and offers an on-site restaurant for fine dining serving up traditional fare.

Things to See and Do in La Concha:

  1. Spend the day on one of the best city beaches in Europe.
  2. Take a sailing trip from Bahia de la Concha.
  3. Take a day trip to Santa Clara Island.
  4. Indulge in a spa day at La Perla.
  5. Enjoy a drink or two at the Alkimia cocktail bar.
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FAQs about Finding a Place to Stay in San Sebastian

Here’s what people usually ask us about the areas of San Sebastian and where to stay.

What To Pack For San Sebastian

Pants, socks, underwear, soap?! Take it from me, packing for a hostel stay is not always quite as straightforward as it seems. Working out what to bring and what to leave at home is an art I have perfected over many years.

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Keep your laundry organized and stink free
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Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in San Sebastian

San Sebastian is one of the most beautiful destinations in Spain, and it’s getting more and more popular every year! Boasting a great location on the Atlantic Ocean, it offers great surfing spots, lots of cultural sights, and amazing Basque food. It’s easy to see why people love it so much.

If you’re going to stay in San Sebastian for the first time, try staying in the old town. You’ll be surrounded by stunning historic buildings, plus close to the beast beaches and city center. 

If you’re still not sure where to stay in San Sebastian, you can’t go wrong with Koba Hostel. It offers a quiet and comfortable retreat while being a short distance from bars, restaurants, and places to visit.

For something more upmarket, check out one of the best luxury hotels: Hotel SANSEbay. Situated in the old town, it offers comfortable and modern accommodation that will set you up for a great stay.

Have I missed anything you can think about in San Sebastian? Have you tried any of the places mentioned in this guide? Let me know in the comments!

Looking for more info on travelling to San Sebastian and Spain?
Pintxos and sunsets.
Photo: @Lauramcblonde

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