Our San Sebastian Travel Essentials lays out the essential information you need to help planning your trip to one of the most popular destinations in Spain. No matter how frequently you travel, some questions will always need answers: What’s the weather like? How can I get from the airport to my hotel? What currency and type of plug do I need? We have all these answers plus other basic info about the best time to go, getting there, getting around, and a few useful travel tips.

    It’s all compiled in this San Sebastian Travel Essentials. After reading this short and easy-to-read guide, you will be a little more prepared to start your trip in San Sebastian.


    When is the best time to travel to San Sebastian?

    San Sebastian has an oceanic climate, with average temperatures ranging from 9°C in winter to 22°C in summer.

    • Rain is evenly distributed throughout the year, with an average of 12 rainy days per month.
    • The warmest time of the year is between May and October.
    • JulySeptember is the most popular time to visit San Sebastian, but it’s peak season, so hotel and flight prices rise accordingly.
    • MayJune is the best times to visit San Sebastian. The weather and temperatures are fine, you’ll avoid the summer crowds, and hotel and flight prices are lower.

    San Sebastian basics

    • Primary Languages: Spanish
    • Plug types: C and F
    • Electricity: 230 V
    • Currency: Euro (€)
    • International dialling codes: +34 943
    • Emergency telephone number: 112

    How to get to my hotel in San Sebastian?

    Biarritz Airport

    As San Sebastian Airport is only served by domestic flights, chances are good that you’ll land at Biarritz Airport, the closest international airport to San Sebastian. It sits 50 km northeast of San Sebastian city centre. There are several transfer options to help you reach Downtown San Sebastian:

    • A taxicab takes around 40–50 minutes. Taxi ranks can be found outside the terminal.
    • A bus takes a bit more than 1 hour. The bus stop is right outside the terminal. It’s the cheapest way to get to San Sebastian.
    • Car rental agencies can be found within the terminal.

    Bilbao Airport

    Bilbao Airport is 75 km west of San Sebastian city centre. The largest airport in the Basque Country, Bilbao Airport has 1 passenger terminal served by 2 runways. The terminal is home to a good choice of dining and shopping options, as well as facilities like free Wi-Fi, banking and currency exchange services. There are several transfer options for those travelling to Downtown San Sebastian:

    • A taxicab takes around 1 hour. Taxi ranks can be found outside the Arrivals hall.
    • A bus takes a bit more than 1 hour. The bus stop is right outside the Arrivals hall.
    • Car rental agencies can be found within the terminal.

    photo by Yrithinnd (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    How to get around San Sebastian?

    Travel tips

    Covering roughly 4 sq km, San Sebastian city centre is compact enough to be explored on foot. You’ll find many landmarks and attractions within walking distance of each other, such as La Concha Beach, the Old Town, and Monte Urgull, among others. The city centre is also home to a great choice of dining, shopping and nightlife entertainment options. For longer journeys, San Sebastian features a good choice of public and private transport services.


    DBus – Public bus networks

    DBus is in charge of public transport in San Sebastian. It operates over 40 bus lines that cover the entire city and neighbouring towns. Night buses are also available.

    • You buy tickets on the bus.
    • You can also purchase a rechargeable Mugi Card. Using such a card, the price of a single fare goes down, but night fares remain the same. Mugi Cards can be purchased at selected newsagents, at Kutxabank cash machines set up for this service, and at the card recharging machine located at 20th Avenida de la Libertad.

    photo by Vasconium (CC BY 2.0) modified


    San Sebastian City and Basque Cards

    Purchasing a San Sebastian City Card or a Basque Card is a good move if you plan to visit the main places of interest in either the city or the region. Valid for 10 days, they give you free entry into many attractions and museums, some free use of public transport and discounts in many shops and restaurants.

    photo by Jean-Christophe BENOIST (CC BY 3.0) modified



    Scooters can be rented to allow you to independently explore San Sebastian and its surroundings. Note that driving a scooter can be hazardous, especially if you’re not used to it.


    Taking a taxi

    Taxis usually do not stop when hailed on the street in San Sebastian. Instead, you’ll need to look for a cab stand. There are plenty in the city centre, often outside hotels and near the main attractions.

    • You can directly call popular companies such as Radio Taxi Donosti (943 46 46 46) or Vallina Hermanos S.A. (943 39 38 48), just to name a few.
    • Rates are slightly higher at night and on weekends.
    • Taxis usually accept the payment of the fare by credit card, but it’s better to ask the driver before you get in.
    • It’s not common to give a tip to taxi drivers in Spain, but you can round up the bill if you’re happy with the service.

    Location: San Sebastian


    Cycle around San Sebastian

    San Sebastian has over 30 km of cycle paths. The city centre is mostly flat, but expect hills all around the city. San Sebastian has a bike sharing scheme run by dBizi, which features electric bikes and has docking stations across the city. 

    photo by DONOSTIA KULTURA (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    What are the main annual events in San Sebastian?

    Semana Grande

    • What: The Semana Grande (the Big Week) is an event held since the mid-19th century that combines the Virgin Festivity and the International Fireworks Contest. Expect musical and theatrical street performances, loads of local street food and a festive ambience throughout the city.
    • When: Mid-August
    • Where: New Promenade and throughout the city

    San Sebastian Jazz Festival

    • What: Also known as Heineken Jazzaldia, after its main sponsor, the San Sebastian Jazz Festival is a major event that showcases world-class musicians and bands, which perform on various stages throughout the city.
    • When: July
    • Where: Zurriola Beach and other venues across the city

    San Sebastian International Film Festival

    • What: Locally known as Zinemaldia, the San Sebastian International Film Festival is considered one of the most important film festivals in the world. Expect exciting premieres and international movie stars and directors.
    • When: September
    • Where: Tabakalera

    Location: San Sebastian

    photo by GipuzkoaKultura (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

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