The people

The people from Donostia-San Sebastián are calledDonostiarras. They like to spend time with family and friends, and enjoy the sea and nature as well as the city’s characteristic drizzle, or sirimiri.

As in nearly all of Europe, football is the most popular team sport here, and the biggest local team is Real Sociedad. However, other sports such as Basque pelota, basketball, hockey, rugby or trainera regattas are very popular with the local people too.

The city’s culinary offer, internationally renowned as one of the most important gastronomies in the world, shapes the social habits of donostiarras.

Lenguages: Spanish and Basque. Emergencies: 112, common to the whole of the EU.

There are two official languages in Donostia-San Sebastián. They are Spanish and Basque. Every Donostiarra (person from Donostia-San Sebastián) speaks Spanish, whereas Basque is the native language in the Basque Country.

Road, airport, and public office signs are generally written in both languages. Many people in Donostia-San Sebastián also speak French, being so close to the border with France, or English, which is taught in schools at an elementary level. There are many Spanish and Basque learning centres in town where you can learn grammar, vocabulary, and communication skills.

Information on Spanish

Information on Basque

 

Coffee shops, patisseries and bakeries, as well as some bars, open at around 8 or 8.30 in the morning, and serve breakfast until around 10 or 10.30 a.m.

Lunch is served from 1 p.m. onwards, although restaurants and bars start to fill up from around 2 p.m. onwards. When at home, donostiarras have lunch between 1.30 and 3 p.m.

Dinner is usually at around 9 p.m. Bars and restaurants serve dinner from 8.30 p.m. onwards, although it is common to meet for dinner at 9.30 or 10 p.m., especially on weekends. Restaurant kitchens are open until 11 p.m. 

 

Shops open from Monday to Saturday, although some close on Monday mornings.

The opening hours are from 9 or 10 a.m. to 1-1.30 p.m., and from 4 or 5 p.m. to 7.30 or 8 p.m. Some shops do not close for lunch.

With a few exceptions, all shops close on Sundays and public holidays.

 

Banks open at 8 a.m. and close at 2 p.m., although some stay open until 3 p.m. Some branches open on Saturday mornings and on some afternoons.

Foreign nationals can open a current or savings account in Spain. There are two options:

If the person is a resident, they just need to provide their passport or residents card.

If the person is not a resident, they can open an account with a certificate of non residence issued by the Police or Consulate, or with the census registration certificate issued by the Council.

 

Generally, cinemas and theatres offer sessions in the afternoon and evening. 

Closing times in bars and pubs are between midnight and 2 a.m. Clubs and discos usually close at 5 a.m. in winter and 7 a.m. in summer.

 

The centre and the Old Town are the most popular areas for shopping or leisure and entertainment activities. Other neighbourhoods, like Gros, Amara, El Antiguo or Egia, also offer great entertainment or cultural options, as well as beaches and parks.

Areas such as Martutene, Igeldo and Zubieta, on the other hand, retain their essence as rural areas close to the more urban Donostia.

 

The city’s commitment to sustainable development and environmental protection is reflected in its numerous parks and gardens.

The major parks are Cristina Enea, Miramon, Urgull, Ayete, and Ulia, home to native species of plants and animals. They are located in the higher parts of the city.

The urban gardens preserve the city’s old romantic spirit. The most important ones are: Palacio Miramar, Alderdi Eder, Ondarreta, El Paseo de Francia and La Plaza Gipuzkoa.

 

If you need somewhere to stay for a few days, have a look at this list of establishments including agro-tourism, hostels, hotels and B&Bs in the city.

 

Local holidays and festivities

Donostia-San Sebastián has a busy festival calendar. On festive days, when the city gets lively with music and bright colours, visitors can meet and mingle with local people to experience the local atmosphere.

Tamborrada: This is the city’s main holiday, on 20th January, the Day of San Sebastián.
 
Caldereros: Held in February as a prelude to the carnival.
 
Carnavales: Held in August, during the week of the 15th, the Assumption. There are various activities organised, including the San Sebastián International Fireworks Competition.
 
Semana Grande: Se celebra en agosto, durante la semana del día 15 -la Asunción-. Entre las diversas actividades que se organizan destaca el Concurso Internacional de Fuegos Artificiales de San Sebastián.
 
31 de Agosto: Following the fire that devastated the city in 1813 during the war of independence from France, only one street, the oldest in town, remained standing – 31 de Agosto Street, in the Old Town.
 
Santo Tomás: On 21st December, the Festival of St Thomas celebrates the time of year when the farmers came to town to sell fresh produce and cattle.

Religion

Donostiarras are mostly Catholic although in the city you can also find Protestant, Islamic and Orthodox places of worship.

Meeting people

Donostia-San Sebastián has a solid tradition of associationism and participation. The city has numerous associations and NGOs, whose activity revolves around a wide variety of different social, cultural and sporting issues.

Living with children

Donostia is a wonderful place for children. The size of the city, its habitability, the ease of access, its environmental standards, support of cycling and its strong investment in parks and green areas make it particularly pleasant for children.

In the city and all its neighbourhoods there are modern children’s play areas dotted about that offer the highest levels of safety for children.

In different areas of the city you can also find public libraries and play centres specifically for children.

Getting Around

Donostia-San Sebastián bids for sustainable travel to transform the city into a nice environment for pedestrians and people who use any means of transport other than cars. The city has an extensive network of bidegorris or cycle lanes and actively promotes the use of public transport.