San Sebastián (Donostia in Basque, and officially Donostia-San Sebastián) lies in Northern Spain. It is the capital of Guipúzcoa, one of the provinces of the Basque Autonomous Community. It has a population of 186 665 (2018), and the population of the metropolitan area is 436,500.
Although Guipúzcoa has a long-standing industrial tradition, Donostia-San Sebastián is a city focusing on the tertiary sector of the economy, oriented to tourism, commerce, services, and conferences. The people in this city know that progress and welfare can be achieved only if they support science, technology, and sustainable development. Over the past few years, Donostia-San Sebastián has leaned on innovation and knowledge, arts and culture. Moreover, international events such as the San Sebastián International Film Festival have put this comparatively small city on the map.
Donostia-San Sebastián is a city open to the sea, protected by the Igeldo, Urgull and Ulía mountains.
The city’s most emblematic image is provided by the beaches of Ondarreta and La Concha, with the Island of Santa Clara rising up in the middle of the bay. The city’s third beach, La Zurriola, located by the Kursaal Congress Centre, is known throughout the world for its outstanding surfing conditions.
Donostia-San Sebastián is the administrative capital of Gipuzkoa, one of the three territories that make up the Autonomous Region of the Basque Country. It is located in the north east of Spain, 30 km from the French border. The Donostia-Bayonne cross-border axis is an important pole for social, economic and cultural development in the south east of the European Union (EU).
The currency used in the city is the euro, the common currency throughout the EU.
There are two official languages spoken in the city: Spanish and Basque.
Donostia-San Sebastián is a medium-sized city that is in the vanguard of the European development model based on innovation and sustainability. The fact that it has been shortlisted as a European Capital of Culture in 2016renews the city’s bid for its own development.
Thanks to its neat urban layout and manageable size, San Sebastián is an ideal city to be explored on foot, with large pedestrianised areas, cycle lanes and boulevards that stretch all along its coastline, from one end to the other.
The city has an important international tourist tradition that dates back to the 19th Century, an extensive network of clean public transport services, a large architectural icon such as the Kursaal Congress Centre and Auditorium, a wide variety of hotel accommodation and, above all, culinary creativity that makes its gastronomy one of the finest in the world.
As a city beside the sea, San Sebastián enjoys a temperate climate, characterised by mild temperatures, a high level of humidity, frequent cloud cover and high rainfall spread fairly evenly throughout the year.
The coldest month is January, with an average temperature of 7.9 ºC, and the warmest month is August, when the average temperature is around 20 ºC.
Donostia-San Sebastián should be visited and explored on foot, through a series of short but very interesting routes, brimming with surprising architecture, landscapes, culture and art; always pleasing and spectacular.
Vitoria-Gasteiz, a 105 km
Vitoria is the administrative capital of the Basque Country. The gothic layout of its Historic Quarter has survived intact, with its sharp corners, renovated palaces and narrow streets. Well known for its high quality of life, it has been designated a European Green Capital 2012.
Bilbao, a 100 km
Bilbao is the largest city and leading commercial hub in the Basque Country and Spain too. Well-known worldwide for the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao has been redeveloped in the past years and now sets eyes on the future.
Pamplona, a 80 km
Beyond its universal bull-running festival known as Sanfermines, Pamplona is a modern city with a great deal of activity on offer. It is a welcoming, friendly, university city, full of history and sights to discover.
Madrid, a 450 km
Madrid, the capital of Spain, is famous for its vibrant economic, social, and cultural life. With a host of landmarks and museums, Madrid offers visitors a lot of interesting attractions.
If arriving by air, visitors will most probably land at Madrid’s Barajas Airport and then take a connecting flight to Donostia-San Sebastián, 450km/280mi north of Madrid. There are numerous flights, coaches and trains running between the two cities.
San Sebastián airport is 25 km from the city centre. Other airports close to Donostia-San Sebastián are Bilbao (100 km.), Vitoria-Gasteiz (98 km.), Pamplona (90 km.) and Biarritz (50 km.)
There are numerous bus routes that link San Sebastián with other major cities in the Basque Country, Spain and Europe.
Donostia-San Sebastián also has rail links with other major cities in Spain. The company that manages the Spanish railway network is called RENFE.
The A-8 and AP-1 motorways and the A-15 to Pamplona, are, together with the N-1, the main roads in and out of San Sebastián.