The 7 reasons why you should visit San Sebastián

The Basque beauty at the Atlantic Ocean

When you visit San Sebastián (Donostia in Basque) you will realize that there is much more to discover than just beach and sun. The capital of the province Guipúzcoais in the autonomous Basque region is located 20 km away from the French border and offers various exhibitions, concerts, popular fiestas, sports and international events during the whole year. During the night the city is seperated into three main late-night areas. The most popular one is the Old Town. During the day this part is ruled by “txhikiteros” (groups of men and women who drink glasses of wine with pintxos) and at night it turns into a lively bar scene. The Calle Reyes Católicos is the chic area of the city, because there are modern bars with all sorts of different atmospheres and daring music. The relaxing area of San Sebastián you will find at the district of Gros, where bars are more spread out.


1) La semana Grande

The title tells it already. La semana Grande signifies the big week of San Sebastián, where the whole region celebrates annually during one week. The fiestas that are also an annual activity at our language school start at the 15th of August and during this week the entire region changes into a huge party destination with hundreds of activities all around town. The rite of this special is that the locals put on their party clothes and tie a red kerchief round their neck.

The most important event during “la semana grande” is the fireworks competition. This year it celebrates its 50th edition and the est place to join it is La Concha beach.

2) Surffilm Festival 

San Sebastián is not only the surf center of Spain, the city also hosts one of the most important film festivals in world. The event with the name Surfilm Festibal Donostia is the world’s finest surf-film festival and has a major influence on the worldwide film industry and showcased the best in surf cinema, from the major global releases to obscure indie shorts and local flavours. The Surfilm Festibal invites the audience to take a virtual tour to one of Europe’s coolest coastal cities, with great vibes and legendary late night revelry. The festival has been non operative for the last few years, maybe this year it will be hosted again.

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3) Jazzaldia Festival

In 2022 the Jazzaldia Festival celebrates its 57th anniversary from the 20nd till 25th July. The annual music event invites “la-crème-de-la-crème” of the Jazz music genre to the Basque city and turns the whole city and region into the Jazz center of Europe. The musical performances take place on different terraces and spaces in the city center as well as on the beach of San Sebastián.

4) San Sebastián – the European capital of cultures 2016

In 1985, former actress Melina Mercouri, then Greece’s Minister of Culture, and her French counterpart Jack Lang came up with the idea of designating an annual Capital of Culture to bring Europeans closer together by highlighting the richness and diversity of European cultures and raising awareness of their common history and values. The celebration of the European capital of culture started with Athens in 1985. Since then more than 50 cities have followed the Greek capital.

The Commission of the European Union manages the title and each year the Council of Ministers of the European Union formally designates European Capitals of Culture. Every year the selected cities receive support from the fund “Creative Europe” of the European Union to add wealth, diversity and community to the cultural heritage of Europe.

This year the European Union celebrates the 30th anniversary of the capital of culture with the representative cities Mons in Belgium and Pilsen in Czech Repbulic. Since 2004 the European Union has voted every year for two European capitals of culture, although every three years non-member and potential states of the European Union can apply for the vote in order to announce a representative city.

San Sebastián in Spain was named European Capital of culture 2016. After Salamanca and 12 years of absence the Basques city brings back the capital of culture to Spain. This project is enormously important for Spain and it is an opportunity  to boost culture and education in values in the Basques region. The city of San Sebastián publishes a program preview with thirty cultural projects for the upcoming year.

5) Surfing in San Sebastián

Surfing play a major role in the city of San Sebastián. Even though the birthplace of European surfing is Biarritz in France, the region around San Sebastián is widely regarded as the best urban surfing spot in all of Europe nowadays. As the popularity in the water sport grows, more surfers are coming to this region and surfing schools are open all year round.  Thousands of surfers are coming every year to the Guipúzcoais region to experience the best surfing spots in that area. You have also the possibility at our language school in San Sebastián to attend an individual surfing course in order to surf the waves of the marvelous Zurriola beaches.


1) Geoparque de la Costa Vasca

Only a few kilometers away from San Sebastián you find some of Europe’s most important geological sites. The geoparc located between the cities of Mutriku, Deba and Zumaia connects the local population and visitors to the natural heritage of the area. When you talk a walk from Mutriku to Zumaia you can experience a trip of 50 million years of history and the flysch provides an insight on how our world has been shaped.

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2) Goierri

For lovers of the countryside and mountain landscape the region Gioerri offers everything you need. The area of Ordizia, Ormaiztegi, Zerain and Ataun is perfect for hiking and visiting historical sites of interest, such as the Roman mines in the nature reserves of Aralar and Aiako Harria, just 30 minutes away from San Sebastián. If you are a fan of tradition and local products, don’t miss out the markets in Ordizia and Tolosa that take place every week and where the farmers of the region present and sell their products.

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