Dive In: Exploring the 4 Best Beaches in San Sebastian

Every summer, without fail, thousands of locals and visitors alike take to San Sebastian’s stunning beaches for some much-needed sun and fun.

However, no matter what time of year you find yourself in town, it’s always worth going down to the beach even just for a quick walk. After all, you’re in the city with some of Europe’s best beaches—how can you resist?

The best part: each of San Sebastian’s beaches has a completely different feel and vibe, meaning there’s something for everyone. We’re breaking down the best beaches in San Sebastian so that no matter what you’re looking for, you’re sure to have an unforgettable time.

The Beach of La Concha is a crescent shaped urban seaboard of the city of San Sebastián located at the Bay of La Concha.
Where we’d rather be: relaxing on the sunny shores of La Concha!

La Concha: Europe’s best urban beach

It’s easy to see why La Concha Beach isn’t just one of the best beaches in San Sebastian, but rather the best in any city on the entire continent. Its unique shell shape, lined with a pristine white promenade and surrounded by gorgeous urban architecture and rugged green mountains, draws more visitors than any other beach in the city each year. A kilometer and a half of sophisticated elegance awaits, whether you prefer to lounge on the fine golden sand or swim in the calm, relaxing waters.

One thing to keep in mind is that this iconic beach does tend to get quite crowded in the summer due to its popularity, but it’s absolutely worth dropping by if only for a quick photo op.

Nearby neighborhoods

The Old Town and city center both provide easy access to one of the best beaches in San Sebastian.

San Sebastian's La Concha beach at night with lights on the water
La Concha beach is stunning after dark; in addition to going during the day, we highly recommend a nighttime stroll. Photo credit: Pug Girl

Ondarreta: Family fun

Located just west of legendary La Concha, Ondarreta Beach offers something completely different. This lovely beach is about half the size of its better-known counterpart, making it a calmer and more relaxing alternative. Situated at the foot of Mount Igueldo and just downshore from the famous Peine del Viento sculpture, it offers easy access to some of San Sebastian’s most unique attractions without feeling touristy.

If you’re traveling with little ones, Ondarreta also happens to be one of the best beaches in San Sebastian for families. The laid-back vibe combined with plenty of family-friendly amenities (such as a playground and canoe rental) make it the perfect place to enjoy some fun in the sun even with little ones in tow.

Nearby neighborhoods

The rejuvenated working-class barrio of Antiguo borders the beach.

People walking their bikes on a stone seaside path.
Ondarreta Beach is perfect to explore by bike.

Zurriola: Surf & sun

A youthful, vibrant ambiance that’s a verifiable surfer’s paradise—no, we’re not talking about one of the laid-back beaches of Southern California, but rather one of the best beaches in San Sebastian! Flanked by Mount Urgull to the west and Mount Ulía to the east, the rugged natural landscape surrounding Zurriola Beach helps contribute to its status as an unpretentious, youthful hangout and home to the best waves (and coolest beach bars) in town. From outdoor sports to live music, there’s always something going on.

Want to catch some waves yourself? There are plenty of excellent surf schools near Zurriola where you can learn the basics and be riding the waves in no time. Keep in mind that the reason the waves are so strong here is because it’s not protected by the bay, unlike the other three beaches. If you’re not quite ready to hop on the board just yet, there are plenty of other activities going on at the beach, such as volleyball and soccer.

Nearby neighborhoods

Zurriola Beach lies on the northern edge of the laid-back Gros neighborhood, and hipster Egia isn’t far, either.

Swimmers on the side of Zurriola Beach in San Sebastian, spain with water, sand, and mountains
Zurriola has a chill, laid-back vibe in addition to the best waves in town. Photo credit: Luis Carrera

Santa Clara Island: Secluded paradise

Rounding out our list of the best beaches in San Sebastian is a tiny hidden pocket of paradise that most visitors won’t even notice. Santa Clara Island, located out in the middle of La Concha Bay, is home to its own small (only 30 meters in length!) but perfectly charming little beach. Home to its own beach bar, terrace, and even a natural swimming pool, the island offers the opportunity to escape the city and enjoy your own little corner of bliss.

You can reach the island via boat with the service Motoras de la Isla. In high season, the boat out to the island leaves Plaza La Lasta every half hour, and roundtrip tickets for adults start at just a few Euros. Adventurous athletes can make their way there on their own via kayak, canoe, or even swimming the 400 meters from Ondarreta Beach!

Before making your plans to visit the beach, keep in mind that the tiny cala all but disappears at high tide. Be sure to plan your getaway for the low tide period.

Nearby neighborhoods

 The island itself is uninhabited, but the boat service leaves from the port on the edge of the Old Town. Geographically speaking, Antiguo is the closest neighborhood to the island itself.

A high overlook overlooking San Sebastian Spain
Another one of the many reasons why we love San Sebastian: it has its own charming little island.

Update notice: This article was updated on June 26, 2023. 

Craving some food after a day at the beach? Join us on our Ultimate Pintxos & Wine Tour to experience the best of both worlds: a curated selection of the best authentic pintxos San Sebastian has to offer, perfectly paired with the drinks locals love, including an outstanding selection of regional wines. Along the way, you’ll pick up invaluable insider info and tips for eating like a local—so you can make every meal count throughout your stay in San Sebastian.

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