Best day trips from San Sebastian
Are you ready to get to know the best day trips from San Sebastian? Let’s dive into it!
1. San Juan de Gaztelugatxe
One of the most popular places in the Basque Country that you can visit during your stay in San Sebastian is San Juan de Gaztelugatxe. This famous islet, located between Bakio and Bermeo, is one of the most beautiful sites in the Basque coast. It is connected to the mainland by a stone bridge with two arches.
You will need to go up 241 stairs to reach the islet’s highest point, which is 150 meters above sea level. There is a hermitage dedicated to San Juan Bautista. As you see the breathtaking views of the cliffs, the untamed beaches, and the zigzag stairway, you’ll understand that every effort was worthwhile.
This amazing place is located 120 km from San Sebastian. It is a great day trip especially if you have a car, since you will be able to make more stops on your way there, or on your way back. But you can also get there using public transportation. In this case, you have to take Euskotren line E4 and get off in Bermeo. From there, take the bus to Gaztelugatxe.
Admission is free but you will have to book a ticket in advance from this website in order to enter. I advise you to do it as soon as possible. You can also take this boat trip from Bermeo to Gaztelugatxe.
2. Zumaia Flysch and Sakoneta Beach
If you are willing to see one of the most beautiful natural landscapes in Spain, I recommend a day trip to Zumaia Flysch, a place near San Sebastian that will let you open-mouthed.
If you have never been to a place like this before, you may probably be wondering what a flysch is. It is an alternating sedimentation produced by the differential erosion of cohesive hard rocks (limestone, slate or sandstone) and other soft friable rocks (marl or shales). You will understand it better when you see it with your own eyes.
To see this nature’s wonder, you will have to travel to Zumaia, located 35 km from San Sebastian. You can get there by car or by bus. If you go on your own, once you are in Zumaia you can take a trip boat through the Zumaia Flysch. Not too far from this Guispuzcoan town you’ll find Sakoneta Beach, where you will be able to see the same formation.
3. Biarritz, a fantastic day trip from San Sebastian
San Sebastian is very close to the French border. Therefore, it can be a very good idea to visit the neighboring country. If this plan sounds good to you, I would recommend going to Biarritz. I have been in this seaside town several times and I am totally in love with it. Biarritz combines the classic French elegance with a surfer style, a very attractive mix.
If you decide to take that day trip from San Sebastian, I recommend you to take a look at my blog post on what to see in Biarritz and where to eat in Biarritz (coming soon!). There, you will find the essential places to visit, my favorite restaurants and hotel recommendation (in case you want to stay longer than a day).
Take a walk around its old town and along the promenade, eat oysters in the local market, enjoy the sea in one of its beaches or take a Biarritz guided tour to get to know the place a bit better.
If you want to spend the night in this beautiful French town, take a look at all the available hotels in Biarritz.
4. Butron Castle, one the best places to visit near San Sebastian
The Butron Castle is an amazing place I visited on one of my last trips. This castle is located in Vizcaya, not too far from San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, so you can take the opportunity to visit both places. It was built in the Middle Ages. It is neo-gothic in style, and it’s surrounded by a vast park of 35.000 square meters.
It was owned by the Butron family for three centuries before the Marques de Cubas took control of rebuilding it using other European castles as a model. This magnificent castle is currently without an owner. The interior is not open to the public; however, you can still see its amazing exterior. It is only 109 kilometers from San Sebastian and is very worthwhile.
5. Day trip to Gipuzkoa coastal towns
On the Gipuzkoa coast, you can find a great number of charming fishing villages. Guetaria, Orio, Zarauz and Zumaia are among them. If you have your own vehicle, it is highly recommended that you go on a small road trip where you can make stops in all these towns and at natural viewpoints with incredible sea views.
But if that’s not the case for you, I suggest you book a trip to the Gipuzkoa Coast. Starting in San Sebastian, the tour takes you to Zumaia’s San Telmo Beach, Orio, Antilla Beach, Orizabar Beach, Guetaria, and Malkorbe Beach.
6. Hondarribia, the best day trip from San Sebastian
Hondarribia is one of the most beautiful towns in Spain. Its close proximity to the Guipuzcoan capital, only 23 km away, makes it one of the best day trips from San Sebastian. It is a coastal town whose walled old quarter gives off magic and beauty from every corner. Make sure you get lost in its picturesque streets and try its exquisite cuisine.
Some places to visit in Hondarribia are Carlos V Castle, Puerta de Santa Maria, Hondarribia’s Wall, Gipuzkoa Square, San Nicolas Port, Plaza del Obispo, Kale Nagusia (the main street), Plaza de Armas, and the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción y del Manzano. You can go there by car, by bus or by booking an organized excursion.
If you want to enjoy this pretty town in Guipuzcoana with more peace of mind, take a look at all the hotels in Hondarribia that are still available.
7. Pasajes, a beautiful town close to San Sebastian
One of the things to do in San Sebastian that I enjoyed the most was walking from the city to Pasajes San Juan. This route is part of the Camino de Santiago del Norte.
The walk starts in Monte Ulia, situated next to Zurriola Beach. There are different paths, some of which are closer to the coast and offer sea views, while others go through the forests in the mountains. The route from San Sebastian to Pasajes is about 7 km. I recommend you go walking and return by bus.
Once you arrive at Pasajes San Pedro, you’ll have to take a boat to cross the bay and get to Pasajes San Juan, a charming little town. Walk along its streets and refuel in one of its restaurants. After so much waking you will surely be very hungry and thirsty.
8. Excursion to Saint-Jean-de-Luz
If you want to go to France but you have already been to Biarritz, visiting Saint-Jean-de-Luz is a good alternative. This charming coastal French town will make you enjoy the little simple pleasures in life.
There, you will be able to spend the day at the beach, taste exquisite dishes, take a walk in the charming historic centre or visit the central market to try some of the local products. It is a small town but very pretty, full of little streets and lovely shops.
Don’t forget to visit the fishing village, the promenade, the old Gran Hotel and Casino La Perla, Plaza Luis XIV, Gambetta street, the church of San Juan Bautista or the Paul Jovet Coastal Botanical Garden. To go to Saint-Jean-de-Luz from San Sebastian, you will just have to drive 33 km.
If you wish to stay more than one day in this charming French town? Take a look at all the available hotels in Saint-Jean-de-Luz.
9. Tour to a Gipuzkoan cider house
Do you like cider? If your answer is yes, take a look at this tour of a Gipuzkoan cider house. There, you will be able to know all the secrets and enjoy a tasting of this popular drink. After a 20 minute walk, the tour will begin with a visit of the cider house, the apple orchards and the cellar. You will learn everything about the elaboration and the history of cider in the Basque Country.
The tour also includes a meal consisting of an appetizer, cod omelette, fried cod with peppers, grilled steak and cheese with walnuts and quince. The tour lasts four hours and costs €72 per person.
10. Visit Bilbao from San Sebastian
If you are going to spend at least 3 days in San Sebastian and the surrounding area, visiting Bilbao is an essential thing to do, especially if you have never been there before. It is located about 100 km from San Sebastian. If you wish to visit the most populated city in the Basque Country, just take a look at my Bilbao one day itinerary.
The route I suggest will take you to San Antón Bridge, Ribera Market, Santiago de Bilbao Cathedral, the Plaza Nueva, Paseo del Arenal, Zubizuri Bridge, the Guggeheim Museum and other places in downtown Bilbao.
Want to spend at least one night in Bilbao? Don’t miss my article on where to stay in Bilbao.
Map: San Sebastian day trips
All the locations listed in this post that you must see on a day trip from San Sebastian are highlighted on the map below. It is also very simple and quick to determine how far away various locations are from Donostia.
Take a look at my Spain guide if you are planning to visit other regions of the country.
I hope this article on the best day trips from San Sebastian helps you organize your trip to this beautiful city in the Basque Country. If you want to share your experience with me or have any doubts, I encourage you to leave a comment below. Until next time, travelers!