San Sebastian Neighborhoods, Locations and Districts

(Donostia - San Sebastian, Gipuzkoa, Basque Country, Spain)

San Sebastian aerial cityscape viewSan Sebastian is an important city on the northern coast of Spain and contains a number of recognisable districts and regions. One of the main districts in San Sebastian is the Old Quarter (Parte Vieja), which is situated at the bottom of Monte Urgull and contains many of San Sebastian's most popular historical attractions, together with a good selection of restaurants and Tapas bars.

The downtown district of San Sebastian is a particularly animated area of the city, known for its grand cathedral and busy shopping streets. Other districts in San Sebastian worthy of a mention include the Gros district - with a high concentration of eateries and inexpensive accommodation, and the Zona Romántica district of San Sebastian - featuring many of the city's best entertainment venues and clubs. Also worth visiting are San Sebastian's appealing beaches, the most popular of which is the Playa de la Concha. Here are San Sebastian's main districts, neighborhoods and locations.

Photo of San Sebastian's Plaza de la Constitucion or La Consti in the Old Quarter (Parte Vieja)

Old Quarter (Parte Vieja)

San Sebastian's Old Quarter, known locally as the Parte Vieja, stands at the base of Monte Urgull and is the most appealing part of the city. With a rich heritage and a wealth of historic buildings, the Old Quarter district is full of lively streets, containing a high concentration of local speciality shops, restaurants, Tapas bas and street traders, which regularly congregate around the harbour area. The Old Quarter of San Sebastian also features a good selection of 'hostales' (budget hotels), providing good value for money, and the Mercado de la Bretxa, a popular traditional market and shopping area.

Highlights in this part of San Sebastian include the 18th-century Santa Maria Church - featuring Baroque-style architecture, and the 16th-century San Vincente church - with a striking Gothic facade. The Parte Vieja is centered around the Plaza de la Constitución, often known locally as 'La Consti', where you will find countless attractive surrounding buildings often featuring large balconies, used for viewing when the square was used as a bullring many years ago. Nearby, the Museo de San Telmo is one of the district's most popular attractions, housed in an old 16th-century monastery and containing a large collection of art works, together with local artefacts.

Photograph of the Plaza del Buen Pastor in downtown San Sebastian

Downtown District

Central San Sebastian is a busy and lively district, surrounding the Catedral del Buen Pastor, which dominates much of this area, with the eye-catching Koldo Mitxelena Arts Centre being located to the rear. Downtown San Sebastian is centered around the Plaza del Buen Pastor, between the Parte Vieja and Amara area, and although it features to a cluster of local business, restaurants and reasonably priced hotels, lacks the history and charm of the Old Quarter. Much of San Sebastian city centre is based around an organised grid-network of roads and includes some of the best shopping streets in the area, many of which are close to the Plaza de Bilbao.

Gros District

Standing across the Urumea River, the Gros district of San Sebastian is a scenic part of the city. Offering a number of eateries, Tapas bars and accommodation options, the Gros district is also home to Zurriola Beach, which stands along the Avenida De Zurriola, and the busy Renfe train station, located on Paseo de Francia, across from the Urumea River.

Zona Romántica District

Situated around the intersection of San Sebastian's Calle Reyes Católicos and Calle Larramendi, the Zona Romántica district is home to a number of stylish cafés and notable music pubs. A particularly popular jazz club in this part of San Sebastian is Altexerri, which can be found along the Calle Reina Regente and features regular live entertainment.

Image of La Concha beach, San Sebastian


Four main beaches stand along the San Sebastian coastline - the Playa de la Concha, the Playa de Ondarreta, the Playa de la Zurriola and the Playa de Gros. La Concha beach is the most centrally located of San Sebastian's beaches and forms an attractive crescent of fine golden sand around the Bahia de la Concha (Concha Bay), with diving platforms, excellent swimming and regular boat trips to the nearby Isla de Santa Clara.

Ondarreta beach is also known for its calm waters, which are suitable for swimming, with many large and impressive villas nearby. For noticeably quieter beaches along San Sebastian's coastline, both Zurriola beach and neighbouring Gros beaches are home to clean sands and strong waves, with perfect conditions for surfing.