Gros neighbourhoud in San Sebastian

If you come to San Sebastian for a visit, it is likely that you will mainly visit the Old Town and the Centre of the city, as these are the most historic and touristic neighbourhoods, and most of the bars and shops are spread between the two. But San Sebastian has many more neighbourhoods to explore, where we also have interesting places to visit, and bars, restaurants and shops worth discovering. One of these neighbourhoods is Gros.

Gros is a somewhat newer neighbourhood than the Centre, developed between the end of the 19th century and the end of the 20th century. Before the current neighbourhood, Gros was a large sandy area bathed by the river and the sea, where the convent of San Francisco was almost the only building and through which the road to Pasajes passed. Its name comes from Tomás Gros, the owner of much of the land on that sandy area, which the town council bought to develop it in the 1890s. In fact, one of the streets in the neighbourhood is named after him.

What to see in Gros

Probably the best known thing about Gros is the beach of La Zurriola. Open to the Cantabrian Sea, its waves are perfect for surfing, so it is not surprising that there are surfers trying to catch a wave at practically all hours, or simply enjoying the swaying of the sea. That’s why the Zurriola promenade is full of surf schools and surf shops where you can rent a board or book a lesson. But it’s not all about surfing; in La Zurriola you can also sunbathe, stroll and swim, although the latter should always be done with care, as the sea currents can be dangerous.


Zurriola beach as seen from Mount Urgull. Next to the river, the Kursaal and in the background the Sagües area and Mount Ulia.

At the end closest to the Old Town, we find the Kursaal Conference Centre and Auditorium. Inaugurated in 1999, its name comes from an old casino that used to exist in the same place. Today the building is mainly known for the International Film Festival that is held there every September. Although it cannot be visited, we can admire it from the outside, or enjoy the free exhibitions organised by the Kubo hall.

Following the beach, after a very pleasant walk, we will reach the Sagües area, at the foot of Mount Ulia, a place that we locals enjoy especially in summer, as from the wall overlooking La Zurriola you can see some of the best sunsets in the city. Something to drink, something to eat and good company is all you need to feel like a local. Or if you prefer, there are plenty of bars and restaurants nearby with terraces where you can sit and watch the sun go down.

Moving deeper into the neighbourhood, the main square is Plaza Cataluña, a huge open space with a children’s playground, where the children of Gros are the kings. On one side of the square is the church of San Ignacio, designed by José Goikoa in neo-Gothic style and inaugurated in 1888. This being the heart of the neighbourhood, in the surrounding area you will find local shops, bars and restaurants, many of them with sun terraces where you can relax after a long day’s walking.

Eating in Gros

In addition to Sagües and the area around Plaza Cataluña, Zabaleta Street, which crosses Plaza Cataluña, and Peña y Goñi Street, opposite the Kursaal, are also areas of bars and restaurants. In these streets and others you will find pintxos in places like Bodega Donostiarra, Bergara, Gure Txoko, Casa Senra, Ricardo or Ezkurra. But you will also find all kinds of international and fusion food in Gros. Some of our favourites are Apu-mar (Peruvian), Gerald’s (Basque-Australian fusion), Elosta (sushi), Topa (Basque-Mexican fusion) or Humo (pizza).

Plaza Cataluña at sunset.

And if craft beer is your thing, this is THE neighbourhood. Mala Gissona, Basqueland and Bagabiga have tap rooms here where you can taste their own beers and others accompanied by excellent food. But in addition, Monpas, Desy and the Hopa shop have more varieties from all over the world for a good tasting. A must if you like beer.

Also, on Thursdays in Gros there is pintxo-pote. From 7pm onwards, some of the bars in the neighbourhood offer pintxos and drinks for a reasonable price. They are not the best pintxos in the world, and some bars are so crowded that it takes a while to get the waiters to notice you, but it is cheap and if you are on a tight budget it can be a great option. To find out which bars do pintxo-pote it’s easy, the ones that are packed. Or you can ask students and young people, they are the experts.

How to get to Gros

Gros is on the other side of the Centre, and to get there from the Old Town is very easy, as you simply have to cross the first bridge of all, the Kursaal or Zurriola bridge. From the Centre, the bridge to cross is the Santa Catalina bridge, a little further up the river Urumea. If you are already on the other side of the river, in the Egia neighbourhood, in the Cristina Enea park or at one of the stations, either the bus or the train station, it is also very easy to get there, as you are just a 5-minute walk from Gros, walking north or following the river.