San Sebastian in winter

Travelling in summer is always very pleasant, the weather is good for strolling, the sun invites you to participate in the events that are organised at this time of year and with many hours of daylight there is more time to visit the destination of your choice.

San Sebastian is no exception, in summer it is Semana Grande and the La Concha regattas; the beaches are packed to the rafters and the terraces of the bars are full. But San Sebastian also has its own special charm in winter, and we are going to explain why.

A visit with less crowds

The first and most obvious thing is that in winter San Sebastian is much quieter, the masses of tourists have left and in the city there are practically only the locals, the French who come to spend the day and a handful of tourists who don’t know what to do with so much rain.

With so few people on the streets, strolling through areas like the Old Town is much more appetising, the pintxo bars are almost empty and getting a table for lunch or dinner is much easier. There is no need to queue for the Monte Igeldo funicular and wherever we go we will be practically alone, whether it is La Concha beach or the Peine del Viento.

winter

An economical destination

Of course, the fact that there are fewer people because of the low season means that prices are also cheaper. Restaurants and bars cost the same as in summer, but hotels reduce their rates and even staying for a whole week is not unreasonable.

The impressive views of our nature

And yes, we know that in winter it rains and is cold, especially in Donosti, to which we must add the wind that breaks the umbrellas and raises gigantic waves. But it is precisely these winter waves that are one of the biggest and best spectacles that the city offers us at this time of year. Going to see the waves is one of the favourite pastimes of the locals, and something we highly recommend you do.

A cultural walk

If the weather is not even good enough to see the waves, maybe it’s time to visit one of our museums. San Telmo, Tabakalera, the Aquarium… they are always there offering us knowledge, fun and a warm place to spend a morning or afternoon.

If it’s not too bad (sometimes the rain and wind give us a little respite), you can come on one of our Free Walking Tours, where we can give you more tips on how to enjoy the city despite the weather.

Enjoy the Christmas season

If your visit coincides with Christmas time, you can go out to discover the markets, admire the lights and visit the Nativity Scene in Gipuzkoa Square. Or why not take a ride on the ferris wheel in the Alderdi Eder gardens, from where you can enjoy spectacular views of the bay.

At Christmas there are also special events at the Kursaal and the Victoria Eugenia, so it might be a good idea to keep an eye on their programmes, especially because for a while you’ll be sheltered from the bad weather, which, as we said, is the norm in San Sebastian.

The Maria Cristina bridge decorated for Christmas. Photo by EITB.

Learn about our traditions and days of celebration

Apart from Christmas, in winter we also celebrate Santo Tomás and San Sebastián, the most important festivals in Donosti, and if they coincide with your visit, we invite you to enjoy them as much as we do. In addition, just after the Tamborrada, the cider house season begins, one of the best times to come to San Sebastian and taste cider and the most traditional food. Of course, if you want to go to a cider house, you’d better book as soon as possible! The cider houses fill up quickly, so bear this in mind when planning a visit in winter.

Finally, in winter we also celebrate the carnivals, which although they are not as well known as those of Tolosa, have their charm, especially as far as the traditional troupes are concerned. The city is also full of colour and music, so it can be a good plan to visit San Sebastian at this time of year.