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San Sebastián is easy to reach and we whipped up this post to help guide your arrival so that it’s effortless, comfortable and stylish, just like our lovely city! Usually a destination with so much charm, originality and stunning natural wonder takes extra effort to access, but that is not the case with San Sebastián!
OK, no, we don’t have a large airport in town, nor is there high-speed rail service, but these two omissions have helped the city stay less crowded and retain its authenticity. You won’t find eyesore resorts or cheesy beach shops polluting San Sebastián and its surrounding nature. Instead, you’ll enter a timeless and sophisticated beach town unparalleled in the world, with curious and friendly locals, delicious cuisine and a joie de vivre that will stay with you long after your visit. And it is easy to get here, which we’ve already mentioned, so what are you waiting for? Let’s go to the beach!
Most long haul flights to Spain arrive in Madrid or Barcelona and connections to the Basque Country are frequent and fast. The three airports servicing San Sebastián are small and easy to access making check-ins and landings a breeze.
San Sebastián Airport (EAS)
The nearest airport is just 20 minutes from San Sebastián near the French border in Hondarribia. The tiny airport is only serviced by Iberia, Veuling and Air Nostrum airlines with direct flights to and from Madrid and Barcelona daily. Taxi service will bring you from the airport to the center of San Sebastián in under a half hour.
Biarritz Airport (BIQ)
Biarritz, France is the next closest option for flights with a large number of connections throughout Europe, especially France. A comfortable shuttle bus operated by PESA makes a daily connection to and from San Sebastián in less than an hour for €10. Taxi service will also bring you to San Sebastián in about 45 minutes for about €120.
Bilbao Airport (BIO)
The Bilbao Airport is the largest in the Basque Country with a large number of connections to nearly every major airport in Spain and a number of international flights across Europe, Turkey and North Africa. PESA runs clean and efficient airport shuttles hourly, with a journey time of about one hour and ten minutes for €17. Taxi service is also available, takes about one hour, and costs a good €130.
In a hurry? Want to arrive like a VIP? We can arrange helicopter travel for you and offer private service to the Rioja for our most demanding clients. Please contact us for more information.
Here’s a list with links to the main airlines servicing our three closest airports:
AirFrance (BIQ, BIO)
AirNostrum (BIO, EAS)
EasyJet (BIQ, BIO)
Iberia (EAS, BIO)
Vueling (EAS, BIO)
Do you suffer from bus phobia? So do we, but not here! Fear not, the airport shuttles, regional (PESA) and national (ALSA) bus lines are no jalopies. Bus travel in Spain is affordable, efficient and surprisingly comfortable. Each time we ride the bus we’re amazed with the level of cleanliness and comfort. In fact the journey to town is downright relaxing with large reclining seats and elevated views of the surrounding Basque mountains and countryside.
ALSA operates multiple buses a day between Madrid (six hours), Barcelona (eight hours), Bilbao (90 minutes), Pamplona (one hour), Santander (two hours) and just about any other destination in Spain you need to reach. Without question, this is the number one bus company in Spain travelling from each corner of the peninsula and everywhere in between.
PESA is the regional carrier for the greater San Sebastián area accessing Bilbao (one hour), numerous local destinations and a handful of spots in the French Basque Country including Biarritz and Bayonne (just over an hour each). PESA also operates the daily airport shuttle to Biarritz and hourly airport shuttles to Bilbao.
The bus station in San Sebastian is located next to the “De Pio XII Plaza” around the corner from the Hotel Astoria 7. From here, a lovely 20-minute walk or a swift taxi ride is all it takes to get you barefoot on the beach!
Driving in the Basque Country is delightful. The AP-8 national motorway in Spain (connecting Bilbao to San Sebastián) is sleek and efficient (tolls are collected) and smaller local roads will wind you along the coastline and through mountains affording vistas that are priceless. The same goes for the French side of the Basque Country where the A63 highway will take you to Biarritz and beyond all the way to Bordeaux. Why not make a day-trip out of the journey? Go slow, enjoy lunch in small fishing village or mountain pueblo.
Avis, Europcar and Hertz are the three major car rental agencies in the area and are available at all of the named airports and most major rail stations, including those in France.
Want to bring your own wheels? Brittany Ferries offers services from Portsmouth and Plymouth in the UK to both Santander and Bilbao. Trust us, there’s nothing more thrilling then the feel of an Aston Martin’s wheels gripping the Basque coastline!
All great European cities are connected by rail. It’s a timeless and classic way to travel after all! San Sebastian has two rail stations, the main RENFE station (a mere five minute walk from the San Sebastián Food studio) and the local EUSKOTREN metro line in the neighborhood of Amara.
RENFE is the national rail service of Spain and our station in San Sebastián welcomes trains from both Barcelona (twice daily) and Madrid (several daily) with journey times averaging five and a half hours. Service runs from Pamplona (twice daily, under two hours) and many other locations throughout Spain. Prices are reasonable and often competitive with bus travel.
By plane, by rail, by car, or by bus, there are many ways to arrive to San Sebastián gracefully. If you’re in a hurry, splurge on helicopter service with your next best option being plane and taxi. Many locals say it’s best to save the money for wine, food and more wine though, so don’t sweat it if you take the rails or bus your way into town. And once you’re here, walking, biking and swimming are the only transportation you’ll really need to properly explore this gorgeous and delicious destination! After all you can’t make a wrong turn or arrive in bad form in a city as fabulous as San Sebastián.
Don’t hesitate to contact us with any travel queries, bookings or questions. For more information see our website sansebastianfood.com