City & Lodging
The city of Donostia-San Sebastián is located in the Basque Country on the north coast of Spain. It's known for its beautiful views and gastronomy. Right on the water, the city is a very popular spot in the summer. The city’s popularity as a summer destination can be traced back to 1893, when queen María Cristina began visiting the city during the summer season. By the turn of the century, the city had become very fashionable, and witnessed Cake Walk and Charleston troupes from France, and even a visit from entertainer Josephine Baker. The name of our festival is a tribute to these times, and celebrates the Belle Époque in San Sebastián.
Below you’ll find basic information about the city. For more information on guided tours, museums, restaurants, etc we can refer you to San Sebastian’s Tourism Bureau.
If you are flying to the festival, the easiest way to get to Donostia-San Sebastián is probably to fly to Bilbao airport (Loiu) and take the shuttle bus (75 minutes). Depending on where you are flying from, the smaller airport in Fuenterrabía/Hondarribia (about 40 minutes away) might suit you better.
You’ll find information and bus schedules from both airports on the website of the bus company PESA.
Where to stay
We can recommend the following affordable places to stay. Please take into account that the festival is taking place over a long weekend, so we recommend you sort out your accommodation as soon as possible! Please don’t wait till the last minute!!
We’re a small community, so hosting options will be limited and a on a first-come first-served basis!
A Room in the City
A Room in the City is a brand new hostel right in the city center that offers very modern private and shared bedrooms (sleeping 4, 6, 8 or 12 people) at affordable prices. The hostel is in a picturesque building (a former convent) and has shared spaces filled with sofas and a large terrace.
At A Room in the City you'll be a 15 minute walk away from both Mirarmar Palace (classes and Friday party) and the Kursaal (Saturday party).
Online booking available. (Cheapest rates from this website.)
Koisi is another very new hostel, offering single rooms as well as 4, 6 and 8 person rooms. The hostel is a 10 minute walk away from Miramar Palace, and the Kursaal can be reached by public transport (or a 40 minute walk along San Sebastián's lovely beaches).
Online booking available. (Discount available for festival attendees. Mention Donosti Belle Swing Festival when you make your reservation.)
Hotel Zaragoza Plaza
The Zaragoza Plaza Hotel is in the city center (very near A Room in the City) and offers double and single rooms at an affordable price.
Both the Miramar Palace and the Kursaal are 15 minutes away on foot.
Online booking available. (Discount coupon for a limited number of double rooms. Coupon code will be included in your registration confirmation email)
Ondarreta Youth Hostel ("La Sirena")
"La Sirena" is a municipal youth hostel offering rooms sleeping 2, 4, 6, 8 or 18 people. It's located very near Ondarreta beach, and is a short walk away from Miramar Palace. The Kursaal can be reached by public transport (or a 40 minute walk along San Sebastián's lovely beaches).
Where to eat
You’ve probably heard of Donostia-San Sebastián’s famous gastronomy. With three 3-star Michelin restaurants (Arzak, Akelarre and Martín Berasategui), and one 2-start restaurant (Mugariz), it’s the second city with the most Michelin star restaurants per capita, after Kyoto. Just as famous are the city’s “Pintxos”, sometimes called a miniature form of cuisine. On average, bars and restaurants in Donostia are very good quality, and will make eating in this city a memorable experience.
Check out the Tourism Bureau’s website for a comprehensive list of pintxo bars, and remember that some pintxos are in Sunday’s program, before the outdoor dance!
What to see
Listed below are a few of the sights you shouldn't miss during your weekend in Donostia!
The Old Town
The old part of town is near the port and at the foot of Urgul. Your visit to San Sebastian won't be complete until you've walked these streets and stopped by the many pintxo bars for a drink and a bite to eat.
The most famous street is called "31 of August", named after the date on which the city was burned to the ground by the English in 1813, one of the final blows to Joseph-Napoléon Bonaparte's reign in Spain. The only street left standing was the one that today is called 31 of August. The city was not expected to recover, but Donostia reemerged from the ashes, to eventually become the city you see today.
Urgull is the name of the hill rising up between the Old Town and the sea. A ten minute stroll to the top will take you to the city’s old fortress, dating back to the twelfth century. The top affords a lovely view of the city, the bay and the mountains surrounding Donostia-San Sebastián.
The view from Igeldo mountain is the postcard image you'll most often see of Donostia. Besides the view, you can also visit the old amusement park (1912) and ride on the old "swiss mountain" (roller coaster) if you dare.
You can get to the top of Igeldo in the charming cable car ("funicular") or on foot.
Peine del Viento
The "Peine del Viento" (meaning "comb of the wind") is a collection of steel sculptures by Basque artist Eduardo Chillda. These strange figures are set in the rocks on the far end of Ondarreta beach and withstand the wind and waves of Donostia's gales, and have become a symbol of the city.