With more Michelin stars per resident than anywhere else in the world, the foodie beach locale, San Sebastian, Spain, is a top pick for a European family holiday.
The water in La Concha Bay appears as if it were poured from a million bottles of Aquafina. The sand is like satin and extends far into the shimmering shallow shores. With its attentive lifeguards, cabanas, clean bathrooms, and locker rentals, La Concha is literally the best beach for kids.
As you explore the vibrantly colored marina, the local fishermen are catching the “Daily Special” for nearby restaurants. San Sebastian was once a small fishing village that hunted whale and cod. At another time, it was even a bustling port, importing oil and wines for France and England. Once Queen Isabel began visiting San Sebastian in the summer the little village turned into a small thriving city.
In the many parks scattered throughout the city, you’ll spot mothers and fathers chasing their little ones or napping together in the lush grass.
A country where most children live with their parents until their late twenties, the family is embedded in the Spanish culture. Spanish mamas love their babies!
It is extremely common to even see babies and small children in restaurants and bars late at night, and no one bats an eye.
Though it is likely your family will have the best time in San Sebastian strolling through old town or beachcombing along the two-mile promenade, we have a list of fun family activities that are bound to make you pop open a Spanish dictionary and shout, “Vámonos!”
This century-old recently renovated aquarium is fun for young and old alike. Located only a few minutes from the city center, this entertaining feast for the eyes houses everything from Nemo to sharks to whale skeletons.
Adult: €13|Children 4-12: €6.50|Children under 4: Free
Over 3,000 square feet of simulations with a planetarium and instructor-led activities on the weekends. It is easy to kill a few hours in here if you are trying to escape a toasty day.
Adult: €10|Children 0-3: Free|Take note there are additional fees for special exhibits.
Harboring some of the most picture-perfect views of the city of San Sebastian, this amusement park has everything from a funicular to a mid-eighteenth century lighthouse. This breathtaking park set on the mountaintop has 20 amusement rides* and a labyrinth has something for everyone and will be bound to be a family favorite.
Funicular Roundtrip (The funicular ticket includes the entrance to the enclosure/lookout)
General (ages 7 and up) €3.15 |Children 0-6: €2.35
*Attractions in the amusement park are charged per person per ride.
Dotted with pink flamingos and peacocks, towering trees with plentiful shade, and trails approved by the most discriminative power-walker, Cristina Enea park is a hit with both locals and tourists. Conveniently located near the train station, this oasis is the perfect place to play soccer, have a family picnic, or chill with a gelato in your hand as you search for tortoises. If the gelato doesn’t keep you cool enough, there is a quaint library there too that you can duck into for a blast of cold air.
Even a kayaking novice can handle the calm, clear waters of Concha Bay. During the summer, kayaks can be rented on Ondarreta Beach, close to Pico de Loro, the landmark mirador at Palacio de Miramar.
Prices start from €6.50 for a single kayak for half an hour or €18 for two hours. A double kayak can be rented for €10.50 for half an hour or €25 for two hours. Three-person kayaks are also available; these are perfect for a parent who wants to ride along with two children. The minimum age for the kayak is 12 years old.
If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can even rent a stand-up paddleboard.
- The Spanish tapas you hear so much about are referred to as pintxos in this part of the region. Cold ones are on display on the bar, the hot ones you order from the barman. Perfect bite-sized portions for the little ones too! When you are done eating your pintxos (and a couple cervesas), you ask the barman for the bill, but tell him what you have eaten. Stay honest! This is a local tradition. An easy trick to help you remember your tally is to keep the toothpicks from each pintxo.
- Kids gotta go potty or craving time with Dora the Explorer? The central beach in San Sebastian, La Concha, offers clean toilets, showers (inside and outside), lockers, changing rooms, and Wi-Fi.