It’s fair to say that a good night out isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of San Sebastian. The city is more famous for other things like the beaches, the food and strong Basque traditions.
However, after indulging in some pintxos, there’s a good night out to be had in Donostia. You just need to know where to go!
The best area for you will depend on what type of night out you’re after.
All in all, there are four main “zones” which are widely known as the best places to party away.
Parte Vieja (Old Town)
San Sebastian’s Parte Vieja (Old Town) is generally the centre of the party whatever the occasion.
During the early evening, groups of people move from one bar to the next trying out the best pintxos on offer. However, as the evening draws closer to the night, the eating stops and the partying begins.
Ikatz Kalea (Juan de Bilbao Kalea in Spanish) is one of the areas at the heart of the Old Town nightlife. The street is lined with tavernas (bars) on both sides. However most bring their drinks out of the bars to the street, creating a lively street party atmosphere that continues until 4am on most weekends!
Other lively spots that are open late are dotted around the Parte Vieja such as Buga (Calle 31 Agosto) and Atari Gastroteka (Calle Mayor). ¡Be Club! (Calle Salamanca) is another late night option on the cusp of the Parte Vieja facing Kursaal.
The Boulevard is the main street that links the Old Town to the central district of San Sebastian and has a couple of alternative options.
Museo del Whiskey and Altxerri Jazz&Bar both offer some late night, early morning drinking with a touch of live music. You can check out the concerts on the Altxerri Jazz&Bar website.
El centro (or the centre) is really the main shopping district of San Sebastian. But in and amongst the shops are some great spots for a night out.
Most of the good areas spookily revolve around the church.
First, Convent Garden which is one of my favourite places in Donostia. Today there aren’t any nuns living here. Instead the space has been converted into a hostel with a beer garden, roof terrace and crypt which now plays host to concerts and other events in the city.
It makes for a really cool spot in the city with an international vibe.
Reyes Católicos is another good spot. It’s one of the streets towards the back of the Buen Pastor Cathedral and is lined on either side with bars and restaurants.
Although it may be referred to as “Reyes Alcoholicos” The vibe here is a little more chilled than the Old Town. With “trendy” wine bars and artisan beer bars such as Pub Drop the offering is a little different from the typical Donostia scene.
It’s a fairly residential zone, so not all of the bars are open really late. Splash and Udaberri are probably your best bets if you want a late night drink.
But all the bars have terraces with plenty of seating outside so it makes for a good place when the weather is decent.
When the bars on Reyes Católicos close, you can continue the party at Bataplan. Just a short walk away, the nightclub is actually on La Concha beach.
A legendary spot in San Sebastian, the club has even hosted DJs such as Bob Sinclair and David Guetta in its 40 year history.
The nightclub has a slightly younger scene, so if you’re after something a little less “studenty”, then try Victoria Café.
Set in the spectacular Victoria Eugenia theatre, by day it’s a pintxo bar. By night it transforms into more of a party scene with a mix of pop and reggaeton music into the early hours of the morning. Expect to pay an entry fee beyond midnight to get in.
If you’re after a more relaxed vibe, then Gros is the area to be. The home of the surfers, thanks to the Zurriola beach, the Gros nightlife is a younger, more chilled-out scene.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s not lively!
In fact, the weekend partying begins early on a Thursday night in Gros, where many of the tavernas take part in pintxo-pote. Many of the bars offer a drink and pintxo at a reduced price to ease you into the weekend.
Moving into the weekend, Calle Zabaleta is home to some of the bars which are open into the early hours of the morning.
La Gintonería Donostiarra serves up some of the best gin and tonics in San Sebastian. In fact there are over 150 to choose from! It’s a lounge bar with a big terrace and stays open until 2.30am on Friday and Saturday nights.
If you still want to continue the party, then Dabadaba (open to 6am) is a good choice from Gros and el Centro.
It’s hidden behind the train station and technically in the Egia district.
The club is more of a hipster place, with regular concerts from indie bands to techno music. You can check out the schedule and buy tickets via. the Dabadaba website.