Basque people have the saying “Euskadi Tropical” (tropical Basque Country), when referring to the local weather. This expression is mainly devoted to coastal zones (e.g. San Sebastian), where the influence of the nearby sea increases the atmospheric humidity. This leads to frequent cloudiness and abundant rainfalls, all over the year. Our climate, however, is not really tropical: our temperature ranges are wider, with hot summers and cold winters (even below 0º C).
But not all rain is created equal, and after years of living with downpours, in San Sebastian we have a full name for each type of rain: summer rain, galerna rain (stormy northwest wind), blizzard rain… and the most popular of them all: the sirimiri. Have you heard of it?
Sirimiri, our distinctive light rain
Sirimiri is the name given to light but persistent rain, so common in the Basque Country. It’s the most frequent rain for us, and, as such, the one we are more accustomed to. It will appear when you least expect it and most of the times we won’t even open an umbrella for it because of its lightness. But don’t ignore it! It can soak you completely over time if you don’t open the umbrella eventually.
Confronted to this meteorological uncertainty, the locals in Donostia know how to face any weather. While rain in San Sebastian may be deliciously poetic, it can also be the reason why some good plans are ruined, forcing us to stay indoors, or at least under cover.
Will you let rain ruin your stay in San Sebastian?
It’s certainly not necessary! After years of getting wet and reinventing ourselves to produce new plans in case of rain, in OH MY WALK! we have plenty ideas and advice for a rainy day that won’t bore you to death.
We assume we don’t all have the same tastes, so read on to find some nice variety in the five propositions we have for your rainy days in San Sebastian.
Let the rainy fun begin!
TOP 5: Let’s enjoy covered areas
If the downpour is unrelenting, and there’s no silver lining around the clouds, there are places in San Sebastian perfectly suited for such days.
A. Go shopping
The amount of cute clothes shops in Donostia is staggering, but in bad weather we recommend visiting San Martín or La Bretxa malls. La Bretxa one is the successor of the most prestigious traditional market in Gipuzkoa, whereas the San Martín one is a fitting reflection of the modern evolution of the city. San Martín has top fashion brands, sports facilities, cafeterias, and even a 1900 m² supermarket.
B. Chill out in a Spa treatment
If beaches interest you only in sunny weather, enjoying a circuit in the La Perla Thalassotherapy could be a great way of having access to the La Concha Bay sights, while the warm waters of the spa relax you. Just in the city center, this Spa treatment will change your day!
C. Underwater visit
When with family, visiting the Aquarium of San Sebastian is always a good plan. However, if it’s raining outside, and our options are limited, this plan becomes even more appealing.
In the Aquarium we can traverse a spectacular 360º glass tunnel, surrounded by an ocean of more than 5000 fish, and some sharks. This experience gives you access to a wealth of aquatic species, and is truly didactic.
Tickets cost between 6 and 13 euros, and we can watch sharks being fed on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, at around 12 am.
TOP 4: Soak yourself with culture!
Fans of culture: immersed in water, culture remains as interesting as ever… let’s make the best of it!
A. Museums and expositions:
The many museums and expositions available in San Sebastian become our perfect allies in rainy days. The San Telmo Museum, for example, is a small gem you’ll find in the Old Town of San Sebastian. There, you can traverse different aspects of the history of our city in an entertaining and didactic way.
Apart from the permanent exhibits of the museum, there are temporary ones, varying over time. You can take a look at its web page to be informed of what exhibits coincide with your trip to San Sebastian. Tickets cost from 3 to 6 euros, making it quite a cost-effective plan.
Another affordable and family-friendly option is the Eureka! Museum of Science, placed in the wonderful location of Miramon. This interactive museum is a cultural and educational resource. It aims to provide information in an attractive and stimulating manner, to foster interaction with visitors on science and technology-related matters. Entry costs between 2.5 and 8 euros.
You can always check the exhibition agenda at Donostia Kultura, to find the ones that suit you the best.
B. Enjoy a good read in a library:
If you love reading and have some spare time because of the rain, we suggest you visit the Municipal Libraries of San Sebastian, where you’ll be able to browse new books or get updates on your favourite publications.
San Sebastian has 15 libraries you can visit. Our favourite one, due to its fantastic reading area, is the Central Library, located at the San Sebastian Town Hall. We recommend you give it a try.
C. Visit the Tabakalera Cultural Center
If you seek culture in any and every format, you can’t miss the spectacular International Contemporary Culture Center – Tabakalera, whether it rains or not. It is a huge building, repurposed for cultural matters, and it offers a myriad of options: exhibits, workshops, concerts…
You can check its agenda to plan the best time to go, but there is no need to: whenever you happen to visit we are sure you will be delighted to find out what the majestic Tabakalera building offers. We suggest you finish your visit with a nice cup of coffee or a snack at the cafeteria.
TOP 3: Let’s exercise!
Since you will be enjoying for sure San Sebastian’s gastronomy you may want to exercise a little bit to even things out ;-)
A. How about a bit of rock climbing?
Whole day entry costs 7 euros, or 4 if you’re under 16. Difficulty-coded zones make the wall suitable for any level of climbing expertise. You will be comfortable even if you have never practised before.
The San Sebastian Ice Palace, better known as Txuri-Urdin, has a 1625 m² rink where international ice hockey, figure skating and curling competitions are held.
Visiting the palace is a great plan that tends to go unnoticed for citizens of Donostia, and is one of the funniest ones for such a day. For a reasonable price, especially during the week, one can rent skates and enter the rink, placed nearby the Anoeta stadium. A really peculiar activity to carry out, be it with friends or family.
C. Go surfing:
The Bay of La Concha is an outstanding place to practice sports, and rain is not necessarily an obstacle for it. For some activities it’s even positive, as it usually comes with good waves.
So, why not rent a surf board? Usually surfing is practiced in the Zurriola beach, for its optimal conditions. However, on bad weather the La Concha beach or the Ondarreta beach wall are perfectly adequate locations for surfing.
If you decide to jump into the water, the most traditional of the surfing academies in the city is Pukas Surf Eskola, where you will be able to rent boards and suits, or even sign up to some classes.
TOP 2: Take a walk around the city
As with hiking, taking a walk requires no more than minimal equipment for a rainy day. We won’t even need boots: any suitable water-proof shoes and an umbrella will do. We will be able to walk around and enjoy the city, turning a sad, rainy day into a nice experience.
A. A photographic tour:
Lighting, clouds, waves, wet buildings, the many blue and green tones… rainy days turn San Sebastian into a beautiful scenery where we can show off our photographic skills. The Paseo Nuevo, the Kursaal breakwater, or even the Port can be a nice show. And, of course, the Peine del Viento… the emblematic sculpture of Eduardo Chillida, located below Igueldo Mountain. That’s really some art! Take an umbrella, and find the perfect frame!
B. Join one of our cultural tours:
You’d be wrong to think OH MY WALK! is deterred by the rain! Being seasoned locals, we take the risk of rain for granted, and adapt our routes accordingly, so that we avoid the windiest streets in case of bad weather.
Thanks to the interesting contents we offer, you will forget the rain for a moment, and dive into that other San Sebastian, the one that even looking angry in bad weather, is still just as beautiful.
Were you interested in our routes, you can take a look at our web site, or drop us some lines at our e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org.
C. Enjoy the beach:
Crazy? Not so! Rainy days are the most precious ones, as they make beaches lonesome and melancholic places. In moderate rain, and if you are brave enough to face getting a little wet, walking along the La Concha promenade, the Paseo Nuevo, or even the sand will get you in touch with San Sebastian’s natural beauty. Why not give it a try?
TOP 1 : Enjoy the company
Rainy days are in fact perfect for good conversations with your travel mates, or even chatty strangers. Even more so if snacks and games are involved.
A. Sweet talk
It might not be your case, but we do love friendly chats over delicious snacks, and one of our favourite options is the Maiatza. This cozy bar in the Parte Vieja has an exquisite assortment of home-made desserts.
If the downpour comes with low temperatures, nothing beats some hot chocolate with churros. Were you to choose such a typical plan, you could try the mythical Churrería Santa Lucía, on the number 6 of Puerto street, or Chocolatería El Puerto, on number 19 on the same street.
B. Escape Room
This 60 minute game will make you solve puzzles and decipher keys, putting your mental skills and teamwork to test. Izurun is an excellent indoor entertainment that will test your deductive abilities, letting you learn about the history of the city at the same time.
C. An evening of games, music and local beer!
In case of finding yourself on a wet day in San Sebastian, another great plan would be the DabaDaba, located in Mundaiz street, number 8. Its concert agenda is quite varied, so it will be easy to find an excuse to go there. And, while you are there, you can play table soccer or pool.
But if beer is your thing, we recommend trying out the local craft beers that are becoming a must among the locals. One place where you will be able to taste such beers is Mala Gissona, in Zabaleta street. In a cozy and relaxed environment, you will have a great time tasting their different local beers.
Do you still think rain is an obstacle to visit San Sebastian, and you find yourselves short of plans? We hope we have given you some ideas to make the answer “no!”.
A tip from locals: don’t forget to bring water-proof shoes and a good raincoat, and everything will be fine :)