Traffic and Driving in San Sebastian
San Sebastian is a small city and as such doesn't have many traffic problems. However, the volume of traffic increases considerably during the summer and at other times of the year like Christmas, Easter and bank holiday weekends.
Access to the City:
San Sebastian has 3 main routes from which you can get to the city centre. The AP-8 coming from Bilbao or other parts of Northern Spain, the A-1 from Irun or France and the A-1 from Southern Spain (Burgos, Madrid...).
If you arrive in San Sebastian using the AP-8 coming from Bilbao the first entrance to the city is in the area called Antiguo/Ondarreta (University, beach...). It leads you to the Avenida de Tolosa which takes you directly to the Concha Bay (San Sebastian's main beach) without having to cross the city centre. The other entrance is in the area called Amara (football stadium and various other sports facilities...). By driving along the Paseo del Arbol de Guernica which borders the river you will reach the centre and the Old Part in just a few minutes.
Approaching San Sebastian from the A-1 from the North you arrive in the area called Gros next to Zurriola beach which is practically in the city centre.
Arriving from the A-1 coming from Madrid the access is the same as the AP-8 (see above) because the two roads come together in the bypass (free).
San Sebastian Bypass: This road which goes around the edge of the city gets very busy during the rush hour (morning, midday and evening) and is a major route for lorries coming from Europe and travelling to the South or vice versa.
The main exits out of San Sebastian:
To go towards Irun and Francia from the centre you need to get onto the avenida Ategorrieta. To go towards Madrid or Bilbao drive along Calle Prim to get to the area known as Amara which is where you can get onto the bypass. You can also go to Irun and France by getting onto the bypass. There is another exit leaving from the area called Antiguo. By driving out of the city along the Avenida de Tolosa you can go in any direction on the AP-8 towards Bilbao, the A-1 towards Madrid, Burgos or towards Irun or Francia on the bvpass.
Traffic and Driving in the City Centre
The best thing to do like in many other cities is not to use your car in the centre. There are 2 new park and ride car parks in Antiguo and in Amara which are next to bus routes into the centre. If you do decide to drive into the centre then there are numerous underground car parks - la Concha, Boulevard, Kursaal are just some of the car parks available. However, they fill up very easily and it is not uncommon to see queues of cars waiting for a space to park at weekends, bank holidays and during the summer. If you decide to park in a street then you will have to pay and display from 9am to 8pm Monday to Saturday. In winter you don't need to pay and display near Ondarreta beach.
To orientate yourself in San Sebastian the best thing to do is head for the Concha beach opposite the Town Hall. The Old Part is behind the Town Hall but bear in mind that cars are not allowed to enter.
On the other side you have the area where most of the shops are. The main streets are la Avenida, El Boulevard, el Paseo de la Concha, Miracruz and la Calle Urbieta, although none of them are very big. If you take a wrong turning you won't have much trouble getting back to where you wanted to be because all the blocks are very small and you will be able to turn back within just a few metres. In summer the city centre has been known to become gridlocked due to the excessive volume of traffic especially during the Jazz Festival, Semana Grande fiestas, the San Sebastian Film Festival and the Regattas.
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