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We undertook a day trip from Bilbao to San Sebastian (Donostia) during our visit to the Basque Country in December 2012.
The two cities are a little over an hour apart by road and are connected by regular buses throughout the day.
The following details were correct at the time of our visit. Buses were operating on a timetable that ran from 1 September 2012 to 30 June 2013. Obviously, certain information in this tip (particularly with regards to timetables and prices) is subject to change over time.
Bilbao – San Sebastian (Donostia)
Buses leave from the Termibus bus station in Bilbao, which is located next to the San Mames metro station.
We caught a bus that was operated by PESA at 9am on a Sunday morning. On the day that we travelled, buses were departing every hour on the hour from 9am until 10pm (with the exception of 2pm where there was no bus departing). The timetable showed that on weekdays, buses departed roughly every 30 minutes (on the hour and at half past the hour) from 6:30am until 10pm. The timetable for Saturdays was the same as the one for Sundays, except that there was an earlier bus at 7:30am and a bus at 2pm.
We purchased our tickets from the PESA ticket counter at the Termibus station a day in advance. We needn't have purchased tickets in advance (at least not at this time of year) as the bus was only around half full for the journey. Our tickets entitled us to specific reserved seats (numbers 9, 10, 11 and 12).
Each ticket cost €10.60 for a one-way journey and we were advised that it was not possible to purchase return tickets; we'd have to purchase tickets in San Sebastian for the journey back to Bilbao.
Our bus left from bay number 3, right on time at 9am. The journey time to San Sebastian (Donostia) was around 1 hour and 10 minutes. The journey wasn't a particularly scenic one as it was mainly along a highway. I read somewhere that a more scenic route, along the coastal roads, would take about 3 hours.
When we arrived in San Sebastian we found that there was no bus terminal building; just a handful of parking bays next to Hotel Amara Plaza. We located the PESA ticket office (and a station cafe) about 50 metres away along the road into the city centre. It took us around 15-20 minutes to walk from the bus station to Playa de la Concha beach.
San Sebastian (Donostia) – Bilbao
We located the PESA ticket office a short walk from the bus station and purchased tickets for our return journey to Bilbao as soon as we arrived. We opted for the 7:30pm bus. Unlike the morning bus that we had caught, the evening bus back to Bilbao was pretty much full.
On the Sunday that we travelled, buses departed San Sebastian for Bilbao hourly (at half past the hour) from 8:30am to 8:30pm (except at 2:30pm) with a final bus at 10pm. The Saturday timetable was similar, but with an earlier bus at 7:30am and a bus at 2:30pm. The weekdays timetable was similar to the one from Bilbao to San Sebastian – with buses roughly every 30 minutes (on the hour and half past the hour) from 6:30am until 10pm.
The ticket was again priced at €10.60 for the journey back to Bilbao and the journey again took around 1 hour and 10 minutes.
As in the morning, our evening bus back to Bilbao left bang on time and got us back to Bilbao's Termibus station at around 8:40pm. There were no other stops en-route.
Written Jan 26, 2013
Getting to San Sebastian / Donostia is a snap by bus. The buses are comfortable and those working at the bus station and the drivers are pretty good about helping with times. The ticket office in San Sebastian is around the corner from the bus parking area. Also, many people refer to San Sebastian using the Basque name of Donostia. The only downside with the bus station in San Sebastian is that it is about a mile away from beach and old town. There are local buses that you can pick up.
Written Dec 27, 2012
When I was in Biarritz last month (6/2006), I decided to take a day trip to San Sebastian. It is quite easy, but you do need to change train once. First, it is a 25-minute train ride to Hendaye, then when you get out of the train station, head to your right to take the "blue" train to San Sebastain. The train makes numerous stops (Irun.....) and finally stops at "Donostia Amara". A round trip ticket costs about 3 euro. Good thing I brought a map of San Sebastian with me, so I got my bearing when I arrived at the station. A taxicab ride to Old Town costs 6 Euro. In less than 10 minutes I was on my way to my favorite restaurant in San Sebastian -- Bar Martinez. In retrospect, it was quite biazzare, in a matter of hours, my lingo changed from "s'il vous plait", "merci", "l' addition" to "por favor", "gracias" and "la cuenta"!
Written Jul 4, 2006
IT IS A CITY WHERE YOU CAN USE YOUR LEGS FOR TRANSPORTATION. BUT IF THIS IS NOT POSSIBLE FOR YOU, DON'T WORRY, ALL THE CITY POINTS ARE VERY WELL CONNECTED WITH THE DIFFERENT BUS LINES, WHICH ARE ALSO ADAPTED FOR WHEEL CHAIRS. THERE ARE ALSO MANY TAXIS AROUND. BUT IF YOU CAN, I WOULD RECOMEND YOU WALKING, BECAUSE IT WILL LET YOU SEE PLACES OF THE CITY YOU WOULDN'T KNOW OTHERWISE. TRUST ME...
TO GO FROM THIS CITY TO ANY OTHER IN THE BASQUE COUNTRY OR ANY OTHER TOWN, BUSES OR TRAINS CAN BE TAKEN. THERE ARE VERY GOOD CONNECTIONS THAT WILL TAKE YOU ANYWHERE IN THE COUNTRY. IF YOU DECIDE YOU RATHER MAKE A MORE COMFORTABLE TRIP, YOU CAN TAKE A PLANE AT THE AIRPORT THAT WILL TAKE YOU TO SOME CITIES IN SPAIN.
Written Jun 20, 2005
For our trip to San Sebastian we flew from London Stansted in the UK to Bilbao with Easyjet (www.easyjet.com).
From the airport we ended up in the middle of Bilbao and then made our way to San Memes where there is a bus station for locations outside of Bilbao.
Here you can catch a bus to San Sebastian. We used a company called "PESA". A one way ticket was 8 Euro's each. In San Sebastian you are dropped off just off Plaza Pio XII.
Updated May 9, 2004
everyday at 12,there is a bus from Bayonne(place des basques) to san sebastian,via biarritz.
You can also travel by bus or train to Hendaye,then take the eusko-train in hendaye-gare.
Use the passbask,for 8 euros,a pass all the day long between bayonne and san sabastian by train.
the picture is the beach of san sebastian
Updated Jan 30, 2004
If you are travelling between San Sebastian and Bilbao, bus is best. A coach trip takes 1 hour, 10 minutes, the train about 3.5 hours. Granted, the scenery is pretty by train, but does not justify the extra time. Nor is there a cost saving.
Written Oct 27, 2003
I studied in San Sebastian. I lived on the north-east end of town, and the univeristy was on the south-west end of town. I walked to and from class every day (I'm slow and out of shape). The walk took me between 40-45 minutes. You can walk or bike through this town with ease. If you don't have too much time, take the bus. There are buses running all over town and the bus routes are easy to understand. But if you're not in a hurry, walk it.
Written Sep 4, 2003
The Euskotren runs from over the border in Hendaya France to Irun Spain and San Sebastion and along the north coast of Spain to Bilbao etc. Sometimes the train called Metro.
Updated Feb 12, 2013
We parked in underground garage close to Beach. I don't remeber the price, but it was not expensive. The best place to park and walk from there.
Updated Apr 8, 2004
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