La Concha, San Sebastián
It’s the Chrysler Building of beaches: instantly recognisable but nevertheless thrilling and heart-lifting. La Concha is the most beautiful urban beach in Spain: a scallop of cream sand and sparkling sapphire waters with forested headlands, an island – Santa Clara – and a peppering of boats. The belle-époque seafront dates back to days of long summer residencies, when children ate separately and hotels were plushly carpeted; but today’s city is vibrant and cool. La Concha is flanked by two smaller beaches: Ondarreta is almost a continuation to the west (ending in Eduardo Chillada’s Wind Comb sculpture); Zurriola, beyond the Kursaal Palace in Gros, is popular with surfers.
Stay La Pensión del Mar (doubles from €45 room-only) also in Gros, is friendly and affordable. For a few euros more, Sansebay (doubles from €70 room only) offers contemporary chic and La Concha views.