When planning the journey to Donostia, bear in mind that the spanish name of the city is San Sebastián while in french is called Saint-Sébastien. Likewise, many surrounding cities also have different names in basque and spanish, e.g. Vitoria (spanish) is Gasteiz (basque), Pamplona (spanish) is Iruñea or Iruña (basque), and Fuenterrabia (spanish) is Hondarribia (basque).
More useful information: http://www.sansebastianturismo.com/en/come/how-to-get-here
Donostia is surrounded by several international airports that might be more or less suitable depending on the airport of departure. The airports with the highest number of international connections are in Bilbao and Biarritz, while Santander airport offers cheap flights with low-cost companies (e.g. Ryanair). Here we list the pros and cons of the airports close to Donostia.
Bilbao Airport is 100 km apart from Donostia, but offers a regular shuttle service (18 €, 1 hour) to Donostia city center. Buses depart at quarter to every hour (e.g. 12:45, 13:45, 14:45). Note the ticket must be bought to the bus driver and credit cards are not allowed (there are ATMs at the airport). It is the airport with the highest number of international connections, offering regular flights from and to, among others, London, Paris, Berlin, Munich, Lisbon, Geneva, Milan, Rome, Dublin, Bucarest, Istambul, Prague, Amsterdam, Brussels and Oslo. Taxis and car rental are also available.
The Biarritz-Pays Basque Airport is located 50 km apart from Donostia, and offers flights from and to Birmingham, Brussels, Copenhagen, Dublin, Geneva, Helsinki, Lille, London, Lyon, Madrid, Marseille, Nice, Paris, Southampton, Stockholm and Strasbourg. The bus companies PESA and Conda link the airport with Donostia city center for 7€. There are buses almost every hour and the transfer time is approximately 45 minutes.
It is rather far from Donostia (200 km), but offers cheap flights operated by Ryanair from and to Brussels, Dusseldorf, Berlin, Dublin, Milan, Rome, Edinburgh and London. The bus company Alsa offers a connection between Santander Airport and Donostia city center. The transfer time is approximately 3 hours, and it costs around 13 €.
- Bus info: www.alsa.es/en/
San Sebastian Airport
Also known as Donostia-San Sebastian airport, it is the closest airport to Donostia (30 km), but it only offers flights from and to spanish airports. It is connected with Donostia city center by city-bus service (XX €, 1 hour). Buses depart at five to every hour (e.g. 12:55, 13:55, 14:55). Taxis and car rental are also available.
It is more than 400 km apart from Donostia, but Alsa offers a shuttle bus service from the T4 terminal to Donostia city center. The journey takes 5:30 hours.
- Bus info: https://www.alsa.es/en/bus-schedules
Getting to San Sebastián by car is extremely easy. The city is connected to the main spanish cities by the N-1 (the national highway connecting South-North Madrid to Irun) and the AP-8 (motorway connecting West-East Galicia and Irun). The city is also connected to the french highway system by the A-63 (Paris-Irun) motorway.
British people might get Donostia using their own vehicles using the ferry connection between Portsmouth and Bilbao, or between Portsmouth and Plymouth and Santander. The journey takes one entire day, but it is a fairly good option to spot marine birds and cetaceans. This option is suitable for people travelling with their own vehicles, but for people without vehicles the public transport are not good connections. Anyway, it is possible to get the central bus stations of Bilbao and Santander by taxi, which are both well connected (every 30 and 60 minutes) with Donostia city center.