Of the two headlands that bookend San Sebastian’s La Concha Bay, Monte Urgull to the east was an especially important defensive site, starting in the 12th century. Today, Monte Urgull draws visitors for its views of the city and bay, La Concha and Ondarreta beaches, Santa Clara Island, and Monte Igueldo, the western headland.
Situated just above Old Town (Parte Vieja), Monte Urgull is easy to visit during a day of sightseeing in San Sebastian, and offers a leafy respite from the beaches and pintxos (small snacks) bars. Take your time walking up one of the pathways to admire the bay or the sea, and visit the military and cultural attractions at your leisure.
The hill is topped by Castillo de la Mota, a 12th-century fortress that’s now home to a history museum called Casa de la Historia. You’ll also find the Sagrado Corazón (Sacred Heart), a statue of Christ that has been watching over San Sebastian since 1950. Another popular attraction is the English Cemetery, located a bit down the hill.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Monte Urgull is ideal for history buffs and those looking for the best photo ops of San Sebastian.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes to hike uphill.
- Wear plenty of sun protection, as you’ll be exposed to the elements at the top of the hill.
How to Get There
There are a few different paths to explore Monte Urgull. From Old Town, start from Plaza de Zuloaga or the end of Mari Kalea, or head up from behind the waterfront aquarium. If you’re not interested in walking up the hill, stroll around the headland on the waterfront promenade known as Paseo Nuevo.
When to Get There
Monte Urgull is not accessible at night, so plan to visit during the day. Opt for the morning hours to avoid walking in the midday heat.
For a full San Sebastian experience, don’t miss a visit to the city’s western headland, where you’ll get more exercise as you walk uphill for a reverse panorama of the bay. If you don’t feel like walking, hop on the Funicular Monte Igueldo and visit the small amusement park at the top of the hill, especially if you’re traveling with kids.