Is San Sebastian Safe? Crime Rates & Safety Report

Updated On April 12, 2024
San Sebastian, Spain
Safety Index:
56
* Based on Research & Crime Data

If you’re planning your next vacation to this coastal Spanish town and wondering about potential warnings and dangers in the area, this guide is for you!

San Sebastian, Spain is a coastal city where the local landscape features lush green hills and golden sandy beaches.

This popular tourist destination sits on the Iberian Peninsula along the sparkling Bay of Biscay.

Its coastal location lends to favorable weather with mild summers and cool winters that make a year-round playground for excited travelers to the city.

Our guide provides a comprehensive overview of common travel safety concerns along with a few travel safety tips, a list of must-see places, and places to avoid in San Sebastian.

Warnings & Dangers in San Sebastian

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK: MEDIUM

Travelers to San Sebastian can expect to experience a relatively incident-free vacation by adhering to common sense safety tips like keeping valuables out of sight and steering clear of sketchy-looking and abandoned neighborhoods. The overall risk is moderate for travelers. City officials report low rates of violent crimes and locals say they have few worries about muggings and robberies that can be common in some tourist destinations. Residents and tourists in this area report feeling safe walking alone in the city regardless of the hour, with a few minor exceptions. Solo women travelers in this area should be wary of walking alone and travel in pairs or groups whenever possible. There are also a moderate number of pickpocketing incidents and tourist scams that happen in populated areas.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW

Hailing taxis and using local transport services in San Sebastian are safe for tourists who use official local providers. Taxi cabs in this area use meters which make it easy for travelers to keep up with the cost of fares and eliminate any fee discrepancies. Popular rideshare services operate in this area as a safe alternative for exploring the island.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK: MEDIUM

Pickpocketing is a common concern for travelers even though San Sebastian boasts a low crime rate and most residents and travelers feel safe. Opportunistic thieves often cannot resist taking advantage of unsuspecting and distracted tourists at popular local hotspots where large crowds gather and when using public transportation.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: LOW

San Sebastian visitors generally have few weather and natural disaster-related concerns with two exceptions. This area sits in a seismically active region which means that earthquakes and related natural disasters periodically happen here. The city is also prone to heavy downpours that can cause flash flooding and landslides during the rainier parts of the year.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK: LOW

Most tourist areas in San Sebastian offer a low risk of muggings and related violent crimes. Tourists who stick to their itinerary and steer clear of abandoned areas and unsafe neighborhoods are not often targets of local criminals. Pickpocketing is much more common in this area than outright muggings and physical assaults.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK: LOW

The region surrounding San Sebastian has been relatively peaceful for many years. There have been no recent reported terrorist activities or attacks in this region. Strong security measures and an active police presence help to deter violent crime and the outbreak of terrorist attacks that plague other European countries.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK: MEDIUM

The scam risk in San Sebastian is somewhat higher than other risks in the area. Local criminals often seize the opportunity to take advantage of unsuspecting tourists who are unfamiliar with the language, local customs, and costs of goods and services in the area. Beware of pickpocketing, distraction scams, and vendors forcefully offering “friendship bracelets” and demanding large sums of money for removal.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: MEDIUM

The overall environment surrounding San Sebastian is considered safe for travelers and groups. Solo women travelers should beware that they may face more incidents of being targeted for scams, harassment, and petty theft when traveling through the area alone. Catcalling, inappropriate comments, and unwanted advances are common.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK: LOW

The city of San Sebastian has some of the most treated water in the region. Local water quality reports show that rigorous testing and water treatment processes make the water safe for drinking. Tourists who have concerns about drinking water from local supplies can opt for bottled water instead.

Safest Places to Visit in San Sebastian

The great news about traveling to San Sebastian is that the entire city is relatively safe for visitors and residents alike. While there are a rare few areas of the city that pose safety concerns, some of the safest places include the following.

  • Old Town: Adventure seekers looking for bustling live entertainment, bars, and clubs can find solace in Old Town which is well-lit at night and highly patrolled by local law enforcement.
  • La Concha Beach: Tourists who want to take advantage of sunbathing, swimming, and scenic nature walks can visit the sheltered bay of La Concha Beach which is patrolled by local lifeguards.
  • Gros & Egia: Visit Gros & Egia when you’re looking for the feel of a trendy neighborhood peppered with modern ships, trendy bars, and a highly relaxed atmosphere.

Places to Avoid in San Sebastian

San Sebastian offers unique travel experiences where tourists bask in the favorable climate, and immerse themselves in local culture.

Stay safer by avoiding the following areas.

Deserted Streets and Alleyways: While most of the city of San Sebastian is deemed safe, the rare incidents of violent and property crime that do happen here often occur under the cover of darkness in deserted streets and alleyways.

Avoid traveling through these areas.

Isolated Beaches: Empty beaches should be avoided as these areas also offer the opportunity for local criminals to seek out unsuspecting tourists.

Steer clear of isolated beaches which can harbor hidden criminals and offer no lifeguard support.

Aggressive Vendors: The presence of aggressive vendors trying to pressure travelers into unwanted purchases is common in this area.

Beware of persistent vendors trying to force unwanted goods and services on travelers.

Safety Tips for Traveling to San Sebastian

Now that you have some general information on warnings and dangers in Sebastian, you might still have a few questions about how to keep you and your fellow travelers safe when visiting this picturesque Spanish vacation haven.

Following are ten location-specific travel tips to help travelers stay safer when visiting Sebastian. 

  1. Learn Basic Spanish. The most important travel tip for visitors to San Sebastian is to learn basic Spanish. Learning the language makes it easier for travelers to communicate with the locals. Understanding what is being said can also help travelers avoid becoming the victims of local scams.
  2. Be Street Smart. Crimes of opportunity can happen in the safest places on earth when nefarious criminals happen upon distracted or unsuspecting tourists. Be street-smart when traveling in San Sebastion by staying aware of your surroundings and keeping your valuables out of sight.
  3. Trust Your Instincts. While the city of San Sebastian is safe most of the time, there are pockets of crime, criminals, and scammers who are looking to take advantage of tourists. There are high levels of pickpocketing and similar scams in this area that are designed to separate tourists from their valuables including wallets, cell phones, purses, and cash.
  4. Use Official Transportation Services. There are fewer reports of taxi scams in this coastal town than in some other Spanish cities, tourists can stay safer when they use official transportation services. Opt for licensed local taxi services or well-known rideshare services to avoid falling victim to a potential taxi scam.
  5. Moderate Your Alcohol Consumption. Moderate your alcohol consumption when visiting local eateries and bars to avoid becoming intoxicated or incapacitated. People who appear to be under the influence are more likely to be crime victims or pursued by local scammers.
  6. Respect Local Customs. Do your research before traveling to learn more about the local customs, behaviors, and dress codes in San Sebastian. Respecting local customs can reduce the likelihood of negative experiences and being called out by locals.
  7. Research the Cost of Goods and Services. Avoid being overcharged for everyday travel services like hotel accommodations, eating out at local restaurants, and shopping for basic necessities by researching the cost of local goods and services in San Sebastian – before you arrive.
  8. Report Incidents to Local Authorities. Although incidents of crime and violence are rare in this area, any incidents like pushy street vendors trying to force you to buy friendship bracelets and demanding money do happen here and should be reported to local authorities.
  9. Stay Connected to Local Resources. One of the best ways to stay connected to local resources while traveling abroad is to register your trip with the US State Department’s STEP program for travelers. This program supports US travelers in other countries who need access to basic and emergency services in their local area.
  10. Travel in Pairs or Groups. Even the safest cities have rare incidents of crime and violence. Stay safer when traveling through San Sebastian by remaining in pairs or groups. This advice is especially relevant for women travelers who can experience higher levels of harassment and unwanted attention in this area.

So... How Safe Is San Sebastian Really?

Official crime reports from reputable sources like Numbeo and the general consensus from residents and visitors of San Sebastian is that the city is relatively safe.

There are few incidents of violent crime against tourists and locals reported by authorities.

The major concerns for visitors include local scams and pickpocketing in crowded and busy areas.

Tourists can expect to experience a mostly drama-free trip in a tranquil laid-back island environment filled with a variety of local cuisines, customs, and sunkissed beaches.

How Does San Sebastian Compare?

CitySafety Index
San Sebastian56
Madrid68
Barcelona67
Andorra la Vella89
Valencia69
Seville71
Bilbao52
Cordoba (Argentina)61
Toronto (Canada)81
Melbourne (Australia)80
Montreal (Canada)81
Sydney (Australia)80
Santiago de Chile (Chile)71

Useful Information

Visas

Visas

Most US travelers can visit Spain for up to ninety days without having to apply for a Visa. Citizens with extenuating circumstances who still need to apply for a Visa can find resources on the US State Department website.

Currency

Currency

The local currency of San Sebastian is the Euro. Travelers who want to exchange US currency for Euros can do so using online currency exchanges, local banks, hotels, and ATMs.

Weather

Weather

The weather in San Sebastian is characterized by a mild climate with warm to hot summers and mild winters. Tourists should stay abreast of local weather reports as this area is in a seismic zone and experiences bouts of heavy rainfall and flooding.

Airports

Airports

The San Sebastian airport is the primary airport servicing domestic and limited international flights. Travelers to the region can take flights into the city from London City, Palma de Mallorca, and Barcelona.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

Consider getting travel insurance to protect your trip to San Sebastian. Comprehensive travel insurance can offer benefits for travelers to help financially protect against unexpected losses associated with trip cancelations, lost or stolen baggage, and emergency medical expenses that arise while traveling.

Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

San Sebastian Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 10° C
Feb 10° C
Mar 11° C
Apr 13° C
May 15° C
Jun 18° C
Jul 20° C
Aug 21° C
Sep 19° C
Oct 17° C
Nov 13° C
Dec 11° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
121314161821232422201513
Low
°C
7789121517171613108
High
°F
545557616470737572685955
Low
°F
454546485459636361555046

Spain - Safety by City

CitySafety Index
Alicante77
Andorra la Vella89
Barcelona67
Bilbao52
Cadiz74
Canary Islands81
Granada58
Ibiza82
Las Palmas74
Madrid68
Malaga76
Murcia83
Palma de Mallorca57
Pamplona81
Salamanca59
San Sebastian56
Seville71
Valencia69
Zaragoza79

Where to Next?

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