There’s one thing we at Go Local know and have always been committed to: San Sebastian by bike is really, really cool. For us, the best way to explore and get to know San Sebastian beyond the narrow streets of the Old Town is by bike, whether on a normal bike or an electric bike. What can we say about living and getting around Donosti on a daily basis, that it is a very comfortable city for cyclists despite a humid climate that can give you the feeling that it is just the opposite. This is something cool, and that’s why we want to share it with you.
First of all, be clear about the limits
Cycling is a serious business, and we must be clear about our limits and responsibilities in order to enjoy a comfortable experience without coming into conflict with the passers-by in San Sebastian. We are going to list the main points you should bear in mind:
- As a general rule, you can only ride on pavements in a few areas where bicycles and pedestrians coexist. Fines for cycling in prohibited areas are usually around 50 euros.
- Returning to the first point, the Parte Vieja is off-limits for bicycles.
- Where pedestrians and cyclists coexist, pedestrians will always have priority.
- In these areas you must respect a maximum speed of 10 kilometres per hour and a safety distance of 1 metre. And when cycling, always pay attention to the ground, because in many areas they mark the maximum speed at which you can cycle.
- Bicycles must be equipped with a bell and the reflective and luminous elements established in current legislation.
- We always recommend that you wear a helmet when riding on the road, but it is not compulsory.
- It is strictly forbidden to ride a bike with headphones (for listening to music) or talking on the phone.
- Use the bike racks. In Donosti we have a deep-rooted habit of tying our bikes to trees and railings. The city council has been getting serious for some time now, fining those who do this and removing the bikes.
The bidegorri is the path to follow
In Gipuzkoa, the Historical Territory of which San Sebastian is the capital, we call our network of cycle lanes bidegorri (which translates as “red road”). And the one in Donosti is very large, as it exceeds 70 kilometres (similar to what we can find in some cities in the Netherlands), and together with the rest of Gipuzkoa it forms a network that exceeds 400 kilometres, which in 2021 registered more than 2 million journeys by bike, something spectacular if we take into account that the population of Gipuzkoa does not exceed 713,000 inhabitants. We quote Rafaela Romero (Regional Deputy for Mobility and Territorial Planning) to express the success of our bidegorris network: “the cycling boom is almost four times higher than the average increase for the European Union as a whole (8%), and three times higher than that recorded in France (10%)“.
In San Sebastian the network of bidegorris occupies a flat terrain that is very easy to ride on. The Donostia City Council has been committed to cycling for years, which now allows us to reach practically every corner of our city in a very short time and without much effort.
The foothills of the mountains
Donosti has 3 coastal mountains: Ullia, Urgull and Igeldo. On the slopes of each of these mountains there are statues that are the result of the ingenuity and sensitivity of three of the greatest Basque artists of the 20th century: La Paloma de la Paz by Nestor Basterretxea, La Construcción Vacía by Oteiza and the Peine del Viento by Chillida. It is possible, easy and very pleasant to visit these 3 statues by walking along the bidegorri, the Paseo Nuevo, the port and the Paseo de la Concha.
The Morlans Tunnel
Years ago the old Topo tunnel (the intercity train that we use to get around Gipuzkoa to the French border) was reused to add it to the San Sebastian bidegorris network. This tunnel is more than two kilometres long and links the Amara neighbourhood with the Old Quarter and the Universities, crossing a large hill that separates the two areas where the Aiete neighbourhood is located! When the weather is hot, crossing the tunnel is a pleasure, because it is a very cool place and crossing it is almost like stepping into a freezer.
Eduardo Chillida's Wind Comb
Empty Construction by Jorge Oteiza
Follow the Urumea to beyond San Sebastián
Parallel to the Urumea we have a very long stretch of the bidegorri, which from north to south takes us to numerous neighbourhoods in San Sebastian and a few kilometres further on. Following this lane, it is possible to reach the neighbouring villages, enjoying a less urbanised natural environment. This route, which is only 8 kilometres long, is an excellent way to visit Astigarraga, the centre of the region’s cider-making tradition.
Enjoy the summer
And that’s all! Take advantage of the warm and sunny weather to enjoy our city by bike. If you want to do it with a professional, don’t hesitate to ask for our e-bike tour!