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In the arena after the Running of the Bulls

Pamplona (Basque: Iruña) [2] is a city in Navarra, Spain. With a population of nearly 200,000 inhabitants and an overall metropolitan population of 320,000 it is the capital of the region of Navarra. Most famous world-wide for its San Fermín festival each year from July 6th to 14th, "The Running of the Bulls" features a daily bull run or "Encierro" in Spanish. This festival was depicted in the writings of Ernest Hemingway (who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954). Pamplona is a green city. There are many interesting things to do and explore in Pamplona for the traveler since it is the first main city on the route of St. James (Camino de Santiago). Furthermore, Pamplona has a beautiful medieval city centre, several museums, an impressive citadel, great gastronomy and wines and lots of parks. The Arga River runs through it. There city has two universities: Universidad Pública de Navarra (Public) and one of the four Universidad de Navarra (private) campuses.


Thanks to Ernest Hemingway, who first visited Pamplona in 1923, the city has become one of the most famous but also most expensive places to stay in all of Spain. Hotel prices can be extremely high, demanding up to €21 for breakfast per person. There are cheaper options, but generally, accommodation is pricey at any time of year.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Pamplona has a little airport (Pamplona-Noain Airport) connected with several cities (Iberia fly several times a day from/to Madrid and Lufthansa operates a regular service to/from its Frankfurt hub). Nearby, there are international airports: Bilbao (156 km), Zaragoza (170 km), or Biarritz, France (115 km) with flights to several international destinations. Public bus line A connects Pamplona-Noain airport to the city.

  • From Biarritz Airport to Pamplona use Biarritz Airport Transfers [3]

A taxi will cost €12-€15, depending on the traffic.

  • TELETAXI SAN FERMIN - tel: 948 23 23 00 or []

By train[edit]

Daily trains from and to Madrid, Barcelona, Vitoria, Galicia, Asturias and Zaragoza, among other Spanish cities. Urban buses connect the train station and Pamplona's city centre.

By car[edit]

Hire a car and drive from/to Madrid in 4 hrs., Barcelona 4 hrs., Biarritz 1.5 hrs., Bilbao 2 hrs., San Sebastián 1hr.

Underground parking is widely available.

By bus[edit]

The cheapest way to get to Pamplona. Several daily services from Madrid, Barcelona, San Sebastián, Bilbao, Vitoria, Zaragoza, Oviedo, etc. Same bus station links Pamplona with all the localities in Navarra (e.g. Estella, Tafalla, Tudela, Sangüesa, Olite, etc.) The bus station in Pamplona is underground, next to the Ciuadela on c/ Yanguas y Miranda.

Get around[edit]

A great place to walk the streets, with live music and wonderful people. You won't need to take public transportation or car to visit the most remarkable places in Pamplona as most touristy spots lie within the city centre/old town. During Sanfermines, from July 6th until 14th, there is lots of alcohol, music and dancing in the streets all night long and, by 6AM, you'd better go get a good place to watch the running of the bulls, which starts at 8AM and attracts lots of spectators and media. After that, get a good breakfast or "almuerzo" and find time to go to sleep after a long night.

See[edit][add listing]

Pamplona offers two very different faces to visitors. During Sanfermines the city is driven by music, bulls, drinking and general madness. The rest of the year it is a charming little place with great food, friendly people, lovely walks in the green parks and stone paved streets and great cafés and bars everywhere you go.

During Sanfermines, every evening the bullring is completely sold out. Basically the bullring, like any other in Spain, is divided into two zones, Sombra (meaning 'shadow') where experts and fans watch the bullfight more passively, and Sol (literally 'Sun') offering cheaper tickets to people ready to see the fight as well as have fun, dance, drink and eat some local cuisine. Pamplona's bullring is the fourth largest in the world and the second largest in Spain after Las Ventas in Madrid.

At midnight, get ready for concerts of any type of music in places like Plaza del Castillo, Plaza de los Fueros or Antoniutti. At 11 p.m. there's a fireworks display every night near the citadel or "Vuelta del Castillo." This is a great place to lay down, relax and enjoy the fireworks before going out to bars and concerts.

  • Museo de Navarra, Cuesta de Santa Domingo, 94 842 64 92, [1]. Tues-Sat: 9:30-2 and 5-7; Sun: 11-2. This major museum of Pamplona is located in a 16th-century hospital. Includes rich collections of Roman artifacts including 2nd century mosaics. Also has Romanesque art and an important Goya portrait. Gothic and Renaissance paintings, and murals from the 13th century are another must see here. adults: 2 euros students/seniors: 1 euro under 15: free.  edit
  • Catedral de Santa María la Real y Museo Diocesano. [4] Pamplona's cathedral combines a Neoclassical façade completed by arquitect Ventura Rodríguez with a Gothic interior. A visit of the museum will include not only the temple but also an extraordinary cloister, a chapel, the refectory and painting exhibitions. Built and re-built over the centuries, definitely worth visiting.

Visitors can also see other medieval churches a short walking distance from the cathedral. The most important would be San Nicolas and San Saturnino, a former fortress and Christian temple. You should visit San Lorenzo church too, where a chapel with the image of San Fermín, the saint who gave his name to its well-known festival, is kept.

  • Ciudadela or citadel [5]Built in the shape of a pentagon under the rule of King Philip II with the idea of making Pamplona one of Spain's northern bastions, it is very well kept and one of the best examples of a Renaissance's fortification in Europe. Surrounded by a massive park, nowadays its interior holds art exhibitions and occasional cultural events, specially during the summer months.

Pamplona, a city originally confined in its medieval walls from the middle ages to modern times, finally decided to open up in the early 20th century. Some walls were demolished to make space for new broad avenues and neighbourhoods, like Avenida Carlos III, nowadays a major shopping street. However, Pamplona has made a great effort to keep the vast majority of its walls and history. There is a museum that outlines Pamplona's fortification history. You can find it in the "Fortín de San Bartolomé", near the bullring.[6]

  • Rincón del Caballo Blanco, next to the cathedral, in the "Baluarte del Redín", a charming viewpoint in the heart of Pamplona's walls, you will find a medieval bar with a lovely terrace. It is a marvelous place to relax and have a drink. It has great overviews of the river and the lower parts of the city and little concerts are scheduled every Thursday evening from June to September.
  • Plaza del Castillo. Pamplona's main square, defined by the locals as the city's "living room." it is surrounded by bars a terraces and open almost all year long. Despite its name ('castillo' means castle) it is not in a castle. There is a bandstand in the middle of it. In Plaza del Castillo you will find Café Iruña, where Ernest Hemingway once mingled with the locals and had a drink...or two. A statue of him can be found inside.
  • Parque de la Taconera. A park built following the French gardening fashion of the time, it was the first green area built outside the walls. It holds a mini-zoo,a café and trees and plants of all kinds.

Do[edit][add listing]

Opening Ceremony of San Fermin celebration

Sanfermines (Festival of San Fermín [7]), city-wide, July 6 - July 14. The city festival of Pamplona. The festival begins with the txupinazo: a rocket fired from the city council's balcony at 12 p.m. on the 6th. A large street party ensues that night and for the rest of the week. The best-known feature is the encierro (running of the bulls), which occurs every day at 8 a.m. Six bulls run through the town center towards the plaza de toros (bull ring); the adventurous and foolhardy run in front of them. Note that on July 6 there is not encierro as the festival officially starts at noon. If you want to run with the bulls, arrive at the track no later than 7:30 a.m. You will form up behind a line of police that will happily remove you from the crowd if you are drunk or improperly dressed. Having a camera when you run is not allowed.

Research before you attempt to run the bulls. It is extremely thrilling, but very dangerous. The best place to start, with advice from Spanish and American bull-runners, John Hemingway (Ernest's grandson), and edited by travel author and former bullfighter Alexander Fiske-Harrison, is the eBook, available on Amazon, Fiesta: How To Survive The Bulls Of Pamplona.


Many people are surprised to learn that San Fermin has a nightly fireworks show. Each night different companies (many of them international) competes for a prize. This happens nightly near the ciudadela or fortress, the former citadel built to defend the city and nowadays the biggest park of all.

Pamplona has many old palaces, most of them in the heart of the city. One of them, on the outskirts of town in Gorraiz used to belong to Sir Lancelot of King Arthur fame. He received this palace upon marrying a Spaniard. The palace has a nice classy bar and restaurant, an excellent wine cellar below and is surrounded by a golf course.

Buy[edit][add listing]

You can buy good wine, Patxaran, ham, and tins of red peppers (the best are from Lodosa), and of course asparagus from Navarra.Souvenirs can be bought on every corner, like small bulls, red & white clothes, festival T-shirts, etc. Kukuxumusu is a famous shop situated at the beginning of Estafeta Street.

In Old Town you will find kiosks throughout selling Navarrese handicrafts, antiques and souvenirs.

Eat[edit][add listing]

Except for Sanfermines day, many eateries close at 3:30 p.m. Dinner is served up from 9 p.m. There are plenty of restaurants in the old city, from budget menús del día for lunch to more expensive and renowned venues. Navarra's cuisine stands out for the quality of its vegetables, e.g. asparagus, artichokes, piquillo red peppers. Visitors can always try typical Spanish dishes.

Pamplona, as other cities in northern Spain, has a reputation for gastronomy. Moreover, local wine is served in every establishment. You can enjoy homemade-style food in many restaurants serving "menú del día" (11 to 14 euros aprox.), a traditional Basque txuletón (beefsteak) accompanied by fresh cider (sidra), or more elaborate menus in some of the finer restaurants if you want to splurge.

In Pamplona, as in the rest of the Basque region, tapas are called pintxos, and in contrast with other places in the south of Spain do not come free of charge with drinks. However, most pintxos are small-sized nouvelle cuisine dishes, so it is really worth giving them a try. Remember that going out to a bar to have a drink and some pintxos is pretty much a social event, and there is not a settled time for it. Normally, the same bars that offer pintxos prepare menús del día and dinners at Spanish lunch and dinner time. In the last few years a little event called juevintxo has become very popular. This event offers customers a drink every Thursday (usually wine or beer) plus a pintxo for a reduced price of 2 euros. Many bars in the old city have joined this campaign, particularly those located in Estafeta Street.

Drink[edit][add listing]

In Pamplona you can find excellent wine from Navarra. You can order it in every bar as tinto (red wine) or as clareteor rosado (rose wine). There's a liquor called Patxaran made with wild berries and anisette that should be tried.

Make sure you try the Sangria. It's a red wine punch, usually with some fruit, red wine, and some honey to sweeten. The alcoholic content can vary greatly from place to place.

Calle San Nicolas, Calle San Antón, Calle Estafeta, Calle Navarrería and Calle de Jarauta are all lined with different bars, pubs, and bodegas. Most do not have signs so feel free to wander around in and out of these places. If you see a good bunch of locals enjoying their pintxos, it is usually a good sign!

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Accommodation is mostly expensive or semi-expensive. Note that during Sanfermines, due to the great demand, prices rise up alarmingly, so make sure you book a place in advance. Otherwise it will be very difficult or impossible to find a room in a mid-range hotel.

For those on a low budget, there is a camping site located a few kilometers from the city, as well as some hostels and guesthouses.

Most Hotels can be found within the city centre or near the Hospitals and University Campus, a half-an-hour walk from the old city and tourist attractions.

For pilgrims doing the Camino de Santiago there is a public "albergue", called Jesús y María, in Calle Compañía 4. [8]

Recently, a parking space for caravans has been built in the neighbouring town of Berriozar.

Sanfermines Season[edit]

  • In Sanfermines many people sleep in the open for free in the parks throughout Pamplona.
  • The El Molino campground is near Pamplona. It has campsites, cabins and rooms. It requires booking during San Fermín festival and is about 25 min from the center of Pamplona.
  • Hostival (The Festival Hostel) sets up temporary accommodation "villages" offering a range of accommodation to suit all budgets and for festival goers looking to meet new people and keep the party going.
  • A good camp close to Pamplona is Lizarra at Estella. Approx. 1/2 hour away by coach. It has a bar, restaurant, shop, showers, & pool.
  • Some people rent their apartments in Sanfermines. Booking in advance is a must. Prices can vary a lot.
  • There are a number of hotels/hostels in the city, although you will need to book very early.
  • For a more hedonistic crowd, younger travellers and backpackers will find the Stoke Travel campsite at Camping Ezcaba a convenient option for accommodation, ten minutes outside of Pamplona.

Stay safe[edit]

  • Watch out for the bulls!
  • There are quite a lot of pickpockets around at Sanfermines time, expert at spotting visitors, so be careful. Do not leave things unattended.
  • At Sanfermines do not wear flip-flops or sandals as the streets are quite filthy and there can be broken glass on the ground. Traditionally locals wear white t's and pants, a red neckerchief and some kind of red scarf round their waist. You can buy this outfit at street shops and mingle with the crowd.


Tourist Office: Avda. Roncesvalles 4. Phone no. +0034 848420420 [9]

Turismo de Pamplona [10]

Bus Station [11]

Emergencies Phone no. 112

Booking for accommodation in the region of Navarra [12]

Navarra News, Navarra's first online newspaper in English [13]


  • Luggage There is a place in the bus station where knapsacks, luggage, and items can be stored. During Sanfermines there is another place to leave your luggage, in Plaza de San Francisco.

Get out[edit]

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