This world famous walled city that rests on the banks of the Arga River is world-famous for the San Fermin Festival and the “Running of the Bulls”! Although in a city this beautiful, why wait for the bulls? Let’s visit Pamplona!
Visit Pamplona: What to do?
Ask people around the globe about their bucket list and you will likely hear “Running of the Bulls”. Rightfully so, it’s on our bucket list too! And this is the city where it all goes down, Pamplona in northeastern Spain. Every year between July 6th and July 14th the famous San Fermin festival is held. Early each morning during San Fermin, six Bulls and steers are released from a corral at Santo Domingo. These huge animals go on a 3-minute rampage through the narrow streets of old Pamplona, chasing brave souls clad in white with red handkerchiefs around their necks.
Sounds pretty amazing, right? So that’s just 9 days in Pamplona, what about the other 356 days?? Not to worry, this sleepy little city boasts much more than bulls and crazy(brave) people. Relax and enjoy historic architecture, ancient city walls, and peaceful parks in one of Earnest Hemingway’s favorite places.
Whether a pilgrim on your way to Santiago or just enjoy walking around the city, Pamplona offers countless beautiful parks, lush gardens, historic plazas, and extraordinary structures to explore.
Visit Pamplona: Parks and Gardens
Mirador de Caballo Blanco
Head northeast of the city center for this picturesque viewpoint. From the charming grounds of Mirador de Caballo Blanco, you’ll get incredible views of the old city walls, the Arga River, and the Great Pyrenees Mountains.
Parque de La Taconera
North and slightly west of the city center, the lush grounds of Parque de La Taconera include several monuments, a small zoo, and even moats. This beautiful 90,000 square meter, 18th-century park should not be missed.
Dating back to 1571, these old fortress walls are surrounded by a park known as Vuelta del Castillo. This stunning park and city walls cover an area of 280,000 square meters and include moats, bastions, and bridges.
Visit Pamplona: Relax in the Piazzas
Plaza del Castillo
Just north of the city center is the historical plaza dating back to the 17th century. The tree-lined square is the center of social life in Pamplona, and some even refer to it as “The Living Room”.
Plaza San Francisco
Created in the early 20th century, this plaza is home to the colorful mosaics of the Municipal Library and a statue of San Francisco.
Plaza de Toros
This ‘plaza’ is actually a bull-fighting ring! Opened in 1922, the still operational bullring is the ending point for the famous running of the bulls. Referred to as the House of Mercy, this bullring also hosts concerts throughout the year.
Visit Pamplona: Admire The Stunning Architecture
Monumento a los Fueros
“This monument was erected to symbolize UNION OF NAVARRE IN THE DEFENSE OF THEIR FREEDOMS, FREEDOMS STILL WORTH MORE THAN LOVE OWN LIFE”. The Monumento a los Fueros features a bronze statue of a warrior woman standing atop a red marble column, and is a symbol of the city.
Ayuntamiento de Pamplona
This ornate town hall building is located in the old town square. The iconic building built in 1423 is where a rocket gets launched every July 6th at noon, announcing the beginning of the famous San Fermin festival. Visit this stunner during the day and at night for some great photos.
Church of San Saturnino
Named after the patron saint of Pamplona, this 13th-century gothic church is located in the historic district, north of the city center. You can’t miss this stunning church and its two magnificent towers. Fun fact: San Saturnino, patron saint of Pamplona, was killed by a bull.
Catedral de Santa Maria
This Roman Catholic Cathedral dates back to the 14th century. This gothic architectural gem is home to the tomb of Carlos III, Leonor de Trastamara, and one of the most stunning cloisters in all of Europe.
We’ve teamed up with GPSmyCity and converted our Pamplona travel guide into a downloadable application that comes complete with a GPS map of our recommendations and operates offline without any need of data plan or Internet connection. You can check it out here.
Getting to Pamplona
Getting to Pamplona: FLY
While there is a very small airport in Pamplona, it is mostly used for domestic flights only. If flying from within Spain, you can find some pretty cheap fares. Otherwise, if flying from abroad, the closest international airport is in Bilbao, about 96 miles away. If planned in advance, you can find reasonable direct flights to Bilbao from most major hubs in Europe including London from $49, Paris from $42, or Venice from $41 with our favorite flight search site, Skyscanner.
Getting to Pamplona: TRAIN
Trains throughout Spain are a great option. You’ll avoid lines at the airport, enjoy beautiful scenery, and they’re generally very comfortable. If you plan on doing a lot of traveling through Spain make sure to look into the Spain Pass, only available to non-residents. Fares & Schedules
Getting to Pamplona: BUS
Buses are not our favorite mode of travel.. The seats are generally cramped, the ride is bumpy, and departure/arrival times can be unpredictable. This said, bus travel is generally the least expensive; in particular the route from Bilbao, Spain is only $16 and 2 hours.
Bilbao Airport to Pamplona Center
Fly into Bilbao Airport(BIO) and head towards the Pamplona city center, about 96 miles away. How will you get there?
You’ll first need to make your way to Bilbao Termibus for a connection to Pamplona. Look for the Bizkaibus customer services desk and ticket office on the arrivals level, and purchase tickets for the Termibus transfer for 1.45EUR. Line A3247 stops on the arrivals level and departure level about every 20 minutes between 6am-12am. Once at the Bilbao Termibus purchase tickets from the ticket window towards Iruña/Pamplona for 14.95EUR for the 2 hours, 20-minute trip. Or, purchase them in advance here.
Getting around in Pamplona
Pamplona boasts 21 bus lines that make it easy to get around the city quickly and affordable. There are over 100 of the green, white, and yellow buses sometime referred to as Villavesas. Each ride is just 1EUR, and you can pay onboard the bus. To figure out the best times and routes, you might find the Moovit App helpful.
Pamplona taxis are easy to find and you can expect to pay fare is 3.25EUR plus .94EUR for each kilometer. UBER is not currently available in Pamplona.
Night or day, Pamplona’s historic city center is a beautiful, walled district that is best explored by foot. Walkscore.com gives Pamplona a score of 100, calling it a “Walker’s Paradise”.
Where To Stay in Pamplona:
Where To Stay in Pamplona: HOTELS
Pamplona has fewer than 100 hotels, so plan in advance for your best options. Choices include high-end hotels like Gran Hotel La Perla and Zapa Palace Pamplona for $150 a night to more affordable hotels like Hotel Avenida or Hotel Eslava for about $60 a night. When it comes to hotels, we recommend shopping Agoda.com, far and away the most competitive resource when searching for hotels in Pamplona.
Pamplona Hotel Deals
Where To Stay in Pamplona: HOSTELS
With only 20 options for hostels in Pamplona, you should definitely plan in advance. Prices generally range from $15-$20 a night for a dorm room, while private rooms run about $40-$60 per night. Hostelworld is our recommended resource when searching for hostels in Pamplona.
Pamplona Hostel Deals
Where To Stay in Pamplona: AIRBNB
We love Airbnb! From private rooms to entire homes, there are plenty of choices when visiting Pamplona. If you’re a first-timer with Airbnb, use this coupon and enjoy $35 off of your stay.
Where To Stay in Pamplona: NEIGHBORHOODS
Pamplona is a small town and is very walkable, basically covering an area of 9 square miles. We recommend staying as close to the city center as possible and taking a leisurely walk wherever you want to go.
Pamplona Travel Tips
Pamplona travel tips: Money
Spain’s national currency is the Euro, and is currently exchanging at 0.9EUR to $1USD. Credit cards are widely accepted and ATM machines are readily available.
Pamplona travel tips: Tipping
A general rule for tipping in Spain is 10%. While tipping in bars is not expected, a common tip is 10% to restaurant servers or taxi drivers.
Pamplona travel tips: Insurance
Traveling through Pamplona is exciting and safe, but you never know when some good travel insurance could come in handy. World Nomads offers the best coverage in the business, is affordable, and is quick to act should something go wrong. For more info, check out our recent World Nomads blog post.