Pamplona

Pamplona or Iruña (in Basque) is the capital of Navarra. Among tourists, Pamplona is best known for the celebrations of San Fermín. But Pamplona is also a very nice city to visit outside these busy parties. It is rich in history, culture and conviviality. A must to really get to know Pamplona is to visit Pamplona Private Tour to book. Discover the city's most beautiful buildings and listen to the fascinating stories behind every corner with a very enthusiastic guide.

Foreigners mainly know Pamplona from the famous festivals of San Fermín. These major celebrations take place every year from July 6 to 14 and are mainly associated with the famous Running of the Bulls. This centuries-old tradition attracts a huge number of visitors every year and is the heart of San Fermines, where everything revolves around this tradition. Pamplona offers many beautiful places and buildings that can be visited in one day. Below you will see the things you must visit when you are in Pamplona.

Old Town district

A stroll through the old town is enough to experience the historical and cultural wealth of the capital of Navarre. Along the narrow medieval streets are many monumental buildings and iconic places of this city. Churches like San Nicolas, beautiful and characteristic parks such as the Taconera Gardens, the town hall, the cathedral of Santa María la Real, the square Plaza del Castillo and much more. A city tour it is recommended to visit these places.

The old town of Pamplona is full of bars where you can enjoy the diverse gastronomy from Navarra. These are the so-called pinchos/pintxos (“small bites”). This one is highly recommended pintxos to combine with a delicious local wine. Many of these bars are located along the route of the encierro (running of the bulls), which takes place during the San Fermín celebrations. One of the most famous streets where the bulls run along is the Calle Estafeta.

Drukke straat in Pamplona
Calle Estafeta, one of the most famous streets of Pamplona

City Hall

In the center and old town of Pamplona is the town hall, with the square in front of it called Plaza Consistorial. This location is of great importance during the San Fermín celebrations, because this is where the chupinazo takes place. At the chupinazo a flare is lit from the balcony of the town hall, marking the start of the celebrations. Thousands of people gather on the square to celebrate this moment.

The current town hall was inaugurated in 1953, but retains the Baroque facade of the previous building from 1760.

Hoog gebouw met gebloemde balkons en vier vlaggen
City Hall of Pamplona

Cathedral of Santa Maria la Real

The beautiful cathedral is just a 4-minute walk from the town hall Santa María la Real. This cathedral was built during the 14th and 15th centuries on the site of the ancient forum of Pompaelo. The north tower of the cathedral houses María, the largest church bell from Spain. Inside the cathedral is one of the best Gothic cloisters in Europe.

Christelijke kathedraal met twee torens
Cathedral of Santa Maria la Real

Behind this cathedral is located Caballo Blanco (“White Horse”), one of the most charming places in the city. From here you can enjoy the best views about the city, where you see the neighborhoods rochapea, Chantrea and San Jorge can admire, with the mountain in the background San Cristobal and its abandoned fortress on the summit.

The San Fermín celebrations

The San Fermín celebrations, also known as the Sanfermines, are an annual festival that takes place in Pamplona. These festivities are held in honor of San Fermín (Firminus of Amiens), one of the two patron saints of Navarre. The other patron is San Francisco Javier, whose birthplace, a beautiful castle in the village of Javier (40 minutes drive from Pamplona) can be visited today.

The festivities begin every year on July 6 at 12 noon with the chupinazo. These continue until July 14, ending with the song Pobre de mi (“Poor me”) at midnight. At that moment, everyone gathers on the square in front of the town hall, singing with a candle in their hand. The San Fermín celebrations are especially known for it non-stop partying, where people party both at night and during the day. It is tradition to wear white and red clothing during these celebrations, with most people wearing a white shirt and pants with red accessories.

Straat met veel mensen, typische reuzen en vlaggen
Busy street with the traditional gigantes (“giants”) in the middle
Man dans in het midden van een plein met veel toeschouwers
Visitors admire a traditional Navarrese dance

Encierros

Besides partying, San Fermín is also known for its encierros (“running of the bulls”). These take place in the narrow streets of Pamplona and end in the Plaza de Toros (“the arena”), where the bullfighting takes place in the afternoon. The encierros are held every day, except the first day, and start at 8 am. Both locals and brave tourists take part in this bull run, but it is crucial to be well informed about the risks. Running of the Bulls is one serious matter and should only be practiced by those who are familiar with the dangers and are well prepared. A somewhat less dangerous experience is to learn the history of these encierros with the Running of the Bulls Tour.

Mannen rennen uit voor vier stieren
Encierro during the Sanfermines
Monument met mannen en stieren
Monument of the “encierro” in Pamplona

San Fermín also offers next to the exciting encierros plenty of other more relaxing activities. During the day, people often go to the local bars with friends or family to enjoy the atmosphere, drinks and delicious pintxos. There are several music concerts every day and one in the evening around 11 p.m spectacular fireworks show held. People often gather on a lawn near Pamplona's bus station, where the show is best viewed.

Vuurwerkshow met veel toeschouwers
Fireworks show during the San Fermín celebrations

Recommended accommodations near Pamplona

Our recommended accommodations are located in the center of Pamplona, where many of the sights mentioned can be found. The accommodations listed below are within walking distance of Pamplona's most famous and beautiful places, so you can make the most of your visit to the capital of Navarre.
Hostalkamer Hostal Rodas

Recommended restaurants

There are many special and tasty restaurants in Pamplona. We recommend the restaurant first Iruñazarra, in the center of Pamplona. This restaurant serves typical Navarrese dishes, but with a more modern and refined style. For meat lovers we recommend the grill restaurant Katuzarra, also with typical Navarrese dishes and delicious grilled meat. To taste the typical pintxos is the Bar Gaucho the perfect place, with all kinds of different pintxos and a cozy atmosphere.

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