Nine things to do in Pamplona
Pamplona is the capital of the Spanish province of Navarra and runs to the south of the border with France. The region is located between The Basque Country and Aragon. The city has something for everyone: whether you are visiting to take part in the thrill of the San Fermin festival, stop on your pilgrimage to Santiago or want to see some of the best restaurants and bars, here is a list with things you shouldn’t miss out on when you visit the city.
Visit Casco Viejo and the Plaza del Castillo
Casco Viejo is a jumble of narrow alleys and pleasant streets. The heart of the city and one of the essential sights in Pamplona. The main square in the city centre is the Plaza del Castillo. Plaza del Castillo is the centre of the historic centre and is full of cosy restaurants and bars around. As soon as the sun shows its first rays of sunshine, the terraces are quickly ample. Are you a fan of speciality beers? Then go to the Napargar Cervecería. They have twenty different beers on tap here – many from local breweries.
Have fun at the craziest festival in Spain
The San Fermin festival, also known as ‘The Running of the Bulls’, is one of the biggest and craziest events in Spain, where participants run through the streets of the city alongside the bulls. In addition to the bull run, there are also parties, dances, market stalls, and there is traditional music. This festival takes place every year in July.
In 2019 the festival will open on July 6, after which for a week – until July 14 – bulls will run through the streets of Pamplona several times a day.
Bull running is always deadly for the animals, and San Fermín is a much talked about the festival. Whether you agree with this tradition or not, you are travelling, and it is always good to dive into local folklore. However?
Walk to the Citadel: Iruñeko zitadela
Pamplona is a medieval city and the time to defend itself against possible attacks, a five-kilometre wall was built around the city. A massive fortress, with the Citadel Iruñeko zitadela as its most crucial point. This enormous structure is located southwest of the historic centre and is an essential structure in the city. The city walls of Pamplona can be seen in many places in the city and in particular the entrance gates, such as El Portal Francia is a picture. The entrance gates can be found on all sides of the town. The fortress is also a beautiful place to relax because it is located just outside the hectic pace of the city.
A journey through time: the historical sights of Pamplona
Medieval city walls surround the old town of Pamplona and visitors can read all about it at the Interpretation Center. Inside, travellers can explore the ancient Citadel, which was built in 1571 by Philip II of Spain. Other historic sites include Santa Maria Cathedral and Real Pamplona Church and the Church of Saint Lawrence, built initially as a church fort in the 14th century.
Stroll through the historic centre of Pamplona
Like other Spanish cities, Pamplona also has a city centre where the lives of the local population take place. It is the place where young and old come together. In Pamplona, the historic centre of the city – just like in Bilbao – is called Casco Viejo. Casco Viejo is by far the most delightful neighbourhood in the city, and especially during the weekend, it looks like it’s a holiday. Pubs and terraces are full, the wine and beer flow through, and it is beautiful and cosy everywhere you look. The historic centre consists of narrow alleys where you can get lost with ease. But also from beautiful, colourful houses and shops, squares, monuments and churches. The centre of Pamplona is compact and therefore, easy to explore on foot. You will also find the Catholic Church Iglesia San Nicolás and the Santa Maria la Real de Pamplona Cathedral in the old centre. Due to the compactness of the city, you can get an excellent picture in one full day.
Take a look at Plaza de Toros
If you call the city of Pamplona, many people will soon think of the controversial bullfighting. Although this happens in several Spanish cities and regions, Pamplona is one of the cities with the largest arenas and the much-discussed festival Las Fiestas de San San Fermin. It is therefore advisable to visit the Arena of Pamplona, Plaza de Toros. Without bullfights taking the place of course. Every day of the week you can do a tour for 6 Euro per person, and you will be told everything about the tradition and the festival using an audio guide. You can stand in the middle of the arena and take a look at the stables. I recommend doing this in Pamplona.
Eating the tastiest pinchos
Just as in the Basque Country – Bilbao and San Sebastian, Pamplona is all about good food. And especially for the tastiest pinchos (in the Basque country people write pintxos). Pinchos are often compared to tapas but are just that little bit different. A pincho is a small snack that always consists of a piece of baguette with toppings on it. It can be anything. From fish to small hamburgers and from meat products to grilled vegetables, but also croquettes are often eaten. In Casco Viejo, you will find dozens of pinchos bars where one pincho usually costs between € 1.50 and € 3. The beautiful thing about eating pinchos is that you can order one or two pinchos in every bar – with a drink – and then continue hopping to the next bar.
The Navarre region is definitely worth a road trip!
Pamplona is the capital of what was formerly known as the kingdom of Navarre, now called the Navarre region. With the Pyrenees in the north, this area has a rich history and is home to many small historic towns. It also houses numerous green valleys, rivers and forests, as well as three nature parks – the Bertiz nature park, the Urbasa-Andia nature park and the Bardenas Reales nature park.
Have fun in beautiful museums
Pamplona is perhaps quite small, but it has a large number of fascinating museums. One of the best is the Museo de Navarra, with both archaeological and artistic collections that exhibit prehistoric pieces up to the 20th century. Other museums in the Museum of the University of Navarra and the Cathedral Museum.