Mention you are going to Pamplona, Spain and most people would think about the “Running of the Bulls” or the San Fermín Festival. Pamplona hosts one of the world’s most exhilarating festivals, but the city has more to offer. Bursting with interesting attractions and places to visit, including well-preserved medieval city center, citadel park, museums and cathedrals, we have created a 3-day suggested itinerary packed with the best of Pamplona, Spain. If you are traveling in Spain, why not visit Pamplona as an extension of your trip?
Things to know before traveling to Pamplona, Spain:
Language – Spanish is the official language of Spain. Also called Castilian, it is the first language of over 72% of the population in the country. Other languages are also spoken in certain areas such as Catalan in Catalonia, Galician in Galicia, Basque in the Basque Country and Valencian in Valencia. Speaking at least some Spanish phrases or attempting to learn is greatly appreciated by the locals. Some helpful phrases are as follows:
Buenos días = Good morning
Buenos trades = Good afternoon
Buenas noches = Good evening
Habla inglés? = Do you speak English?
Por favor = Please
Gracias = Thank you
Cómo está? = How are you?
Cuánto cuesta? = How much does it cost?
Currency exchange – The official currency of Spain is the Euro (EUR), the same currency now used by most Western European countries with the exception of the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Norway. Exchanging money in Spain is easy and follows the same standard to elsewhere in Europe. The best way to get local currency (Euros) is to use the ATM and withdraw in Euros to get the best rate. You may also transact with Banks and Bureaux de change.
Social life and etiquette – Spanish people usually have breakfast at around 10:00 am, while lunch (la comida), the biggest meal of the day is normally from 2:00 to 4:00 pm. Dinner is no earlier than 8:00 pm and often start as late as 10:00 pm, and it is a very light meal followed by a leisurely stroll (paseo). Tipping is a common practice in Spain, although not always expected. People in Spain tend to be always on time so it is important to get used to the time zone.
Getting around – During the 7-day San Fermin Festival, expect to compete with thousands of other visitors for transportation options. During the rest of the year, Pamplona is pretty laid-back and getting around is easy. The city has a comprehensive urban bus system, which makes it easy to get around the different neighborhoods and nearby towns. Renting a car and driving on your own is not recommended during the festival because it would actually be more hassle due to the limited parking space.
Where to stay – Finding an accommodation in Pamplona during the festival is difficult, so it is recommended to make hotel reservations ahead of time. For the rest of the year, getting a place to stay in would not be an issue. There’s a great variety of accommodation in Pamplona, ranging from small family-run pensions to five-star luxury hotels. In almost any neighborhoods, there’s something for every level of comfort and budget.
Where to stay in Pamplona:
AlmaPamplona Muga de Beloso (Calle Beloso Bajo 11, 31006, Pamplona, Spain)
Castillo Gorraiz Hotel Golf & Spa (Avenida Egues 78, 31620, Pamplona, Spain)
Gran Hotel La Perla (Plaza Castillo 1, 31001, Pamplona, Spain)
Hotel Palacio Guendulain (Calle Zapateria 53, 31001, Pamplona, Spain)
NH Pamplona Iruna Park (Travesia Arcadio Maria Larraona 1 | San Juan, 31008, Pamplona, Spain)
Day by Day Itinerary: Spend 3 days in Pamplona, Spain
Since you only have 3 days in Pamplona, it can be tough to whittle down the must-sees. So on your first day, start early and enjoy breakfast at one of the restaurants where locals go frequently. After breakfast, start with a self-guided tour of Casco Viejo (Pamplona’s Old Town), part of the city steeped in history. Rent a bike so you can see all the famous attractions at your own pace.
Make your way to your first destination, Plaza del Castillo (Castle Square). Centrally placed in the old town, the Castle Square is frequented by large numbers of locals and visitors alike. The American novelist Ernest Hemingway used to spend a lot of time here during the Spanish civil War. Your next destination is Estafeta Street, most famous street in Pamplona, where the running of the bulls takes place during the San Fermín Festival.
For the second part of the day, make your way to the Cathedral of Santa Maria la Real (The Cathedral of Royal Saint Mary), a 14th century Gothic church dedicated to the Virgin Mary which houses some extraordinary historic and artistic relics. Then, go to Casa Consistorial (Town Hall), an outstanding example of Baroque architecture. End the day at Navarre Museum, which exhibits the fascinating history of Pamplona and houses a vast collection of historical paintings from the world’s most famous painters as well as cultural and historical artifacts.
Today is spent learning all about Parque Natural Urbasa Andia in Urbasa, Navarra. Take a guided walk along pathways in the nature park for breathtaking views of the Urederra River. Exploring on this protected area is safe and easy, as all trails are clearly marked and well-maintained. You will surely be astounded with the charming village of Banquedano, the glowing blue pools and waterfalls, and lush forest. The opportunity for incredible photographs is endless during the tour, so frequent stops are recommended for visitors to enjoy the landscape.
Taking into consideration that you most likely stayed out rather late the other night, you can start day 9 at around 10 to 11 in the morning. Get a one last whirl through Pamplona to take in any attractions that you might have missed. Start with Taconera Park, the most famous nature spot in the city. Aside from its green spaces, the park has a mini zoo, which the kids will surely love. Also not to be missed is, Saint Lawrence Church, situated in the western corner of the Old Town and just right next to Taconera Park. End the day at the Pamplona City Walls (Murallas de Pamplona), a medieval fortress used as a military stronghold in the historical capital city of Navarre, Spain. Although most part of the walls have been destroyed when Pamplona was expanded, the remaining sections still provide a great place to visit.
Have you been to Pamplona or anywhere else in Spain? Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? If so, you can leave your comments below.
Featured image: The Statue of Encierros in Pamplona was created in commemoration of the internationally known Pamplona Bull Run (Noradoa / Shutterstock.com)