Pamplona, Spain, situated near the Pyrenees, is a Basque city in the Navarra province. Pamplona is a particularly special place for us as our family is from here and still resides here. There are plenty more things to-do in the city of Pamplona that we have not covered here. Most famously, of course, is San Fermin when the a million visitors arrive for the Running of the Bulls. As our family is from this town, we have avoided the tourist high season (July) despite our father's participation in the Running for several years before immigrating to the United States. The result is that our trip tips are centered more on day trips outside of the city but this in no way should be construed as a reason to skip our family's hometown. The city itself is rich with Basque culture, including food, dance and a truly impressive night life. Folks in Pamplona are lively, know how to have fun and are welcoming of all guests.
Pamplona City Center: The city center has several points of interest all within walking distance of each other. The Plaza de Toros is where the annual Running of the Bulls ends. This nearly 20k person stadium was built in 1922. Pamplona City Hall is the landmark building where the City marks the start of the Running. Plaza del Castillo is a central square that is often the location of festivals, markets, and even the occasional protest (even when we were there!). Pamplona is also surrounded by well-preserved medieval fortress walls.
Day Trip to Olite: Just a little over 30 minutes by train from Pamplona is the town of Olite. Palace of the Kings of Navarre of Olite is the main attraction of this medieval town. Once the home of the Charles III the former King of Navarre, the castle was restored after suffering significant damage during the Napoleonic wars in 1813. While the interior is largely void of any of the former furnishings, the building itself is preserved and fun to explore.
Day Trip to Roncesvalles. Located approximately 1 hour by car from Pamplona, Roncesvalles is a stop along the Camino de Santiago. Here hike all or a part of the 26 km Roncesvalles-Zubiri stage of the Camino, a trek that more than 30,000 pilgrims take annually. The trail is well-marked and easy to traverse.
Day Trip to Biarritz & San Sebastian: By car, travel a loop by first driving 90 minutes to Biarritz, France, then 45 minutes to San Sebastian, Spain, and finally 70 minutes back to Pamplona. Crossing the border is seamless. Be sure to bring change for the toll roads. In Biarritz, walk through the Basque markets and take a walk out onto the water on the Rocher de la Vierge. In San Sebastian, walk the famous Beach of La Concha. Take a drive to Monte Urgull for a view of the beach and city below.
Where We Stayed
Air BnB: Located in central Pamplona, this apartment is within walking distance of all this town's main sightseeing locations. The apartment is clean and spacious. While on the top floor, there is still some street noise if, say, a night time parade goes by like what happened when we were there. We do, however, highly recommend this apartment. Photo Credit: Air BnB Listing (photo right).