City guides

Pamplona city guide

Pamplona, Spain

Make Pamplona the right way!

Pamplona is the capital and largest city of the region of Navarra in northern Spain.Pamplona sits just south of San Sebastián and North of the charming town of Laguardia.

The history of this region dates back to the first century B.C. when the Romans founded Pompaelo on an old Vascon settlement. 

The city was founded by Roman general in 75 B.C. The romans established the settlement in the same place where the Cathedral now stands, and where the ancient Vascons had also settled in the past. 

During the Middle Ages the city became the capital of the Kingdom of Navarra. The city was divided into 3 walled neighborhoods: Navarrería, San Cernin and San Nicolás and the inhabitants of each borough held fierce animosity to inhabitants of the others.  In 1423 after continuous battles between the cities residents King Carlos III ‘el Noble’ signed the ‘Privilege of Union’ making Pamplona a single city and a new City Hall was built, a coat of arms was created and the building of more internal fortifications was prohibited. 

Navarra has long been a strategic point of defense against France and its status as a city-fortress was strengthened with the building of the Citadel in the 16th century.

Pamplona city guide - Table of Contents

Hitoric building Pamplona
Cathedral Pamplona
San Fermines Pamplona

Practical information to plan your visit to Pamplona

5 top reasons to visit pamplona

Pamplona is the site of the running of the bulls

The San Fermines or the running of the bulls as it is commonly known is a festival that has been celebrated in the city for centuries, made famous by Ernest Hemingway

Crowds flock to the city every July to test their metal as they are angrily chased through the winding cobbled streets of Pamplona by stampeding, furious bulls. 

The festivities take a full week (from July 6th to July 14th) and they are capped off with the running. The San Fermines is one of the craziest events, booze-fueled festivities in all of Spain with all sorts of feasts, dances, concerts, market stalls, and traditional music.

 

Monumental Pamplona

Pamplona stands out among other historic cities in Spain because of its amazing mediaeval city walls, considered to be one of the most interesting and well-preserved defense systems in Spain. There are over 3 miles of walls, bastions, ravelins and forts. 

Cathedral of Santa María, built in the 12th century is the city’s main cathedral. This monument stands out because the interior presents a Gothic style cloyster (one of the most beautiful in all of Europe), but the façade is neo-classical.

Apart from the Cathedral there are two other noteworthy religious building within the historic city center of Pamplona: San Saturnino and San Nicolás, both of which are simultaneously churches and fortresses, built with dual purposes. 

Also worth a visit is the Royal and General Archives of Navarra. This building was built in the 13th century and was once Palace of the Kings of Navarra.

 

The Citadel

There are several parks in Pamplona that are worth a visit: Taconera, Media Luna, Yamaguchi and the Arga River Park, however, is there is one you cant miss out on, that would be the Citadel park 

280,000 square metres of green spaces dotted with which pavilions, moats, bastions, ravelins, fortifications, other military buildings. The Citadel, was the the main architectural focal point in the city, and is considered to be the best example of military architecture from the Spanish Renaissance and one of the most outstanding defensive fortifications to have been designed in Europe.

Because of the constant French incursions and attacks King Philip II ordered the construction of the Citacel in 1571, to protect the citizens of Pamplona. The original structure was shaped like a pentagon, with five bastions, one on each corner. As time went on, different extensions and modifications were added and shaped teh current version of the citadel.  

 

The different Museums of Pamplona 

Pamplona is relitivley small but it is home to a good number of interesting museums that are well worth a visit.

The Museo de Navarra, tells the history of Navarra though its display of  archaeological and artistic collections with  pieces from prehistoric times up until the 20th century. Other museums in include the

The Museum of the University of Navarra is located in the pretigious University of Navarra, as the name would indicate and is home to rotating expositions of modern art and different cinematic and theattical offerings.  

 

Amazing gastronomy

Navarra in general is one of the most underrated regions of Spain when it comes to gastronomy. Navarra and Pamplona take everything that makes Basque gastronomy great and add the amazing produce that is so characteristic of this corner of the country.

There is also no shortage of pintxos bars, but you will also find excellent restaurants that serve up a range of traditional and modern fusion dishes.

Also, Navarra is a criminally underrated wine producer, so don’t forget to taste some of the amazing wine from the region.

Best time to visit Pamplona

The best time to visit Pamplona depends greatly on what you want to experience. The city explodes with life during the summer months with the San Fermín celebration and the arrival of the good weather.

During the winter months it can get quite cold, but Pamplona is cozy and inviting so if you can stand the chill it is a good option. 

April, May and June are probably your best bet if you want to have good weather and you want to enjoy the city peacefully.

Weather in Pamplona

Pamplona presents a continental climate, characterized by big contrasts with hot summers and cold winters.

interactive tourist map of Pamplona

Best things to do Near Pamplona

Camino de Santiago: the Camino Francés
el camino de santiago

Camino de Santiago: the Camino Francés

The French Way of 775 kilometres unites towns of Saint Jean Pied de Port and Santiago. It was recuperated in 1971 and has signals on the whole path, with 112 hostels and 4 shelters. It is the most famous of all the different “Caminos”

Lagusardia
Hidden Gems

Laguardia

This small Spanish village was founded in 908 by Sancho Abarca of Navarre to defend the frontier, when it was known as La Guarda. It was originally laid out in the shape of
a ship, with the bow facing North. and the stern South. In 1164 it achieved town status under Sancho el Sabio. In 1194 its fortifications were extended by King Sancho el Fuerte. Cars are not permitted inside the walled city!

Fiestas

The battle of wine in Haro

They say that the tradition of going on a pilgrimage to Bilivio (the old name Haro used to have) Crags comes from the XV century where the master of San Millán (Felices de Bilivio) lived and died. A chapel was built in his name in the eighteenth century and every 29th of June a mass and subsequent lunch was held for the festival of San Pedro. This has evolved big time and the battle of wine is one of the top festivals in Northern Spain, and very popular due to the use of wine as a main component in the day!

Video of Pamplona - The city in a nutshell

Other city guides in Spain