Pamplona in Spanish (Iruña in Basque) is the capital of the province of Navarra in northern Spain. It is steeped in history, religion, tradition and culture. The city is built on a hilltop for protection and it is a fortress town, with its city walls intact in the old town (Casco Viejo). Located a mere 80 km from the border with neighbouring France across the lower Pyrenees, it is the perfect place to enjoy the real “Green Spain” or maybe you are a wine aficionado, then its easy to explore the wine regions of Navarra, La Rioja or Ribera del Duero as they are all close-by. Whether you want to climb the Pyrenees, jump in the ocean at San Sebastian, experience some of the best wines in the world or have a life-changing experience by running with the bulls, you’ll never forget your visit to the region.
The festival, held annually between 6 -14th July dates back before the 12th century and is now 3 events in 1: the religious homage to San Fermin which marks the date he entered Amiens (France), Cattle fairs have been promoted since the reign of Carlos I in 1324 and Bull fights first took place in the Plaza del Castillo on October 10th 1324 via Calle Chapitela which leads to the main square. Locals are called pamplonicas who enjoy the fiesta even more than the visitors, as families and friends from over Spain often take their holidays and go to the sanfermines. Yes that's right! A big family oriented event that caters for youngsters galore with, Parades, Giants, Bigheads, Kilikis, Zaldikos, Toro del Fuego, family shows, traditional music, dance, cultural sports, fairgrounds, nightly firework display and all free, total non stop party 24/7, 9 days 204 hours of fiesta!
Hemingway is really the one to blame for the world-wide fame from his acclaimed novel "The Sun Also Rises" which he details in the book, draws attention from all walks and corners of world, students, C.E.O.´s, sports fanatics, runners, thrill-seekers, daredevils, macho men and women plus lots of people who like being at the biggest party in the world. Revelers literally take " life by the horns" (pun intended) and go to the next level after having experienced & witnessed the encierro or "running of the bulls" at the San Fermin festival that the great man wrote about!
The San Fermin Festival or Sanfermines is held on dates July 6th-14th in Pamplona each year. The bull run or Encierro, is probally the most famous part of the fiesta that includes 6 bulls and 6 steers running through the streets of Pamplona´s old Town! The festival kicks off at 12 noon on July 6th (many arrive on the 5th) with the rockets of the Opening Ceremony the "Chupinazo". 1st bull run takes place at 8 a.m. on the morning of the 7th July and the last bull run at 8 a.m. on the 14th July
What language do they speak in Pamplona?
- Spanish and Basque.
What is Iruna?
- Iruna is the Basque name for Pamplona.
Who are the Basques?
- The Basques are a people who live in a small region straddling the borders of France and Spain. This area is called Euskal Herria with four regions in Spain: Alava, Vizcaya, Guipuzcoa and Navarra. Basques speak a language called euskera, and number approximately 600,000.
How many people live in Pamplona?
- Pamplona has 200,000 plus another 200,000 in the surrounding suburbs.
How do I get around Pamplona?
- On foot or by local bus service.
Who is San Fermin?
- San Fermin is the co-patron saint of Pamplona and the festival is held in his honour. The runners still pay homage to San Fermin’s statue before the morning bull runs. After a successful run, locals often say they had Saint Fermin’s blessing for protection.
Is the festival appropriate for families with children?
- Yes. The fiesta is a family event as it is a religious and cultural celebration which brings out many families with you children to enjoy the festivities. See our photos here .
What is there to do at the festival other than run with the bulls?
- On every street or plaza there will be something going on: concerts, traditional basque music and dancing, processions, ceremonies, firework displays, bullfights and for some chill out time we offer tours: beach days, cultural days, wine tour days.
Is the Old Town of Pamplona a good place to stay?
- Absolutely! YES!! If you want to experience the fiesta then there is no better way than to enjoy the comfort and convenience of our city centre pamplona accommodations. No taxis, no buses, no getting lost. If you want a good night’s sleep (unless you plan to fiesta all day and night) stay within walking distance of the old town at our accommodations. From July 5-15, Pamplona’s old city (click here for map) is transformed into a 24 hour fiesta. Every street is packed with revellers, music booms from nightclubs 24 hours a day, brass bands play in the streets at all hours, and there are fireworks every night.
Why do I need a private balcony to see the bull run?
- The bull run is a 0.5 mile (825 m) course through the small cobblestone streets of Pamplona. The run is no wider than an alleyway (20-25 feet wide) and there are either apartment buildings or 8-foot high wooden security gates along the entire course. Unless you are running, it is impossible to watch it from street level. The best vantage point is from our VIP balcony spots. Demand for balconies is such that San Fermin Travel Central reserves its balconies 6-12 months in advance.
How do you dress for the festival?
- Head to toe in white with a red scarf and red sash. The scarf should only be worn after the festival’s opening ceremony also known as Chupinazo, held every year at 12 noon on July 6th. Red and White t shirts and jeans, you can mix and match, don't bring expensive clothes either as they will get stained at some stage!
Why does everyone wear scarves and sashes?
- They represent the beheading of San Fermin after which he became Saint. The scarf and sash became a festival tradition in the 1980s.
Do I need a passport to travel to Spain?
- No visa is required but you do need a valid passport
- Citizens of the United States, Australia, New Zealand & European Union are not required to have a visa to enter Spain unless your stay will be longer than 3 months in Spain.
- €300 - €500 per week will in Spain will generally be sufficient to get by on. Spain is a member of the Euro Union & the currency is the Euro. To avoid currency fees is to use your ATM card while in Spain to get cash. Almost all major credit cards are used except AMEX. Call your bank & advise them that you will be using your card in spain.
- Most people speak Castilian Spanish or Castellano however there are 4 official languages: Castellano, Catalán(spoken in Cataluya, Barcelona and Andorra), Gallego(spoken in North West Spain in Galicia) and Vasco(spoken in Basque Country). In general, English is not spoken except for some hotels and restaurants.
- Stanard use of 220V, 50Hz alternating current, compatible with UK and Ireland 2220V but not US 110V system as you will need a transformer which can easily be found in airport travel shops.
- Spain is on Central European Time (CET), GMT +1 hour, EST +6 hours, PST +9 & Australia +14 hours
Mobile Phone Networks in Spain
- Spain uses a modern 3/4G network. If you would like to have a prepaid phone with your own number while, in Spain, we can set it up for you here and send you the number before you leave, so your friends and family can keep in contact so you can share those awesome experiences and memories with them also.
- Free wifi spots are available in Pamplona at selected locations from the City Hall in various public locations such as the Plaza Castillo(main square)
- Tips are optional as service charge is always included in the final bill but just like most places in the world. When you get good food, service and treated well, its nice to leave a tip for those people who keep this whole fiesta going!
- Should you have any questions or experience any problems, please get in touch with us at: +34 638 20 66 64, Skype: pamplonaman or via email
Pamplona or Iruña is the capital of Navarra province, in the North of Spain. Less than 1 hour from the French border and the lower Pyrenees. Pamplona is a 5 hour car journey from Madrid, 3 hours by train, and 45 mins. by plane from Madrid. From Barcelona, it takes 5 hours to drive to Pamplona, 4 hours by train, and less than an hour by plane. From Bilbao, it will take 1.5 hours to drive to Pamplona and 2 hours by bus. Chances are that you will be arriving from Barcelona, Bilbao, Biarritz, Madrid or Zaragoza city airports. We recommend for internal flights from Madrid or Barcelona, check out AirEuropa.com or Iberia.com. In Madrid simply catch the metro to Atocha Station, go upstairs to catch the AVE High Speed Trains which takes a mere 3 hours. Book tickets online in advance up to 60 days before you travel (highly recommended) at Renfe.com .
Should I fly to Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao or Biarritz?
- Arrivals from North America, Asia, South America or Australia are better served from Madrid. Take the metro from Madrid airport to Atocha metro station where you can connect with the high-speed train(AVE) to Pamplona in 3 hours.
- If you are planning to see the Mediterranean coast, fly to Barcelona as there is a new high-speed train service (4 hours), Barcelona to Pamplona by bus, train, or rental car will take you 5-7 hours.
- Arrivals from Europe, fly directly to Bilbao, Biarritz or Zaragoza then travel by bus or rental car to Pamplona in less than 2 hour drive.
From Madrid: 435km
- Train/Metro: 3 hrs. When you arrive at Madrid airport, you will arrive at either terminal T2 or T4, take the metro to Atocha metro station to connect to the High Speed Train (AVE). Tickets can be booked online in advance at Renfe.com
- Car: 4.5 hrs. Via direction Zaragoza-Soria-Pamplona A-2/E90, we recommended this route as it is a much nicer drive and much more scenic or E5/A1 direction Madrid-Burgos-Vitoria-Pamplona.
- Bus: 5-6 hrs. La Conda www.condasa.com there are 7 daily buses starting at 7.15am and finishing at 8.30 pm. Tel: (0034) 902422242
From Barcelona: 486km
- Train/Metro: 4 hrs. When you arrive at Barcelona airport take the metro to Sants station to connect with the train to Pamplona. Tickets cost €60 or you can take the night train also from the same station. Tickets can be booked in advance 60 days before your travel date. See Renfe.com.
- Car: 5-6 hrs. Take the A2/E90 direction Barcelona-Zaragoza-Olite-Pamplona, this is our preferred route, less traffic and more scenery!
- Bus: 5-6 hrs. Arrive by metro or bus to Sants Train Station, walk outside and you will see buses on the right which are well sign-posted. La Vibasa www.vibasa.es Tel: (0034) 902 101 363
From Bilbao: 169km
- Train: No trains available
- Car: 1.5 hrs. Direction Bilbao-San Sebastian-Pamplona. Take tha A15 from San Sebastian direct to Pamplona. You can also go via Bilbao-Vitoria-Pamplona, 2.2 hrs. We don´t recommend this route as it has lots of curves. It´s not free either!
- Bus: 1.5 hrs. Arrive to Bilbao´s Central Bus Station then take La Burundesa to Pamplona. www.autobuseslaunion.com Tel: (0034) 944 271 111.
From Biarritz: 128 km
- Train: No train available to Pamplona.
- Car: 1.5 hrs. Take the A63/E70. Cross the border into Spain. Stay on the E70/A8 direction Biarritz-Irún-San Sebastian-Pamplona.
- Bus: 1 hrs. Bus from Biarritz to San Sebastian 12 noon and 6 pm pesa www.pesa.net then change for a 2nd bus to Pamplona, La Conda www.condasa.com there are 7 daily buses starting at 7.15am and finishing at 8.30 pm.Tel: (0034) 902422242
From San Sebastian: 85km
- Train: trains do not arrive into Pamplona before the "encierro" (bullrun) & is only useful if you want to visit San Sebastian.
- Car: 1 hr. Take the A15 direct to Pamplona.
- Bus: 1 hr. La Conda www.condasa.com there are 7 daily buses starting at 7.15am and finishing at 8.30 pm. Tel: (0034) 902422242
From Zaragoza: 181km
- Train: 2 hrs. When you arrive at Zaragoza Train Station to connect to the High Speed Train (AVE). Tickets can be booked online in advance at Renfe.com and is strongly recommended.
- Car: 2 hrs. Take the A2/E90 AP68 (toll roads) A68 direction Zaragoza-Tudela-Pamplona.
- Bus: 2 hrs. La Conda www.condasa.com there are 7 daily buses starting at 7.15am and finishing at 8.30 pm. Tel:(0034) 902422242