20 Must-Visit Attractions in Pamplona, Spain

Pamplona Plaza Castillo © Jule_Berlin / Wikimedia Commons
Pamplona Plaza Castillo © Jule_Berlin / Wikimedia Commons
Photo of Esme Fox
16 May 2017

The city of Pamplona is located within the region of Navarra in northern Spain and has become synonymous with the San Fermin Festival, or “The Running of the Bulls” – one of the country’s most well-known events. If you’re not visiting the city during these crazy days in July, however, there is still lots to see. Here are 20 of Pamplona’s must-visit attractions.

Casco Viejo

Pamplona’s Old Quarter is one of its most picturesque and simply can’t be missed. Located right in the heart of the city, the majority of it was built in medieval times and is characterized by long narrow streets and tall mismatched buildings. It is here where many of the city’s top sights are located.

Pamplona, Spain | ©SERGIOGARRIDO_1980 / Pixabay

Ciudadela & Vuelta del Castillo Park

The old city citadel was ordered to be built by King Philip II in 1571 to protect against invasions from the French; it was originally a pentagon-shaped fortification with five bastions. The Citadel and the Vuelta del Castillo are considered to be the best example of military architecture from the Spanish Renaissance period.

Pamplona City Walls

Surrounding the Citadel are the Pamplona City Walls, one of the best-preserved military structures in Spain, and thus a national monument. Take a walk around the walls from the Media Luna to Taconera parks to see its many bastions and defense structures.

Murallas de Pamplona © Remieh/Wikimedia Commons | © Remieh / WikiCommons

Interpretation Center of the Fortifications

Museum, Park
To learn more about the city walls and the citadel, head to the Interpretation Center of the Fortifications of Pamplona, located next to Media Luna Park and the celebrated bullring. It is situated within the barracks of the wall itself and showcases everything from drawings and short films to interactive screens.

La Catedral de Santa María la Real de Pamplona

Catedral de Pamplona, Spain
Visit the Catedral de Pamplona in Spain | © Yiorsito / WikiCommons
Pamplona’s cathedral is quite a sight to behold with its impressive neoclassical façade and grand Gothic interior. Located in the Old Town, it dates back to the 14th and 15th centuries, and was one of Spain’s most important cathedrals, where many kings were crowned.

Plaza del Castillo

At the center of the Casco Viejo sits the Castillo Square, covering 150,700 square feet (14,000 square meters) and surrounded by colorful 18th-century buildings and balconies. In the past the square was used for everything from bullfights to markets, but today it’s more for meeting friends and drinking or eating in one of its many surrounding bars and cafés.

Museo de Navarra

Museo de Navarra, Pamplona
Visit the Museo de Navarra in Pamplona during the Festival of San Fermin | © Zarateman / WikiCommons
The best museum in the city, the Museo de Navarra is located in the Old Quarter and is housed in the former hospital of Our Lady of Mercy. It details the history of Navarra and also showcases many works of art; one of its highlights is the Roman mosaic of the Triumph of Bacchus.

Portal de Francia

A gateway into the city fortifications, Portal de Francia is an impressive entrance into the Old Quarter. It was named the “entranceway of France” because the city’s enemies came from across the border to the north. At the top of the gateway you can see the shield of Carlos I of Castile (IV of Navarre).

Taconera Park

The oldest and most beautiful park in the city, Taconera Park is located next to the old city walls. An elegant space, it features a lake, moat, flower gardens and many animals such as deer, ducks, peacocks, pheasants and swans roaming free, as well as the Viennese Café.

Casa Consistorial

Pamplona Town Hall
Pamplona Town Hall | ©Maksim / WikiCommons
Housing Pamplona’s Ayuntamiento or City Hall, the Casa Consistorial was built by King Carlos III in 1423 to unite three separate areas of the city. It combines Baroque and Neoclassical styles and is where the famous bull runs begin.

Fiesta de San Fermín

If you’re here during festival season in July, you won’t be able to miss the Fiesta de San Fermin, better known as “The Running of the Bulls.” During this heart-pumping event, locals run through the city streets alongside fighting bulls and aim to get as close as possible. The festival also features music, dancing, fireworks and feasting.

San Fermin Festival, Pamplona © Sanfermin.com / Flickr | © Sanfermin.com / Flickr

Iglesia de San Nicolás

Iglesia de San Nicolás, Pamplona
The church of San Nicolás, Pamplona | WikiCommons
Built in the 12th century both as a church and military stronghold in one, the Iglesia de San Nicolás is an important city building. The original Romanesque fortress of the church was destroyed during a fire in 1222, however a new one was consecrated in 1231.

Palacio de Navarra

Palacio de Navarra, Pamplona | ©Zarateman / Wikimedia Commons
Palacio de Navarra, Pamplona | © Zarateman / WikiCommons
The Navarra Palace is the seat of the government of the autonomous region of Navarra. It was designed in 1840 by Jose de Nagusia and is Neoclassical in style. Visitors can look around the building on an organised tour to see attractions such as a portrait of Ferdinand VII by Goya, and a large tapestry of the great battle of the Navas de Tolosa.

Museo Universidad de Navarra

Museo Universidad de Navarra
Museo Universidad de Navarra | © Universidad de Navarra / Flickr
The Museo Universidad de Navarra was designed by Rafael Moneo and houses two collections – one of contemporary art and the other of photography. The art side of the museum showcases 50 pieces by artists such as Picasso, Kandinsky, Tàpies, and Chillida.

Parroquia San Lorenzo

Also known as the Capilla de San Fermin (the chapel of San Fermin), the parish church of San Lorenzo is one of the main players during the San Fermin Festival. It is here where people pray to the saint and carry out the religious parts of the event.

Café Iruña

Cafe, Restaurant, Bar, Spanish, $$$

Sitting on the Plaza del Castillo, Café Iruña is a city institution and one of the most historic cafés in Pamplona. Established in 1888, it was the first place in the city to enjoy electric lighting and today still gives customers and old world feel with its period lamps, fancy mirrors and ornate archways. The author Ernest Hemingway spent much of his time here when he lived in the city, and there is a sculpture of him at the bar.

Parque de los Sentidos

Botanical Garden, Park
Located just south of Pamplona, near the airport, the “Park of Feelings” is a botanical garden split into five zones representing the five senses – touch, taste, sight, smell and hearing.

Calle de Zapateria

Running through the Casco Viejo, Zapateria Street is one of the most atmospheric streets in the area, lined with many souvenir shops and stores selling traditional products, as well as a few pintxos bars.

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