"Run (away) with the bulls" Top 5 Page for this destination Pamplona by mikey_e

Pamplona Travel Guide: 239 reviews and 644 photos

One horse, or is it bull, town

Pamplona, or Iruñea in Basque, suffers from a sort of tourism Dutch disease – where the effects of the San Fermín bull runs cause everything else to be blown out of proportion in terms of costs and tourist facilities. It also causes the city’s other tourist attractions to be overshadowed by one event that takes place for a few days each year. I’ve been to Pamplona a few times, but never really remembered the city or its attractions. We never visited during the running of the bulls, and otherwise I didn’t quite have memories of outstanding views or architecture, the way that I did of Toulouse or San Sebastián. Perhaps that’s because Pamplona is very much like other smaller Spanish cities, and it has a very sleepy attitude about daily life. To be honest, when I was making trying to close the tour of southern France and northern Spain, the reason I stopped in Pamplona was essentially because it was along the route and I assumed that there would be something to do in the town.

Provincial can be good

In truth, I didn’t find that the town was much different from the few memories that I had of it. It was very hot when I arrived and there were few people out and about in the town centre. Unfortunately, the hotels and pensions didn’t quite feel that they had to lower their prices two weeks after end of the San Fermín festivals, so accommodation was more than I expected, but apart from that Pamplona hardly felt like a tourist town or anything other than a sleepy provincial capital. I was lucky in that I was able to secure a very nice room steps away from the Plaza Mayor. Indeed, what seemed to please me the most was that there wasn’t a rush to do as much as possible, and that I could relax and recover from some hectic site-seeing in Donostia and Bayonne the previous few days.

Eat your way to happiness!

To be fair, Pamplona has its charms. The pintxoak and the cider are as good here as it was in Donostia, and sometimes it is much cheaper than what you would expect. There are quite a few pretty churches and Golden Age buildings to discover, and some nice parks to wander about, with a huge citadel to explore at your leisure. The thing is that the city seems to do best from tourism related to the Camino de Santiago and the busloads of Italian tourists who arrive for guided tours, but because they come in pre-arranged groups, there is little effort made to ensure than independent travels can fully access all the city’s sites of interest. As a result, don’t be surprised if you find yourself, like me, wandering around a lot, happening on things to do purely out of chance.

  • Last visit to Pamplona: Aug 2008
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (30)

Comments (2)

  • HORSCHECK's Profile Photo
    Apr 21, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    Fabulous Pamplona page here. I especiall like your accommodation tip.

  • Roadquill's Profile Photo
    Aug 3, 2010 at 5:23 PM

    GReat info on Pamplona. Next time I visit I will check a few places out now that I know what they are. Karl


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