- Cityscape Peaks, pintxos and parapets
- City life Bull running, bar hopping
This mountain-flanked city in the Navarre region of northern Spain is known for its wine, cheese and annual bull run…
Ernest Hemingway set up camp in Pamplona in 1923 to cover the San Fermín festival, where men of the city run through the streets with some bulls hot on their heels each July, and liked it so much he came back time and time again. Known as Iruña in Basque, you can expect the best pintxos (tapas-like bar snacks) this side of San Sebastián. The old town is a beautifully preserved cobbled haven of churches and plazas, with the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route passing through the middle. The ancient city walls remain in place, though the population has long since extended beyond them. A river runs through it: the Arga, on its way from the border with France. The best bit? The sun-baked, sandy mountains that rise up all around you, the Navarran Pyrenées.
Do go/Don’t go
If you don’t like crowds, don’t go between 7 and 14 July, when they come in their droves for the annual bull runs. Summer can get hot and busy, so May and June or September and October are best for clear, sunny days. It’s cold and often wet from late October until April.
- Planes Pamplona has its own airport, but it’s more a hub for regional flights. International travellers can change in Madrid and connect to Pamplona, or fly to Bilbao, Biarritz or Zaragoza. Easyjet (www.easyjet.com) flies to Bilbao from London Stansted, and Ryanair (www.ryanair.com) will get you to Biarritz or Zaragoza.
- Trains There’s a station just off Avenida de San George in the city centre. Renfe (www.renfe.com) trains run directly to Madrid, Barcelona, San Sebastián and Zaragoza.
- Automobiles The city is easy to conquer on foot, but a car is essential for getting up into the scenic mountain surrounds and the pretty villages along the way. To reach Pamplona from Biarritz or Bilbao, allow an hour and 40 minutes. From San Sebastián, it’s an hour and a half, and it’s just under two hours in the car from Zaragoza.
- Taxis There are ranks at Plaza del Vinculo, Plaza de las Merindades and close to the main square, Plaza del Castillo, or you can flag one in the street. To book, try Taxi Pamplona (+34 948 351 335; www.taxipamplona.com) or Logi Taxi (+34 606 833 522; www.logitaxi.com).