Located in the north of Spain is the legendary city of Pamplona. Located near the Pyrenees Mountain range, the landscapes around the city are breathtaking.The capital of Spain’s Aragon region, this is the birthplace of the infamous San Fermín Festival. If that name doesn’t ring any bells, you might know it as “the running of the bulls”.
Ernest Hemingway featured Pamplona in his beloved novel, The Sun Also Rises. This brought the city international fame that has lasted for decades since.
Like all of Spain, Pamplona is a safe city where visitors should feel comfortable in nearly every neighborhood, day or night. The locals are welcoming and used to visitors and the police are attentive and polite.
However, as many as one million visitors flock to Pamplona every year to participate in the festival. This means it is essential to book well in advance. During the festival week, rates are often as much as three times more expensive. If you want to see this once-in-a-lifetime event, we suggest saving up.
Pamplona is a moderately sized city with several neighborhoods, all with their own unique vibe. Read our guide to discover where to stay and go out in Pamplona. Learn about the best hotels in the city and what there is to do in each neighborhood.
Casco Viejo (Old Town)
Casco Viejo is Pamplona’s magical old town. Get lost in its small, winding streets, snack on delicious tapas, and enjoy lively nights out. Pamplona’s 16th century walls surround Casco Viejo and its wonderfully preserved buildings.
The Plaza del Castillo is a large square with a stunning gazebo and plenty of bustling cafes where you can enjoy a coffee or glass of wine. Stop at the Museum of Navarra to enjoy fine art and learn more about the history of the region. The Pamplona Cathedral has a guided tour that shouldn’t be missed if you like learning more about the past.
Although Casco Viejo is a compact neighborhood, you won’t run out of things to do and see here.
Where to stay in Casco Viejo?
Hemingway was no stranger to Spain and visited the country many times. He was an avid fan of anything bull related. It’s only natural that he came to Pamplona eight times to join in the festivities. On eight out of nine stays, he spent his nights at Gran Hotel la Perla in Casco Viejo.
La Perla lives up to its fame and is one of the best hotels in Pamplona. It is a comfortable luxury hotel in an unbeatable location. Guests are in the center of all of the city’s best sightseeing and nightlife. After a long day of walking around, there’s nothing better than coming home to a large room with modern features and friendly service.
This is a 5-star hotel, so be prepared to shell out when it comes time to pay the bill. It’s the price to pay to be a part of the history and luxury of La Perla.
If you are looking for a place to stay in Pamplona for the running of the bulls, then Ensanche 1 is a good neighborhood choice. The famous San Fermín Festival begins on the border of Ensanche 1 and Casco Viejo. From July 6th to July 14th, this neighborhood is buzzing with visitors and locals alike. You will be right in the middle of the action if you stay here.
The Citadel, a medieval fortress, and many other major sights are located in Ensanche 1. Enjoy a leisurely walk in Parque Antoniutti. This gorgeous park has plenty of sculptures, plants, and places to sit down.
Where to stay in Ensanche 1?
Book your stay at the Hotel Tres Reyes in Pamplona for a comfortable stay. This large, upscale hotel is nestled next to the lush Taconera Gardens.
With a posh restaurant, lively bar, and friendly cafe, you will never have to wait long for a tasty meal. A hot tub and sparkling pool are the perfect places to relax. Some suites have balconies where you can relax with a cup of coffee and look over the city and mountains.
Pamplona kept growing at the beginning of the 20th century. It was necessary to expand Ensanche, so the second Ensanche neighborhood was born. Ensanche 2 borders the first Ensanche neighborhood and Casco Viejo. It is a lively neighborhood and is a great place to enjoy a basque tapa and cold beer.
The famous Pamplona Bullring, built in the 1920s is located in Ensanche 2, on the border of Casco Viejo. It holds nearly 20,000 spectators and is where the annual running of the bulls ends. The event is captured in a stunning bronze statue nearby, the Monumento al Encierro.
Ensanche 2 is very commercial, with plenty of banks and restaurants. It is also full of streets where you can shop to your heart’s content. Head to the edge of Ensanche 2 to walk along the banks of the Agra River.
Where to Stay in Ensanche 2?
Ensanche 2 is a commercial area with plenty of nice hotels spanning different budgets. The 3-star Hotel Yoldi Pamplona is a friendly place to stay. Guests love that it is in easy walking distance of all of Pamplona’s best sights.
The Hotel Yodi has cozy rooms with comfortable beds. Don’t skip their tasty breakfast buffet, which will give you energy to explore the city. The hotel restaurant also serves a great dinner and has plenty of drink options.
If you want to stay somewhere a bit quieter during your vacation in Pamplona, try the San Juan neighborhood. This is a more residential area that is just to the west of Ensanche 1.
San Juan is still fairly close to the center of the city without nearly as much noise. Since most of the neighborhood was built recently, the streets are wider and there are plenty of parks. With fewer tourists, you have a better chance of finding authentic Spanish restaurants frequented by locals. Explore the neighborhood bars in San Juan to get the real Spanish experience.
Parque Yamaguchi is the coolest park in Pamplona. Designed by Japanese landscape architects in the traditional style, Yamaguchi shouldn’t be missed. The japanese garden has plants imported from Japan, a pond, bridges, and fountains. This is a great place to walk and spend some time relaxing.
Where to Stay in San Juan?
There are lots of great options for hotels in the San Juan area of Pamplona. Hotel NH Pamplona Iruña Park is a safe choice for a comfortable stay. Guests love the clean rooms, friendly management, and quiet nights. The breakfast buffet is well-stocked with options for every taste. Grab a drink at the hotel bar before you head out on the town.
Pamplona is a legendary city with a story to tell. Whether you want to take part in the danger and excitement of the running of the bulls or would prefer to visit during one of Pamplona’s quieter months, there is always something to discover here.
Don’t leave the North of Spain without spending some time here. Use this guide to learn what the neighborhoods of Pamplona have to offer and the best hotels in the city.
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