Of course, the running of the bulls is definitely a sight to behold, and one that you’ll be telling people about for years to come if you witness it first-hand! The city itself is great to visit at all times of year though, and is far more affordable outside of July. Its location on the Camino de Santiago assures it a steady stream of visitors all year round, but especially during the spring and autumn.
Pamplona is actually the historical capital of the whole of the Basque Country, as well as of the Navarra region, and as such has a wealth of ancient buildings, museums and some beautiful architecture. Many of Pamplona’s main sights are located in the “old town”, which is divided into three areas: La Navarrería, the oldest part of the city, and the 12th century boroughs of the towns of San Nicolás and San Cernín. Included amongst the sights to explore are the ancient city wall, and within it la Ciudadela (the fortress), el Portal de Francia (the French entrance), the bull ring and the Taconera gardens. Also well worth a look is la Ciudadela, a fortress that was built in 1571 by the architect Verbon under the orders of Felipe II.
Atmosphere and nightlife
Despite its rich and ubiquitous history, Pamplona exudes a very cosmopolitan and youthful feel – largely due to the thousands of students who attend the university there. It has a fantastic and varied nightlife, and a popular way to start an evening out is to eat out at one of the many pintxos (tapas) bars, then continue onto one of the night clubs in the city.
Food and drink
Navarra and the Basque country are well known for having one of the most delicious, and varied, cuisines in Spain. Specialities from the mountain-ranges include lots of dishes made from game, and fish like salmon and trout. A specific kind of local bean forms the base of many of the typical dishes of the region.
The Navarra region is also well-known for its wines, red wines in particular, which go very nicely with the local fare!
Pamplona has got to be one of the greenest cities in Europe, with a massive 11 million square metres of green areas in the city centre. Included amongst its many parks are la Taconera, Larraina, Biurdana, Del Mundo, Mendillorri, Vuelta del Castillo, la Ciudadela park, Aranzadi and Yamuguchi. All offer a great place to soak up the Spanish sun and watch the world go by.
Once you have discovered all that Pamplona has to offer, it’s really easy to get out and explore some of Northern Spain’s other cities. It’s really close to places such as San Sebastian, Vitoria and Bilbao, which are all accessible either by road or train, and France is also just one hour away by car, should you want to hop over the border for a day!
Cactus offers a wide range of Spanish courses in Pamplona, ranging from General and Individual Spanish to specialist programmes such as Business Spanish, Spanish for Engineers and Spanish for the Medical Profession. For full listings, including prices and dates, or to book a course, please visit the Cactus Language website.