Have you ever heard about a city in the northern Spain called Pamplona? I have to admit that I hadn’t until I read the list of places in Spain I could choose for my Erasmus. And I have to say I couldn’t select anything better. I spent amazing six months there full of travel and social adventures I had never thought of.
Pamplona is a city in the northern Spain, belongs to Navarra community and famous for controversial Festival San Fermin. In addition, it is on Camino de Santiago. And now you can read 7 reasons why this city is worth visiting.
Personally, I have found out that I prefer smaller cities and Pamplona fits this perfectly. Everything important is placed in walking distance within 30 minutes. The city center has a comfortable size for a short walks through lovely streets full of bars and cafés or along old city fortresses. Since it is not so popular as other famous Spanish cities it is not overcrowded there except warm summer nights or regular Juevintxos on Thursday (keep reading).
I spent almost 6 months in Pamplona and I met only one person who wasn’t nice to me. It is said that Spanish people are easy going, party a lot and everything is ‘tranquilo’. However, during my stay in Pamplona, I met a lot of nice people. They weren’t even annoyed by my limited Spanish and waited for me until I put a sentence together.
I have to admit I don’t like walking at streets during the night. But in Pamplona? No problem. I never felt unsafe there even when I walked at 3 am from a bar. Pamplona is friendly and the safe city.
The only time when you should be careful is San Fermin. I write about it at the end.
In case you think what it’s the best day for going out, I’ll tell you. Definitely, it’s Thursday. You can find special offers in most bars pintxo and drink only for 2 euros. Pintxo refers to a small dish on a toothpick connecting bread and fish, jamon or more delicious ingredients. Juevintxo is a great opportunity to experience the nightlife in Pamplona. Walking through streets with people sitting on the ground no matter what the temperature outside is and sipping a small drink with a small dish to eat, that’s the night. And also the variety of pintxos is diverse. To typical belongs ‘tortilla de patatas’, ‘patatas bravas’ or ‘fritos de pimientos.’
Personal Space (this is not only for Pamplona)
For someone, it is a core life need that it is necessary to have at least half of meter between yourselves and other people. For Spanish, it does not exist. They greet each other with two kisses on the cheek, they are close to each other when they speak, they touch you just because it is their characteristic. So if you do not care how close you are to other people, you will love not only Pamplona but generally the whole Spain.
Pamplona lies next to Basque country so it is easy to see their influence. At the beginning, it can be confusing but it is normal that almost everything is written both in Spanish and Basque. However, you can recognize them at first sight because the Basque language is quite different.
Remember that each part of Spain is different so is the Navarra. For instance, they do not have ‘tapas’ but ‘pintxos’, for public transport the word ‘villavesa’ is used and so on.
San Fermin – Fiesta 24/7
If you heard about Pamplona, you may hear the name San Fermin, the biggest festival, (and probably also the craziest one.) San Fermin commemorates co-patron of Navarra called Saint Fermin and it starts every year on 6th July and lasts until 14th July. It begins with traditional El Chupinazo when thousands of people gather on a small square in front of the city hall and a lot of liters of sangria are involved a.k.a poured on everyone present. Every morning at 8 (I am still surprised, too that it is so soon because..come one, it is Spain) bull running takes place where hundreds of people run through the city with bulls. More folkloric and traditional events take place, too, such as parades or Saint Fermin procession.
During a whole week, Pamplona is full of people from every corner of the world, celebrating, drinking and unfortunately, also polluting this lovely city. In that time the safety is lower and it is not recommended to go alone, especially for girls. On the other hand, this experience is unforgettable.
Thi list is definitely not exhaustive. There are countless reasons why to visit Pamplona at least once. Have I persuaded you to come there?