Top 10 Attractions in Pamplona: The Unseen Charms

by Benjamin “Benji” Torres

From Author

If you’re like me and thought Pamplona was all about the famous Running of the Bulls, you’re in for a delightful surprise. Let me guide you through the top 10 attractions in Pamplona that offer a whole range of experiences. Trust me, whether you’re a history aficionado, a gourmand, or a curious wanderer, Pamplona will exceed your expectations. So, buckle up and get ready to explore!

Top 10 Attractions in Pamplona: The Unseen Charms

1) Pamplona Cathedral: Architectural Elegance
If you’re into architecture and history, the Cathedral of Pamplona will capture your heart. This magnificent Gothic structure is not just a religious sanctuary but also a repository of art and history. Inside, you’ll find a museum that takes you through the evolution of religious practices in the region. The cloister is a hidden gem; its intricate Gothic arches and sculptures are a feast for the eyes. Don’t forget to pay a visit to the tombs of King Carlos III of Navarre and his queen, Leonor, to complete your historical tour of this top 10 attraction in Pamplona.

More Spanish ancient architecture gems can be found in our Seville guide 

2) Plaza del Castillo: The City's Heartbeat
The focal point of the city. From dawn to dusk, this bustling square is where you’ll feel the authentic vibe of Pamplona. With cafes, bars, and quaint shops encircling it, you can enjoy a leisurely café con leche or a sophisticated glass of Navarrese wine. Throughout the year, Plaza del Castillo serves as the primary venue for festivals, gatherings, and musical performances. The central kiosk is particularly charming, where local bands fill the air with melodies. Families, friends, tourists—all converge here. It’s the epitome of what community spirit in a Spanish city can be.
3) San Fermín Festival: Running of the Bulls
The San Fermín Festival needs no introduction. Even though the Running of the Bulls is what it’s most known for, the week-long celebration is a carnival of Spanish culture. The festival starts with the opening ceremony called Chupinazo and culminates in the Pobre de Mí, a closing ceremony that will pull on your heartstrings. In between, you’ll encounter daily parades, folk music, and copious opportunities to indulge in Pamplona’s culinary landscape. Don’t be just a spectator; get involved. The Festival of San Fermín is the quintessential Pamplona experience that brings to life the very essence of Spain.
San Fermín Festival
San Fermín Festival: Running of the Bulls
4) Café Iruña: A Taste of History
When it comes to historical cafes, Café Iruña steals the show. Nestled on one corner of Plaza del Castillo, this establishment, which opened its doors in 1888, is steeped in history. Writers, artists, and notable figures like Ernest Hemingway have frequented it. It’s not hard to see why; the café has preserved its original décor, giving you the feeling that you’ve stepped back in time. The food is fantastic, offering a blend of traditional Basque fare and modern culinary delights. Whether it’s morning or night, Café Iruña serves as an exceptional portal into Pamplona’s rich past.
5) Navarra Museum: A Cultural Journey
Housed in a 16th-century hospital, the Museum of Navarre is a treasure trove. This cultural center covers Navarre’s history, from its earliest days to modern times. You’ll find artifacts, paintings, and even archaeological finds. It’s the best place for an immersive understanding of the region, especially if you’re keen on learning beyond the typical tourist trail. Guided tours are available, and the historic building itself, complete with its elegant courtyard, is worth the admission.
6) Fortress and Walls of Pamplona: Walk the Ramparts
If you’re keen on understanding the rich military history of Pamplona, the Fortress and Walls should be on your list. These fortifications from the 16th century stretch far and wide, offering a fantastic walking path. As you stroll along, you’ll encounter well-preserved watchtowers and defensive positions that have stood the test of time. There’s even an interpretation center, which is one of the top 10 attractions in Pamplona for history buffs, where you can dig deeper into the significance of these walls in European history. Time your walk for the sunset, and you’ll be treated to a mesmerizing view of the city below.

Extend your trip and take less than a 2-hour ride to Bilbao to explore this historical gem.

Fortress and Walls of Pamplona
Fortress and Walls of Pamplona: Walk the Ramparts
7) Parque de la Taconera: Oasis of Calm
Taconera Park is like a green hug in the midst of urban Pamplona. As soon as you step in, you’ll be greeted by lush, manicured lawns and the gentle chatter of birds. It’s a sanctuary for locals and tourists alike to take a breather and escape the bustle of the city. The park houses different species of animals like peacocks and deer, providing a mini-zoo experience. Wandering through its various sections, each themed differently, you’ll come across statues, fountains, and even an old fortress wall. Particularly striking is the Jardín de los Sentidos, the Garden of Senses, which is a haven for those into botany. If you’re looking for a peaceful place to unwind in Pamplona, Taconera Park is undoubtedly a top attraction.
8) Plaza de Toros: A Cultural Stampede
If you’re curious about the bullfighting culture in Spain, you can’t leave Pamplona without visiting the Plaza de Toros. One of the oldest in Spain, it comes alive during the San Fermín Festival but serves as a cultural center all year round. Guided tours provide valuable insights into the historical, ethical, and cultural aspects of this controversial sport. In the off-season, the plaza is a hub for concerts, sporting events, and other performances. It’s more than just a bullring; it’s a piece of living history and a key part of the local identity.
9) Mercado de Santo Domingo: A Foodie's Paradise
When it comes to understanding the local way of life, a visit to the Mercado de Santo Domingo is a must. This bustling market in the heart of the city serves as a daily gathering place for locals shopping for fresh produce, meat, and regional specialties. It’s a fantastic spot for foodies who are keen to explore the local flavors of Pamplona and Navarre. From fresh cheeses and olives to local wines and cured meats, this market offers an authentic taste of the region.
10) Calle Estafeta: The Street That Never Sleeps
Last on my top 10 attractions in Pamplona list but definitely not least is Calle Estafeta. Famous for being part of the San Fermín bull run route, it’s a must-visit for its dynamic atmosphere. The street is lined with bars, restaurants, and shops that stay open until the wee hours. It’s an excellent place to sample pintxos, the Basque Country’s version of tapas, and to dive into the local nightlife.

And of course, if you are seeking for outstanding nightlife experience – welcome to Ibiza, the Spanish capital of parties.