When one hears “Pamplona” they correctly think of Ernest Hemingway and the Running of the Bulls. However, this capital of Navarre has more to offer and is worth adding a Pamplona solo travel stop on your way from San Sebastian to Barcelona (or vice versa), even if to enjoy Pamplona for one day.
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- Pamplona Travel Resources
- What is Pamplona Famous For?
- Best Time to Visit Pamplona
- How to Get to Pamplona from San Sebastian
- Getting Around Pamplona
- Is Pamplona Spain Safe to Visit?
- Where to Stay in Pamplona
- Top Things To Do in Pamplona
- 1 Day in Pamplona Itinerary
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What is Pamplona Famous For?
Although Pamplona resides on one of the three branches of “The French Way” of St. James’ pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela (“The Way”), it is not on the original St. James path given UNESCO World Heritage status.
Still, you will see sightings of the shell, the pilgrimage emblem, denoting the path pilgrims (“peregrinos”) follow through Pamplona as well as shop for pilgrimage goods.
“Iruña” in Basque, Pamplona offers more history than The Way. Dating back to 75 BC as a Roman settlement under the Roman General, Pompey, it fell under the rule of the Visigoths by the 5th century; attacked by the Muslims in the 8th century; then walled by Charlemagne, which eventually gave rise to Pamplona’s first king, Íñigo Arista.
Today, Pamplona is the capital of the Navarre Basque region of Northern Spain and the region’s third largest city.
Pamplona is well known for its military and religious history, its agriculture and wine, and, of course, its yearly Running of the Bulls (“encierros”), the tradition immortalized in Earnest Heminway’s “Fiesta”. It is one of Spain’s biggest festivals honoring San Fermín held in July, where thousands of Spaniards and non-Spaniards alike flock to Pamplona.
Pamplona Solo Travel Essentials
Is Pamplona Worth Visiting?
Pamplona is worth visiting for a day or two if you are in the region. I hope if you’re traveling from San Sebastian to Barcelona, you will consider adding at least a day of Pamplona solo travel.
I cannot speak on attending the Festival of San Fermín. I haven’t been.
Best Time to Visit Pamplona
The best time for traveling to Pamplona relies on weather, costs, activities and events offered.
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Pamplona Weather & Costs
The weather in Pamplona averages in the 40°s F to 70°s F, with warmest weather and least amount of rain in the summer (June through August). Summer provides for multiple outdoor activities, but also when it can be more crowded driving up prices.
The winter months of December through February are the coldest and rainiest, with lower costs and outdoor opportunities. If you go, bring an eco-friendly travel umbrella.
Shoulder season months (spring and fall) provide moderate weather, lower tourist costs and good daylight hours.
I was last in Pamplona in October, and the weather was surprisingly warm. I still had to book well in advance for a decent hotel price. For this Pamplona Solo Travel Guide, I would recommend May, September and October for your Pamplona solo visit.
July, of course, is the big month for Pamplona with its 9 days of the San Fermin Festival. It is the biggest event the city holds annually. Thousands descend on the city.
If you are wanting to go to the festival for the Running of the Bulls, then when to visit is a no-brainer.
Note: the San Fermin Festival was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 so you better book ASAP if you want to go in 2022.
I suggest checking the Pamplona events calendar to help determine which month is best for your Pamplona solo travel.
How to Get to Pamplona from San Sebastian
The best way to get from San Sebastian to Pamplona is by bus or train. They are also the quickest, cheapest and most eco-friendly methods.
It is approximately 2 hours from San Sebastian to Pamplona by car, but why would you want to rent a car when the bus and train are so easy? Plus, you’ll want to be able to kick back and enjoy the Navarre scenery. It is absolutely beautiful going through the mountains.
Eco Travel Tips
ECO TRAVEL PICKS
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Bus to Pamplona
The bus from San Sebastian to Pamplona takes an hour and a half. There are also more buses from San Sebastian to Pamplona than trains providing more flexibility for your solo travel schedule in case you want to sleep in before hitting the road.
Buses also stop in little villages on the way, giving you more opportunity to see the countryside. Some buses will also have WiFi.
I took the bus from San Sebastian to Pamplona and would do so again.
Train to Pamplona
San Sebastian to Pamplona by train takes an hour and 45 minutes. The Renfe train leaves San Sebastian at 7:28am daily, which would give you more time on your 1 day in Pamplona. The thought of getting up at 6am was a no-go; hence, the bus. Still, the train is a great way to go.
Check current train schedules to see what will fit your single travel itinerary.
Pamplona from Barcelona
This itinerary also works if you are doing solo travel from Barcelona to San Sebastian and want 1 day in Pamplona.
However, it is over 4 hours from Barcelona to Pamplona, so I recommend taking the train. You can always choose the bus from Pamplona to San Sebastian.
San Sebastian to Pamplona Day Trip
Day trips from San Sebastian to Pamplona are completely doable if you’re wanting to stay solo in San Sebastian, and you have options on how.
Using this 1 day solo itinerary, you can take the bus or train. Again, buses offer a little more flexibility (the train departs Pamplona daily at 7:24pm) and are slightly faster.
Covid Travel Tip
If you are flying into San Sebastian or Barcelona from outside of Spain, be sure to check all Spain and San Sebastian travel restrictions through your airlines, or your country’s embassy website, and fill out any necessary applications, like the FCS Health Control Form, prior to boarding your flight for Spain.
Getting Around Pamplona
Pamplona is Walkable
Once in Pamplona, you’ll be keeping mostly to the city center on this Pamplona 1 day itinerary, which is compact, mostly flat, and walkable.
The city of Pamplona, however, is spread out so, depending on where your hotel is in relation to the train station or bus station, you may wish to hail a rideshare, ride the metro, or use the local bus system, which is inexpensive and tickets can be purchased on the bus in cash.
Likewise, if you are planning on staying in Pamplona for more than one day, consider renting a bike, e-bike, electric scooter, or taking the local bus to explore other attractions outside of the city center.
Is Pamplona Spain Safe to Visit?
Pamplona’s crime rate is considered low and a safe city to walk alone during the day and night.
I did not feel unsafe when in Pamplona for a day. I kept close to the city center day and night. My hotel was also in the city center. As a general precaution as a solo female traveler, I make a point to stay away from secluded or unlit streets and alleys.
As always, use a safe, travel day-bag keep your belongings with you at all times, and be watchful of pickpockets in crowded, touristy areas, on crowded public transportation and during crowded events, like the San Fermín Festival.
If you normally feel uncomfortable being out solo at night, you may want to consider visiting Pamplona during the summer when the daylight hours are longest so you have more time to explore Pamplona.
Where to Stay in Pamplona
Since you’re only spending 1 day in Pamplona, you’ll undoubtedly want to stay within the city center within the marked section of the map below, which makes it more convenient to be closest to the top Pamplona attractions.
Solo Travel Tips
Have WhatsApp on your mobile device(s). Many smaller establishments and activities offices use this as a method of communication making it easier to make inquiries or booking and learn, or notify, of any scheduling changes.
Get the T-Mobile International Plan or something similar in price and features. I no longer work on WiFi only on international travel. I’ll use it when it’s there, but having access to roaming when needed for GPS and Google Maps is a game changer.
Pamplona’s Old Town is walking distance to all of the best things to do in Pamplona, including shopping, dining and nightlife, as well as the transportation points, which is best for 1 day in Pamplona.
Pamplona Hotels and More
Pamplona has multiple hotel, pension, and hostel options within the Old Town across all budget types. Going in the off season, outside of festivals, or booking well in advance, will get you the best Pamplona prices on any type of accommodation.
Consider booking at a property that either is eco-friendly or sustainably rated, or at least employs these methods into their business.
For location, price, amenities (including free-cancellation), eco-friendly and sustainable operations, and customer reviews and ratings, here are my Pamplona solo travel recommendations (i.e., where I would stay):
I stayed at Pamplona Catedral Hotel, a former 19th century convent renovated into a 4-star boutique hotel.
The WiFi was iffy at times in my room, but otherwise it was a very nice stay. The price was reasonable. It’s also in a wonderful city center location with a friendly and accommodating staff and amazing breakfast.
Although I could not land a Travel Sustainable property, the hotel still employs a few eco-friendly practices: efficient water-use methods, no single-use plastics, and bike rentals. The reuse of the building as a hotel is also an eco-bonus.
Budget Travel Tip
There are Pamplona hostels that could start from around €20/night, depending on what amenities and location you want. Note, these are usually a bed in a dorm room. A private room in a Pamplona hostel could cost the same, if not more, than a budget hotel.
Top Things To Do in Pamplona
Here are some of the top things to do in Pamplona. Some of them are free and most can be seen in a short period of time.
Churches & Cathedrals
- Catedral de Pamplona (a.k.a. Catedral de Santa Maria la Real)
- Parroquia San Lorenzo – holds the St. Fermin statue
- Iglesia de San Saturnino
- Ayuntamiento de Pamplona – Baroque City Hall building
Points of Interest, Landmarks & Monuments
- Running of the Bulls Route
- Plaza del Castillo– main Old Town plaza
- Monumento al Encierro (“Running of the Bulls” monument)
- Portal de Francia – preserved Renaissance military complex and National Monument
Parks & Gardens
- Parque de La Taconera – Expansive city park
Museums & Historic Sites
There are many restaurants and bars to pop into during your wandering around Pamplona.
For a great section of Old Town with many restaurants and popular hang outs for the locals, head to west off of the Plaza de Castillo to Calle San Nicolas which turns into Calle San Gregario. These two streets are happening in the evening.
Sample Pintxos at 3 Euros a plate and wine for 2 Euros a glass. These make for a hearty, inexpensive meal.
Order a “rosado” (rose wine) or try a local “tinto” (red wine), like a Tempranillo (a.k.a. Rioja), Granache or Cabernet Sauvignon.
If you really want to go “local”, try a kalimotxo, a glass of red wine over ice topped with Coca Cola. If you’re not that bold, there is always the sangria.
For desert, there’s always my favorite, a bola (cup) of gelato.
Pamplona restaurants to try are:
- Herriko Taberna, Calle del Carmen Kalen
- Iruñazarra, Calle Mercaderes
- La Mandarra de la Ramos, Calle San Nicolás
- Asador Restaurante Katuzarra, Calle San Nicolás
- Heladería Elizalde, Calle San Nicolás
1 Day in Pamplona Itinerary
Now that you’re situated in Pamplona, let’s get you out to do some top Pamplona siteseeing for your one day in Pamplona.
For the sake of this itinerary, it is assumed you’ve arrived Pamplona by noon (like I did) and your visit is not impacted by the Fiesta de San Fermín. If you are planning on using this itinerary during one of the San Fermin festival days, ensure to first look to confirm days and hours of operations to all Pamplona attractions.
Visiting Pamplona outside of any festival, here is what you can see and do in Pamplona in one day. Still, check admission days and times, just in case. Start your walking path on the northern side of Old Town at the Pamplona Cathedral.
- 12pm – Pamplona bus or train station to hotel; check bags
- 1 pm – lunch at Herriko Taberna
- 2 pm – short stop at the Portal de Francia
- 2:30pm – Pamplona Cathedral
- 3:30 – Walk the Running of the Bulls route:
- C. de Santo Domingo (add Iglesia de San Saturnino)
- Ayuntamiento / Plaza Consistorial
- Calle Mercaderes
- Calle Estafeta
- Bajada de Javier
- Telefónica building
- Blind alley
- Plaza de Toros
- 5pm – Monumento al Encierro
- 5:30pm – Plaza del Castillo
- 6:30pm – hotel
- 8pm – dinner (Calle San Nicolas, Calle San Gregario)
After breakfast on your check out day, wait to check out or leave your bags at the hotel and try one of these before departing Pamplona:
- 8am – Breakfast at hotel
- 9am – Iglesia de San Lorenzo
- 9:30am – Pamplona Fortress Walls & Parque de la Taconera
- 11am – check out
- Noon – depart Pamplona for Barcelona
Let Me Hear From You
I would love to hear if this 1 day in Pamplona solo travel guide and itinerary was helpful to you. Post me your thoughts or questions in the Comments section below. Thank you!