Things to do in Pamplona in 2 days
Are you ready to discover everything the capital of Navarre has to offer? Let’s get started!
1. Plaza del Castillo, one of the best things to do in Pamplona
One of the liveliest spots in the city is Plaza del Castillo. Whether you’re strolling around or enjoying a drink at one of its terraces, this part of the city should not be missed on your one-day itinerary in Pamplona. The locals often refer to this historic square as ‘the living room’ because it has been the epicenter of the city’s social life since its construction.
The space has also been used for public events such as concerts, processions, or markets. Notable features include the music kiosk located at the center of the square and the buildings that surround it, constructed in different periods. Among them, you can highlight the south facade of the Palacio de Navarra, the Palacio Goyeneche, and the former Casino.
2. Pamplona Cathedral
Continuing with the journey through this Basque city, we reached Pamplona Cathedral. The church was built between 1394 and 1501. However, its facade was constructed between 1784 and 1805. The church is constructed in the Gothic style, while the facade showcases Neoclassical design. It is the most complete cathedral complex preserved in Spain, as it still retains the refectory, the cloister, the chapterhouse, and the dormitory.
Inside the cathedral, you’ll find the tomb of Charles III the Noble and Leonor of Trastámara. It also houses the most valuable pieces of the Diocesan Museum.
3. Caballo Blanco Viewpoint
Another essential place to visit in Pamplona in 2 days is the Caballo Blanco Viewpoint. It’s a highly frequented spot among locals, which is not surprising because the location is very picturesque. It is situated on the Bastion of the Redin, which was considered the city’s best defensive point. From here, you can enjoy beautiful views of Mount San Cristóbal and the neighborhoods of La Rochapea, Chantrea, and San Jorge. It’s an ideal place to relax and have a drink.
To get to the Caballo Blanco Viewpoint, I suggest starting from Plaza de San José, via Redín Street. As you walk along this street, you’ll notice the elevated passageway, which was formerly used by nuns to travel from the Convent of La Sierva to the houses without being seen. If you continue along this street after passing Caballo Blanco, you’ll reach Portal de Francia (also known as Portal de Zumalacarregui), the best-preserved gate among the six gates the city had when it was completely walled. It was built in the 16th century.
4. The Citadel of Pamplona
A must-visit during your trip to Pamplona is the Citadel. It is a Renaissance-style pentagon-shaped fortification built between the 16th and 17th centuries for military purposes. It was commissioned by Philip II and is one of the most significant defensive complexes in Europe. In 1964, the space was handed over to the city council to transform it into a recreational area for the people of Pamplona.
Today, it is used for cultural, sports, and leisure activities. You’ll find various sculptures and exhibition halls. Its 280,000 square meters make up the green lung of the city.
5. Explore Pamplona with a free guided tour
One of the best ways to get to know a city is by taking a guided tour. This way, you can learn about the most interesting historical facts and trivia about the place. In this case, I recommend taking this free tour of Pamplona. The tour lasts approximately 2 and a half hours. At the end of the tour, you can pay the guide an amount that you consider fair or can afford.
During this guided tour of Pamplona, you’ll visit Plaza del Castillo, the Palace of Navarra, the Church of San Saturnino, the Santo Domingo bullring, the Portal de Francia, the Town Hall, the Caballo Blanco Viewpoint, and the cathedral. Alternatively, you can opt for this other guided tour of Pamplona.
6. Taconera Gardens, perfect for a relaxing walk
One of the best places to take a stroll and unwind in the city is Taconera Gardens, the oldest in town. Situated adjacent to the city walls, these gardens feature a romantic style. Here, you can walk amidst magnolias, beech trees, holly, laurels, and a towering 40-meter-high sequoia.
Don’t miss the Monument to Julián Gayarre, the Mariblanca, or the tribute to Hilarión Eslava. From one of the viewpoints, you can admire the moat where various special animals reside: swans, peacocks, pheasants, deer, and more. I recommend entering the gardens through the San Nicolás Gate.
7. Monumento al Encierro (Bull-run Monument)
Although I’m not a fan of bull-related events, it’s undeniable that the Sanfermines are part of Pamplona’s essence. Every July 6th at 12 pm the “chupinazo” takes place, a rocket launched from the balcony of Pamplona’s Town Hall, marking the beginning of this festival.
In Pamplona’s Roncesvalles Avenue, you’ll find the Monumento al Encierro, a cast bronze sculpture designed by the Bilbao sculptor Rafael Huerta to honor the San Fermín Festival.
8. Taste Pamplona’s pintxos; they are delicious!
Whether you’re spending a day or more in Pamplona, you absolutely must try their wonderful pintxos. Local cuisine is always one of the most important aspects of a trip, and Pamplona’s pintxos are no exception. Some of the most popular bars include Iruñazarra, Bar Gaucho, Baserriberri, and La Mandarra de la Ramos.
9. Walk along Estafeta Street
Estafeta Street is the most popular street in the capital of Navarre, and whether by intention or chance, I’m certain you’ll pass through it on more than one occasion. In fact, it’s highly likely that you’ve already seen this street on television, as Estafeta is one of the avenues where the Running of the Bulls takes place during San Fermín.
Here, you’ll find buildings of varying heights and various colors. On the ground floor of these buildings, you’ll discover numerous businesses, including bars, clothing stores, and pastry shops.
10. Yamaguchi Park, one of the unique places to visit in Pamplona
If you’re up for a somewhat different and highly entertaining visit in Pamplona, I recommend going to Yamaguchi Park. Its name might make you think this park has Japanese inspiration… You’re absolutely right! You might wonder what a Japanese park is doing in this city. Here’s the answer: the construction of this park was the twinning between Pamplona and Yamaguchi, the Japanese city that lends its name.
Designed in 1977 by two Japanese landscapers, its purpose is to pay tribute to the four seasons. Inside the park, you’ll find the Pamplona Planetarium and the Galaxy Garden.
11. San Lorenzo Church and San Fermín Chapel
The San Lorenzo Church is one of the most prominent religious buildings in the city. The facade dates back to 1901, while the San Fermín Chapel, the most valuable element, was constructed between 1696 and 1717 in a neoclassical style. Above the altar in the chapel, you’ll find the image of the saint, a half-length wooden sculpture adorned in silver.
The San Fermín procession departs from here every July 7th, the only day of the year when the saint leaves the chapel.
12. Indulge in the ‘Garroticos’ at Pastas Beatriz.
The advantage of visiting Pamplona with a local is that they introduce you to the city’s best gems. And when it comes to the best things to do in Navarre, we have to mention Beatriz’s famous “garroticos.” Oh my… what a delight! Although they may look like small pastries, the puff pastry is unlike any other. Its flavor and texture are on another level.
The most renowned ones are filled with dark chocolate, but they also sell them filled with white chocolate, hazelnut paste, apple, “cabello de ángel” (angel hair, a type of candied squash), and custard cream.
To taste this delicious sweet, you’ll need to head to Pastas Beatriz (Curia Street, 16). Don’t be surprised if you see a long line on the street. It’s quite common for queues to form. If it’s crowded, be patient in line… the wait will be worth it, I assure you!
13. University Museum of Navarra
One of the most intriguing museums to visit in Pamplona is the University Museum of Navarra, inaugurated in 2015. You will particularly enjoy it if you are an art enthusiast. Among other spaces, it features several exhibition halls and a theater. The building itself is also remarkable, designed by Rafael Moneo and located within the university campus.
You can find more information about the exhibitions on the University Museum of Navarra website.
14. The city walls of Pamplona
During your visit to the city, be sure to explore the city walls of Pamplona. This impressive set of fortifications dates back to the 16th century and surrounds the historic center, becoming its most iconic symbol. The walls have numerous entry points, and once inside, you can explore them at your leisure. In certain sections, you’ll find green spaces and resting areas, perfect for unwinding and relaxing.
15. Museum of Navarre
Another attraction to include in your list of what to do in Pamplona, especially if you enjoy museums, is the Museum of Navarre. It is situated in the historic center of Pamplona and occupies the building that was once the Renaissance-era Hospital of Our Lady of Mercy. Here, you can explore numerous artifacts from Navarre’s heritage, spanning from Prehistory to the 21st century.
In addition to its permanent collections, the museum hosts temporary exhibitions and offers a library, media library, and a Documentary Fund of Contemporary Navarrese Artists.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday, from 9:30 AM to 2:00 PM and from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM, while on Sundays and holidays, it’s open from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Keep in mind that the museum is closed on Mondays. The general admission fee is €2.
16. Royal and General Archive of Navarra
I encourage you to visit the Royal and General Archive of Navarra as it’s one of the most interesting historical sites in the region. There, you can find a vast collection of historical documents dating from the 12th century to the present day. Moreover, the archive is a true cultural treasure that helps preserve the memory and identity of Navarre.
If you’re interested in history, politics, or culture, you’re sure to find something of interest in this place. Additionally, the Archive building itself is impressive, with its spacious reading rooms and shelves filled with ancient documents.
17. San Francisco de Asís Square
In the historic center, I also recommend you to visit San Francisco de Asís Square. This square was built at the beginning of the 20th century in a space where the Royal Council headquarters, the Royal Prisons, and the San Francisco Convent used to stand. Today, you’ll find the Monument to San Francisco de Asís and the Public Library of Pamplona.
18. Go on a day trip
Pamplona serves as the perfect starting point for exploring the various places to visit in Navarre. Some of the day trips I took during my stay in the city included visits to Bardenas Reales, Foz de Lumbier, and Foz de Arbayún. Other popular day trips from Pamplona are to the Source of the Urederra River, Irati Forest, Baztan Valley (I highly recommend visiting Elizondo), and Olite.
Where to stay in Pamplona, Navarre
Here are some of the best hotels to stay in Pamplona:
- $: Alda Centro Pamplona. This hotel is a modest yet cozy hotel located near the old city wall in the historic center. They offer single, double, triple, and family rooms.
- $$: Hotel Castillo de Javier. This is a simple yet well-located accommodation, very close to Plaza del Castillo. They offer single, double, and triple rooms. All of them are soundproofed, which is essential considering its location, and feature flat-screen TVs. Nearby, you’ll have access to numerous bars and restaurants.
- $$$: Hotel Pompaelo. Located in the old town, this is ideal for those looking to relax during their visit to Pamplona as it features a spa. Here, you can enjoy the sauna, Turkish bath, ice fountain, and a variety of treatments. They offer single, double, and family rooms. The hotel also has a sky bar and a gastro pub.
- $$$$: Gran Hotel La Perla. This hotel is the most iconic hotel in Pamplona. If your budget allows, don’t hesitate to stay here. It was founded in 1881 and is located in Plaza del Castillo. It is the second oldest hotel in Spain still in operation. It features classic and elegant decor, offering double rooms and suites, all soundproofed. The hotel also has a restaurant.
Map of things to do in Pamplona
In the following map, you can find all the recommended places to visit in Pamplona mentioned in this article. You can also discover additional hotel recommendations.
If you plan to visit more regions of the country, take a look at my Spain travel guide.
I hope this article on 18 things to do in Pamplona in 2 days has been very helpful for planning your next trip to the capital of Navarre. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment. Until next time!
- Photo of the Pamplona Citadele: Carlos Octavio Uranga.
- Photo of Yamaguchi Park: Luis Sanz.
- Photo of the University of Navarre: Universidad de Navarra.