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Best Day Trips to take from Pamplona during the San Fermin Festival

Coming for the Running of the Bulls but want to know some of the best day trips from Pamplona? You’ve come to the right place.

Northern Spain has centuries worth of history and mystique that makes it one of the more intriguing European destinations. While the San Fermin will always be the most recognizable draw internationally, there are some other incredible destinations in the region to devour.

Here are some of the Best Day Trips from Pamplona during the San fermin festival.

Best Day Trips from Pamplona

San Sebastián

Distance from Pamplona – 1 hour (50 miles)

Want to make this an overnight trip? We run a program in San Sebastian as well! Info HERE

Located a mere 50 miles from Pamplona, the beautiful coastal city of San Sebastian, Spain is a highly recommended destination during your trip to Spain. With sparkling beaches, incredible architecture, and perhaps the best food in Europe, you’ll love spending the day exploring this delightful city.

In 2016, Travel + Leisure Magazine rated San Sebastian as the 4th best city in Europe.

In 2017, San Sebastian was featured on the show Parts Unknown with Anthony Bourdain. The popular host was completely blown away, and you can view his notes here.

San Sebastian’s beaches are the city’s claim to fame, especially in summer. The most central is the Concha (as seen above), followed by the Ondareta, which together make up the Concha Bay. These two are the best for relaxing and sunning yourself with friends and family. If you’re looking for something a bit more intrepid, try the Zurriola, a spot favored by surfers. And if you’re looking for something extra remote, head out to Santa Clara Island.

San Sebastian has more Michelin Star restaurants per capita than any other city in Europe. Furthermore, the city is the center of Basque cuisine. Those who love to wine and dine will feel immediately at home in San Sebastian.

Rioja Region

Distance from Pamplona – 80 minutes (120 miles)

Embarking on a day trip from Pamplona to the enchanting wine region of La Rioja is a journey into the heart of Spanish viticulture, where the storied tradition of winemaking comes alive amidst the picturesque landscapes. Just over an hour’s drive separates the historic fervor of Pamplona from the serene vineyard vistas of La Rioja, making it an accessible and profoundly rewarding getaway.

In La Rioja, visitors are welcomed by rows of meticulously tended vines stretching across rolling hills, a testament to the region’s revered wine heritage. The area is dotted with an array of wineries, from ancient bodegas bearing centuries-old traditions to modern establishments that embrace innovation without losing the essence of Riojan identity. These wineries often offer insightful tours, revealing the intricate process of wine production from grape to glass, followed by tastings that showcase the rich, diverse flavors of Rioja’s wines, particularly the celebrated Tempranillo.

The charm of La Rioja extends beyond its wineries, with quaint villages like Haro and Laguardia offering a glimpse into rural Spanish life, set against the backdrop of the majestic Sierra de Cantabria mountains. This day trip promises a blend of cultural discovery, gastronomic pleasure, and the simple joy of soaking in the region’s natural beauty, making every moment spent in La Rioja a cherished memory.


Distance from Pamplona – 45 minutes (28 miles)

If you are looking for a Hemingway themed activity, head Northeast to Burguete-Auritz. This is the small town where Jake Barnes and friend Bill Gorton go fishing for trout in the Irati River in The Sun Also Rises. The peaceful little town littered with white-plastered farmhouses and red-tiled roofs, Burguete-Auritz is a popular stop for the Camino de Santiago and cyclists alike.

While there isn’t much to the town (the cemetery is the top attraction), the San Fermin is absolute chaos. Burguete-Auritz could be the perfect tranquil place to recover or pay homage to Hemingway.

Best Day Trips from Pamplona

Bilbao, Spain

Distance from Pamplona – 2 hours (97 miles)

While Spain’s Basque Country is full of unique history and tradition, Bilbao has the feel of a more modern city compared to other cities on this list. The largest of the Basque cities, lies on an estuary just 16 kilometers south of the Bay of Biscay. The weather here tends to be milder and wetter than much of the rest of the country, the city’s parks and riverbanks are fertile and green, as are the rolling hills surrounding it.

For centuries, Bilbao was best known as an important seaport and industrial city in northern Spain. That is, until the construction of the architectural marvel known as the Guggenheim Museum opened its doors in 1997. Celebrated as one of the most important architectural works of its time, the Guggenheim Museum now holds the spotlight as Bilbao’s city symbol. Devoted to modern and contemporary art, this giant complex of interconnecting buildings presents a massive work of abstract sculpture that suggests a maritime theme with its simulation of ship outlines and shimmering fish scales.

Other places to visit in Bilbao include the 14th century Gothic Cathedral of Santiago and the Basilica de Begoña. Built in 1909 and recently refurbished, the Alhondiga is a multipurpose complex housing a library, restaurants and a rooftop swimming pool with a glass floor.

Best Day Trips from Pamplona

San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

Distance from Pamplona – 2hr 30 minutes (113 miles)

This used to be one of the best kept secrets in the area, but after HBO’s Game of Thrones used the site during season 7, the popularity of this island has seen a massive spike. Maybe that series finale will limit the enthusiasm going forward.

Located just 22 miles from Bilbao, the island features an incredible man made zig-zag staircase with 241 steps. At the top is a chapel overlooking the Bay of Biscay that dates back to the 9th century. After its religious roots faded over the years, the site became an important fortress for centuries.

The original church was torn down in 1886, and the one you see today was rebuilt.

Since the Summer months are the most popular tourist dates, it would be beneficial to plan ahead and book tickets. Those can be purchased HERE.

Best Day Trips from Pamplona


Distance from Pamplona – 2 hours (111miles)

Located about halfway to Madrid, Zaragoza will surprise most to learn that it is the 5th largest city in all of Spain. Much like other cities in Northern Spain, this city on the Ebro River is known for its culinary talents. Fresh foods are a priority here, and you can sample dishes from other parts of the country. Cheese, made from cow, sheep or goats milk, are among the most popular items that are locally produced.

As for other attractions in Zaragoza, it should be noted that the city is the capital of Spain’s autonomous region of Aragón, which used to be its own kingdom. As a place of importance, Zaragoza has over 2,000 years worth of history, including influences the from Romans, the Moors and the Christian kings. The city is home to a plethora grand monuments, palaces and houses. These include the Moorish Aljafería Palace, the grand Museo de Zaragoza and the intricately decorated Casa Solans. The famous Spanish artist Francisco de Goya is also from the area, and you can see a bunch of his works locally.

Best Day Trips from Pamplona

Palace of the Kings of Navarre of Olite

Distance from Pamplona – 35 minutes (27 miles)

Due South of Pamplona is an incredible castle whose origins date back to the 13th century. While the main features of the palace were put in place for military reasons, this was once one of the main political buildings in the Kingdom of Navarra.

Today, the palace looks pretty good thanks to a 30 year renovation that began in 1937, but there have been a torrent of incredible stories and history that proceeded the modern repairs. Being so close to Pamplona, it’s easy to take a quick trip to learn about the palace’s jousting tournaments, Napoleon’s invasion, and how the grounds once served as a zoo for the King.

Ready to take in all of the fun in person? Click on the link below:

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