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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.


Burguete-Auritz

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.


Elizondo

Distance from Pamplona – 60 minutes (34 miles)

Elizondo, located in the Baztan Valley of northern Spain, is a picturesque town known for its traditional Basque architecture and serene natural surroundings. The town is characterized by its charming stone houses, lively markets, and the beautiful Baztan River running through it. Elizondo also serves as a gateway to explore the lush landscapes and cultural richness of the Baztan Valley, making it a delightful destination for visitors.


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

Zaragoza

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.


Torla-Ordesa

Distance from Pamplona – 130 minutes (112 miles)

Torla-Ordesa is a picturesque village located in the Aragon region of northern Spain, serving as the gateway to the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Nestled amidst the rugged peaks of the Pyrenees, Torla-Ordesa is characterized by its charming medieval architecture, with stone houses and narrow cobblestone streets that evoke a sense of stepping back in time.

The village is a popular base for hikers and nature enthusiasts who come to explore the breathtaking landscapes of the surrounding park, which features dramatic canyons, lush forests, and cascading waterfalls. The area is also rich in wildlife, including rare species like the Pyrenean chamois and bearded vultures, making it a cherished spot for both ecological and cultural tourism.


Agüero

Distance from Pamplona – 105 minutes (88 miles)

Agüero is a captivating village in the Huesca province of Aragon, Spain, renowned for its monumental natural rock formations known as the Mallos de Agüero. These imposing conglomerate stone towers loom over the village, creating a dramatic backdrop that defines the area’s landscape. The village itself exudes a rustic charm with its narrow streets, traditional stone houses, and a notable Romanesque church. Agüero’s small community is steeped in history and local traditions, and the village serves as an excellent starting point for climbers and hikers drawn to the challenging routes the Mallos offer. The region is not only a haven for adventure enthusiasts but also attracts those interested in paleontology and geology, thanks to the rich natural history exhibited in its striking rock formations. Agüero’s combination of cultural heritage and natural beauty makes it a unique destination in northeastern Spain.


Aguarales de Valpalma

Distance from Pamplona – 130 minutes (112 miles)

Aguarales de Valpalmas is an intriguing geological wonder located in the province of Zaragoza, Aragon, Spain. This natural area is distinguished by its unique landscape of hoodoos and earth pillars formed through the erosion of clay, gravel, and sand sediments. Over centuries, the elements have sculpted these sediments into striking shapes and towers that stand dramatically against the arid backdrop of the region. The Aguarales de Valpalmas offers a stark contrast to the lush greenery commonly associated with northern Spain, presenting a desert-like environment that feels almost otherworldly. This relatively lesser-known destination attracts geology enthusiasts and photographers alike, who come to study and capture the beauty of its unusual natural structures. The area around Aguarales de Valpalmas is also steeped in rural Spanish culture, providing visitors a glimpse into the traditional lifestyle of the local communities.


Bardenas Reales

Distance from Pamplona – 70 minutes (60 miles)

Bardenas Reales is a semi-desert natural region located in the southeast of Navarre, Spain, characterized by its unique and dramatic landscapes featuring deep ravines, plateaus, and strikingly eroded rock formations. Covering an area of approximately 42,000 hectares, it is a protected natural park and a designated Biosphere Reserve. The region’s distinctive beauty has made it a popular location for filming movies and television series, including scenes from the famous TV show “Game of Thrones.”


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

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