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Experience Pamplona
Pamplona, Spain . July 5-15, 2020
Chris Johnston

Awesome time in Pamplona with an amazing team from Bucket List. We highly recommend Toby and his team.

Chris Johnston
Chris Johnston

Awesome time in Pamplona with an amazing team from Bucket List. We highly recommend Toby and his team.

Chris Johnston

Thinking about hitting the streets and running with the bulls?

You’re in for an adrenaline rush unlike any other! But as with many wild and crazy bucket list items, running with the bulls comes with its fair share of dangers.

If you’re reading this, we first want to say: good for you for doing your research first! Nobody should run with the bulls without doing their due diligence to understand the course, the rules, and best practices for staying safe.

With over a decade of experience a the San Fermin festival, our guides have witnessed dozens of bull runs (and participated in a few as well!). We’ve learned a thing or two over the years about how to not only survive the run unscathed, but also about how to have a great time! Here is what you should know about the course before you run:

The Running of the Bulls Course Guide

The Running of the Bulls takes place on a roughly 800 yard stretch (roughly half a mile) of closed off streets in downtown Pamplona. The bulls are released just south of the Arga river and stampede down the Cuesta de Santo Domingo and the Calle de la Estafeta up until the Plaza de Toros, Pamplona’s historic bull ring.

Here is a Pamplona bull run map that illustrates the main points along the course:

pamplona bull run map

1. Calle de Santo Domingo

The Calle de Santo Domingo is where the action begins. The route goes up Santo Domingo to the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, from there the stampede makes a left turn onto Mercaderes. Santo Domingo is the most dangerous stretch because of the crowds and chaos.

2. Calle de Mercaderes

The Calle de Mercaderes is one of the shortest stretches of the run leading to a right turn onto Calle Estafeta. Bulls typically stay to the left side of Mercaderes, taking the right turn wide, making this another very dangerous point. This is known as “La Curva,” or “Dead Man’s Curve.”

dead man's curve running of the bulls

The view from Dead Man’s curve

3. Calle de la Estafeta

The Calle de la Estafeta is the longest and straightest leg of the course, where the bulls gain speed, eventually overtaking runners. Our own Bucket List Events Balcony is located on Estafeta (the South-East corner of the circle marked 3) where you’ll have unbeatable views!

Calle Estafeta

La Calle Estafeta is the longest stretch of the Bull Run

4. Telefonica and Callejon

Telefonica is the short stretch coming after the left off Estafeta. Telefonica leads to Callejon – the final entrance to the bullring. This bottle neck can be extremely dangerous as everyone tries to enter the arena.

Telefonica and Callejon

The final stretch of the Bull Run

Things to know before you run

Don’t try to outrun a stampede of bulls without doing a bit of research first. Here is the run-down about when, where, and how to run, including many safety questions you may be asking before you take off.

 How many chances are there to run with the bulls?

There are 8 bull runs during each San Fermin festival, which begins on July 7th and concludes on July 14th every year. Each bull run begins at 8 AM and is over in about two minutes.

is running with the bulls dangerous

Brave Bucket List Travelers who survived running with the bulls, unscathed!

 

 Can anyone run with the bulls?

Anyone over the age of 18 who is not impaired by drugs and/or alcohol is permitted to run with the bulls. You do not have to register ahead of time to run with the bulls and it does not cost any money to run. Just show up before the run starts at 8AM and hop in!

 

 What are the rules for running with the bulls?

The rules for running with the bulls are simple and straight-forward:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Be sober
  • Do not wear flip-flops, sandals, or high-heeled shoes
  • Do not touch the bulls
  • No electronics (this includes phones, cameras, GoPros, selfie-sticks, etc.)

Break any of these rules and you will be quickly pulled out of the run by surly police personell who have zero patience for tourists who choose to endanger their own lives as well as the lives of others.

running of the bulls rules

You may see people touching the bulls, but this is against the rules and, furthermore, it puts you and those around you at greater risk of bodily harm.

 

 How many bulls run each day?

The typical encierro consists of six bulls, but sometimes as many as ten bulls run at once. These are the same bulls who will be fought in the ring later that day. These bulls may be followed by about six steers who encourage the bulls to run towards the ring.

 

 How many people run with the bulls each day?

In the past few years, anywhere between 1,500 and 3,000 people run with the bulls each day of the San Fermin festival. More people tend to run during the first few days and the last few days than during the middle of the festival.

 

 Is running with the bulls dangerous? Do people get injured or die?

Yes, running with the bulls is dangerous. Each year, between 50 and 100 people are injured, the vast majority of which are runners. Not all injuries require a hospital visit, but in recent years as many as 50 people per festival require emergency medical attention.

Injuries are most commonly caused by falling and being trampled, both by other runners as well as by the bulls. This is especially true at the Callejon section of the run, where the path bottlenecks.

Goring (being pierced by a bull’s horns) is much less likely to happen, but the injuries from goring tend to be more severe. In the past decade, less than ten people per year have been gored. However, of the fifteen total fatalities that have occurred at the running of the bulls since 1910, twelve deaths were the result of goring.

 

 What happens if I fall during the run?

Should you fall to the ground during the run, your best course of action is to protect your head with your hands and arms and try to get out of the path of the runners and bulls as quickly as you can.

 

 Is there a medical team on site in case people get hurt?

There are 200 medical personell on site each day to quickly assist in the event of injury, most of whom are Red Cross staff. For each 50 meters of the run, there is a medical post with at least one physician and one nurse on duty. In addition, there are more than 20 ambulances on the ground during the run in case anyone needs to be immediately brought to the hospital.

 

 Do the bulls die?

Yes. The bulls that run the course in Pamplona are the same bulls that will be fought in the ring later that day. The bull fights end in the animals’ deaths.

It is important that travelers have the right expectation before attending the San Fermin festival. This is a centuries old tradition and an important part of Spanish culture, but that doesn’t mean that it’s the right environment for everyone. While the mood at the festival and the bull fights is incredibly jovial, we understand that many people may be upset by this fact. We recommend that anyone considering attending or running processes t this aspect of the festival before booking their travel, so that they are not caught off guard once they are in Pamplona.

 

 If I decide not to run, where are the best places to watch?

You have two options for watching the bull run safely from the sidelines.

First, you can stand at the street level. Watching from the street can be fun since you’re so close to the run, but it can be very crowded and hard to see. Furthermore, and although it is relatively rare, bystanders have been injured in the past.

Second, you can watch from the second-story windows or balconies in apartments along the course. Bucket List Event travelers are guaranteed a spot in one of our two, excellently-located balcony apartments, overlooking all the action.

 

 Anything else I should keep in mind?

Running with the bulls is not for everyone, so don’t feel pressure to do something you’re not comfortable with. Countless numbers of our clients over the years have done it, survived unscathed, and had an amazing time. Many more clients have happily watched from our exclusive balconies, glass of sangria in hand, and report feeling just as much of an adrenaline rush from just being there to witness it.

But if you know you want to run, just do your research on the course, make sure you’re physically prepared, and do your best to stay safe. If your travel schedule permits it, we recommend watching one run from our balcony before you run the next day.

Whether or not you run, you’re guaranteed to have an amazing time at the vibrant San Fermin festival.


We promise you the best views on our Pamplona VIP Balcony, where you won’t miss out on any of the action or the sangria. You can also give us a call to talk about how to reserve a Running of the Bulls Balcony, or to learn more about your choices in Pamplona balconies.