WHERE TO SLEEP
Where should I stay?
Here you will find some different kind of accommodations for the San Fermin Festival depending on your budget. Of course, this is my personal suggestion, there are more options in town, and if you need advice from us about hotels, just send us a mail.
- “El Molino” campingelmolino.com Tel 00 34 948 340082
- “Ezcaba” campingezcaba.com Tel: 00 34 948 330315
- Hotel Castillo de Javier hotelcastillodejavier.com Tel 00 34 948 203040
- Pension Leyre: pensionleyre.com Tel 00 34 948 211647
All the hotels that you will see underneath are located either in the city center or 15 min maximum walking distance
Low Price hotels:
- Maisonnave: hotelmaisonnave.es Tel: 00 34 948 222600
- Blanca de Navarra: hotelblancadenavarra.com Tel: 00 34 948 171010
- La Perla: granhotellaperla.com Tel: 00 34 948 223000
- Guendulain: palacioguendulain.com Tel: 00 34 948 225522
When should I book?
To tell you the truth, you should book a room AS SOON AS POSIBLE. I always recommend to have first a place to stay and then, book the balconies, city tours, or whatever you need.
THE BULL RUN
How many days is the run?
We have runs every day from July 7th until July 14th.
What time do they run?
The run starts at 8:00 AM. But if you are going to run, you should be in the streets of the run before 7:30
How long is the run?
The course has a length of 850 meters, about half a mile, and the bulls take between 2.5 and 6 minutes to complete the run.
In the case that the pack gets separated a bull will have to be guided by expert runners into the bullfight arena.
The run is divided in 3 parts:
- From start to city hall, this is called Santo Domingo street. It is up-hill and the bulls run very fast as they are fresh. If you are a very explosive runner this is your part.
- From City Hall to death man’s corner, you have to be good with your balance, there are 2 curves and inertia will push you there, but also the bulls will crash there, so you need to change your balance and force yourself to go through the other side.
- Estafeta street, is the longest street and it is a straight line. You will find more chances to run here. There is only one little problem, there is no way out.
- The last stretch of the run, the one that goes into the bullring, we really don´t recommend to run here, because it is the most dangerous part.
Can anybody run?
Yes, but there are some rules:
- You should be over 18. Although none will ask you for an ID, as long as you look 18 enough, it is OK.
- You can’t be drunk. This is a basic but a lot of people try to run after a long night of partying. The police will kick you out of the run, no questions asked, by the way, there are a lot of undercover policemen.
- No cameras, no selfies Don’t be stupid and focus on running for your life. Let your friends in balconies take the photos for you. If you are caught with a camera or even a go-pro before the run you will be kicked out. If the police sees you taking selfies during the running, you will get a ticket. If you are stupid, at least don’t show it…. LOL
- Wear closed shoes. We know that it is hot and that you love flip-flops, but come on!!!!! You are going to be running in front of 6 wild bulls which are trained to kill you. The police will check for this before the run and they will have no mercy.
- No backpack or bags. You might not know that bulls (like most animals) are color blind. They do not follow the red cape, they follow the movement of it. You don’t want to be the target of a half a ton animal. The police will not allow you in the run carrying any kind of backpacks, not even the little thin ones.
I want to run, what do I do?
If you have ever wondered how to run with the bulls, here you can find the basic techniques for a successful run.
- You do not need to sign in, just show up in the street and run.
- Get some previous sleep. You really need to be awake, coffee or a warm soup (we call it caldo) does miracles at this time in the morning
- I recommend you get in the street of the run by 7:00 am, so you can get a feeling of the street and make it yours.
- Warm up a little bit or a lot before the run.
- Buy yourself a local newspaper “Diario de Navarra”, “Diario de Noticias”, you will have something to release stress and also you should check inside for the pictures and weights of the bulls that will run with you.
- Remember that not all the bulls are black. We can have white ones, blond, brown, etc.…
- At 8:00 you will hear a rocket, that is the beginning of the run. Unless you are very close to the beginning, the herd will take some time to reach you, so wait against the wall, don’t forget to breathe and wait until you feel the bulls.
- Run as fast as you can and once the herd passes by, don’t try to over run them.
- If a bull stops, there is no need to be the hero of the day, let the professionals take care of it. Get out of there as fast as you can. It is tempting to stay but this is the most dangerous situation in the run.
- Remember: no alcohol, no cameras, no backpacks and wear tennis shoes.
- By the way always run faster than somebody else, so if somebody has to be gored it won’t be you. LOL
Check Pamplona´s city hall web site for more details.
SAN FERMIN FIESTA
How do I get to Pamplona?
If you are coming from Madrid or Barcelona the best way is by train. Check renfe.com . This is Spain’s national train company. They work very well and for theses dates (July 6th, July 14th) they set reinforcement trains. You will have to wait until May for RENFE to update the real train passes to Pamplona from the major cities. It is fast, reliable and not expensive. From Pamplona train station to the city center, it is a 10-minute taxi drive that shouldn’t cost you more than 12 euros. A taxi fits 4.
If you are coming from Bilbao the best way is by bus. Just go to San Telmo bus station in Bilbao. It is a 2-hour bus ride and Pamplona’s bus station is located 5 minutes away on foot to the city center.
If you are coming by plane, you should get a taxi from the airport. It takes 15 minutes to the city center and shouldn’t cost you more than 30 euros. A taxi fits 4 people. If you don´t want to wait in line, you should call a private driver, there is a great local company called NAVARVIP, they have great deals a great cars and if you are small group, they have a small van that fits 9 PAX.www.navarvipservicios.com By the way, UBER does not work in Spain, we have a very strong TAXI lobby.
If you are coming by car, your biggest problem will be the parking. I do not recommend that you park in the street because you pay by the hour and you have to pay every certain amount of time. There are 3 parking lots in the city center: under the Bull Ring, under the Plaza del Castillo, and the third one at the Baluarte Convention Center. These 3 are open 24/7.
Expect to pay around 30 euros per day. A lot of people park at El Corte Inglés, but this is a shopping center that closes at 10:00 pm and all the cars should be removed before this hour. If you don’t do it, you get a very expensive ticket.
Where is the Tourist office?
Tourist Information is located in Plaza del Ayuntamiento (City Hall Square). Tel 0034948420700
How will the weather be like during San Fermín?
90% of the time it will be sunny and warm, so pack light clothes. And if you need anything else, you can find it here very cheap. Please do not come with sandals, there is a lot of dirt on the floor and we always recommend to wear tennis shoes.
What can I do if I have been robbed?
Here is a list of people who you have to contact when you need help!!! Let me show you who can give you a hand in case of need during the week of San Fermín. Just remember that your 911 number, here in Spain is 112.
- NARANJITOS: These are people hired by the town hall just for this week. They are easy to spot. They wear a bright orange vest, that is why they are called naranjitos (orange means naranja). Normally they are young kids from Pamplona that want to get some extra cash. You will find them at the entrance of the old quarter or by the city walls. They are not a policy body they are just there to help you around. Some of them speak good English so if you need directions, they are your contact.
- MUNICIPALES: Our city police. They are dressed in navy blue with a bright yellow patch on their back. They also wear a flat blue hat with a checked ribbon. If you have been stolen or injured they will tell you where to go and what to do. Unfortunately, most of them do not speak good English. We are working on it. They are very nice people and you can ask them almost anything. During the actual Running of the Bulls, in the morning, they will be the ones organizing the crowd before the run, so you better pay attention to them.
948420640 or 092
- FORALES: they are State police and they are dressed in bright red and most of the time they wear a red beret. They are in charge of the outside of town and they will help you with anything related with your car: car accidents, stolen cars, etc… Before the Run in the morning they will be checking on drunk runners. They are more serious so unless it is important do not bother them.
- NACIONALES: They are Spain’s police force. They carry heavy weapons and I really hope you do not need them because they are there for really important things. They are dressed in dark blue and boots and they look more like and assault force. (I have been forced by my wife to upload the picture I have posted, not all the Nacionales look like this LOL)
But remember, if you need any help just ask anybody in the street or go into a hotel and ask for help there, think that us, locals want you to have fun in our town so we will help you for sure.
Is Pamplona a safe city?
During the year Pamplona is almost a village (200.000 people) where everybody knows everybody, but during this week, Pamplona goes international and we welcome over 1 million people. 99% of this people just want to have fun as you do. Just 1% will want to have your money, so do not let them ruin your party.
Here are some tips for you that I have collected with years of experience:
- Do not carry your passport, ID, driver’s license with you. Make a photocopy of one of them and keep it with you. That is all you need. Leave the rest at your hotel room.
- Do not carry too much money with you. What I do is I take 50 euros in my pocket and 50€ extra inside of each one of my shoes. 150€ for a night is more than enough.
- Don’t wear your 24k diamond engagement ring or your Rolex watch with you. Do you really need them? I don’t think so.
- Credit cards are tempting to carry with you but if your hotel or car is nearby leave them there and go back to get them whenever you really need money.
- Telephones are the “hit for the thieves”, I know it is hard to leave them behind, but please, really take care of them.
- If you have your car keys, and specially if you have a remote, that thieves can find your car easily, don´t just put them in your pocket, tie them up to a shoe lace and that to your pants.
If you have been robbed, you should report it to the police at General Chinchilla 3 (phone: +34 948 299700).
Is San Fermin ok for kids?
The answer is YES.
The San Fermin Festival is a family event as you can tell by all the strollers and child-friendly events which are found until late at night. Just go to the Tourist Information that is located at the City Hall Square and ask them about the children program. There are many things to do with kids.
We take out the whole clan so that elderly and young mix in the streets even past midnight. Outgoing aficionados and youngsters are generally respectful of anyone who doesn’t want to be bathed in sangria.
Giants Parade. The Giant’s Parade was created by the end in the mid of the 19th century and involves four big giant pairs of kings and queens dancing through the streets.
They represent the world’s continents as they were seen in the 19th century.
The Giant Parade takes place daily.
On children’s day there are lots of shows and playgrounds for the young
Fairgrounds just outside the old city offer lots of rides and other amusements
The Fire Bull that runs through the streets each nights, sparkling with firecrackers is a sight for anyone
I have 3 kids and they love the ambiance, of course we don´t take them to the party area, but there are many free events to do with children. As a security thing, when they were smaller I used to write in their arm, my phone and home address.
I want to go to the opening ceremony, but in the Square, not in a balcony. What should I do?
- If you are planning to go inside the City Hall square be there before 11:00 am or it will be impossible for you to get even close to the square. It gets too crowded.
- If you are in the square facing the City Hall, I strongly recommend you not to be on the back left of the square. Every year a large group of people stays in that place and they are extra drunk. They come with an international tour company that sells only drinking tours ( I am not joking). It is not nice.
- Eat well before you enter the square, because you will be there until 14:00 minimum and there is no way you will be able to get any food.
- It will be hot, very hot, so take some liquids with you, water, wine … but always in plastic bottles. The police will not allow you in the square with any crystal container.
- This is going to sound obvious, do not wear sandals, wear tennis shoes. Every year we send about a hundred people to hospital because they were not aware of this little tip.
- Do not wear a back pack. It is useless. Just carry whatever you want on you.
- Unless you are physically prepared and you are ready to be covered with wine do not go into the City Hall Square.
- If you do not want to go to the middle of the City Hall square, you can be a little bit more relaxed in Plaza del Castillo, but if you are with children you should go a little further to the avenue Carlos III or Paseo de Sarasate. There you will find big screens to see what is going on in the square but you will not be squeezed out in the crowd.
- If you are planning to rent a balcony spot, plan to pay about 400-500 euros per person. It will depend on the location of the balcony. All of them will serve you what we call “aperitivo”, which is a sort of cocktail lunch.
When it ends do not go away right away, wait about 20 minutes because the city official band of “gaiteros” will come out of the City Hall playing music. It is so much fun, do not miss it.
What is the dress code?
If you do not want to stand out you should be wearing “all white”. Bring the cheapest white clothes you have at home. Although I would recommend you to buy them here. You will find 5€ T-shirts and 15€ pants. If you buy these clothes you will not feel bad about throwing them away after the party. Everywhere in town you will be able to find the red bandana and the sash. By the way, the sash is tightened on your left side not on the right one.
But why do we wear this funny outfit?
We need to go back in time. It was the 4th century AC here in Pamplona, when Christianism came for the first time. The legend says that a French priest (Saint Saturnine, who is the main patron of Pamplona) came to Christianize the locals. We had a Roman General in town named Firmo, who didn´t really like Christians, but it was modern times and he had to accept this new religion. So he said to Saturnine” It is OK to Christianize Pamplona, BUT just to show my power, I will decapitate the first person who gets baptized in my town. Any volunteers?” As you can imagine, no one wanted to be the first one until a young man said “It will be me” This man is Fermin, that happens to be the son of the roman general. Firmo who was a very stubborn general answered “My son, if you are the first Cristian in Pamplona you will be decapitated as I said so ”And that is what he did, he chop the head of his son Fermín, who became a martyr and a Saint. So the white outfit remember us about his sanctity and the red bandana, the blood coming out of his head.
OHHH by the way, I forgot to say one more thing about the outfit, DO NOT BRING SANDAL!!!!!! The city will be dirty this week and you don´t want all of those liquids on your feet…..
How important is to have a balcony spot?
There are 4 ways to watch the run:
- In the actual street of the run, but, of course you will take your chances of being gored…
- On the other side of the barricades, you should be there by 6,00 am if you want to watch anything.
- At the bullring arena, you will not see them actually running in the street, but you will be able to watch the heifers show.
- At a private balcony, having a little breakfast and watching the re-runs on TV.
If you don’t have a balcony there is a good chance that you will see very little, to nothing of the Run. Most of the Run is through Estafeta Street which does not have any space open to spectators and so there are only few places where you can watch from the street level (Telefonica, Plaza Consistorial and Mercaderes). These areas start to crowd 2 hours before the Run.
Early during the San Fermin Fiesta the chance of getting a good view is extremely low. Later in the week, the crowds thin out and you can defend a spot in the second row behind the medical staff who are protected by a barrier both from spectators and the Bull Run. You would have to arrive by 6 a.m. to defend a spot and then possibly loose it again when the police opens the gate to let out surplus runners who then will fight for the spot that you had been holding.
When should I book a balcony?
This depends entirely on when you plan to visit the Running of the Bulls. Balconies for the first Run , and the weekend, usually sell out by March. For the rest of the days you have time until late May.
Can I watch the run from the bull ring?
Yes, it is possible to watch the from the Bull Ring, but I wouldn´t say you will watch the run, it will just be the entrance to the ring, and normally there is not much action. I recommend to be there by 7.00 am, buy a ticket (you will see the line on the right hand of the main door. When the bull run ends, some heifers (vaquillas) are released in the bull ring. They will chase all the runners who made it into the arena. It is fun and less dangerous tan running. After a balcony spot, this is the second best option for watching running with the bulls.
Can I cancel a balcony reservation?
Please note that we make commitments to people in Pamplona, based on your purchase. Our ability to refund your money depends on the chance of us reselling your reservation to someone else. Our suppliers are very firm about cancellations, so we must be as well. If you purchase from us, you acknowledge that you have read and understand the following terms for Balcony Spots, Bullfight tickets, Tours, Txupinazo Opening Ceremony and the Pobre de Mi Closing Ceremony.
Please keep in mind that any bank fees related with a cancelation will be paid on your end, and it will be deducted from the total to be refunded.
- Before April 1st: 75% Refund of payment
- April 1st – May 1st: 50% Refund of payment
- May 2nd -June 1st: 25% Refund of payment
- After June 2nd: Payments are not refunded
Will other guests be at the balcony?
Yes, most of our balconies will be shared by other guests. But don´t stress, we do not overcrowd them. You will have plenty of room to watch the run. To make sure that we have room for everybody, we DO NOT allow to place tripods in the balconies to take pictures or videos. We also are very clear that if any of the guests coming to the house, is drunk, this person will NOT be allowed at the house. This decision will be taken by somebody from our staff who will be at the balcony with you.
Will breakfast be served at the balcony?
Yes, a light breakfast will be there for you. We know it is way too early in the morning, and you need a bit of caffeine in your blood, before you are human, at least I need some… In some balconies, you might be served hot chocolate instead of coffee, that is a great option too. There will be also some pastries.
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