Navarre, Spain: where it is, when to go and what to see

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Lluis Enric Mayans

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In the north of Spain, in a buffer protected by the Pyrenees and bordering Aquitaine and the Basque Country, is the region of Navarre, very popular with pilgrims and hikers at the beginning of their journey to Santiago de Compostela. But there is another event that brings the name of to the fore Pamplona, ​​its capital. In the days between 6 and 14 July it takes place the festival of San Fermín, the very famous running of the bulls in Pamplona.

Navarre has a very rich variety of landscapes: the snow-capped peaks of the Pyrenees, rolling hills, gorges, caves, lakes, all reachable with a day trip. And it's not over yet. Hosting sections of the Camino de Santiago, Navarre is dotted with numerous places of worship.

Here is a guide on Navarre, Spain: where is it, when to go and what to see!


  1. Travel informed: useful information
  2. Where it is
  3. How to reach us
  4. When to go? Info on climate and best time
  5. The main cities
  6. 10 things to see: the places of interest in Navarre
  7. The main routes in Navarre
  8. What to do in Navarre: excursions and tours
  9. How much does a holiday in Navarre cost? Prices, offers and advice
  10. User questions and comments

Travel informed: useful information

  • Inhabitants: 643.866
  • Capital: Pamplona
  • Languages: Spanish is the official language, while Basque (Basque language) is also in the northwestern part of Navarre. Official documents, road signs and locations are often written in both languages
  • Local currency: euro (€)
  • Weather: in the north-west mild winters and summers that do not exceed 25º; to the northeast it often snows on the Pyrenees and the summer is temperate, to the south more extreme temperatures with winters below 0º and very hot summers with peaks up to 35 ° / 40 °
  • Travel / health insurance: recommended.

    Where it is

    Navarre is an autonomous community of northern Spain, occupies a position of hinge between Catalonia and the Basque Provinces.
    It borders to the north with the French department of the Atlantic Pyrenees, with the Aquitaine region, to the west with the autonomous community of the Basque Country, to the south with La Rioja and to the east with Aragon.

    How to reach us

    By plane

    Although there is an airport in Pamplona, ​​which is 6 kilometers from the city, no airline operates direct flights from Italy. Iberia arrives with a stopover in Madrid and Lufthansa, with a stopover in Frankfurt (hosts from around € 80,00 upwards, travel time from 5 to 11 hours).

    The best solution is to land at Bilbao Airport, connected with direct flights to Italy. The low cost airlines that cover the route are Easyjet, Vueling and Volotea.
    From there to Pamplona take the DO50B bus line - Donostiako Autobus Geltokia which connects the airport to Donostiako Autobus Geltokia and then the direct train line to Pamplona (total travel time about 2 and a half hours).

    Otherwise you can rent the car already at the Bilbao airport and start your tour of Navarre from there (the distance between the airport and Pamplona is 160 kilometers, about an hour and 45 minutes by car) - compare flights from Rome or Milan to Bilbao

    By bus or train

    There is a bus service from Milan to Pamplona carried out by the Union Ivkoni company: the journey takes almost 20 hours and the costs range between € 61,00 and € 84,00. The Blablabus also operates the route 3 times a week (ticket costs up to € 150,00, depending on how soon you book).

    You can also reach your destination by train: Frecciarossa, Italo, Trenitalia and Thello trains connect Pamplona / Iruña from Milano Centrale. There are no direct but at least 2 changes must be made. The average journey time between Milan Central Station and Pamplona / Iruña is 25 hours, it may be longer on weekends and holidays. On an average weekday there are 5 trains per day from Milan Central Station to Pamplona / Iruña. Train tickets start from € 208,10, obviously prices vary according to the class of travel, time, departure date and how far in advance you book.

    By car

    If it is not a "hit and run" weekend and you have plenty of time for your trip, reaching Navarre by car is an unforgettable experience which will take you along very suggestive roads that will allow you to enjoy unique views.

    Considering starting from Milan, it is 1.303 km for an average of 12 hours and an approximate cost of around € 220,00. Only from the Italian border with France to the Spanish town are there a thousand kilometers to travel, necessarily crossing French territory. Once in Spain, via the A8 motorway, at San Sebastian, take the A15 motorway section heading south, which will lead you towards Pamplona - Get directions.

    When to go? Info on climate and best time

    • Weather: In the northwest, mild winters and summers that do not exceed 25ºC; to the northeast (border with France) it often snows in the Pyrenees and the summer is temperate; towards the south more extreme temperatures with winters below 0ºC and very hot summers with peaks up to 35 ° / 40 ° C; the central area (Pamplona) is moderately rainy
    • Best time: summer, from June to August (maximum until the first half of September), being the least rainy and the sunniest. Even in the height of summer, however, some rain and some cool nights in the valleys must be taken into account
    • Period to avoid: none in particular, but in the winter season equip yourself with an umbrella and raincoat because it often rains
    • Advice: Always umbrella and rainproof. If you venture to the Pyrenees in the middle of winter, equip yourself with mountain clothing. For the rest, mid-season clothing with some heavy garments; scarves and foulards to shelter from the wind

    The main cities

    1. Pamplona: the capital, 6 km from the airport. City rich in history and deep traditions. It preserves an important monumental complex presided over by churches and medieval walls. Nearby, places of natural beauty such as valleys and parks
    2. Estella: Unesco World Heritage Site and in a strategic position along the Camino de Santiago. Crossed by the Ega river, it is characterized by a medieval historic center in which the Romanesque and Gothic buildings remind us of its ancient splendor
    3. Tudela: monumental city presided over by the monument for the Sacred Heart, built on the ruins of the castle. In the historic center you can still breathe the atmosphere of its ancient Arab, Jewish and Christian inhabitants
    4. Bridge of the Queen: there is the most beautiful chapel on the whole way to Santiago de Compostela. Characteristic town dominated by a majestic medieval stone bridge with six arches and where you can taste local specialties
    5. Elizondo: capital of the Batzan Valley which gathers within its municipal boundaries fifteen localities spread over green hills in the heart of the Atlantic Pyrenees

    10 things to see: the places of interest in Navarre

    1. The Citadel of Pamplona: built in the time of Philip II, who entrusted the work to the Italian military engineer Fratín. Pentagonal in shape, of its five bastions only three remain
    2. Bardenas Reales Natural Park: in the municipality of Arguedas, a World Biosphere Reserve covering 41.845 hectares. Semi-desert landscape with chalky and clayey soil. Wide plains alternate with ravines, cliffs and hills, reaching up to 600 meters in height
    3. Church of San Pedro de la Rùa: dating back to the th century, it is the oldest church in the city of Estella. The apse area of ​​the original building is preserved. The church has three naves and features Baroque and Rococo elements
    4. Royal Collegiate of Roncesvalles: in French Gothic style, on the model of Nôtre Dame in Paris. It was built in the th century as a hospital church to assist pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago. It is located in the town of Roncesvalles
    5. Castle-palace of Olite: National Monument of the city of Olite since 1925. It was the residence of the kings of Navarre until this kingdom joined with that of Castile in the th century
    6. Church of Santa Maria la Real in Olite: also in the city of Olite, it is a Gothic style church, famous for its splendid facade of considerable iconographic richness. Inside there is the Renaissance main altarpiece, made by Pedro Aponte
    7. Tudela: monumental city presided over by the monument for the Sacred Heart, built on the ruins of the castle. In the historic center you can still breathe the atmosphere of its ancient Arab, Jewish and Christian inhabitants
    8. Señorío de Bertiz Natural Park: in the locality of Oieregi, it is an Atlantic oak and beech forest where you can do birdwatching. In summer, the red woodpecker, the white wagtail and the water blackbird are sighted; in winter the honey buzzard, the flycatcher and the cuckoo
    9. Javier Castle: dating back to the th century and located in Javier, it was the residence of wealthy families. Today there are important works of art, such as a collection of Spanish paintings from the th to th centuries and a collection of Japanese kakemono from the th century
    10. Chiquiteo: it is a tradition of northern Spain, a tradition that could be compared to our aperitif. Making a chiquiteo means meeting up with friends to savor the famous pinchos of northern Spain. In any city, especially in the different historical centers, bars and clubs offer counters full of pinchos, all different from each other

    The main routes in Navarre

    The main routes that can be taken to discover this region they cannot ignore some sections of the Camino de Santiago!

    Therefore, plan some stops at churches and monasteries, as proof of the spiritual and religious importance of the area. You cannot miss the visit of castles and fortifications, a sign of the importance that the place has played over the course of history, as well as some captivating activities to learn about nature and delight in the local cuisine. You can therefore create many itineraries, suitable for the type of trip you are looking for and that reflect your interests!

    1. Navarra basic in 3 days: a road trip that touches the main places of Navarre. First day in Orreaga and Roncesvalles, evening transfer to Pamplona; second day Pamplona, ​​Estella and Viana; third day from Sangüesa to Puente la Reina
    2. From Pamplona to Viana in 5 days: here more time is dedicated to each single place than in the 3-day itinerary. First day in Luzaide / Valcarlos and in the evening I arrive in Pamplona; second day entirely dedicated to Pamplona; third day transfer to Estella and visit of the city; fourth day Monastery of Iratxe and Viana; fifth day from Sangüesa to Puente la Reina
    3. Navarre tour in 7 days: you will be able to explore Navarre without too many sacrifices. To be done by car: first day in Pamplona; second day visit to Roncesvalles and overnight stay in Javier; third day visit of the Natural Park of Bardenas Reales and overnight in Tuleda; fourth day visit of the city of Tuleda and transfer and overnight stay in Olite; fifth day visit of the city of Olite and in the evening transfer to Estella; sixth day in Estella and in the evening transfer to Puente la Reina; seventh day Puente la Reina and return to Pamplona

    What to do in Navarre: excursions and tours

    How much does a holiday in Navarre cost? Prices, offers and advice

    Visit the Navarre region it is not particularly expensive, especially if you reach it with your own car. As there are no direct flights, in fact, the biggest hassle is wasting time in stopovers ... And, moreover, the flights are not exactly low-cost.

    The region is very beautiful to get around and explore in every corner, so we suggest, if you are not leaving with your own car, to rent one (one week rental from € 133,00).
    If you have to use public transport, consider these references: bus to Santander € 2,00 and to Bilbao € 13,00.

    Being along the Camino de Santiago, in various locations there are decidedly economic receptive structures of religious order, but obviously basic. Do not miss the choice of good hotels that sell a double bed on € 80,00 (add to the price: breakfast € 14,50, parking € 16,00); but there are also very cheap hostels (from € 5,00).

    For meals, you can balance the accounts by settling, perhaps for lunch, with fruit and sandwiches in one of the numerous supermarkets, and then indulge in a good meal at dinner (menu € 22,50). The trend is that of pintxos, the tapas from the north of Spain, with variable prices (from € 1,00 to € 4,00).

    • Hotel and b & b starting from € 26,00 per room -
    • starting from € 134,00 -
    • Return flight + 5 days / 4 nights from € 437,00 per person -
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