San Fermines, enjoying the fiesta like a local!

Every July a small city in the north of Spain becomes the most important place in the world: from the 6th to the 14th of July, in Pamplona it takes place the world-wide known San Fermines.

The city was founded by Romans back in the year 75bC. and has always been an important urban center as well as the capital of the Reign of Navarra, one of the oldest in Spain.

Also, St James Way passes right through its medieval streets, so the city has been for centuries a meeting point for people from different places.

Pamplona has a very interesting city center and it preserves the 16th century pentagonal star fortifications that protected the city.

Medieval streets of Pamplona, Spain

In the cobbled streets you will find many restaurants and bars where you can enjoy the local gastronomy and pintxos!

The city has so many charms that no wonder it has captivated visitors from all over the world. Of course, its main ambassador has been Ernest Hemingway, who’s novel “Fiesta, the sun also rises” helped to popularize the running of the bulls.

The local gastronomy and pintxos!
Ernest Hemingway Statue outside of Pamplona bull ring (Spain)


As it happened all over Spain, bullfights were mandatory in any festivity. In Pamplona the bulls were kept in the St. Domingo stables, one kilometer away from the bullring located in the eastern corner of the old city.

Before the bullfights, the shepherds walked the bulls to the bullring. Apparently, some young apprentices of the butchers responsible of providing the bulls, started helping the shepherd by running ahead to lure the bulls forward.

With time this became a popular activity among the general public that started to run also in front of the bulls: the encierros were born!

San Fermines


The whole week of festivities is full of activities, music and other traditions besides the famous running of the bulls. Dress in red and white to tour Pamplona that week.

In the historic center, the people of Pamplona enjoy the festivities. Find out when to tie your red scarf around your neck or where is the best place to enjoy “almuerzo” (food eaten after breakfast but before lunch) after the running of the bulls.

Of course, the main event of the day is the running of the bulls. The best way to watch it is from a balcony.

Chupinazo de los Sanfermines in Pamplona, Spain

Early in the morning, you will witness all the hustle and bustle that precedes the event: how the fences that secure the route are set up, the cleaning crews that clear the way….

Learn the meaning of the four rockets that are fired, the different herds from which the bulls may come, the characteristics of the animals that run (many exceed 1300 pounds!).

At 8am sharp the running will begin, and you will hold your breath as you see the crowd chased by 6 bulls, dash through the Estafeta street!

The Estafeta street, Pamplona. Spain
San Fermín, Pamplona. Spain

If you want to run, there are some safety rules you should be aware of.

Many times, the danger may not come from the bulls but from other runners instead, so you will need to be aware of what’s going on around you.

Do not try to touch or catch the animal’s attention: they just want to finish as soon as possible, and any distractions can make them react violently causing injuries to the runners.

If you fall cover your head with your arms and wait. People will warn you when is safe to stand up.

The running of the bulls in Pamplona. Spain

You run in front of the bulls never in the back of the herd. This can make one of the animals turn around and get confused, one of the riskiest scenarios in an encierro.

You have to run fast so wear appropriated clothes and shoes.

Don’t forget this is a dangerous activity if you are not sure just enjoy the encierros from a balcony!

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