January 20, 2020
The Best Things to do in Pamplona Besides Running with the Bulls

The Best Things to do in Pamplona Besides Running with the Bulls

January 20, 2020
olite navarra church spain
Pamplona is a city in the region of Navarra, in northern Spain, best known for San Fermin, the festivity that involves the running of the bulls which happens every year on July 7. However, Pamplona is much more than that. Pamplona is worth visiting any time of the year for its history, monuments and nearby quaint towns and villages.


A fun walk around the city is to follow the path that runners do when running with the bulls. It goes through iconic streets like Cuesta de Santo Domingo o Calle Estafeta. There are signs on the streets leading the way to the bullfinghting ring.

Other than that, these are the main spots in Pamplona:
  • Plaza del Castillo: the main square of the city is the epicenter of social life. During Christmas you will find a Christmas market selling local delicacies and products made of leather.
  • Calle Estafeta: the most famous street in Pamplona is a vantage point to see the bulls during San Fermin. In fact, you can rent out a balcony for that.
  • City Hall: probably the most amazing building in the city because of its beautiful architectural design.
  • San Fermin Statue in Cuesta de Santo Domingo: walking down the street you will find a little statue of the patron Saint of the city.
  • Cathedral: an imposing building that is a wonderful architectural example of Neoclassicism.
  • Jardines de la Taconera: the main city gardens are home to a little treasure called "the ditch" where lots of different species live: peacocks, deer, hens, ducks...I've never seen such a wide variety of animals all in one place.
ayuntamiento city hall pamplona navarra spain
pamplona spain
san fermin statue imagen pamplona navarra spain
pamplona running bulls statue
taconera pamplona


Just like in San Sebastian -which is just one hour away by train-, gastronomy is an important part of this region. You can find pintxos on the two streets that concentrate the vast majority of restaurants: Estafeta and San Nicolas.

We had lunch at Picnic, a little restaurant in San Nicolas street which serves simple dishes made with the best quality ingredients like this tomato with tuna.
picnic restaurant pamplona san nicolas
picnic restaurant pamplona san nicolas


Our headquarters during our trip to Navarra where in Parador de Olite. This Parador hotel is located in a wing of the Royal Palace of Olite which was once one of the most impressive castles in Europe. Built in the 13th century, it was the seat of the court of the Kingdom of Navarre, which ruled by Charles III. It is believed that back in the day it had spectacular gardens and even a zoo. Nowadays you can visit the rest of it (entrance fee 3.5€). The palace consists of different buildings made from pieces coming from different times in history. This variety of architectural styles is what makes it so special.

We were breath taken by this unusual construction which is actually common in Navarra as we could see in the next two day-trip destinations: Ujue and Javier.
olite navarra spain
olite castle castillo navarra spain
merindad olite navarra spain
olite belen navarra
parador olite navarra spain
parador olite navarra spain
Our favorite places to eat in Olite were the restaurant and cafeteria at Parador de Olite and Merindad de Olite restaurant. Both are similar in price, quality and great service. Below you can see veggie burgers from the former and pintxos from the later.
parador olite navarra spain menu
pintxos olite navarra


Ujue (also spelt Uxue) is the only town in Navarra that is included in the "most beautiful villages in Spain" list. The town's highlight is Santa Maria de Ujue which is both a church and a fortress. It was originally built in the 11th century in a Romanesque style, on the site of an ancient temple. It's a wonderful architectural masterpiece and another example of that mixture of styles I mentioned before.

Before exploring this magnificent town, we had lunch at Asador de Uxue, a traditional restaurant with wonderful views of the mountains. They have a delicious menu for 24€ that consists of 3 starters to share, a main dish and dessert.
ujue uxue navarra spain
ujue uxue navarra spain
ujue uxue navarra spain
restaurante asador uxue navarra
restaurante asador uxue navarra menu


The imposing Castle of Javier is another must-see in Navarra. The castle is currently closed for renovations but your can visit the beautiful modern chapel attached to it.
castillo castle javier navarra spain


Another of the top places to visit in Navarra is Monasterio de Leyre. This monastery was built from the 9th to the 11th century and it comprises a crypt, Gothic vault and Romanesque porch. The monastery is still in use today and therefore is home to a monks. You can hear them do their Gregorian chant, a practice which dates back to the 8th century, in the evenings. Part of the monastery is a hotel and there's also a restaurant. Last but not least, the site is surrounded by beautiful walking paths. This is without a doubt a great place for a spiritual retreat.

If you have time for more, I recommend you check out the following towns Estella, Tudela, Puente la Reina and Sangüesa.
monasterio leyre navarra spain
monasterio leyre navarra spain chapel capilla


The vineyards in Navarra can be found from the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains to the Ebro river in Northern Spain, between Madrid and San Sebastian.

Thirsty for more? There's just a two-hour journey to the wine region of La Rioja.
Read all about the spectacular wineries of La Rioja here


This map includes all the must see places in Pamplona and the day trip destinations you can't miss. I've also added the places where we ate and slept. To take this map with you simply click on the star next to the name and the map will be saved to your Maps in Google.
Liked this post? Pin it and save it for later!
pamplona javier olite ujue navarra
January 6, 2020
The Best Things to Do in Astorga, Spain

The Best Things to Do in Astorga, Spain

January 6, 2020
christmas shop tienda navidad astorga leon spain españa
Astorga is a town in the northwest of Spain just 60 kilometers from Leon. It houses beautiful buildings like the cathedral or Gaudi's Palacio Episcopal and has lots of different typical gourmet food which makes Astorga foodie paradise. In fact, the whole town smells of delicious food: aromas of vanilla, chocolate or charcuterie greet you as soon as you set foot in Astorga.

This post is the most complete guide to Astorga you can find. Here you will learn about its history, find out the best things to do and see, where to eat and sleep, how to get there and a map to take with you. In a nutshell, everything you need to plan the perfect trip to Astorga.

Read the Complete Guide to Visiting Leon


Astorga was founded in 14 BC. The Romans named Astorga "Asturica Augusta" and was an important administrative and military centre. Tha walls of the city which still stand were rebuilt by Bishop Nuño around 1242.

Astorga is considered to be the European birthplace of chocolate. In 1528 Hernan Cortes brought Mexican Cacao bean to Spain and Astorga became pioneer in the elaboration of chocolate from the 17th century.

The town of Astorga is part of Camino de Santiago (Saint James Way). This pilgrimage leads to the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela where the remains of the apostle Saint James are buried.


Palacio Episcopal by Gaudi
There have been very few geniuses like Gaudi throughout history. The Spanish architect created the most spectacular buildings in Spain. There are only three of his masterpieces outside of Catalonia: El Capricho in Comillas (Cantabria), Palacio de Botines in Leon and Episcopal Palace in Astorga.
General admission is 5€ which allows you to see the gardens and the building which is nowadays a museum dedicated to the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. It houses different exhibitions: lapidary in the basement, history of the Asturian Diocese in the lower level, the first floor is dedicated to Gaudí, the Palace building and other authors who have contributed to its construction and the second floor is used to temporary exhibitions, congresses and different events.
The architecture kind of reminds you of a Disney castle, doesn't it?
episcopal palace gaudi astorga neo-gothic architecture
episcopal palace gaudi astorga hall
episcopal palace gaudi astorga chapel
episcopal palace gaudi astorga inside

The Cathedral
Probably one of the most unique cathedrals in Spain because each tower was built with a different stone hence the different color. Astorga's cathedral is a magnificent example of Barroque architecture in Spain. There are very few places that are not main cities that have a cathedral of this size.
General admission is 5€.
astorga cathedral barroque architecture spain

Chocolate Museum
Did you know there's such a thing as a Museum of Chocolate? Astorga has always been famous for its chocolate, during the peak of the industry there were around 40 manufacturers in this small town. There are still some left that make the most delicious artisan chocolate. The museum houses machines that were used back in the day and memorabilia from the golden age of chocolate in Astorga. They also broadcast a very interesting video of how chocolate was made before and nowadays.
General admission: 2.50€. Includes a tasting of artisan chocolate.
chocolate museum astorga spain
chocolate museum astorga spain
chocolate museum astorga spain

Town Hall
The beautiful Barroque town hall offers a surprise. To tell the time the two figures on top, Juan Zancuda and Colasa, hit the bell every hour. Can you spot the two automatons on the pic below?
astorga spain town hall ayuntamiento maragatos

Roman Museum and Ruins
In the museum you can find examples of the town’s Roman heritage. Then, you can find ruins and remains of mosaics on open air near the main square.

Street Art
There are several impressive murals around the town, they are so realistic it almost looks like a photograph. They are works of art worthy of any museum.

Castrillo de los Polvazares is a little village very close to Astorga that recently made it to the Pueblos Mas Bonitos de España list (The Most Beautiful Villages in Spain). It's a dreamy village with quaint houses and cobblestone streets. You can read more about it on this blog post.

Also near Astorga you can visit Las Medulas, 600 km of roman canals around the greatest gold mining complex of the Roman era.
astorga spain
episcopal palace gaudi astorga sunset


There's some typical food you can't miss when you are in Astorga:

  • Cocido Maragato: there are different varieties of cocido (or stew) that are famous all over Spain but the one in Astorga has a special significance. Regular cocido consists of soup served first and stew after as a main dish. Cocido Maragato is served the other way round. Why? The story goes back to the Spanish War of Independence from the French. During the conflict, soldiers would have to eat quickly so it was better to eat the heartiest part of the meal first just in case you couldn't finish it.
  • Mantecadas: they are sweet, spongy muffin-sized cakes, and oh so yummy! They are similar to French madeleines.
  • Chocolate: be sure to buy some chocolate from Astorga, it's one of the best I've ever had. My favorite is 75% dark chocolate.
  • Charcuterie: the most famous cold meat in the region of Leon is cecina. It's basically ham that comes from the cow. My favorite way to eat it is wrapped around a small piece of quince paste (learn how to make it here) and a little bit of olive oil.

When we visited Astorga, we had the most wonderful meal at Restaurante Serrano. They serve traditional Spanish food but in a very elaborate way. The staff was friendly and extremely efficient. It's considered the best restaurant in Astorga for good reason. On the map below you can find more eating options.
restaurante serrano astorga comida food


Here's a map of the best things to do in Astorga and the best places to eat. To take this map with you, simply click on the star next to the name and save it to your maps.


Planning a trip to Astorga? Check out some hotels on the map below.


It takes about 40 minutest to get from Leon to Astorga if you take highway AP-71 (toll is 5.15€). There's also the possibility to take a regular road for free but it's slower and you go through several villages.

Are you coming from somewhere else?
Astorga is about three hours from Madrid by car via the A6 highway to Galicia. Astorga is less than two hours from Salamanca, Asturias, Burgos or Valladolid, and less than three and a half hours from Porto (Portugal).

You can also get to Astorga by bus from Madrid and from almost any capital city in the Northwest of Spain (check Alsa's website) or by train from Barcelona, Zaragoza, Madrid, La Coruña and several other cities across northern Spain (check Renfe's website).

The nearest airports are in Leon (LEN, 45 minutes), Asturias (OVD, around 2 hours) and Valladolid (VLL, less than two hours).
parque primavera flores astorga


The weather in Astorga is similar to that in Leon: cold. If you go in winter be sure to wear layers. In summer it's warm during the day but as soon as the sun sets, you'll need a jacket.
I hope you enjoyed this guide to Astorga. If you liked this post, you can pin it and save for later.
astorga gaudi episcopal palace chocolate museum