Tranquillity, nature, and delicious food. These are the main ingredients for a journey full of flavours in the Navarre region, a land of stark contrasts and culture that any visitor will find invigorating. Known throughout the world for its 'sanfermines' (San Fermín Festival), Navarre is also a place of tradition and hospitality. The general quality of life here is higher than in the rest of Spain, and that's not all:
Surface area : 10391.0 km2
Population : 644566 inhabitants
Shops are generally open from Monday to Saturday, from 10:00am till 1:30pm and 4:30pm till 8:00pm, and the bigger shopping malls open non-stop from 10:00am till 10:00pm. At night, and more specifically in Pamplona, the pubs and nightclubs stay open till 3:00am and even 4:00am from Thursday to Sunday. Pamplona, like most other cities, has all sorts of shops, huge shopping malls, small boutiques, and grocery stores (the latter are also worth a visit for the quality of their produce). The best way to spend your money in Pamplona and in Navarre in general is on food: vegetables, meat cuts (the 'chistorra' for example), wine, pacharán... If you can bring food back with you, you should visit the food markets and grocery stores to stock up your fridge. It's the best type of souvenir you can bring back from the region.
The Kingdom of Navarre is also the kingdom of gastronomy, popular cuisine, and rural and traditional dishes based on the region's delicious produce. These marvels range from vegetables (asparagus, lettuce, artichokes, the 'pimientos del piquillo', white beans), to meat (steak, 'chistorras' (a kind of sausage), sausages, tomato stuffing), mushrooms, and the famous 'ajoarriero' (a cod-based recipe). King Juan Carlos himself called the white asparagus of Navarre 'cojonudos'. Plus, visitors can't ignore the local restaurants, a great number of which have received Michelin stars! Rodero, Europa, Alhambra, Enekorri, Túbal, Maher, and el Beti-Jai de Aoitz are only some of the establishments (with or without stars, they're all great). For desert, there is a variety of tasty choices you mustn't miss out on, as well as a selection of cheeses, the 'canutillos', the 'natillas', and the Fried Milk Cake ('Leche Frita'). This culinary wealth and the talent of Navarre's chefs (a great many of whom are well known on the nouvelle cuisine scene) take on all their meaning with the delicious white, rosé, or red wines of the region, most of which enjoy a protected designation of origin (from Navarre and Rioja). The wines of Navarre are famous well beyond the Spanish borders. The two best known cellars are Chivite and Guelbenzu. Despite the fact that the region is not particularly well suited to growing apples, Navarre is also a place that serves delicious cider. The pacharán (prunelle spirit) from Navarre is the perfect drink after a delicious meal.
GETTING AROUND IN THE REGION
In Navarre, nothing is too far away, and if you want to discover the region with public transport, the best is to take the bus. They are quite cheap and the schedules are convenient. They'll take you anywhere in the region and there are several companies that operate in Navarre, such as Estellesa (southbound) and Burundesa y Baztanesa (northbound). Should you choose this mode of transport, you'll probably get to see the new bus terminal of Pamplona, which has been entirely renovated: it covers some 35,000m², is well-lit, and boasts high tech services. The railway system also connects numerous towns in the area (Tuleda and Tafalla for example), and although it is only a regional service, and a rather expensive one too, the timetables are much more convenient. Furthermore, if you're arriving at Pamplona from one of the other major cities in Spain, such as Madrid or Barcelona, and wish to avoid flying, you can take the high speed Alvia train. A regular service connects Pamplona and Madrid in approximately 3 hours (in the best of cases). They had planned to reduce that to two and half hours by 2009. Since 2008, the Alvia railway company has also been offering a service to Barcelona from Pamplona, which takes approximately four hours.
841. Creation of the Kingdom of Navarre.
Bank holidays in Navarre:
-7th July, San Fermín (only in Pamplona).
-15th August, Assumption of Mary.-12th October, Our Lady of the Pillar.
-1st November, All Saints Day.-29th November, Saint Saturnin, patron saint of Pamplona.-3rd December, Saint Francis Xavier, patron saint of Navarre.-6th December, Constitution Day.-8th December, Immaculate Conception.-25th December, Christmas.
OUR BEST TIPS
The perfect place for people looking for a few relaxing days and good food. It's also a region where everything is close at hand because the distances are short. The accommodation possibilities are numerous, especially if you're into rural tourism. Swanky country homes, charming hotels, or country cottages... whatever your preference, you'll find what you need. Enjoying a walk or a bicycle ride, going to the hot baths, visiting the temples, monasteries, the popular festivals, the cellars.... Navarre has a wide range of activities on offer, while providing a relaxing holiday destination.