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The Top 10

I want to travel with Spyns but how big are your groups?

We specialize in small, luxury tours so you can expect to have about 8-12 travelers per guide.

Where is Pamplona / How do I get to Pamplona?

Click here for an interactive map of Spain. Pamplona is located in the northern Spanish province of Navarra about 1 hour from the Pyrenees Mountains and the border with France. It is located at the same latitude as Chicago. Pamplona is 7 hours north of Madrid by car; 3.5 hours by train; and less than an hour by plane from Madrid. From Barcelona, it will take you 5 hours to drive to northwest Pamplona; and 4 hours by train; and less than an hour by plane. From Bilbao, it will take 1.5 hours to drive eat to Pamplona and 2 hours by airport bus. Pamplona’s GPS coordinates 42? 48? 57, 08? N 01? 38? 57, 35? W.

Should I fly to Madrid, Barcelona, or Bilbao?

Click here for detailed travel information. Fly to Madrid if you are traveling from North America, Asia, South America, or Australia. If you want the fastest possible travel time to Pamplona, travel to Madrid and take a high-speed train (3.5 hours) north to Pamplona. If you are planning an extended trip to Europe and wish to see the Mediterranean, fly to Barcelona and take a train to Pamplona (approx 4 hours) or a rental car will take you 5-7 hours. If you are flying from Europe, fly directly to Bilbao and then travel by bus or rental car (1.5 hours) to Pamplona.

When is the running of the bulls?

The festival is held every year from July 6-14.

Why is there a bull run?

The tradition dates back to medieval times when bulls were herded through Pamplona’s streets to the local bullring. Locals helped drive the bulls. Running behind the bulls became running in front of the bulls.

Who can run with the bulls?

Anyone sober over the age of 18 can run with the bulls

Do I have to pay to run with the bulls?

No. You do not have to pay to run with the bulls.

Is the bull run dangerous?

Yes. Not only will you be running with 12-15 bulls each weighing approximately 1.5 tons, there is also the danger or tripping and falling over fellow runners. Depending on your source of information, since 1924 there have been 14 recorded deaths. The last American killed during a bull run was 22-year old Matthew Tassio in July 1995. More recently, Daniel Jimeno Romero died in Pamplona on July 10, 2009. This 27 year old from Madrid was vacationing in Pamplona with his family. He was gored in the neck and died in the hospital shortly thereafter.

I want to stay in the center of Pamplona, is this a good idea?

Not if you want a good night’s sleep. Unless you plan to fiesta all day and night, stay within walking distance of the old town (we recommend Pamplona’s AC Ciudad Hotel). From July 6-14, Pamplona’s old city (click here for map) is transformed into a 24 hour fiesta. Every street is packed with revelers, music booms from nightclubs 24 hours a day, brass bands play in the streets at all hours, and there are fireworks every night. We recommend staying where you can get away from the festival so within 10-15 minutes walk of the city center.

Is the festival just a drunken brawl, like Mardi Gras in New Orleans?

No. There is a certainly a great deal of drinking, dancing, and music but Pamplona is much safer than New Orleans. Our clients are often surprised to see so many Spanish families with small children and grandparents (often in wheelchairs) attending the festivities. The festival remains a deeply religious event to honor Pamplona’s patron saint and many foreign tourists are surprised that there are so many cultural events to attend. The Spanish are very friendly and welcoming with the hundreds of thousands of tourists who invade the city every year.

Festival Questions

When is the running of the bulls?

The festival is held every year from July 6-14.

Why is there a bull run?

The tradition dates back to medieval times when bulls were herded through Pamplona’s streets to the local bullring. Locals helped drive the bulls. Running behind the bulls became running in front of the bulls.

Who can run with the bulls?

Anyone sober over the age of 18 can run with the bulls.

Do I have to pay to run with the bulls?

No. You do not have to pay to run with the bulls.

Is the bull run dangerous?

Yes. Not only will you be running with 12-15 bulls each weighing approximately 1.5 tons, there is also the danger or tripping and falling over fellow runners. Depending on your source of information, since 1924 there have been 14 recorded deaths. The last American killed during a bull run was 22-year old Matthew Tassio in July 1995. More recently, Daniel Jimeno Romero died in Pamplona on July 10, 2009. This 27 year old from Madrid was vacationing in Pamplona with his family. He was gored in the neck and died in the hospital shortly thereafter.

I want to stay in the center of Pamplona, is this a good idea?

Not if you want a good night’s sleep. Unless you plan to fiesta all day and night, stay within walking distance of the old town (we recommend Pamplona’s AC Ciudad Hotel). From July 6-14, Pamplona’s old city (click here for map) is transformed into a 24 hour fiesta. Every street is packed with revelers, music booms from nightclubs 24 hours a day, brass bands play in the streets at all hours, and there are fireworks every night. We recommend staying where you can get away from the festival so within 10-15 minutes walk of the city center. 

Is the festival just a drunken brawl, like Mardi Gras in New Orleans?

No. There is a certainly a great deal of drinking, dancing, and music but Pamplona is much safer than New Orleans. Our clients are often surprised to see so many Spanish families with small children and grandparents (often in wheelchairs) attending the festivities. The festival remains a deeply religious event to honor Pamplona’s patron saint and many foreign tourists are surprised that there are so many cultural events to attend. The Spanish are very friendly and welcoming with the hundreds of thousands of tourists who invade the city every year.

How do you dress for the festival?

Head to toe in white with a red scarf and red sash. The scarf should only be worn after the festival’s opening ceremony, held every year at 12 p.m. July 6.

Why does everyone wear scarves and sashes?

Like many things about the festival, there are different answers: some say it is to mask the blood from gorings. Another version is that the sash (worn around the waist) distracts the charging bulls from the runner. The scarf and sash became a festival tradition in the 1960s.

Where can I buy a scarf and sash?

We provide them to all of our clients. If you’re not traveling with Spyns, most shops in Pamplona sell them for less than $20. You can also buy white pants and t-shirts the many shops and outdoor stands.

Who or what is San Fermin / Sanfermines?

San Fermin (or Saint Fermin in English) is Pamplona’s patron saint. The festival is held in his honor and legend has it that he was killed when tied to wild bulls by the Romans and dragged to his death. Sanfermines is the Spanish word for the festival and runners still pay homage to Saint Fermin’s statue before the morning bull runs. After a successful run, locals often say they had Saint Fermin’s cape for protection. 

How many people go to the running of the bulls?

On any given day, between 1500 to 3500 people run with the bulls. Over 1 million people attend the festival each year.

Is the festival appropriate for families with children?

We have had families bring children as young as 9 and many Spyns clients are often surprised to see so many Spanish families with babies, small children, and grandparents (often in wheelchairs) attending the festivities. If you bring your children, our guides can take you to the parades, processions, and concerts that interest younger kids while avoiding the narrower and more noisy streets.

What is there to do at the festival other than run with the bulls?

There are endless possibilities: a midway; rock concerts; traditional basque dancing; processions; religious ceremonies; fireworks; outdoor cafes; and bullfights to name a few.

Why do I need a private balcony to see the bull run?

The bull run is a 0.5 mile (800 metre) course through the small cobblestone streets of Pamplona. The run is no wider than an alleyway (20-25 feet wide) and there are either apartment buildings or 8-foot high double security gates along the entire course. Unless you are running, it is impossible to watch it from street level. The best vantage point is a second floor balcony. Demand for balconies is such that Spyns reserves its balconies 6-12 months in advance.

Bull Run Questions

What is the bull run?

The bull run or encierro is the most famous tradition of Pamplona’s San Fermin festival. Twelve bulls (6 tame steer and 6 wild black bulls) are released from holding pens and charge through the old city’s streets. This first group is followed by another 3 steer that serve as a kind of clean up crew should any of the wild bulls turn back. They run along a 0.51 mile (825 metre) course arriving at the municipal bullring. The runs are held every morning at 8 am from July 7-14. Anyone sober over the age of 18 can run with the bulls although it is very dangerous.

Why is there a bull run?

The tradition dates back to medieval times when bulls were herded through Pamplona’s streets to the local bullring. Locals helped drive the bulls. Running behind the bulls became running in front of the bulls.

When is the bull run?

In Pamplona, 8 a.m. every morning July 7-14.

Who can run with the bulls?

Anyone sober over the age of 18 can run with the bulls.

Do I have to pay to run with the bulls?

No. You do not have to pay to run with the bulls.

Is the bull run dangerous?

Yes. Not only will you be running with 12-15 bulls each weighing approximately 1.5 tons, there is also the danger or tripping and falling over fellow runners. Depending on your source of information, since 1924 there have been 14 recorded deaths. The last American killed during a bull run was 22-year old Matthew Tassio in July 1995. More recently, Daniel Jimeno Romero died in Pamplona on July 10, 2009. This 27 year old from Madrid was vacationing in Pamplona with his family. He was gored in the neck and died in the hospital shortly thereafter.

How many bulls run?

15. The first wave consists of 6 tame steer and 6 wild black bulls. A second wave of 3 bulls is released 1-2 minutes after the first to collect any stray bulls. The steer are castrated and therefore quite tame. The black bulls, however, are bred for bullfighting so they are highly agressive. The bulls are purchased from ranches across Spain. For example, on July 13, a breed called Miuras run. Among the most famous breed of fighting bulls in Spain, Miuras are rumored to have an extra vertebrae in their neck, making it easier for them to turn their heads catching whatever or whomever may be close enough to gore. Locals read the daily bull stats as closely as handicappers at a track and often debate the merits of a certain breed or ranch.

Why do I need a private balcony to see the bull run?

The bull run is a 0.5 mile (800 metre) course through the small cobblestone streets of Pamplona. The run is no wider than an alleyway (20-25 feet wide) and there are either apartment buildings or 8-foot high double security gates along the entire course. Unless you are running, it is impossible to watch it from street level. The best vantage point is a second floor balcony. Demand for balconies is such that Spyns reserves its balconies 6-12 months in advance.

How long is the bull run?

0.51 miles or 825 metres. The entire run will last 2-3 minutes.

Where do the bulls come from?

The wild black bulls are Miuras, the most famous breed of fighting bulls in Spain. Ranches all over Spain breed Miuras specifically for bullfighting and are representatives of Pamplona’s Plaza de Toros or bullring carefully select about 48 full-grown bulls six months before the festival. The bulls live in open pastures for four years before being transported to Pamplona.

Pamplona Questions

Where is Pamplona / How do I get to Pamplona?

Click here for an interactive map of Spain. Pamplona is located in the northern Spanish province of Navarra about 1 hour from the Pyrenees Mountains and the border with France. It is located at the same latitude as Chicago. Pamplona is 7 hours north of Madrid by car; 3.5 hours by train; and less than an hour by plane from Madrid. From Barcelona, it will take you 5 hours to drive to northwest Pamplona; and 4 hours by train; and less than an hour by plane. From Bilbao, it will take 1.5 hours to drive eat to Pamplona and 2 hours by airport bus. Pamplona’s GPS coordinates 42? 48? 57, 08? N 01? 38? 57, 35? W.

How do I get to Pamplona?

Click here for an interactive map of Spain. Pamplona is located in the northern Spanish province of Navarra about 1 hour from the Pyrenees Mountains and the border with France. It is located at the same latitude as Chicago. Pamplona is 7 hours north of Madrid by car; 3.5 hours by train; and less than an hour by plane from Madrid. From Barcelona, it will take you 5 hours to drive to northwest Pamplona; and 4 hours by train; and less than an hour by plane. From Bilbao, it will take 1.5 hours to drive eat to Pamplona and 2 hours by airport bus. Pamplona’s GPS coordinates 42? 48? 57, 08? N 01? 38? 57, 35? W.

How many people live in Pamplona?

Pamplona has a population of 300,000.

How do I get around Pamplona?

By foot, taxi (all on a fixed rate of about $10 during the festival), or by municipal bus.

I want to stay in the center of Pamplona, is this a good idea?

Not if you want a good night’s sleep. Unless you plan to fiesta all day and night, stay within walking distance of the old town (we recommend Pamplona’s AC Ciudad Hotel). From July 6-14, Pamplona’s old city (click here for map) is transformed into a 24 hour fiesta. Every street is packed with revelers, music booms from nightclubs 24 hours a day, brass bands play in the streets at all hours, and there are fireworks every night. We recommend staying where you can get away from the festival so within 10-15 minutes walk of the city center.

Travel Questions

Should I fly to Madrid, Barcelona, or Bilbao?

Click herefor detailed travel information. Fly to Madrid if you are traveling from North America, Asia, South America, or Australia. If you want the fastest possible travel time to Pamplona, travel to Madrid and take a high-speed train (3.5 hours) north to Pamplona. If you are planning an extended trip to Europe and wish to see the Mediterranean, fly to Barcelona and take a train to Pamplona (approx 4 hours) or a rental car will take you 5-7 hours. If you are flying from Europe, fly directly to Bilbao and then travel by bus or rental car (1.5 hours) to Pamplona.

How do I get to Pamplona?

The fastest way is by plane. There are daily flights from Barcelona or Madrid and it takes less than 1 hour to get there. From Madrid, you can take the bullet train, a journey of about 3.5 hours. The Barcelona-Pamplona train is not high-speed so it takes 5-6 hours so the bus or a rental car is often faster. You can also land in Bilbao and take a bus to Pamplona (2 hours) or drive (1.5 hours).

Once in Spain, should I rent a car, take the train, or fly to Pamplona?

We can help with your rental car or train reservations. If traveling from Madrid, take the bullet train directly to Pamplona (3.5 hours). From Barcelona, train service is often slow (6-7 hours) so we recommend renting a car or taking the bus (5 hours).

Do I need a passport to travel to Spain?

No visa required but you do require a valid passport.

How much money should I bring to Spain?

200€ to 300€ spending money per week is a good starting point. Your ATM or bank cards will work at most major banks and almost all hotels and restaurants take major credit cards (but not AMEX).

Questions about Spyns

What is Spyns?

Spyns is a small active travel company. We organize luxury tours to Spain, Italy, France, Ireland and Morocco to events like the Pamplona Festival, Cannes Film Festival, the Palio Horse Race in Siena, and the Tour de France.

Where is Spyns located?

We’re a small Canadian company located in Whistler, British Columbia and Beaujolais, France.

How do I contact Spyns?
What services do you provide?

Everything but air. We can arrange for hotels, train tickets, or rental cars at no extra charge.

Do you provide airfare?

No, we do not provide airfare.

Can you reserve rental cars, hotels, or train tickets before or after the tours?

Yes. We can arrange for hotels, train tickets, or rental cars at no extra charge.

Questions about our Tours

I want to travel with Spyns but how big are your groups?

We’re not carnival cruises. Each guide is responsible for a group of 8-12 people, but most of our clients want a quick low-down on Pamplona and then they explore the city on their own. The guide is on-call throughout your stay but you’re under no obligation to join the group for daily activities.

When I book a trip with you, then what?

Then the trip planning begins. On average, you’ll exchange 15-20 emails with us before you finalize your travel plans. First we confirm your Spyns tours by processing your deposit. Then we help you with your hotel and train reservations. Then we work on the little things like your meal preferences, and basically take the hassle out of your holiday.

How much are your tours?

Depending on your dates, you should count on spending US$300 to US$500 per person per day on a Spyns tour.

What are your terms and conditions?

$350 deposit/person to confirm your space, full payment 3 months before you travel. The deposit is non refundable.

When should I reserve my tour?

The festival is every year July 6-14 so you should reserve your space between November and, at the latest, March.

For your Rioja tours, how difficult is the cycling?

The cycling is optional and if you don’t want to ride, take the van or one of our electric mopeds. If you do want to ride, the rule of thumb is if you can handle 2 hours of flat riding, you can do any of our cycling tours.

Do I have to stay with the guide in Pamplona?

Only if you want to. Our tours are like a great meal, we provide you with a menu, and you pick and choose what you want. Our guides are on-call to make your trip effortless and unforgettable. If your perfect holiday is going it alone, no problem. If you want to explore the festival with your guide, we’d love to have the company.

Can you reserve rental cars, hotels, or train tickets before or after the tours?

Yes. We can arrange for hotels, train tickets, or rental cars at no extra charge.

Hotel/Accommodation Questions

I want to stay in the center of Pamplona, is this a good idea?

Not if you want a good night’s sleep. Unless you plan to fiesta all day and night, stay within walking distance of the old town (we recommend Pamplona’s AC Ciudad Hotel). From July 6-14, Pamplona’s old city (click here for map) is transformed into a 24 hour fiesta. Every street is packed with revelers, music booms from nightclubs 24 hours a day, brass bands play in the streets at all hours, and there are fireworks every night. We recommend staying where you can get away from the festival so within 10-15 minutes walk of the city center.

Where is the AC Ciudad hotel?

About a 10-minute walk from the action. Click here to see a map of the hotel’s location.

Where is the Hotel Albret?

About a 15-20 minute walk from the action. Click here to see maps of the hotel’s location.

Where is the Hotel Tres Reyes?

If you want to fiesta 24 hours a day, it’s right in the heart of the action (and very noisy). Click here to see a map of the hotel’s location.

Where are the Apartamentos Mirasierra?

About a 5-minute taxi ride from the action or 20-25 minute walk. Click here to see a map of the hotel’s location.

Can I rent an apartment in Pamplona?

If you want to fiesta 24 hours a day, we can certainly arrange this for you but most apartments are in the old city and very noisy.

Interesting questions from former clients

What language do they speak in Pamplona?

Spanish and Basque. English is spoken in most hotels and restaurants.

Who are the Basques?

The Basques are a people who live in a small region straddling the borders of France and Spain. This area is called Euskal Herria with four regions in Spain: Araba, Bizkaia, Gipuzkoa and Navarra. Basques speak a language called euskara, and number approximately 600,000 in Spain.

What is Iruna?

Iruna is the Basque name for Pamplona.

Should I bring anti-diarrhea medication to Spain?

We couldn’t believe someone asked this question but no, you don’t need any specific medication while in Spain.

Can I meet Pamplona’s mayor?

Not during the festival no however we can ask for an audience before the festival (before July 5).

Can I take pictures while running with the bulls?

Absolutely not as it’s too dangerous.

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