Bullfighting is deeply rooted within global historic traditions. But today, local public opinion leans against the tradition. Though the site includes information for tourists interested in attending the events, TripSavvy trusts its readers to make their own decisions on the ethics of bullfighting as an attraction.
The Pamplona Running of the Bulls, which takes place during the San Fermin festival, is by far the most famous bull run in Spain. But running in front of a herd of angry bovines is not a one-week-a-year affair. There are many more bull runs you can attend if you're not in Spain during Pamplona's festival.
This is the big one. Taking place from July 6 to 14 every year, this famous event consists of eight days of bull runs that attract daredevils from around the world who want to be chased by bulls through the historic streets of Pamplona. In the mornings, there is a bull run and in the evening there are bullfights. The rest of the time, there's food, drink, and dancing in the streets.
Accommodations in Pamplona during the festival are expensive and backpackers usually camp nearby. Pamplona is party central for the full nine days of the festival, which includes the opening ceremony on the day before the first bull run. If you're looking to do more cultural activities, move on after the bull run and continue on to the cities of Bilbao or San Sebastian.
Toros en el Mar in Denia
The Toros en el Mar, or "Bulls in the Sea" in English, takes place during the first two weeks of July and is very similar to Pamplona's bull run. However, instead of running toward a bullring, the bulls chase runners into the sea. After the run is over, a boat will come by to help pull the bulls out of the water.
Denia is located halfway between Benidorm and Gandia and is reachable from both Valencia and Alicante. If you're staying in Benidorm, the Line 9 tram takes you all the way to Denia. From other destinations, you'll need to take a bus or drive.
San Juan Bull Runs in Coria
They say that less is more and, indeed, when the town of Coria lets loose a single bull, the town's inhabitants enjoy a fun few days in late June (usually the 23 to the 27) as they drink and dance in the streets, until that bull makes his appearance. The festival coincides with the Feast of San Juan, which also commemorates the summer solstice.
With bull runs in the daytime and in the evening, you don't need to stay in Coria to attend the event, where accommodation is sparse and expensive at this time of year. Stay in Caceres or Merida instead. Caceres' historic town center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but Merida, with its spectacularly well-preserved Roman ruins, is the local highlight.
San Sebastian de los Reyes Bull Runs
If you travel to San Sebastian de Los Reyes in Madrid (not to be confused with San Sebastian in the Basque Country) in late August, you can catch the second most famous bull run in Spain after Pamplona's. This event is also known as the "Pamplona chica." If you're curious about the route, which begins in the Corrales de Suelta and ends at the Plaza de Toros, the official website offers a map. The event has a lot of historical significance dating back to 1523 when Emperor Charles V decreed the first bull run as a reward to the town's residents.
San Sebastian de Los Reyes is a commuter belt town close to Madrid, which is the best place to stay in the area. You can take the Cercanias train from Atocha to get there.