About half an hour’s drive south from Pamplona you’ll come across the town of Olite. It’s easy to miss, but you really shouldn’t. It’s a beautiful place with a maze-like mediaeval centre where you can wander around and get lost.
The highlight of Olite is the castle, better known as the Palacio Real or Royal Palace. Allow a good few hours to explore the myriad rooms, courtyards, towers and turrets. You’ll certainly get some incredible views of the surrounding countryside and vineyards. This was the seat of the Court of Navarre until 1512 and it’s not hard to imagine how life was back then as it is was very well restored after a fire in 1937! To get a real feel for the history of the castle, visit during the Mediaeval Fair held in August.
Nearby you will find the Wine and Vine Museum of Navarra. It is located in another former palace in Olite. It is spread over three floors showing off the whole history of wine, the tools the vine growers use, the wine making process and, of course, there is the opportunity for some tasting. The region is perhaps most famous in Spain for its rosé wine but don’t dismiss the reds and whites. Many of them are very good indeed.
Entry costs €3.50 and this ticket covers both the castle and the wine museum. Times change according to the month so check their website, but the castle is generally open every day from 1000-1800 and later in the summer. The wine museum follows similar hours but closes for a couple of hours at 1400. Be aware that it doesn’t reopen on Sunday afternoons. Guess when I tried to visit!