What to do in the Pyrenees
Aragonese Pyrenean landscape.
Hiking in the Aragonese Pyrenees.
Wild horses in the Pyrenees.
This is the most important natural destination in Spain, and it can be enjoyed all year round through a range of outdoor sports. In winter the snow brings an opportunity to practice all possible types of skiing (downhill, cross-country, ski touring), hiking and mountaineering. Spring and summer are the perfect time for water sports and mountain biking, while there are numerous hiking itineraries to suit everyone, in addition to some genuinely thrilling mountaineering ascents.
The Pyrenees cover around 450 kilometres of mountains, and offer rivers, valleys, lakes, glaciers, canyons, peaks… They extend throughout the region of Catalonia, Aragon and Navarre, and among other nature spaces include particularly the National Parks of Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici in Catalonia, and the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park –the highest calcareous massif in Europe– in Aragon. The mountainous region of El Sobrarbe has been declared a geopark, and includes Ordesa y Monte Perdido.
Hiking and mountaineering: there are a number of routes that run through these nature areas. Particularly interesting is the long-distance trail known as Gran Recorrido 11, the Pyrenean route that crosses the whole of the Spanish Pyrenees. Although it can be done all year round, it is always advisable to check the weather forecast and bear in mind that some sections are very challenging. Other popular routes include the trail of Carros del Foc, which links the refuges in the Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park , and the footpaths in the Benasque Valley and the surrounding area. Winter sports: the best option is to visit its famous ski resorts, where in addition to skiing you can spend a day with the family, enjoy tobogganing or go on snowshoe routes, to name just a few of the options available. In the Catalan Pyrenees you'll find the resorts of Baqueira Beret , Espot Esquí , Boí Taüll Resort , Port Ainé , Tavascan and Lles , in Lleida; and La Molina , Masella , Vall de Núria and Vallter 2000 in Girona. The Aragonese Pyrenees is home to Astún, Candanchú, Cerler, Formigal, Llanos del Hospital and Panticosa in Huesca; and Javalambre and Valdelinares in Teruel. In the Navarran Pyrenees you'll find the Nordic ski resort of Larra-Belagua . MTB: in the mountainous landscape of the Pyrenees there are numerous routes for mountain biking when the snow has gone. The best known of these is the Transpirenaica, which crosses the whole of the Spanish Pyrenees. Another good option can be found in the Aragonese ski resorts with the offering thrilling itineraries mainly through the area of Ribagorza and Sobrarbe . In Catalonia you'll find a network of MTB routes and a chance to enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Pyrenean mountains and the surroundings, through areas such as the mountains of the Sierra del Cadí, Pallars Sobirà, Lord Valley, El Berguedà, Núria Valley and El Montsec. There are also MTB routes in Navarre, and particularly many that can be done by road bike . Remember that most of these routes cover mountainous terrain and it is advisable to be in good physical shape. To avoid the snow, we recommend enjoying MBT mainly between May and October. Canyonning and white waters: in the Pyrenees there are numerous rivers and canyons to descend. The months of spring and summer are the most recommended. Areas frequented in the Aragonese Pyrenees include the Benasque Valley and the areas of Jaca and the Aragon valley. Particularly interesting for rafting are the Ara, Ésera and Cinca rivers. In Catalonia, one of the best-known areas for canyonning is in La Cerdanya, between Lleida and Girona, although it can be done in practically all of the Pyrenees in Lleida. The Noguera Pallaresa river in Sort is especially good for white-water rafting and canoeing. Meanwhile Navarre has some outstanding gorges in the Urbasa-Andía Nature Reserve and in the Roncal valley area. Other activities: there are numerous other outdoor sports to be enjoyed in the Pyrenees. For example, its more than 100 peaks towering over 3,000 metres (the highest –at 3,404 metres– is El Aneto in the Posets y Maladeta nature reserve in Aragon) attract climbers from all over the world. There are a large number of companies that arrange activities such as excursions in 4x4 and on quad bikes, hot-air ballooning and paragliding, excursions to observe wildlife, stargazing…
How to get there
The Pyrenees cover a very large area, and can be divided into three major zones: Aragonese Pyrenees: the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park can be reached from Zaragoza in a little over two hours. The Zaragoza-Delicias Station has direct connections with Madrid and Barcelona on the AVE high-speed train. In addition, Zaragoza airport offers connections with international destinations like London, Paris and Brussels. Catalan Pyrenees: this is formed mainly by the province of Lleida and part of Girona. It has two airports nearby with international connections; the Girona-Costa Brava airport is a little over half an hour from the main Pyrenean sites such as Besalú. From the Barcelona-El Prat airport it is a little over two hours by car to the Pyrenees in Lleida. Navarran Pyrenees: the nearest airport is in Pamplona, and offers flights to Madrid. From there, in barely one hour you can reach the Roncal valley only less than an hour and a half you can be in the heart of the Aragonese Pyrenees in cities like Jaca and Ansó. From the French airports of Pau-Pyrénées and Tarbes-Lourdes you can also reach the Spanish Pyrenees in a little under two hours. What's more, when visiting the Pyrenees you'll find a number of regular bus lines from destinations like Barcelona, Zaragoza, Pamplona and Tarragona, among others.