On Navarre's tracks and trails
It is easy to get a close look at Navarre's natural diversity. You just need to put on walking boots and get out and walk. Ready? You are sure to have an extraordinary holiday in this Region in northern Spain. The ingredients cannot fail: spectacular landscapes, sport in the open air, good food and drink, wonderful monuments. An experience to be repeated.
From the Pyrenees Mountains to the plains of southern Navarre, there are some 100 kilometres in a straight line, dominated by colour and contrast. A host of tracks and trails cross this region. They will take you to mountains, valleys, rivers and forests. These trails will also show you the Region's rich heritage and culture. The Region of Navarre has a different landscape to offer with each passing season. Nevertheless, for hiking spring, autumn and the end of summer are the best times of year. The options available are so varied and so attractive that you won't know which to choose. Here are a few.
The Way of Saint James: living history
Navarre is the starting point for one of the branches of this famous route which has the UNESCO World Heritage designation: the French Route. Every year thousands of people cover the 168 kilometres that pass through this Region. It is a beautiful journey that runs from the imposing peaks of the Pyrenees, through pine forests and small mountain villages, and continues on tracks surrounded by vineyards and green pastureland. You can choose to do the whole route or just a few stages. Whatever you decide, along the way you will be able to see some of Navarre's most important monuments. Take note: Roncesvalles Collegiate Church; Pamplona Cathedral; the church of Santa María de Eunate close to Obanos; the churches in Puente la Reina; the historic old town of Estella; the church of Santa María in Viana. In Navarre there is another variant of the Way of Saint James that comes from the Aragón Pyrenees and joins the main route in the town of Puente la Reina. If you decide to do it, make sure you don't miss the Church of Santa María la Real in Sangüesa and Leyre Monastery.
"Vías Verdes", tracks of iron
The lines that once carried trains have now been recovered for the enjoyment of walkers and cycle-tourists. These are the "Vías Verdes": they are easy trails with barely any hills, ideal for children, older people and can be good for disabled persons too. Fields of cereal crops, meadowland, woods and vineyards make up a good part of the landscapes you can see on the"Vías Verdes" in the Region of Navarre. Distances vary between 6 kilometres on the Foz de Lumbier Vía Verde and 43 kilometres on the Plazaola Vía. On these old railway routes you will find the stunning walls of the Foz de Lumbier Canyon, the banks of the Bidasoa River and the Queiles and Leitzaran Valleys. Be sure to make for the Region's tourist offices where they will give you all the information you need.
Nature at each step
Walking is also a good way to discover some of the Region of Navarre's most emblematic nature areas. The Bardenas Reales Nature Reserve is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and offers different itineraries to choose from. On self-guided routes in the Señorío de Bertiz Nature Reserve you will walk through luxuriant forest. The Irati Forest is Europe's largest beech-fir wood and has a network of signposted trails that run to its main points of interest. The same is true in the Urbasa y Andía Nature Reserve where there are themed routes and guided tours available. One piece of advice: drop into the park's visitor centre first and you will receive detailed information on all the different activities you can do.
Come hiking and discover Navarre. You'll want to return.
If you liked this article, we would recommend the following related items: - Biking in the Bardenas Reales - "Vías Verdes" (old railway lines): a different way to discover Spain - The Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route – much more than just a trip through Spain. More information: Navarre Tourism Board