Ordesa Valley. Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park. Pyrenees. © Herrerojorcas. Fotolia.


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 snowy slopes are ideal for skiing (Alpine, Nordic, cross-country, etc.) 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 are a mountain range 450 kilometres long, with rivers, valleys, lakes, glaciers, canyons, and high peaks. They form the northern border of Catalonia, Aragon and Navarre, and the many natural spaces include the National Parks of Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici in Catalonia, and Ordesa y Monte Perdido in Aragon - the highest limestone massif in Europe, forming part of the mountain region of Sobrarbe, an official Geopark.



Activities

Hiking and mountaineering: there are many routes crossing these natural spaces. 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. Some other popular routes are the Carros del Foc trail through the mountain refuges of Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park, and the trails in and around the Benasque Valley.Winter sports: the best option is the well-known ski resorts, where you can have a day out for all the family, going sledging or hiking with snowshoes, for example. Resorts in the Catalan Pyrenees include Baqueira Beret, Espot Esquí, Boí Taüll Resort, Port Ainé, Tavascan, Port del Comte and Lles, in Lleida; and La Molina, Masella, Vall de Núria and Vallter 2000 in Girona. In the Aragonese Pyrenees there are Astún,Candanchú, Cerler, Formigal, Llanos del Hospital and Panticosa, in Huesca. Meanwhile, the Navarre Pyrenees offers the Nordic ski resort Larra-Belagua.Mountain biking: the mountainous landscape of the Pyrenees is full of tracks ideal for mountain biking when free of snow. The best known of these is the Transpirenaica, which crosses the whole of the Spanish Pyrenees. Other great options include exciting tracks mainly in the Ribagorza and Sobrarbe area. Catalonia has a network of mountain bike routes, many of which reveal fabulous mountain views of the Pyrenees and beyond, including Sierra del Cadí, Pallars Sobirà, Valle de Lord, El Berguedà, Valle de Núria and Montsec. Navarre also has mountain biking routes, and especially, plenty for road bikes.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.Canyoning and white water rafting: the Pyrenees are full of rivers and gorges ideal for these sports. 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. One of the best-known places for canyoning in Catalonia is Cerdanya, between Lleida and Girona, although you can do it practically anywhere in the Lleida Pyrenees. The Noguera Pallaresa river in Sort is especially good for white-water rafting and canoeing. In Navarre there are outstanding gorges in Urbasa-Andía Natural Park and the Roncal Valley.Other activities: you can practise many other outdoor sports in the Pyrenees. For example, it has more than a hundred summits over 3,000 metres (Aneto is the highest, at 3,404 metres, in Posets-Maladeta Natural Park) which attract climbers from around 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: from Zaragoza you can reach Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park in just 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: mainly in 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.Navarre Pyrenees: the nearest airport is Pamplona, which has flights to Madrid. From there, in barely one hour you can reach the Roncal valley, and in under 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.



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