The Spanish Pyrenees from east to west

by Lorraine Williamson
international mountain day

GIRONA – During your next holiday, let yourself be surprised by the mountain range that separates Spain from France. A tour of the majestic Spanish Pyrenees will treat you to unique landscapes, varied cultural-historical heritage and numerous outdoor activities.

A tour through this part of Spain is guaranteed to give you an unforgettable experience. You can cross the Pyrenees from the Mediterranean coast in the east to the beautiful city of San Sebastián in the west or vice versa of course. 

Along the way you pass a wide variety of highlights, both natural and cultural  and you can practice countless outdoor activities. You will see Romanesque churches, medieval castles and villages that reflect both Spanish and French influence. In between, you can savour local specialities such as cured ham, artisanal cheeses and hearty stews, as well as world-renowned wines from nearby regions such as Rioja and Bordeaux. 

The clean mountain air, natural mineral springs and serene environment of the Spanish Pyrenees also make the area an ideal destination for health and wellness retreats. Visitors can enjoy spa treatments, yoga classes, and meditation sessions amidst the impressive scenery. 

The tour 

You start your tour through the Spanish Pyrenees in the most northeastern province of Spain, Girona. There, the Cap de Creus Natural Park awaits you. With a rugged coastline, crystal clear water and varied flora and fauna, you will not be bored here. 

In the historic coastal town of Cadaqués you may experience what inspired genius artists like Salvador Dalí. Also, consider an afternoon in Figueres to visit the Dalí Theatre-Museum if you like the artist’s surrealist work. 

Parks Garrotxa and Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici 

In the Garrotxa Regional Park, you will discover an ancient volcanic landscape with 40 cones and countless lava flows that have forged a unique landscape. In addition to beautiful nature, there are charming medieval towns such as Besalú, Santa Pau, and Castellfollit de la Roca. Via La Seu d’Urgell with a beautiful cathedral, you continue the route to the water-rich national park Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici. Mountain lakes and waterfalls, together with exuberant vegetation, form a spectacular backdrop for beautiful walks. 

Related post: Top twenty exceptional Spanish landscapes 

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Vall d’Aran 

Special to explore is then the valley where the city of Vielha is located, the capital of Vall d’Aran where Aranese is spoken. This is also a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. You can enjoy endless mountain biking, horseback riding, hiking, kayaking, and canyoning trips and in the winter several ski stations are nearby. The most famous is Baqueira-Beret, where the Spanish royal family also goes on a skiing holiday every year. 

Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park 

The route continues and takes you to the province of Huesca. Here lies one of the region’s most popular natural areas, the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park. Once again breathtaking landscapes await you with high mountain peaks, dense mountain slopes, forests and waterfalls. Be sure to stop in Valle de Ordesa and the impressive canyon Cañón de Añislo. 

The journey then continues through the Aragonese Pyrenees, through the Posets-Maladeta Natural Park, known for its high peaks, glaciers and alpine meadows. A popular destination for hiking, this park offers stunning views and the opportunity to spot rare plant and animal species. 

 

National Park of the Pyrenees 

From there, the route leads to the Pyrenees of Navarre, where the National Park of the Pyrenees awaits you. This park with high mountain peaks and a dense network of hiking trails and mountain huts also extends partly into the French Pyrenees. It is home to a variety of wildlife including bears, wolves and eagles. Two locations on the French-Spanish border are particularly worth seeing: col du Somport with a view over the Pyrenean peaks, and the col du Pourtalet, with a beautiful view of the impressive pic du Midi d’Ossau! 

San Sebastián 

The last part of this tour through the Spanish Pyrenees takes travellers to the special city of San Sebastián in the Spanish Basque Country. A must for foodies because of the high number of starred restaurants and the Basque tapas called pintxos. These are pieces of baguette topped with all kinds of combinations of meat, fish, shellfish or other delicacies. 

The city is beautifully situated on the mountain-fringed Bay of Biscay. Highlights include La Concha Beach, Miramar Palace and the Old Town, with its narrow streets, charm ante shops and historic architecture. 

pintxos

 

Related post: Asturias and the Costa Verde, hidden gems in northern Spain 

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