If you enjoy active and adventurous family vacations don’t miss visiting the Spanish Pyrenees with kids. Despite not being an obvious choice for children – all of our family loved this long weekend in the mountains so much.
Visiting the Spanish Pyrenees with Kids
This post goes to all the parents for whom visiting the Spanish Pyrenees has never been at the top of the family bucket list.
I was like that years ago. Let’s be honest, it sounds like a destination full of exhausting hiking and non-child-friendly places: to sum up – nothing kids could potentially enjoy. Consequently, the parents won’t either.
Where most of us travel with kids
Before I had kids of my own – I was convinced that the only way of having an enjoyable vacation with them was by booking an all-inclusive resort stay, a Mediterranean cruise, or taking them to an amusement park. Ok, maybe a family getaway to Tenerife would do as well. But nothing else felt possible inside my child-free mind back then.
Not that there´s anything wrong with any of these fairyland destinations – they might be enjoyable for the whole family every now and then. Why not?! – But what I currently try to show my kids is that these are not the only types of family trips one can plan. I want them to experiment and learn to enjoy different types of vacations.
Adventures with kids
Living in a tent, making a bonfire, completing challenging hikes – all of these aren’t any less exciting than the Kids Club in a resort.
So, even at the planning stage I was sure this trip would be beneficial for my children. Although there was one thing I certainly was not expecting at all – the fact that this family trip would end up filled with so many unique first-time experiences for the little ones. My girls clearly have learned so much from this one single Spanish Pyrenees road trip.
The Pyrenees is one of my favorite destinations in Spain for a reason. I hope that my fun experiences on the road might inspire someone to plan a trip to the Spanish Pyrenees with kids as well.
Kids, parents, and nature
While, my kids obviously won´t say no to places like PortAventura, visited during our getaway to Cambrils, I believe that taking them out into nature is a must.
It´s about showing them how to unplug from this gadget-busy world and recharge. Plus, what is not any less important, showing them that one does not always need money to keep experiencing new things. Nature belongs to everyone, and enjoying a new hiking trail is free and available all the time. Sometimes, it is also about patience and endurance – no child will initially want to walk 13km through the woods. But they can definitely learn to do so. Especially, if hiking is something the whole family does with fun. This way the meaning behind is different, than it is about some quality time together. When parents feel happy with the travel plan – kids will most likely pick this mood and follow along. Let me clear this up, by “kids” here I do not mean the teenagers – that might be a whole different story. My girls are 4 and 5 years old, but I guess this post might work for other ages as well.
We loved it so much
To my surprise, after I have finished wrapping up the post about our Spanish Pyrenees road trip, I realized that somehow it ended up on our list of 2023 Favorite Travel Experiences in Spain. Let me share with you all the cool things we managed to do in the Pyrenees with kids. Each of these is a great reason to give any mountain getaway with the little ones a try.
5 Reasons to Visit the Spanish Pyrenees with Kids
1. Endless Outdoor Activities
Summer vs. Winter
If there’s one thing that unites all travelers from across the globe when visiting the Pyrenees it is love for outdoor activities. So, the first reason to visit the Spanish Pyrenees with kids is to try new things in nature.
While hiking is an obvious favorite in summer, winter brings a whole other bunch of alternatives: skiing, sledding, dog sledding, snowmobiling, snow tubing, and cross-country skiing – to name a few. On our Valentine’s Getaway to Andorra, we even discovered a winter rollercoaster Tobotronc and Naturlandia Amusement Park. While in Baqueira Beret the highlight was definitely dog sledding, skiing, and snowmobiling.
Hiking in the Spanish Pyrenees
But as this Spanish Pyrenees Road trip took place in summer – it was all about the greenery, waterfalls, and new trails. One of the coolest Spanish hikes we tried was Ruta de los 7 Lagos de Astun. Aside from the jaw-dropping mountain peaks and crystal-clear lakes, this route made us cross the Spain-France border a few times in one single day. The phone kept welcoming us in Spain, and 2 mins later – already in France. Kids were so excited about this fact, even though the hike itself was a bit challenging. But you normally don’t get to cross a border on foot a few times per day. So it felt adventurous. Also, near one of the glacier lakes along the trail, we found snow. How cool is that? – Have you ever touched snow in summer? – Now, we have.
Another absolute highlight for our oldest daughter Leticia was the challenging trail Circo Cotatuero at Ordesa y Monte Perdido Natural Park.
My husband and the youngest one turned back halfway through, while I planned to make it to the end of the route to see the waterfall. Leticia insisted on joining me and promised not to complain – I could see she was already a bit tired (so was I, by the way). But you can’t imagine the joy on her face when we finally made it to the waterfall. She felt so empowered by her own effort and achievement.
Additionally, as there were no kids on this route, every person we met kept complimenting her on being so brave and strong. Needless to say that this achievement turned into her story of the year, a personal victory – she tells it to every single human being on every possible occasion. From now on whenever she comes to me with her fears and insecurities, I always remind her of this adventure and that she can actually overcome and achieve anything she wants.
Nevertheless, even much easier hikes could make kids feel adventurous. The Spanish Pyrenees have lots of signposted trails throughout the region. You can find something for all tastes and preferences.
2. Scenic drives
While there are lots of epic road trips in Spain, the beautiful landscapes of the Spanish Pyrenees are still totally unmatched for me. To reach an easy hiking trail Ruta por el Cañon de Añisclo, we took a scenic drive through the gorge via local road HU-631 towards Aparcamiento San Urbez. What a unique experience!
Also read: Spain in Winter – Best Places to Visit
It´s only one example. There is a large number of scenic drives in the Pyrenees. I guess it was after this trip that my kids got used to paying attention to the beauty outside the car window. Also, it is one of the easiest activities to do in the Pyrenees with kids (unlike hiking which might involve some preparation).
3. Cable cars & ski lifts
There’s no better way to enjoy a bird´s eye view than a cable car and ski lift. As we travel in Spain non-stop, both me and my husband have tried quite a few of these – like Teleferico Fuente De during our trip to Asturias, and Teleferi Teide on Tenerife – for some reason it has never happened with children.
This time in the Pyrenees it was their first mountain-lift adventure. We got a chance to take a ski lift at Astun Ski Station. It was taking us up towards the glacier lakes and the hike Ruta de Los 7 Lagos de Astun (also called 7 Ibones de Astun or Ruta de lagos de Ayous). I have honestly expected my girls to get at least a bit nervous due to the heights. In the end, they have never done anything like that.
Also read: The Don Quixote Route
But no way! – They were beyond excited to fly over the Pyrenees mountain range. Don’t know how we finally managed to convince them to go home, as both were ready to go up and down till the lift´s closure.
Now I can see how this small thing has left a mark on my kids. Currently, we do not get the privilege of skipping cable cars and ski lifts whenever we see one. But that´s fine. Not the worst obsession one might possibly have, right?
4. Trying local foods
While foodie adventures are a must on all of my trips, my kids are still learning to share this passion.
They are mostly up for a challenge when it comes to traditional Spanish foods or almuezo, but often refuse when it comes to creative things – like Artichoke Gastronomic Weeks. While their school menu is versatile, they often get picky at home. So, traveling often comes in handy. Taken out of their usual context, children are more likely to try new things on the road. Especially once they get hungry.
Also read: Gastronomic Weeks in Spain – Hazelnut
New dishes on the road should be an essential part of any travel experience. Both me and my husband are foodies, so sharing this passion with kids fully one day might be great.
Lunch with views in Torla
One of the most special meal moments on this trip to the Pyrenees with kids was our lunch at Restaurante La Cocinilla. Although located in the tiny village of Torla, this restaurant was quite fancy and had gorgeous mountain views. While the cuisine had a creative touch, they also offered a few delicious local specialties like requeson con miel – cottage cheese with honey. Actually, you can find it across the whole of Spain, but it is especially typical in Catalonia (where it is called Mel i Mato). In fact, while Torla is located in Huesca/Aragon, it borders the Catalan Baqueira/Vall D´Aran. Therefore, the local cuisine often shares similarities for both regions’ specialties.
Churros in Canfranc
Another great foodie moment was having churros for breakfast in Canfranc. Not that we´ve never had churros before, but it´s definitely not a typical breakfast in our family. Even within the healthy routine, there are moments for guilty pleasures. My kids have a sweet tooth (like most children) – so having churros together was fun.
5. Dreamy Castles and Legends
If reading and storytelling are typical in your family – then your visit to the Pyrenees with kids must include dreamy Spanish castles and mysterious local legends. In the Aragon region of the Pyrenees, you can’t miss Loarre, Sos del Rey Catolico, Uncastillo, Ruesta, Binies, Jaca, Larres, Montearagon, Alquesar, Boltaña, Ainsa, Muro de Roda, Samitier, Abizanda, Fantova, Benabarre, Montañana. In the Catalan region of the Pyrenees, you can visit Llorda, Orcau, Noguera, Mur, and Conques.
Also read: 40+ Wanderlust Books Hard to Put Down
If your kids are into mysterious and hunted places in Spain, the region of Tella is famous for its witchcraft history. There is a whole bunch of lesser-known local sights to impress any child – the museum Museo de la Bruja, the cave Cueva del Oslo de Tella, the 3 lonesome chapels of Tella, chimineas espantabrujas (peculiar-form chimneys aimed to keep away local witches), Dolmen Santa Elena (with a local legend behind it), Las Brujas de Laspaules theme-park.
While you can not see it all during one single trip, I always try to add this fairytale twist to any vacation in the Pyrenees with kids. If we get to visit at least one mysterious place with a local legend behind it – it already creates a new exciting memory beyond walks with nature.
6. More ideas
While these 5 reasons to visit the Pyrenees with kids are my favorite things to focus on when exploring the region as a family, you can totally disagree with me and pick your own favorites.
By the way, I didn’t list here another thing that all of us are dreaming to try soon – living in a tent and staying at Camping Valle de Bujaruelo.
But, what else can you do in the Pyrenees with kids?
- Visiting caves – Cueva de las Guixas, Cueva del Oso
- Discovering the otherworldly landscapes – glacier lakes (like Ibon de Estanes, Ibon de las Truchas), Rocas de Finestres, Cañon de Añisclo, Mallos de Riglos, Muralla de Finestres
- Exploring the Spanish magical forests – Selva de Irati (one of the top gems in Navarra), El Betato, El Cobatar, Selva de Oza, La Gamueta, Hayedo de Salenques
- Finding secret monasteries and cave churches – San Juan de La Peña, Santuario de Montgarri, churches of Serrablo, San Andres de Salardu, Romanesque churches of Vall de Boi, Ermita de San Ubez
- Unique Spanish landmarks – Canfranc train station, Museum of Military Miniatures in Jaca
- Beautiful local villages – Lanuza, Ainsa, Torla, Anso, Alquesar, Boltaña, Roda de Isabena, Taull, Prullans, Queralbs, Vielha
- Visiting stunning waterfalls – Cascada de Sibiscal, Cascada de Oros, Cola de Caballo, Cascada de Sorrosal
- Cool parks for the kids (and not only) – Lacuniacha, Naturlandia (in Andorra), Las Brujas de Laspaules, Bruixes de les Pauls, Cims Aventura, Parc Magic d´Almenar, Biescas Aventura
- a day trip to France to enjoy Petit train d´Artouste
I hope that I have inspired you to bring kids along on your future trips to the Spanish Pyrenees, as this long weekend turned out so special for my family. Also, you can totally expect new child-friendly itineraries for the Pyrenees, as we plan to return …