The Spanish Pyrenees road trip is still on the list of my favorite Spanish adventures ever. While this mountain region of Spain totally fits the bill for hikers, climbers, and ski lovers, most of the top local gems are easy to visit on a simple road trip, even if you are not a sports enthusiast. Let me share with you all the amazing places that made me fall in love with the Spanish Pyrenees!
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The Spanish Pyrenees road trip
My trips to the Pyrenees
Despite our recent Mediterranean cruise, a unique trip to the lesser-known Soria, and a sunny weekend getaway in Murcia the highlight of this summer for me was definitely our Spanish Pyrenees road trip.
Let me warn you that in this beautiful region of Spain, you will find everything from otherworldly landscapes, epic hikes, and magical forests, to charming villages, dreamy castles, and even top national landmarks of Spain.
Therefore, the Spanish Pyrenes is one of the unique regions of the Iberian Peninsula that might keep one gravitating back all the time.
Ever since my last trips to Huesca, Andorra, and Baqueira, I dreamed of another mountain getaway, eager to live new adventures. Quick spoiler – this trip has ended up on my list of 2022 favorite travel experiences in Spain, so you can imagine how much I have enjoyed this Spanish Pyrenees itinerary myself.
About this Pyrenees Itinerary
The Spanish Pyrenees extend for more than 400 km across the Spain-France border and include 3 Spanish regions: Aragon, Navarre, and Catalonia. As this Spanish Pyrenees road trip was not my first time in the region (plus we only had 4 days to make the most of it), I decided to build up the Itinerary within the Aragon region only. To read more about the Pyrenees of Catalonia, check this other travel story of mine.
The Spanish Pyrenees of Aragon are formed by 5 main valleys – Valle del Cinca, Valle del Chistau, Valle de Ordesa, Valle de Añisclo, Valle del Ara, and Valle de Tena. Therefore, keep in mind that even exploring each valley fully is impossible within 4 days.
Also read: The Coolest Hikes in Valencia, Spain
Nevertheless, if you have less than a week for your Spanish Pyrenees Road Trip it is absolutely enough to fall in love with the region and cross off your Spain bucket list a few adventurous experiences. You just need to pick the few places you would like to visit the most and build an itinerary around them.
To get a quick glimpse of my Spanish Pyrenees Road Trip – check Pyrenees Reel and Highlights on IG. If you have more days for this trip – feel free to steal my Aragon road trip itinerary, Weekend in the Pyrenees of Catalonia, and Northern Spain Road Trip Itinerary – all can be easily combined with any Pyrenees itinerary.
Also, you can read more about my hiking essentials in this post.
Favorite hotels to stay
During my first visit to the Pyrenees, we stayed at Barceló Monasterio de Boltaña. It´s one of the best hotels with SPA in the Pyrenees, with spacious rooms and quite decent prices (considering the quality of the services). While exploring the Pyrenees of Catalonia we stayed at the budget-friendly Apartamentos Chuandervera in the small town of Laspaules.
For this Pyrenees road trip we planned to do more hiking, so picked an apartment in Escalona (for some reason it´s not available on booking.com anymore).
You will find a few cute boutique hotels in Ainsa, one of the most beautiful medieval towns in Spain, like Alojamientos Ainsa Sanchez and Los Siete Reyes. I also love these hotels – Hotel Boutique Mediodía & Apartments, Casa Lascorz, and Casa de San Martín.
Books about the Pyrenees
If you are looking for more visual inspiration or historical/practical data on the Pyrenees region, there are a few books you might enjoy – Shorter Treks in the Pyrenees, Explore Pyrenees Like A Local or Walks and Climbs in the Pyrenees (focused on the French Pyrenees). Planning to read something about the Pyrenees on the road? – Check Footprints on the mountains, Boundaries, The Savage Frontier, Cruel Crossing, and If you only walk long enough.
If you know Spanish, check: Pirineos. Mas allá de las montañas, Los Pirineos, Leyendas de brujas en el Pirineo fantástico, Pirineos: 50 joyas del arte románico, Pirineos : montaña sublime, 101 Lugares de los Pirineos sorprendentes.
Unique experiences to book in the Pyrenees
There are a few unique experience you can book in the Spanish Pyrenees in advance: Via Ferrata K3. Climbing Experience, Pyrenees Paragliding Experience, Ordesa National Park Guided Snowshoeing Tour, and Hot Air Balloon Ride and Breakfast over the Volcanoes of la Garrotxa.
Best places to visit on a Spanish Pyrenees road trip
Spanish Pyrenees road trip – Day 1
For this trip, we rented an apartment in the small town of Escalona, which was close to all the places we planned to visit and had a good price/quality relationship.
As we were driving to the Spanish Pyrenees from Castellon – it took us around 4h 30 min to get to Escalona. Therefore, by leaving home early morning we literally had the whole afternoon to start exploring the mountains.
Cañon de Añisclo
After the check-in, our Spanish Pyrenees road trip started with a beautiful drive along the Añisclo Canyon to the parking Aparcamiento San Urbez. The local road HU-631 taking us there was so beautiful.
From Aparcamiento San Urbez you have a few hiking trail options. One of the easiest is Ruta por el Cañon de Añisclo, an easy 45-minute walk (2km) that made it to my lists of favorite hikes in Spain and Top Trails of The Pyrenees. During this route, even in the summer months, you’ll be hidden from the annoying heat by the spectacular local greenery. Along the way, you’ll encounter the remains of an ancient watermill Molino de Aso, a waterfall, the cave-church Ermita de San Urbez, and the Medieval bridge Puente Medieval de San Urbez.
Also read: The Most Epic Cliffs in Spain
Prepared hikers have a few alternatives to make this route longer by taking another trail near Ermita de San Urbez towards the village of Sercué, La Ripareta, and Fuen Blanca (you might have up to 5-6 hours of walking one way).
For dinner, we headed to one of the most beautiful Spanish Medieval towns – Ainsa. While we previously visited Ainsa on our last trip to Huesca, this charming hilltop village was so close to our apartment in Escalona that we couldn’t miss a chance to wander along its cobblestone streets once again. However this time I honestly felt like it became way more touristy. From local sights make sure not to miss La Plaza Mayor de Aínsa, Castillo de Aínsa, and Iglesia de Santa María.
For some gorgeous views head to Mirador Balcón de Aínsa and Mirador del Cinca. By the way, only 18 km from Ainsa there’s another epic panorama at Castillo de Samitier.
Spanish Pyrenees road trip – Day 2
On our second day in the Spanish Pyrenees, we woke up early in the morning once again in order to drive to Canfranc and enjoy breakfast there. This small town is known for its iconic Canfranc Train Station (unfortunately it was closed due to the restoration works).
Also read: The Most Beautiful Gardens in Spain
The 241m-long Modernist building of Canfranc Train Station has 150 gates and nearly 350 windows. It was inaugurated by King Alfonso XIII in 1929. Back then it had a hotel, a casino, and a customs office all within one building. During World War II Canfranc Train Station was an important crossing point for the trade of gold and stolen artworks, as well as the Jewish refugees on the run.
After breakfast in Canfranc, we headed to the Astun Ski Station, where we took a lift upwards to enjoy the famous hiking trail Ruta de Los 7 Lagos de Astun (also called 7 Ibones de Astun or Ruta de lagos de Ayous). Even for the kids, it honestly became one of the highlights of our Spanish Pyrenees road trip.
What can be more mesmerizing than the crystal-clear glacier lakes with snow caps on the backdrop and no soul around? This route is one of the most epic Spanish hiking trails I have experienced so far. It begins at the Astun Ski Station and covers the 7 glacier lakes located in both Spain and France.
Also read: 10 Epic Hikes in Castellon You Can´t Miss
Aside from the jaw-dropping views, 7 Ibones de Astun route makes you cross the Spain-France border a few times in one single day. While this trail is often described as a great match for all types of public, personally, I consider it a slightly challenging one. Keep in mind that you will be walking at an altitude of 2100 m, which means less oxygen. While the trail is only 13,55 km long, this hike is for those in a good shape.
Nevertheless, if hiking is not the option for you – consider simply taking the lift towards the first lake Ibon de Truchas, and walking around it. Also, you can easily reach the nearest lake Ibon de Escalar – till this point, the trail is very easy, but afterward, you´ll need to walk upwards to complete the trail of the 7 lakes of Astun.
Nevertheless, this stunning trail is still one of my favorite hikes in the Pyrenees.
In the afternoon/evening, we headed to Jaca. The initial plan was to visit the Museum of Military Miniatures in Ciudadela de Jaca. But they did not let us in 40 minutes before the closure: according to them, one needs at least 2 hours to see the museum. Actually, it´s not the first time I encounter this policy in Spain, but I still don’t get it. If I am willing to pay the entrance price and ready to leave before the closure, why is it their business how much time I spend inside?
Anyway, once in Jaca don’t miss Ciudadela de Jaca, San Pedro Cathedral, and San Miguel Bridge, all of which are worth visiting. Nearby the city of Jaca, you can visit Santa Cruz de la Seros (with its unique churches San Caprasio and Santa Maria).
If you don´t plan to hike in Astun, keep in mind there are a few other interesting places nearby – the caves Cueva de las “Güixas”, Ecoparque El Juncaral, Fuerte de Rapitán. Another beautiful Pyrenees landmark to visit near Jaca is Real Monasterio de San Juan de la Peña, one of the most secret and beautiful monasteries in Spain.
Spanish Pyrenees road trip – Day 3
Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park
On the 3rd day of our Spanish Pyrenees road trip, we planned a visit to one of the most beautiful national parks in Spain – Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park. Its most iconic peak is called Monte Perdido (or “the lost mountain” in English). Also, it is the highest limestone massif in Europe.
Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park is home to some of the most breathtaking landscapes and hikes of the Pyrenees – Tozal de Mallo, La Cascada del Estrecho, Gradas de Soaso, Bosque de las Hayas, Cañon de Añisclo, Cola de Caballo, and Gargantas de Escuain.
Access to the park is restricted. Visitors leave their vehicles at the free Parking of the small town of Torla and then take a bus to the National Park. The bus leaves from the Visitors Center of Torla-Ordesa. You can check the bus fares and schedules here.
Also read: The Prettiest Flower Fields in Spain
Actually, I found this system very convenient and environment-friendly. On the road, we saw a few small deer crossing the road a few times, which would have been impossible with over-tourism and private cars driving on the road 24/7.
While the most famous hike of Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park is probably Ruta Cola de Caballo, we have picked the lesser-known option – Ruta Circo de Cotatuero. While it had some elevation, we did not encounter almost anyone on the trail.
In the evening we headed to the small town of Boltaña and made a quick stop at Broto to see the waterfall Cascada de Sorrosal. While on our last trip to Huesca, we lived in a hotel nearby, I didn’t mind visiting Boltaña again, as this small town is so charming and quiet. So, it is always a great stop to wander around and enjoy local traditional architecture and cuisine.
Spanish Pyrenees road trip – Day 4
First thing in the morning on day 4 of our Spanish Pyrenees road trip, we headed to Panticosa, located in a local valley Valle de Tena.
Valle de Tena is undeniably one of the most beautiful places in the Spanish Pyrenees. Hikers can not miss Ibón de Espelunciecha, Ibón de Piedrafita, Vuelta al pantano de Lanuza, Paseo del camino de las Palizas, and also the amazing zip line Tirolina Valle Tena.
This time we only visited Ibon de Los Baños (also called Lake of Panticosa) and a waterfall Cascadas del Argualas. Although a local Panticosa Spa with its baths could be traced back to the times of the Roman Empire in Spain, this place disappeared during medieval times. Nevertheless, in the 19th century, it was opened to the rich and famous as a luxurious villa able to host 1500 people. Many Spanish historic characters like Niceto Alcala Zamora, Santiago Ramon y Cajal, Primo de Rivera, and others, were once spotted in Panticosa.
While The Panticosa Spa is still open nowadays, its reviews suggest the place needs restoration, even though it definitely preserves the signs of its past glory.
At Ibon de los Baños or the Lake of Pantiosa, you will find hiking trails (most of which will take you to the nearest mountain peaks) and waterfalls like Salto del Pino, Argualas, Salto de El Fraile. The most beautiful views of the area could be seen from Mirador de La Reina.
Tirolina Valle de Tena
The last experience of our Spanish Pyrenees road trip was Tirolina Valle Tena. It is the longest double zip line in Europe and the views are simply to die for. On their website, you can see how different the landscape is as the seasons of the year change.
I loved the experience of Tirolina Valle de Tena so much. While I initially expected it to be way scarier, the ride turned out to be so enjoyable. Hopefully, I will get a chance to repeat it at night or with the snowy landscape.
This experience is a must for the adventure-seekers in Spain.
Pyrenees Road Trip: My Map
On this map, you can see the exact locations of all the places I visited during this Spanish Pyrenees Road Trip. It will be helpful while deciding on where to stay.
Honestly, searching for a hotel in the Pyrenees area is a bit confusing: the region is so wide-spread that it takes forever to travel between the main landmarks. This is why it´s essential that you pick a holiday rental anywhere near the main stops of your Pyrenees road trip, otherwise you will end up driving too much.
There are still many places left on my Spanish Pyrenees bucket list, like Sos de Rey Catolico, Aguas Tuertas, Tella, Cueva de las Guixas, Mallos de Riglos hike, Congost de Mont-rebei, and a stay at Camping Valle de Bujaruelo – only to name a few. Therefore, you can absolutely expect new road trips to the Spanish Pyrenees anytime soon. Subscribe for blog updates not to miss out.
More Pyrenees Travel Tips
Since I return to the Pyrenees every year, I constantly share new travel stories and tips about the region: Top Hiking Trails in The Pyrenees You Can Not Miss, Top Beautiful Places to Visit in the Spanish Pyrenees, Exploring the Pyrenees of Catalonia, 5 Epic Reasons to Visit the Spanish Pyrenees with Kids, Top Romantic Things to do in Andorra, Our Baqueira Beret Family Getaway, Andorra Travel Guide, First Time in the Pyrenees, and My Top Hiking Essentials On The Go.
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