• Menu
  • Menu
Der Pic du Midi d’Ossau, Bild: PHILIPIMAGE / shutterstock

Holidays in the Pyrenees

The Pyrenees are a mountain range that forms a natural barrier between the countries of France and Spain, as well as between the Iberian Peninsula and the rest of Europe. They are located in the southwest of Europe and are one of the most famous mountains on the continent. It is said that the name of the mountain range comes from Pyrene, a princess in Greek mythology who was loved by Hercules. For holidaymakers, the Pyrenees offer a diverse and exciting landscape with picturesque mountain villages, monasteries and unique nature.

Peculiarities of the Pyrenees

The mountain range, which is about 491 km long from west to east, stretches from the Cantabrian Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. They are usually divided into the French Pyrenees, which include the Eastern Pyrenees, the High Pyrenees and the Atlantic Pyrenees, and the Spanish Pyrenees, which extend to Catalonia, Navarre, Aragon and the Basque Country.

yellow train, Pyrenees
Explore the Pyrenees in a relaxed manner with the yellow train, Image: Leonid Andronov / shutterstock

Physiographically, the mountains are divided into three sections: East, Central and West. In the Eastern Pyrenees, the altitude is average, while the central section is represented by the highest peaks, including Pico Aneto at 3,404 meters. The entire mountain range is home to more than 50 peaks over 3,000 meters. As for the climate, it is dry and cold in the Central Pyrenees; in the Eastern Pyrenees, summers tend to be hot, while the western part is more affected by humid air.

In the mountains, tourists will find rocky slopes, impressive gorges and karst plains. There are a variety of caves, underground rivers and hot springs that were already used as thermal baths by the Romans. In addition, the Pyrenees are home to many small villages, fantastic castles and ruins of former fortresses to discover, offering magical history and impressive views over the town. The Pyrenees are one of the most diverse mountain ranges in the world, thanks to the many differences in altitude between the individual sections.

It is home to more than 4,500 species of plants, including the beautiful snow flower, which can be found at very high altitudes, and unique fir, pine and chestnut forests. In the valleys there are cork oaks, fig trees and aromatic plants such as lavender and thyme, which spread typical Mediterranean flair. The fauna is represented by brown bears, deer, wild boars and a variety of birds such as the kestrel or the bearded vulture and offers nature lovers an exciting spectacle.

Holiday opportunities

In the Pyrenees you can enjoy a relaxing holiday in both the cold and warm seasons. During the summer, the richness of the landscape is truly amazing. If you are a fan of outdoor activities, it is a perfect place for hiking enthusiasts thanks to the numerous hiking trails. The well-known long-distance hiking trail Grande Randonnée takes you on over 850 km through the French Pyrenees along picturesque villages with flowering herbs and beautiful panoramic views.

Walking through several villages, an impressive cultural and architectural heritage awaits you, where you can learn more about the way of life in the Pyrenees while spending the night in the hostel and exchanging ideas with the locals. Rafting, canoeing or simply walking along the rivers are also popular activities.

Although you can go on holiday at any time of the year, winter is also a pleasant season for a holiday. Especially if you are a lover of snow sports. One of the most popular sports is undoubtedly skiing and in the Alto Aragon region alone there are more than 138 km spread over eight different areas to practice it. And if you’re looking for even more adrenaline, you can enjoy a paragliding trip over a snowy landscape.

On the other hand, if you want a unique experience, you can experience dog sledding, ice diving, hot water baths and caves. In the cold months, the atmosphere in the surrounding villages is quite lively, especially on weekends, and activities are offered in the bars and restaurants of a cultural and gastronomic nature. Don’t forget to try their most famous dish, Migas al pastor.

Tourist attractions

Pic du Midi de Bigorre, Pyrenees
Sunset on the Pic du Midi de Bigorre, Image: Anibal Trejo / shutterstock

The Pic du Midi de Bigorre mountain is known by locals and foreigners alike and can be reached by cable car from La Mongie. At the top at 2877 meters there is a planetarium, a museum about astronomy and the history of the creation of the Pic du Midi, a traditional high-altitude restaurant and a souvenir shop.

On the north side, from the Sky Bridge, you can observe the flat part of the Occitanie region with its green meadows and picturesque villages via a metal walkway hanging into the void. Watching the sunset over the mountain range, as well as the stars in the night sky on the French side of the Pyrenees, is an extraordinary visual experience. In the southwest of France, in the Midi-Pyrénées region, lies the beautiful city of Lourdes, which makes every walk worthwhile with its alleys, gallery houses and cobblestone streets. Here you will find the listed castle of Lourdes, from which you can enjoy an exceptional view of the city and the Pyrenees.

Just three kilometres away is the lake of Lourdes, where you can picnic, fish or hike. Also in the south-west of France, in the Hautes-Pyrénées Midi-Pyrenees department, on the border with Spain , lies the unique town of Cirque de Gavarnie, which consists of a rocky colosseum and is surrounded by impressive peaks. The Great Waterfall also falls down there. It is also where two important national parks meet: the Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park and the Pyrenees National Park.

Jaca Citadel
Aerial view of the Jaca Citadel, Image: Iakov Filimonov / shutterstock

On the Spanish side, the city of Jaca, the former capital of Aragon, is considered a special highlight. Architectural treasures can be found here with the Michaelsbrücke, the old town with its cathedral and the fortifications. There are also great kayaking and rafting opportunities on the Spanish side with the Ésera River. Also known and popular is the Embalse de Mediano reservoir, where the spire bears witness to the sunken town of Mediano, which was once here.

Another highlight of the Pyrenees is the yellow train. A 62.5-kilometre route connects the towns of La Tor de Querol and Vilafranca de Conflent, which are well worth seeing. Here you can enjoy the panoramic view along cliffs, through tunnels and over fascinating stone bridges. In summer, you may be lucky enough to enjoy the ride in one of the open carriages, from where you can enjoy the open sky and the breeze of the Pyrenees.