Family Adventure in the Pyrenees: A Complete Travel Guide

Planning Your Trip: Itinerary and Essential Tips for Families

The Pyrenees: Discover the Untamed Beauty of the France-Spain Border Mountains. Less frequented by Israeli travelers compared to the Alps and Dolomites, the Pyrenees offer a unique, untouched charm. Here, you won’t find cable cars to every peak. Access is either on foot or, in some nature reserves, by thrilling jeep rides over rugged terrain. This is what makes the area so wildly captivating and special!

Exploring the Pyrenees: Why It's Perfect for Families

The French and Spanish Pyrenees: An Ideal Destination for Family Adventures in Nature and Extreme Sports. This region has it all! From unique natural landscapes to a range of trails suitable for easy walks to multi-day treks, and adrenaline-pumping activities for teens and adults. There are even options perfectly tailored for young children 🌺🌲🦋. The places mentioned are from our itinerary, designed for children aged 7 and 9, but suitable for all kids accustomed to nature trips.

Practical Tips for Traveling in Pyrenees with kids

Flights to the Pyrenees: The standard route is via Barcelona, offering an opportunity to explore the city at the beginning or end of your trip. You can also include a visit to PortAventura Park, located south of Barcelona. Other convenient flight options include Toulouse in France or Bordeaux.

Accommodations. Where to Stay with Kids: After thorough research on the area, I realized the French Pyrenees are exceptionally special and not to be missed. Therefore, I recommend three key areas for your stay: the Aran Valley, the Central French Pyrenees, and the Ordesa region.

Aran Valley Accommodation: Stay at the Tryp Vielha Baqueira Hotel.

Central French Pyrenees Accommodation: Stay at Villa Bon Repos.

Ordesa Area Accommodation – Aínsa: Stay at Hotel & SPA Peña Montañesa

Car rental: An excellent search engine is economy car rentals. They also work with smaller rental companies that sometimes offer lower costs in the market. There is an option to cancel up to 48 hours before picking up the car.

Charming Accommodations in the Heart of the Pyrenees

Pyrenees' First Base: The Ordesa Area (Aínsa and Torla).

While planning the trip, I realized that seeking trails within the Ordesa National Park might not be ideal. The trails inside the park are quite lengthy, and opinions vary regarding their feasibility.

Best Family-Friendly Trails

I sought a combination of trails that would be suitable for my sons and also interesting and scenic. The selected trails were:

The Puente Románico de San Nicolas de Bujaruelo Trail, located at the foothills of the Ordesa Mountains, adjacent to Ordesa National Park – This trail begins at a camping site, accessible via a winding and narrow dirt road. Spanning 2.5 kilometers, it crosses both sides of the river, offering views of mountain peaks and clear waters along its path.

Anisclo Canyon – One of the largest and deepest canyons in the Pyrenees. This trail offers a comfortable circular walk, starting from the San Úrbez Bridge and leading to an ancient monastery. The path continues along the canyon, crossing a beautiful area with pools, and then to the other side. The route features stunning views of rock pools and towering mountains.

Charming Ancient Towns in the Pyrenees: Perfect for Family Exploration

Two Pyrenean towns I highly recommend visiting with your family are Aínsa and Torla. Both boast beautiful ancient centers, stone alleyways, and flower-adorned stone houses. They offer a delightful atmosphere for leisurely strolls and enjoying the local vibe.

Aínsa, considered one of the most beautiful cities in Spain, is the birthplace of the Kingdom of Aragon. Ideally located for summer excursions and winter sports, it’s surrounded by the stunning landscapes of the Pyrenees and Ordesa Park. Aínsa’s ancient center is a UNESCO World Heritage site, featuring a beautiful paved square encircled by medieval buildings. Around the town square, you’ll find an abundance of cafes, artisan shops, and souvenir stores. Wandering through Aínsa’s pastoral alleyways in the evening is a delightful experience for families.

The Ordesa region experiences hot and dry conditions in summer, with temperatures often soaring to 36 degrees Celsius! A favorite family activity in this weather is river bathing. The rivers here are shallow, forming natural pools that are perfect for a refreshing swim.

אינסה נהר אורדסה רחצה

Kid-Friendly Activities in the Ordesa Area, Pyrenees

The area is perfect for adrenaline-pumping and extreme water-related activities! One of the top attractions is canyoning. Canyoning is essentially a journey through a river canyon, including rappelling down waterfalls, jumping from heights for the brave, and swimming. This activity, lasting several hours, is incredibly fun and refreshing.

An activity well-suited for couples or families with older children is a guided kayaking tour on Lake Mediano. This excursion lasts about 3 hours and is conducted in a kayak with a local guide.

Embark on an exhilarating private paragliding journey in Huesca, complete with personalized videos and photos to capture the breathtaking moments of your aerial adventure.

Embark on the Via Ferrata K3 climbing experience in Ordesa, Broto, a thrilling adventure that combines hiking and climbing along a secured climbing route. This journey offers an exhilarating challenge for enthusiasts seeking to explore the vertical landscapes of the Pyrenees

Accommodations: Where to Stay with Kids. Family Hotels near Ainsa

One of the beautiful hotels we stayed at in the Pyrenees is the Hotel & SPA Peña Montañesa, conveniently located near Aínsa and ideal for both couples and families. It features an outdoor pool, playground facilities, and a luxurious indoor spa area. The spacious rooms, often with dividers, offer the most important feature: a mesmerizing view right from your window.

Top Recommended Accommodations Near Ainsa and Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park

Pyrenees' Second Base: The Central French Pyrenees

There’s much debate online about whether it’s worth crossing into the French Pyrenees, considering the long journey on narrow, winding roads to and from Spain. My conclusion is that it’s absolutely worth it! This part is the most beautiful in the Pyrenees, featuring greener landscapes, charming mountain passes, numerous lakes, and waterfalls.

If your flights are already routed through France (Bordeaux, Toulouse), there’s no doubt that including this charming part of the Pyrenees in your itinerary is a must.

The recommended route for traveling between France and Spain, and vice versa, is actually through the mountain passes (D918 road). While these roads are narrow and winding, they offer stunning scenic drives, making the journey an adventure in itself. These are the roads of the Tour de France.

Trails for Family Excursions in The Central French Pyrenees

Cirque de Gavarnie is a type of natural amphitheater or bowl-shaped valley, formed by the erosion and sinking of glaciers. Located near a mountain peak, its upper part consists of very steep slopes, while the lower part is flat, resembling a giant bowl. Inside this glacial cirque, snow accumulates and turns into ice, which then begins to slide downward. During the thaw, when the water cannot drain away, the waterfalls and streams turn the bottom of the ‘bowl’ into lakes filled with narrow, elongated glaciers. The most famous of these is the Cirque de Gavarnie. From the village of Gavarnie, there is a comfortable walking trail alongside a stream, leading to an ascent that reaches a hotel, offering the most beautiful view of the cirque.

Lake Gavarnie and the Spanish Bridge are among the most beautiful spots in the French Pyrenees, and one of the few places in the Pyrenees where we used a cable car! Ascending through the clouds up the mountain by cable car, we were greeted by the stunning Lake Gavarnie. We continued to walk around one side of the lake, reaching the beautiful southern shore. After a rest and some ice cream, we returned down, walking through the Spanish Bridge and past waterfalls. The path is a delightful blend of abundant water and lush greenery – a truly enjoyable route!

The Artouste Lake and Train experience is a 4-5 hour adventure. We started with a breathtaking cable car ride to a stunning viewpoint. From there, we boarded an actual open-air train that travels along a mountain track – a truly unique experience. Along the way, we saw beautiful landscapes, flocks of sheep, and diverse vegetation. After about an hour, we reached the final station. A short but steep ascent led us to one of the most beautiful lakes in the Pyrenees!

Family Activities in The Central French Pyrenees

The French Pyrenees are a treasure trove of adrenaline-pumping attractions such as zip-lining, bungee jumping, rafting, canyoning, and more.

Rope Parks: The French Pyrenees boast several well-developed rope parks. We spent a few delightful hours in one of them after visiting Lake Gavarnie and the Spanish Bridge. These parks offer fun and enjoyment with various courses suitable for different ages!

Chlorofil Parc

פארק חבלים פירנאים תכנון טיול

Top Recommended Accommodations in The Central French Pyrenees

Pyrenees' Third Base: Aran Valley and Aigüestortes - The Green Heart of Spain

Returning to Spain, this time to the greener region compared to the Aínsa area. Again, I chose the winding scenic routes passing through enchanting mountain passes. After about a two-and-a-half-hour drive, the lush Aran Valley emerged. Filled with nature trails of all levels and picturesque towns, it’s located north of Aigüestortes National Park. I decided to stay in the Aran Valley to enjoy both the local trails and a day trek in Aigüestortes (the highlight of the trip)

Family Activities in The Aran Valley and Aigüestortes National Park

The Aran Valley is brimming with attractions. One of the fun activities we did was a one-hour horseback ride, which the kids absolutely loved! Each person rode on a separate, well-trained, and gentle horse. We ascended the mountain to a beautiful viewpoint overlooking the valley. On our way back, a light rain added to the adventure 🙂

Escuela de equitación Val d´Aran‏

Another fantastic attraction, offering a refreshing and adrenaline-filled experience, is rafting on the Garonne River. It’s an immensely enjoyable activity!


רפטינג עמק אראן פירנאים תכנון טיול

In the Aran Valley, there’s the Aran Park – the Pyrenees wildlife park. A magical forest where typical Pyrenean animals roam freely. We walked along a trail that encircles the park, among white foxes and horned animals. The children were most excited about the bears.

Must-Visit Natural Trails and Scenic Routes

The Aran Valley is filled with beautiful nature trails. One of the highlights is the Artiga de Lin Trail.

The road climbs up the mountain to a point where there is parking and you can’t go any further. From there, you take a train that travels on the road and brings you to the start of the trail. The trail begins from a cirque (like Gavarnie but smaller and without water), and from there you continue walking until you eventually reach the waterfall itself. A beautiful descent among small waterfalls. To return to the car, you can take the train back, but we preferred to continue descending on a narrow path through a beautiful forest. A wonderful addition to the trail. The path brought us back to the parking area.

The highlight was the trail we did in the Aigüestortes National Park – the Park of Two Hundred Lakes.

It’s a large nature reserve with many lakes that form in the spring and summer as a result of snowmelt. There are numerous hiking trails there. We chose the trail from Amitges Lake to Sant Maurici Lake. The trail is about 5 kilometers long but is excellent for experienced hikers. You arrive at a tiny town named Espot, where you board a jeep. Private vehicles are not allowed into the reserve. The jeep took us to Amitges Lake. The drive lasted about an hour on a rough, rocky road with lots of jolts. But it was an amazing experience in itself. The beauty of the lakes at the summit is indescribable.

The trail continues with a descent through charming landscapes, passing by viewpoints and seven lakes!!

The trail was crowned as one of the very best in the trip, if not the best…

Accommodations: Where to Stay with Kids. Family Hotels near Vielha

In the Aran Valley, there is the Hotel Vielha Baqueira, located in the town of Vielha. The hotel offers interconnected rooms, family rooms, and suites, making it suitable for families. It also has an indoor heated pool and a spa area. The hotel is ideally located as it is suitable for a star-shaped (hub-and-spoke) tour both in the Aran Valley and in Aigüestortes.

Top Recommended Accommodations in the Aran Valley and Aigüestortes National Park

Tips for Travelers Arriving via Barcelona

♥ The Sort and Llavorsí regions are prime destinations for thrilling water-based adventures like rafting and canyoning. For top-notch rafting experiences, check out our recommended provider here. If canyoning is more your style, explore our suggested option here for an unforgettable adventure.

♥ If you’re traveling to the Pyrenees via Barcelona, you can incorporate a visit to the city at the beginning or end of your trip. You can find recommended attractions in Barcelona here

Just a short distance from Barcelona lies the exceptionally entertaining PortAventura amusement park. This park boasts a variety of attractions catering to visitors of all ages. For convenient access, you can secure skip-the-line tickets, which also come with a flexible cancellation policy up to 24 hours before your visit. Find your tickets here for a hassle-free and fun-filled experience

♥ En route to the Pyrenees, make sure to visit the renowned Montserrat Monastery, a site of cultural and historical significance. To enhance your experience, you can obtain skip-the-line tickets, ensuring a smooth and convenient visit without the hassle of waiting in queues. Secure your Montserrat Monastery tickets here for a seamless and memorable visit.

Adventure and Relaxation: Best Places to Stay in the Pyrenees

עמק טנה פירנאים ספרדיים

Ultimate Guide to Family-Friendly Hiking in the Pyrenees - Comprehensive Summary

The trip in the Pyrenees was one of the most unique journeys we’ve experienced!

The style of trip we did is more suitable for children aged seven and older, primarily because it involved traveling and changing accommodations every 3-4 days.

However, a trip in the Pyrenees can be suitable for all ages.

For families with young children, it’s possible to base oneself in a specific area for a ‘star’ trip, where you return to the same place each night. There are countless hiking trails and options, and with younger ages, you can forego all the moving around.

In contrast, on a trip with teenagers, you can greatly enjoy all the attractions that the Pyrenees offer: rafting at all levels, canyoning, zip-line courses, kayaking, and well-developed rope parks.

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