Europe has many mountain ranges, the most famous being the Alps, the Carpathian Mountains, and the Pyrenees. These mountain ranges differ markedly, form the boundaries between nations and cultures, and have different folklore and stories to tell. The Pyrenees are a majestic mountain range forming the border between France and Spain with the microstate of Andorra located completely locked within them (which is basically an alpine ski resort-of-a-country).

The Alps often overshadow the Pyrenees, but the Pyrenees are majestic in their own right as well. They have played a very important part in shaping the history and identities of Europe and are just perfect for hiking today.

THETRAVEL VIDEO OF THE DAY

What To Know About The Pyrenees

The Pyrenees run around 500 km or 310 miles with the highest peak reaching 3,404 meters or 11,168 feet.

  • Highest Peak: Aneto At 3,404 meters or 11,168 feet
  • Length: 500 km or 310 miles

The Pyrenees are older than the Alps in Central Europe. They first began to be pushed up during the Lower Cretaceous Period. They have a very different character from the Alps lacking great alpine lakes and many usable passes - but they do have many lofty waterfalls.

Due to the lack of passes, most major roads and railroads between France and Spain run in the lowlands at either end of the ranges as they descend to the coast.

  • Formed: In The Cretaceous Period Between 100 and 150 Million years Ago
  • Highest Waterfall: Gavarnie At 462 meters or 1515 feet

The best time for hiking in the Pyrenees is spring after the snowmelt and in the summer and autumn before the snows return.

Related: Switzerland Mountain Coaster Offers The Best Alps Views

Camino de Santiago - Camino Frances

There are many old pilgrim ways to the Santiago de Compostela in Galicia and many of the ancient pilgrims were French. Today the most popular route to the Santiago de Compostela is the Camino Frances or the French Way.

The French pilgrims needed to cross the Pyrenees and today the French Way is by far the most popular pilgrim route. It attracts around 60% of all modern pilgrims.

  • Camino Frances: Crosses The Pyrenees At Different Points
  • Aragonese Way: Connects To The French Way In The Heart Of the Pyrenees

There are different crossing points for Camino Frances over the Pyrenees. One of the routes crosses the Pyrenees between the towns of Somport and Canfranc.

Another route of the Camino Frances follows the Aragonese Way which meets up at Puente la Reina. It is the only French route not to connect to Camino Frances at Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. After passing through the Pyrenees, this route of the French way is called the Aragonese Way.

Hiking In The Pyrenees

Of course, one doesn't need to hike the Camino de Santiago to hike in the Pyrenees. There are many superb hiking routes all across the mountains. The Spanish Pyrenees are quite different from the French Pyrenees and one can choose one country or hike in both if one has the time.

  • Difficulty: Easy to Strenuous

There is also an option of guided and self-guided hiking tours in the Pyrenees. Before going on a hike be sure to plan in advance, there may be plenty of guesthouses along the route, or one may want to stay in the alpine huts/shelters/cabins along the trail, alternatively one could also camp along the route.

Great Hiking Routes In the Pyrenees To Consider:

  • Section of The French/Aragonese Way
  • Col de Tentes to Cirque de Gavarnie
  • Senda Pirenaica – GR10
  • Chemin des Bonshommes
  • Portbou to Cadaquès

Along the way, one will discover some of the best of the culture of the mountains - a mix of French, Andorran, Catalan, Basque, and Aragonese cultures.

Related: Is Tyrol Really A Heaven In The Alps? Let's Find Out

Guided Hiking Holiday Through The Pyrenees

If one is looking for a guided hike to fully plan one's itinerary and have a knowledgeable guide that can really explain the history and culture of the Pyrenees, then Hike Pyrenees offers a number of guided hiking tours.

Hike Pyrenees is a small group that specializes in guided walking and self-guided walking holidays. Their options range everything from scenic walks in the mountain meadows to strenuous hikes in the high mountains.

The guides are Spanish guides who live in the Pyrenees year-round and are passionate about the area. They will give one a deep dive into the region's history, wildlife, culture, and best hiking routes. Here is an example of a guided strenuous hike in the Pyrenees:

Picos de Europa:

  • Dates: 3 – 10 July
  • Cost: €1349 ($1450) per person
  • Duration: 7 Nights
  • Choose: Choose Between Two Hikes Each Day
  • Accommodation: 3-Star Hotels With Pools