Best Pyrenees Trekking: Top 5 Long-Distance Pyrenean Treks

Apr 24, 2024 BY Luke Rees

Are you looking for the best Pyrenees trekking options? Then check out these top 5 long-distance Pyrenean treks in order to explore these stunning mountains between France, Spain and Andorra.

More that just a natural border between France and Spain, the 500 km (310 mile) long Pyrenees range offer some of the most breathtaking and challenging treks in Europe. Highlighting five of the best treks in the Pyrenees Mountains, this article covers both  famous treks such as the Way of St James and those less well known.

Hiking in National Reserve of Néouvielle during Pyrenees adventure holiday review

Best Pyrenees Trekking Routes

Top 7 Long-Distance Pyrenees Treks

The best Pyrenean trekking options below are perfect for those looking to immerse themselves in the rugged beauty of the Pyrenees. You’ll be undertaking long-distance, multi-day journeys in the mountains often far from civilisation. None of the treks below are a walk in the park, but all are hugely rewarding.

The Way of St James (Camino Frances)

  • Start: Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France
  • End: Santiago de Compostela, Spain
  • Distance: 780 km
  • Duration: 30-35 days
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate

The Way of St James has many routes. But Camino Frances is the most popular, and one of the world’s most iconic treks. Beginning in the western Pyrenean foothills of France, the trail heads across northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela. The trek passes through stunning landscapes, medieval towns, and regions rich in history and culture.

One of the Best Pyrenees treks the Way of St James / Camino de Santiago Flickr image by Carmen Escobar Carrio

While not solely in the Pyrenees, and not a technical or steep, this Way of St James is still a challenge. Expect a mix of mountainous paths and rolling hills, with plenty of chance to sample local hospitality, food and drink. This trek is more than a physical challenge, the complete Camino de Santiago Frances from St. Jean is a pilgrimage that feeds the soul.

GR10

  • Start: Hendaye, France
  • End: Banyuls-sur-Mer, France
  • Distance: 955 km
  • Duration: About 50 days
  • Difficulty: Moderate to challenging

The GR10 traverses the French side of the Pyrenees from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. It is a challenging yet rewarding trek that those with little experience can complete. This route takes you through diverse landscapes including lush forests, serene lakes, and high alpine pastures.

GR10 one of the top 5 Pyrenees trekking routes Flickr CC image by Kitty Terwolbeck of Solo hike Centrel Pyrenees

Trekkers will enjoy breathtaking vistas of jagged peaks and experience the distinct Basque culture of the French Pyrenees. The GR10 is well-marked and offers various levels of difficulty, making it suitable for both seasoned hikers and newbies looking for a challenging hike.

GR11

  • Start: Cape Higuer, Spain
  • End: Cape Creus, Spain
  • Distance: 820 km
  • Duration: About 45 days
  • Difficulty: Challenging

Known as the Senda Pirenaica, the GR11 follows the Spanish side of the Pyrenees from east to west. With rugged terrain in remote wilderness this trek is a more solitary experience than the GR10. The GR11 is also higher and rougher than its French neighbour, making it a more challenging trek in the Pyrenees Mountains.

GR11 one of the Best treks in the Pyrenees Flickr CC image by Steve Cadman On the GR11 Spanish Pyrenees

Trekkers will find themselves navigating through national parks, reserves, and untouched natural landscapes, making it good for wildlife observation and those seeking solitude. The GR11 also provides a deep dive into the rich culture of Catalonia and Aragon, plus their delicious cuisine.

The Haute Route Pyrenees (HRP)

  • Start: Hendaye, France
  • End: Banyuls-sur-Mer, France
  • Distance: 800 km
  • Duration: 45-50 days
  • Difficulty: Very challenging

The Haute Route Pyrenees is an unmarked high mountain trail that runs roughly parallel to the GR10 but at a higher altitude. The route zigzags across the French-Spanish border, but stays as close to the main ridge – in the highest and most spectacular Central Pyrenees – as possible.

HRP one of the Top 5 Long-Distance Pyrenean Treks Flickr CC Image by Michele Benericetti of Estany dels Barbs & Estany Grand d'Amitges

It’s meant for experienced trekkers, who ideally have some mountaineering experience, and are okay with exposure. If you’re seeking a remote and physically demanding challenge you will love it. The route crosses numerous passes and ridges and is known for its pristine natural beauty and the sense of isolation.

Circular Tour of the Vignemale

  • Start: Cauterets, France
  • End: Cauterets, France
  • Location: Border of France and Spain
  • Distance: 81 km
  • Duration: 5-7 days
  • Difficulty: Moderate to challenging

Vignemale is the highest peak on the French side of the Pyrenees and this circular tour takes in the best of the area. The trek passes through both the French and Spanish Pyrenees, providing a rewarding mix of natural landscapes plus some local culture.

Vignemale best Long-Distance Pyrenees trekking Flickr CC Image by Michele Benericetti of NF of the Vignemale

Highlights include the dramatic Ossoue Glacier, the grand vistas from Petit Vignemale and the historic Baysellance refuge, the oldest in the Pyrenees. Hikers will enjoy varied terrain, including rugged paths and serene valleys. You can also relax in the lovely French town of Cauterets at the beginning and end of the trek.

Best Long-Distance Pyrenean Treks: Conclusion

Each of these long distance Pyrenees trekking routes offers a unique way to experience the beauty and culture of the mountains. Whether you are seeking spiritual fulfillment on the Way of St James, the solitude of the GR11, or the challenges of the Haute Route, Pyrenean treks are an unforgettable adventure.

Training for trekking holidays, is key to long-distance, multi-day routes like these. As is preparation and planning. You should pack with diverse high altitude conditions in mind and ensure you have enough supplies in remote sections. Head on one of these top Pyrenees treks for stories and memories that will last a lifetime.

We hope you found this guide to the 5 best long-distance treks in the Pyrenees inspiring. If you want to book a trip then check out these trekking holidays in Europe.

 
 

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