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Pyrenees Explorer Reverse

The best of Spain's Pyrenees by car | View photos »

Beautiful landscapes, delicious food and premium small hotels mark this self-guided journey along the Pyrenees from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic.

15 day trip described, guide price £2,235pp i

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Sample itinerary

Travel to the Costa Brava

Fly or take the train to Barcelona or Girona where you pick up a rental car for your journey. Your pre-programmed sat-nav will lead you to the beautiful small town of Cadaques - the point where the Pyrenees meet the Mediterranean sea. It was always a place favoured by artists, most famously Salvador Dalí. Staying in the heart of the old village lets you wander out to explore this afternoon.

Walk along the coast from the Cap de Creus

Take an electric taxi from your hotel out into the nearby Cap de Creus natural park. From the lighthouse at the cape, follow a wonderful path which takes you along a series of coves, over headlands past olive groves to Dalí’s house at Port Lligat. There are various places along the way for you to enjoy a dip in the sea if the water is inviting.

Visit a medieval monastery

The monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes is a beautiful medieval ruin perched dramatically on the high mountains looking out to sea. The walk down from the monastery is a beautiful one, taking you through pretty villages, past small vineyards and orchards before you emerge on the coastal promenade to Port de la Selva.

Travel into the Garrotxa Natural Park

Travel from the coast to the high forested slopes of La Garrotxa natural park, stopping off en route to make the most of the journey. Perhaps with a stop at a winery or at the amazing Greco-Roman ruins of Empuries. Heading inland brings you to the beautifully preserved medieval town of Besalú, one of the most powerful and important outposts in Catalonia and a perfect place for an afternoon stroll.

Walk through beech forests to Santa Pau

After a hearty Catalan breakfast, set off walking a one-way route through the Garrotxa park leading back to your hotel. The path leads you through beautiful beech forests as you loop around dormant volcanoes over the course of the day. It is well worth taking a detour to see the stone chapel built inside a volcanic cone before stopping for lunch under medieval arches in the village of Santa Pau.

Cross the sierra to Banyoles

A long day of walking starts with a warm up for your legs as you follow the relative flat of the valley floor. The path then takes you over the Guixeres range. Enjoy your picnic lunch in the heart of the dense pine forests of the hills before walking down towards the pretty lake of Banyoles.

Travel into the high Pyrenees

Today’s drive takes you from the low, pre-Pyrenees, into the very heart of the highest mountains.Depending on how early you set off, you might like to head straight into the Ordesa National Park, one of the most striking in Spain. Your hotel sits in glorious isolation in the Ara Valley some 6km up a dirt road.

Circular walk from your hotel

Today’s circular walk leads you to some of the abandoned villages of La Solana with its beautiful architecture with slate roofs. Being the southern slopes of the Pyrenees you will be walking through thick Mediterranean forests along some sections of the historical path system as well as on wider tracks.

Guided walking in Ordesa

Meet up with your local guide today as they introduce you to the Ordesa National Park and some of the finest walking in the country. Being a private day of guiding, they will adapt the route to your energy levels, your interests and the weather. At the end of the day return to your hotel to relax with a drink and a book looking out over the valley.

Travel into Navarra

The journey to your next hotel, in a village not far from Pamplona, takes around two hours, or three if you detour to enjoy a walk in the spectacular Arbayún gorge. Hidden in a landscape of oak woodland and wide valleys are the two deep ravines of Arbayún, a small yet dramatic corner of cliffs and forest which is incredibly rich in birdlife. Also along the way is the striking Loarre Castle.

Explore the Navarran Pyrenees

The city of Pamplona is just 20 minutes away if you want culture and history. South of the city is the dramatic castle of Olite, surrounded by wineries. Heading back up into the mountains, you can visit the village of Roncesvalles, traditionally the start point of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage within Spain. Slightly further east are the beautiful beech forests of Irati.

Travel to the Atlantic coast

The journey to your last hotel takes just over two hours. Along the way, stop off to visit a shepherd who makes the famous Idiazabal cheese. Visit Patxi’s farm to learn how he makes this Basque speciality. This is a great fun, hands-on experience, where you can help milk the sheep, and of course taste the delicious cheese. Continue to your hotel, a converted Napoleonic castle near the town of Gernika.

Explore the Vizcaya coast

After your time in the mountains, you may well want to take it easy on your first day here though there's plenty to keep you busy if you'd rather get active. Just up the road from your hotel is a water sports centre which offers kayaking in the estuary, a biosphere reserve with particularly good birdlife.

Shop in Gernika market

If it's a Monday, visit the lively market at Gernika. You can also have great
fun meeting farmers and craft food producers whose passion for locally produced regional food underpins the very essence of this regional culture. If today isn’t a Monday, you might like to drive into Bilbao to visit the city, including the fantastic Guggenheim museum.

Travel back home

Drive the 30 minutes to the airport of Bilbao to drop off your car and fly home. Again, please note we quote international flights separately on this holiday.

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Map of the area

"Perfect blend of discovery and adventure"

"Perfect blend of discovery and adventure"

I was so very impressed with the efficiency and attention to detail of Pura Aventura... Pura Aventura have put together a fantastic holiday which ticks all the boxes of our hopes and expectations without our endless searching! Superb hotels which we would never have discovered on our own, with a perfect blend of discovery and adventure! Janet H

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"Thank you for a wonderful, memorable vacation."

"Thank you for a wonderful, memorable vacation."

I just wanted to say what a great vacation we had. Everything really was perfect.

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About this trip


From Mediterranean to Atlantic the Pyrenees mountains offer incredible walking in varied landscapes from the bays of the Cap de Creus to the high peaks of Ordesa and the forests of Navarra. More than the mountain scenery, the Pyrenees are home to many cultures, unique flora and fauna, fine gastronomy and beautiful small hotels.

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Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Level of activity

As a tailor made trip, the level of exertion on this trip is defined entirely by you. The sample itinerary described above assumes that you enjoy walking and being outdoors but the level of exertion is ultimately up to you.

The way it works on the ground is that we provide you with maps and walking routes for a variety of walks in each place. In Ordesa you have a full day with a private local guide in order to help you discover parts of the park you would otherwise find hard to get to. Overall though, you have complete control over how much or how little you do on any given day. We do assume that you will want to enjoy spending time in the outdoors, whether walking through medieval villages, or alongside the clear streams in the high mountains.

Although we focus on walking, there are lots of opportunities for other, more adventurous activities during this holiday. The area around Garrotxa is famous for mountain biking. Ainsa (near the Ordesa National Park) is well known for adventure activities as diverse as mountain biking, canyoning, white water rafting and kayaking. In Vizcaya you can do anything from coasteering to SUP. We give you details of our trusted partners on the ground or we can book these activities for you and include them as part of your trip. The range of activities on offer does vary depending on the time of year.

Level of comfort

The accommodation on this journey is first class. For details of accommodation used, please see the summary section of the detailed itinerary which we can send you on request.

The hotel in Cadaques is the most simple but the welcome is very friendly and the location in the heart of the village unbeatable. The hotels from then on are all in historic buildings of different shapes and sizes but all of which are restored to a high standard, culminating in your stay in a Relais Chateaux castle. Suffice to say that days in the great outdoors are balanced by very, very comfortable nights throughout this trip.

Spring and early summer are some of the best months for this trip, where temperatures, in the mid-20°s during the day on average, cooler at night up in the mountains of course. May and June are beautifully green, the weather very good in the main and the water levels in the rivers at their best. September can be a month of storms in the high Pyrenees but they tend to involve a heavy downpour on one or two days of the month rather than being constant.

Please note that in late July and August it can get uncomfortably hot, so we tend to advise against these months for travel on this trip. It can also be hard to find space at these small hotels in the peak summer months.

Level of culture

The cultural aspect of this holiday is a very significant part of its appeal and is the reason why we are sure to include time with our local guides at key moments in the journey.

The Pyrenees have always formed a semi-permeable border between Southern and Northern Europe. Pilgrims and smugglers have crossed the high mountain passes for millennia. Ancient languages still survive in its remote valleys. Castles and chapels punctuate the mountains along their whole length. This journey traverses three distinctive historical and cultural regions of Spain: the Basque Country, the old Kingdom of Aragon and the region of Catalonia.


There is a detailed itinerary for this trip, in the form set out above. Please get in touch and we can email that to you. We would love to prepare a personalised proposal for you to consider so why not call us on 01273 676 712 and we can get started? To do this properly we want to understand the things you care about and the things you don’t need.

In the form set out above, the holiday price includes accommodation, mid-sized rental car, breakfasts and six dinners. In all cases, the holiday includes guided excursions as described, as well as detailed local information, maps and walking notes. Naturally, on each and every one of our holidays, we include Pura’s expertise, local contacts, support and advice throughout, along with the reassurance of our financial protection and safety auditing.


Departs any day to suit you, from April through October/November. This holiday is also tailored to you so can be adapted in any number of ways.

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01273 676712

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The described itinerary is just a taster of what this trip could involve. We would work with you to tailor your personal trip.

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Book Subscribe to The Pothole » Driving into the spectacular Ordesa National Park View of the village of Cadaques Mediterranean light in the Costa Brava Walking down towards the sea from Sant Pere de Rodes The bridge leading into Besalú, Garrotxa Wide views towards the Mediterranean sea and the Pyrenees from Garrotxa Hiking around the Banyoles lake at sunset View of San Martin hotel along the Ara Valley Abandoned village in Solana The Añisclo Bridge, Pyrenees The impressive fortress of Loarre Hiking along the Camino through the green misty forests near Roncesvalles Inland landscape near Deba The flysh cliffs of Zumaia from the Camino Roasting the fresh piquillo peppers The Guggenheim's endearing flower dog on a sunny day