When going to Pyrenees you may spend time between France and Spain or combine it, depending what is it that you are looking for. Is it discovering Spanish vineyards and joining pilgrimage roads or crossing to France visiting thermal, medieval cities or sacred places like Lourdes. No matter what part of the Pyrenees you choose, everywhere you can enjoy the view and hike to one of the most beautiful peaks in Europe. Our decision was as usual a compromise and that’s why a little bit of everything 😀 We had only week to spend and we wanted to experience as much as possible. From Bilbao we headed straight to the middle of Pyrenees to San Vicente de Labuerda which is tiny village after Caldearenas. On my trips to nature, I always tend to seek small hidden places which were reminding of ruins of old monasteries or churches with a mysterious history, surrounded with quiet and occasional strains of birds or farm animals. Places which are so small that every neighbor know each other. This place was haven. Old church with hospitable French family who moved here from Paris to spend their retirement in peace.

One week road trip in Pyrenees.
Aragonese Pyrenees Spain

We picked Caldearenas, because of its good location between two big national parks: Parque Nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdido and Parque natural de la Sierra y los Cañones de Guara. I recommend a visit to Ordesa Canyon which was majestic! Its highest peak is Monte Perdido with hight 3,355m. When we reach the ticket office, we waited a line for a bus to take us closer to the start of several hiking roads. While waiting you have stunning views on Torla village and church. The hike which we took was called Faja Racon and we spent 5 hours on the path, which was amazing. If you go in the midday, heat can be unbearable, so be prepared and bring bottles of water to rehydrate, some protein bars or snacks and hat. 

Biking in Torla-Ordesa Spain
Mirador de Santa Maria

The picture you see is from view point The Mirador de Cacilarruego. Pretty great right? Here is a tip to check upfront the trails you may want to do. There are many websites which can shows you the approximate length and degree of difficulty on each trail, here are two of them: and  

About an hour to the north from Torla is Panticosa, former spa city with some nice restaurants and Mirador de Santa Maria where you can visit some abandoned defensive bunkers. From this viewpoint, you can see Panticosa, El Pueyo, Sandiniés and Tramacastilla.

Geranium on window, French city Bagnères-de-Bigorre

Bagnères-de-Bigorre was our next destination as one of many famous thermal places in France. This city gives typical French vibe with colorful houses and petunias on the windows, open terraces full of locals having apero with their neighbours.  Early morning you can go for breakfast shopping at the farmers market in Les Halles de Bagneres and in the evening relax in one of the spas. What I can recommend is to book yourself one of the small French apartments, we lived in a house of a painter above their small art galerie and the atmosphere was brilliant!

View from the top of Pic du Jer, France

Another great hike was to Pic du Jer two minutes by car from center of Lourdes. It’s a relatively short hike offering some great views and funicular railway for the descent. The city is known for the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, a major Catholic pilgrimage site which welcomes over 5million visitors from over 140 countries each year. 

What a view! Cirque de Gavarnie France

Cirque de Gavarnie was probably the highlight of the hiking for me. One of easier hikes and I simply couldn’t believe the scenery. At the time when we were there in 2018, there were still some icebergs spreading from the hilltops along the valley on which you could walk. Further inside the valley you could get right under the waterfall streaming from height of 1,500m. It’s worth to spend there a while, so make sure you prep some food for picnic with the view. About 40min from Cirque de Gavarnie on the Spanish borders is Col de Tentes route which is popular with hikers, campers and mountain bikers.

Camino de Santiago

We saved the best for the end when we spend some time in San Sebastián. Place is in the summer packed with tourists trying its fine beaches, foodies indulging themselves into taste of wide variety of pintxos and wines. It was a nice romantic time for us when we didn’t care about calories and just rotated as many bars as we could. We also went for a part of the pilgrimage road Camino de Santiago and in the evening and we enjoyed sunset with other spectators sitting on the board of the sea clapping. Good place to observe sunset is at Mollaberria Kalea.

One of many places for pintxos in San Sebastián

On your quest for the best pintxos go to the streets north from De la Brecha Enparantza. If you go with our recommendation, best pintxos can be found in: Bodega DonostiarraGanbara, Bar TxepetxaMesón PortaletasAtari Gastroleku. For special occasions or just for a spectacular view book upfront Mirador de Ulía with a table near the window! Restaurant is holder of a Michelin star and offers modern Basque cuisine. 

When stolling near Zurriola beach, get gelato in Papperino ILGelato shop or in Gelateria boulevard. What’s more, there are plenty of good bakeries try for sure some of their churros!

Santiago Plaza, Spain

If you are lucky to spend more than a week in Pyrenees, here are some obligatory stops. On French side you may want to go to: Biarritz for surfing, continue to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port city which is a starting point of the Camino Francés most popular option for travelling the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route. Next you may go to try some french wine in Jurançon vineyards before going for a walk to Passerelle d’holzarte. On Spanish side, don’t overpass: Bilbao’s Guggenheim museum and nearby Escalinatas de San Juan de Gaztelugatxe islet. You may want to stop for wine tasting and stay in Rioja Alavesa then continue through Pamplona to Pyrenees and perhaps do some canoying in Sierra de Guara and even continue to El Querforadat excuisite little Catalan town on the north-east of Spain.