The Pyrenees

We’ve compiled the best of the best in The Pyrenees - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Catedral de Santa Maria

    This 12th-century cathedral is the finest in the Pyrenees, and the sunlight casting the rich reds and blues of Santa Maria's southeastern rose window into the deep gloom of the transept is a moving sight. The 13th-century cloister is famous for the individually hewn, often whimsical capitals on its 50 columns, crafted by the same Roussillon school of masons who carved the doorway on the church of Santa Maria in Ripoll. Don't miss the haunting 11th-century chapel of Sant Miquel or the Diocesan Museum, which has a collection of striking medieval murals from various Pyrenean churches and a colorfully illuminated 10th-century Mozarabic manuscript of the monk Beatus de Liébana's commentary on the apocalypse.  Be aware of the limited visiting hours: Monday through Friday from 10–1:30 and 4–6, and Saturdays from 10–1 only (changes seasonally).

    Pl. del Deganat, 25700, Spain

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €4, includes museum, Closed Sun.
  • 2. Catedral–Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar

    This basilica on the banks of the Ebro, often shortened to La Pilarica or El Pilar, is Zaragoza's symbol and pride. An immense baroque structure with 11 vivid tile-topped cupolas, La Pilarica is home to the Virgen del Pilar, patron saint of peninsular Spain and the entire Hispanic world. The fiestas honoring this most Spanish of saints, held in mid-October, are ushered in with processions, street concerts, bullfights, and traditional jota dancing. Among the basilica's treasures are two frescoes by Goya—one of them, El Coreto de la Vírgen, painted when he was young, and the other, Regina Martirum, after his studies in Italy. The bombs displayed to the right of the altar of La Pilarica chapel fell through the roof of the church in 1936 and miraculously failed to explode. Behind La Pilarica's altar is the tiny opening where the devout line up to kiss the rough marble pillar where La Pilarica is said to have been discovered.

    Pl. del Pilar, 50001, Spain

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €9 (includes both cathedrals, museums, and bell tower), Museum closed temporarily at time of writing (check all buildings for seasonal closures)
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  • 3. Monasterio de San Juan de la Peña

    The origins of this cliffside sanctuary can be traced to the 9th century, when a hermit monk named Juan settled here on the peña (cliff). A monastery was founded on the spot in 920, and in 1071, Sancho Ramírez, son of King Ramiro I, made use of the structure, which was built into the mountain's rock wall, to found this Benedictine monastery. The highlight is the cloister, which is tucked under the cliff and dates to the 12th century. Partially in ruin, it contains intricately carved capitals depicting zoomorphic and biblical scenes of Paradise. The church of the new monastery contains the Kingdom of Aragon Interpretation Centre, where audio guides in English are available. 

    22711, Spain

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €12
  • 4. Museo Pablo Gargallo

    This is one of Zaragoza's sightseeing treasures, both for the palace in which it is housed and for its collection: Gargallo, born near Zaragoza in 1881, was one of Spain's greatest modern sculptors.

    Pl. de San Felipe 3, 50003, Spain

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €4, Closed Mon.
  • 5. Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park

    Welcome to the wildest, most unspoiled corner of the Pyrenees. The three main valleys of this national park—Ordesa, Pineta, and Añisclo—are carved out by the Ara River and its tributaries, the Arazas. They culminate in the majestic massif of Monte Perdido, which stands at 11,000 feet on the Franco-Spanish border; it's the highest of the park's three main mountains. The remote yet worthwhile valley of Las Gargantas de Escuaín is famous for its dolmen and soaring rock walls. Throughout the park, you'll find lakes, waterfalls, high mountain meadows, and forests of pine, fir, larch, beech, and poplar. Protected wildlife includes trout, boar, chamois, lammergeier, and the sarrio mountain goat (Rupicapra pyrenaica). Well-marked mountain trails lead to waterfalls, caves, and spectacular observation points. The Cola de Caballo, for example, is 5-6 hours roundtrip route to one of those majestic waterfalls. From mid July to mid September, the town of Torla offers a shuttle service every 15 minutes to the trailhead in Pradera de Ordesa to manage overcrowded parking. 

    22376, Spain

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
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  • 6. Parc Nacional d'Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici

    Get ready to marvel at some of the most arresting mountain scenery in Europe. The terrain of this national park is formed by jagged peaks, steep rock walls, and deep glacial depressions filled with crystalline water, all of which lie in the shadow of the twin peaks of Els Encantats. Until the turn of the last century, this area was one of the remotest in Europe, known only to shepherds and hunters. Its 200-some streams, lakes, and lagoons intersperse with fir and birch forests and empty into the Noguera River watercourses: the Pallaresa to the east and the Ribagorçana to the west. Rain and snow are notably frequent in all areas. The land range sweeps from wildflower-blanketed meadows below 5,000 feet to rocky crests at nearly double that height; it's inhabited by Pyrenean chamois, golden eagles, capercaillies, and other fauna in great abundance. The twin Encantats measure more than 9,000 feet, and the surrounding peaks of Beciberri, Peguera, Montarto, and Amitges hover between 8,700 feet and a little less than 10,000 feet. The park offers an abundance of walking trails; the most popular is a day-hike from east to west, starting at the village of Espot and finishing in Boí. Less time is needed to see the glacial lakes at Circ de Colomèrs, a 40-minute drive south from Baqueira. Driving inside the park is not permitted, so most visitors leave their cars at the closest entrance and then take a taxi or shuttle, stationed at the main parking areas, to the trailhead. 

    25597, Spain

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 7. Pasarelas de Alquézar

    Take a breathtaking riverside hike (1½ hours) on the Ruta de las Pasarelas loop, which hugs near-sheer cliffs that plunge into rushing turquoise waters. There's a waterfall, a cave, and plenty of placards with information on the surrounding nature and historical buildings. Be sure to bring plenty of water and to arrive early, since parking (follow the signs) is limited. Certain stretches are on metal pathways with steep drops, so those with limited mobility or a fear of heights should skip this one. The trail starts at Plaza de Rafael Ayerbe beside the ayuntamiento (town hall). No bikes or pets are allowed.

    Pl. Rafael Ayerbe, Spain

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €4
  • 8. Sant Climent

    At the edge of town, this exquisite three-nave Romanesque church was built in 1123. The six-story belfry has perfect proportions, with Pyrenean stone that changes hues with the light, and a sense of intimacy and balance. In 1922 Barcelona's Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya removed the murals for safekeeping, including the famous Pantocrator, the work of the "Master of Taüll." The murals presently in the church are reproductions.

    Ctra. de Taüll s/n, Taüll, Catalonia, 25528, Spain

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €5, Daily 10–2 and 4–7
  • 9. Sant Miquèu

    The octagonal 14th-century bell tower makes this 12th-century church unmistakable. Walk through the 13th-century portico, adorned with 59 figurines, then meander toward the 15th-century Gothic altar. Beside it is one of the most important examples of Romanesque Catalan art, the 12th-century wood carving Crist de Mijaran. Uniquely expressive for its time, this bust of Christ is believed to be the sole remnant of a monumental ensemble depicting the Descent from the Cross that was likely destroyed (or stolen) by the French in the 15th century. The bust, which spent the civil war years stashed away in Switzerland, today sits under glass in a temperature-controlled case.

    Pl. de la Iglesia, 25530, Spain

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 10. Vall de Núria Rack Railway (Cremallera)

    The 45-minute train ride from the town of Ribes de Freser up to Núria provides one of Catalonia's most eclectic excursions—in few other places in Spain does a train make such a precipitous ascent. The cogwheel train, nicknamed La Cremallera ("The Zipper" in English), was completed in 1931 to connect Ribes with the Santuari de la Mare de Déu de Núria (Mother of God of Núria) and with hiking trails and ski runs.

    Estación de Ribes-Enllaç, 17534, Spain

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €30 round-trip, Closed weekdays in Nov.
  • 11. Alma Mater Museum

    Portraits of archbishops (one by Goya), Flemish tapestries, Renaissance and medieval paintings, and the remains of the Romanesque door of Zaragoza's church of Santiago form parts of this museum's collection.

    Pl. de la Seo 5, 50001, Spain

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €5, Closed Mon.
  • 12. Aribe

    Two kilometers (1 mile) south of Ochagavía, at Escároz, a small secondary roadway winds 22 km (14 miles) over the Abaurrea heights to Aribe, a tiny town—population 36—known for its triple-arch medieval bridge, ancient hórreo (granary), Zamariain viewpoint, and Zubi Esekia suspension bridge.

    31671, Spain
  • 13. Ayuntamiento

    The door to Jaca's town hall has a notable Renaissance design.

    Calle Mayor 24, 22700, Spain
  • 14. Bodegas Lalanne

    A 20-minute drive south of Alquézar drops you at this family-run wine estate that's been in business for over a century. Plan to spend about two hours here between the winery tour and tasting, in which you'll sample bold New World–style wines—Gewürztraminer, Cabernet Sauvignon, etc.—that are a hallmark of the Somontano D.O. Be sure to call ahead or book online.

    Ctra. A1232, Km 3.8, 22300, Spain

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tour and tasting €10
  • 15. Camí dels Enginyers

    With a trailhead at the ski area of Núria, at an altitude of 6,562 feet, the dramatic—and occasionally heart-stopping—"engineers' path" is best done in summer. The three-hour trek, aided at one point by a cable handrail, leads to the remote highland valley of Coma de Vaca, where a cozy refuge and hearty replenishment await. Call ahead to make sure there's space, and check weather conditions. In the morning you can descend along the riverside Gorges de Freser trail, another three-hour walk, to Queralbs, where there are connecting trains to Ribes de Freser.

    Termino Municipal de Queralbs dentro del Espacio protegido Ter Freser, 17534, Spain

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Sept.--May but can request special off-season dates
  • 16. Canfranc International Railway Station

    In July and August, a guided train tour departs from the Jaca RENFE station, heading to the valley and Canfranc's magnificent Belle Époque train station, which has a bewitching history and was used as a location in the 1965 film Doctor Zhivago. At the time of writing the summer guided tour had not been announced, but a non-tourist train runs year-round between Jaca and Canfranc. The Canfranc station, right at the border of France, had been famously abandoned since 1970 and was slowly falling to pieces until the Barceló group opened a 104-room luxury five-star hotel in the building early this year. Unfortunately, many of the areas are now restricted to hotel guests. If you're staying elsewhere, the Canfranc tourism office also offers guided tours of some areas to visitors. 

    Estación Internacional de Canfranc, 22880, Spain

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: From €4
  • 17. Castillo de Aínsa

    The citadel and castle, originally built by the Moors in the 11th century, was conquered by the Christians and reconstructed in the 16th century. Take a walk along the ramparts for the best views of the town and surrounding landscape.

    Pl. Mayor 1, 22330, Spain

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 18. Castillo de Loarre

    This massively walled 11th-century structure surrounded by rocky outcroppings is perhaps the best-preserved Romanesque castle in Europe. Inside the walls are a church, tower, dungeon, and even a medieval toilet. The strategic vantage point commands views of the almond and olive groves in the Ebro basin.

    C. Fuente 2, 22809, Spain

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €6, Closed Mon. in winter
  • 19. Catedral del Salvador de Zaragoza (La Seo)

    Zaragoza's main cathedral, at the eastern end of Plaza del Pilar, is the city's bishopric, or diocesan seo (seat). It was built in many architectural styles: Mudejar (brick-and-tile exterior), Gothic (altarpiece), churrigueresque (doorways), and baroque (facade). The Museo de Tapices within contains medieval tapestries. The nearby medieval Casa y Arco del Deán form one of the city's favorite corners.

    Pl. de la Seo 4, 50001, Spain

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €9 (includes both cathedrals, museums, and bell tower)
  • 20. Ciudadela de Jaca

    The massive pentagonal Ciudadela is an impressive example of 17th-century military architecture. It has a display of more than 35,000 military miniatures, arranged to represent different periods of history. Check the website to confirm hours, which vary by month.

    Av. del Primer Viernes de Mayo, 22700, Spain

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €9

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