Planning Your Time

You could hike all the way from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean in 43 days, but not many have that kind of vacation time. A week is ideal for a single area—La Cerdanya and the Eastern Catalan Pyrenees, easily accessed from Barcelona; the Western Catalan Pyrenees and Vall d'Aran in the Lleida province of Catalonia; Jaca and the central Pyrenees, north of Zaragoza; or the Basque Pyrenees north of Pamplona.

A day's drive up through Figueres (in Catalonia) and Olot will bring you to the town of Camprodón. The picturesque villages dotted around this area—in particular Beget, Sant Joan de les Abadesses, and Ripoll—are all worthy stops, especially for the famous monastery of Santa Maria de Ripoll with its 13th-century Romanesque portal. La Cerdanya's sunny wide plains are popular for walkers and mountain bikers year-round and skiing in La Molina and Masella in winter. Puigcerdà, Llívia, and Bellver de Cerdanya are must-visits, too.

To the west, the historic town of La Seu d'Urgell is an important stop on the way to the Parc Nacional d'Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici, the Vall d'Aran, and the winter-sports center Baqueira-Beret. Stop at Taüll and the Noguera de Tor Valley for Romanesque churches.

The central Aragonese Pyrenees reveal the most dramatic scenery and Aneto, the highest peak in the Pyrenees. The Parque Nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdido is Spain's most majestic canyon—reminiscent of North America's Grand Canyon. Alquézar and Ainsa are upper Aragón’s best-preserved medieval towns, while Zaragoza, Huesca, and Jaca are the most important cities.

Farther west, the lower Navarran Pyrenees give way to rolling pasturelands. Roncesvalles is the first stop off for pilgrims on the life-affirming Camino de Santiago, and the peaceful Baztán Valley guards a land of ancient traditions.

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