The Pyrenees mountain range stretches more than 430km between Spain and France. It’s also home to some of the best hiking in Europe. But why should hiking in the Pyrenees be your next Adventure? 

The range rises up to 3,400m in elevation. The entire length of the range is home to hundreds of hiking trails filled with incredible views and impressive scenery. When compared to the Alps, the Pyrenees are completely untouched. I regularly go on solo, multi-day hikes and don’t come across anyone for days at a time! Throughout the Spring and Summer and early Autumn when the weather is warmer, it’s the perfect place for a hiking holiday in Europe. 

If you are looking for some of the best hikes in Europe, you are in the right place. From sunrise up Le Canigou, to taking a dip in a mountain stream, hiking in the Pyrenees is an unforgettable experience. 

Hiking is not all about the highest peak or longest trail. It’s our mission at Connect Retreats to show our groups the undiscovered opportunities to enjoy this amazing mountain range. Trekking in the Pyrenees requires a certain degree of hiking experience. This is why many people use it as a training opportunity for longer and harder climbs. 

When trying to find the best hiking in the area there are lots of factors to consider. We have broken down below what we think you need to know.

Does it really have the best hiking in Europe? 

Identifying the best walking holidays in Europe can be tricky. There are so many factors to consider beyond the beauty of the area.

It’s important to consider the human interest of an area, such as how the area has been used in history.

There is a rich industrial history in the Pyrenees. Abandoned mining village and iron mines are dotted all over the range. We make sure to explore some of these on our hiking retreats.

Arguably, for many walkers and hikers, the most important factor in a walk is how it makes you feel. That’s something we really believe in at Connect Retreats. Many of the most famous walks and hikes in Europe are often extremely popular. This means you are seldom alone.

For me, the whole point of heading out on a long, multi-day hike, is to get away from the crowds. 

The beauty of the wild mountains in the Pyrenees is not just gorgeous scenery. It’s the opportunity to scale some magnificent high routes that are still relatively unknown. Unlike some of their more famous counterparts in Georgia, Italy or Sweden. 

We believe the Pyrenees are less known than they should be and we hope this will last. 

Is it good if you are on a Climbing Training Programme? 

Hiking in the Pyrenees is the perfect way to escape the city and replenish your mind and spirit. The deep forested valleys of the Pyrenees also lends itself perfectly for a more challenging trek. It’s formed by tectonic pressure creating some incredible granite and limestone peaks. As well as being surrounded by broken peaks, crags and lakes. This makes for a dramatic landscape to explore, with 129 3000m+ pics to summit.

Are you training for climbing Kilimanjaro, Everest or Mont Blanc, or any of the other famous summits? The Pyrenees provides the perfect opportunity to really improve your climbing experience and increase your hiking knowledge. Hiking the Pyrenees is a convenient way to improve your fitness levels and get in some specific conditioning.

Any sort of activity holiday is a great way to improve your fitness levels. A hiking holiday in the Pyrenees is a great introduction to high altitude climbing.

I personally used Pico de Aneto as training for Mont Blanc. There is still some glacier left on the peak, which meant I could practice glacier travel.

Rather than just going on a walking holiday, a fitness retreat in the Pyrenees could be a perfect adventure.

At Connect Retreats we not only focus on the incredible hiking available in this area. We want to give our guests the tools to train and move effectively in the mountain environment.

Hiking, running and climbing in the mountain environment takes a unique combination of stability, mobility, coordination, strength and endurance. 

I specialise in creating training programs that help people climb Mont Blanc, Kilimanjaro and Everest Base Camp. 

Cold water therapy in the Pyrenees

We practice Strength training, metabolic conditioning, trail running, mobility workshops, meditation, and cold water therapy. Coupled with great food and great people, in the stunning untouched mountain scenery.

What can I expect from a Pyrenees Holiday?

There is an abundance of animal life and beautiful flora and fauna to experience throughout the trails. 

Some of the most dramatic landscapes in Europe can be found here, including the famous ‘Cirques’ which look like huge scoops have been taken out of the mountainside. This is due to water and ice eroded the softer rocks years ago and is incredible to see close up.

Connect Retreats specialises in taking groups into the Canigou Massif, where we climb Le Canigou. The sacred Catalan mountain which, at certain times of the year can be seen from Marseille and Barcelona.

On the hike we stay in traditional mountain refuges, staffed and unstaffed, or if the weather permits wild camp.

We summit the Pic du Canigou at 4 am in the morning to watch the sunrise over the Mediterranean sea.

Once you enjoy the sunrise on this sacred Catalan Mountain, we know you will agree its one of the best hikes in Europe. 

What kind of wildlife can I expect to see? 

It’s not uncommon to spot wild boar, deer, bear and hares on a trip to the Pyrenees. This makes it a great opportunity for any keen nature photographers and videographers. 

Within the vast mountain ranges, valleys and national parks there are a variety of animals to discover and enjoy. In the central Pyrenees live brown bears have been reintroduced in the last few decades growing to a population of nearly 40. 

Where Connect Retreats is based in the east, there is an opportunity to spot bearded and Egyptian vultures. As well as the Pyrenean Chamois, a goat antelope that can be found up in the Mountains. 

If you aren’t lucky enough to spot wild animals on your hikes, our farm base is home to dogs, cats, sheep, cows and horses. 

Should I go on a Hiking, Walking or Trekking Holiday? 

It can be confusing understanding the difference between hiking, walking or trekking holiday.

In a nutshell, we believe a trek is any walk/hike that lasts longer than a week. The difference between a walking or hiking holiday is harder to define. 

Walking or hiking can be anything from a day to a week-long, but a hike can be better defined as a walk from a lower elevation to a higher one.

Hiking in the Pyrennes
Photo by Tom Joy

Because of the variety of walks in the Pyrenees, which can range from gentle valley walks to more strenuous mountain climbing the area is great for people of all levels of fitness. 

When going on walks which require a higher level of fitness, we always recommend taking part in a guided hike. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. Ensuring you have the right level of support on an active holiday is very important. 

When choosing what type of trip to go on, remember that there are a variety of walks in the Pyrenees. These can range from gentle valley walks to more strenuous mountain climbing. The area is great for people of all levels of fitness. Due diligence on discovering the different hikes in the Pyrenees and which suits you best is the best way to ensure you have a great holiday. 

What should I consider when Hiking the Pyrenees? 

When planning a hiking or walking holiday in Europe, something to consider is the level of difficulty of organising and planning your own walks and hikes in an area that you may have no prior knowledge of. 

What hiking equipment to take with you and how to prepare for a Hike are both important things to consider. 

Before undertaking any hiking trip it’s important to check you have the right level of fitness for the type of hiking trip you plan to go on.

Preparing for a hike physically is a great way to also get excited about your holiday. We have listed our favourite ways to prepare for a hike, which includes workout ideas for the gym, outside or even things you can do at home.

The choice of hiking equipment you bring is different for everyone. Many fitness and hiking retreats like Connect Retreats will often help with equipment and can offer advice.

We specialise in giving you the tools, knowledge and confidence to enjoy hiking outside.

Good walking shoes, waterproof clothing, warm layers and a comfortable backpack are all essential. However, there are lots of other things that can make your holiday more enjoyable. 

Enjoying delicious local cuisine at the end of a day of hiking and hearing about the history of the area by people that grew up there are both ways to really get a depth of knowledge of an area. You can’t experience this any other way. 

So what do we suggest?

The best way to do this is to join a fitness or wellness retreat that is run by local guides. You want people that know the area through years of experience.

It also means that you will be guided by people that not only love to hike but also who will ensure that you can focus on enjoying your holiday.

At Connect Retreats we not only have decades of knowledge on the local area but are also based at an incredible farm set in a beautiful rural area in the foothills of the Pyrenees.

On one of our wellness retreats, you will enjoy locally sourced, seasonal food along with some great local wines and beers! 

Sunrise in the Pyrenees mountains

In Conclusion

Hiking in the Pyrenees offers both new and seasoned hikers new opportunities. To explore a mountain range which is as challenging as it is breathtaking. 

It also has close proximity to Barcelona International Airport as well as more locally Perpignan Rivestaltes. A great opportunity to combine a hiking holiday by exploring more of the Spanish coastal area. 

Connect Retreats runs all-inclusive five-day wellness and fitness retreats to the Pyrenees. They run throughout the Summer and are perfect for singles, couples and adventurous travellers. Especially for those wanting to experience a hiking holiday with a difference. 

Where is your favourite place to hike in Europe? Let us know in the comments below.

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