Multi activity vacations in the Spanish Pyrenees

Spain is bidding for the 2030 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, and the proposed backdrop comes as no surprise: the Spanish Pyrenees, a region that’s famous for its ski resorts in winter and pro cycling races in spring.

We’re not huge fans of the Winter Olympics (too much fake snow and destructive ski slopes for our liking) – but we can’t fault the choice of location. And there’s another way to explore.

Our multi activity vacations in the Spanish Pyrenees revel in the diversity and drama of the landscape. They can include high-adrenaline elements, if that’s your sort of thing – will it be white-water rafting on the Norguera Pallaresa river or a high-flying via ferrata in Huesca? – but they never rocket through at the cost of communities or landscape.

Instead, they’re designed by our partners who leave plenty of room for picnicking beside glacier-blue lakes, perusing mountain villages and listening to guides who can tell you how to navigate the mountains using constellations or sketch a quick geology lesson in the snow.

The 3,000m-plus mountain peaks of the Spanish Pyrenees roll for 400km along the border of France and Spain, so there’s plenty of room for exploring. Traverse two national parks – the echoing canyons of Ordesa y Monte Perdido and Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Mauriciin Lleida, where you can hike, bike and snowshoe between sharp peaks, winding rivers and bright glacial lakes.

Protected natural parks pick up where national parks end, such as the rarely visited Western Valleys Natural Park, where man-sized bearded vultures hang out on jagged rocks. Church bells mix with cowbells in the valleys – your clue that there’s a village around the bend in the mountain track, where you can stay in renovated farmhouses and family-owned garden hotels.

Best activities in the Spanish Pyrenees

“Go with an open mind and embrace all the activities.”
– Hannah Mitchell on our yoga and walking retreat in the Spanish Pyrenees
If it all sounds a bit daunting, don’t fear – activities in the Spanish Pyrenees are led by well-qualified local guides who are as surefooted as the Pyrenean chamois you’ll see posing on mountainsides. They know how to navigate the peaks happily and exactly when the terrain is safe enough for children to zip around solo. They’ll also keep the environment shipshape by exploring routes that see little footfall and sharing how to take on your chosen activities with care.

Keep reading for a flavour of what adventures guides can take you on in the Spanish Pyrenees…

White-water rafting & kayaking

Some multi activity vacations use Sort as a base – a Catalan town that’s quietly popular amongst adventurers in the know. It’s one of the best places for white-water rafting in the Spanish Pyrenees, especially further up the Norguera Pallaresa river, where it slices through steep canyons. Both beginners and old hats are welcome; waters range from toddler-friendly rafting to “washing machine” rapids. It’s a decent place for kayaking in kid-friendly open kayaks too. The Cinca, Segre and Gállego rivers, plus the Guara Mountains and Canyons Nature Reserve, also offer white-water rapids.


The high mountains of the Spanish Pyrenees double as a barrier that blocks out light from cities, ski resorts and roads. Stand amongst them, and all you’ll see is a bowl of stars – and even whole galaxies – above. Night hiking with a mountain guide is the best way to go. They’ll bring the telescopes needed to tell stars from satellites, as well as the knowledge of how to use constellations to navigate in the mountains.


The Pyrenees is a giant obstacle course for canyoners. Experienced guides will get you plunging into the pools of the Guara Canyons, scrambling and abseiling along Estaron Canyon, sidling along narrow waterways of the Formiga Canyon, and exploring the natural corridors and pools of Cueva de las Polvorosas. The Peonera Gorge is also great for canyoning; expect natural waterslides and waterfall jumps.
Guides will push your limits without being pushy. If you don’t fancy a particular section, then you can take a breather and cheer on the rest of the group from the sidelines.
What with all the rappelling down rock faces and sliding down streams, canyoning sounds like it might leave a heavy footprint on the environment. It doesn’t – and in fact the best guides help you make a positive impact, inspiring awe and teaching you about how to protect the fragile flora and fauna around you.


When you’re not white-water rafting and jumping into waterfalls, the Spanish Pyrenees is a peaceful spot. That makes for a great setting for an activity vacation with yoga that offers a well-rounded mix of al fresco asana, meditation amongst the mountains, dietary consultations, hiking, wild swimming and raw food cooking classes.

All aspects of the vacation are designed to connect you with the Pyrenees and the people who live there. Yoga teachers live locally and delicious and nutritious veggie paellas are whipped up using ingredients from the garden and village shop.

Via ferrata

Via Ferrata Peñas Juntas in Huesca is for the brave. Climbers with a head for heights can sidle along rope bridges, haul themselves skywards using handholds stapled into vertical rockfaces, and summit mountains for truly awesome views over the Spanish Pyrenees. You might even see bearded vultures and kites wheeling below your feet.

Cycling & mountain biking

The Volta a Catalunya road cycling race runs partly through the Spanish Pyrenees; you’ll see pro cyclists training all summer long on the smooth roads that snake through the mountains. Instead of joining the race, explore some of the dramatic switchbacks and traffic-free backroads that the event follows.

Sierra de Guara Natural Park is a hit with experienced mountain bikers. The Peonera ravine on the Alcanadre River rolls out a demanding but ultimately rewarding circular route of dirt roads and steep tracks. Your reward? Panoramic views of soaring mountains and deep-cut canyons.

Hiking pilgrimage paths & alpine hikes

A web of Gran Recorrido (GR) routes and branches of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage path spider out across the Pyrenees. GR 11 is the titan, stretching the length of the mountain range. You can hike the full 840km, if you’ve got mountain goat legs and a couple of months to spare. Multi activity vacations in the Spanish Pyrenees, however, take on just a segment such as the atmospheric beech forests of the Quinto do Real hills or the plateaus of the Hecho Valley.

National and natural parks offer plenty of footpaths too. Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Mauriciin Lleida National Park is a highlight, where mountains over 3,000m tall, including the twin Encantat peaks, surround Sant Maurici Lake. You can walk around the mirrorlike lake via a waterfall on the way to Mirador, a viewpoint high above.

Barcelona & beyond

Barcelona, Girona and Cadaques all sit at the eastern end of Pyrenees, where the foothills melt into the Mediterranean – and they’re often doable day trips while on a multi activity vacation in the Spanish Pyrenees.

If you don’t fancy the drive or train ride, stick to leapfrogging between gold-hued valley villages and riverside towns. While plenty of day-trippers snap pictures of Besalu village’s seven-arched bridge, you can veer off to admire the rare Jewish bathhouse. Boi hosts one of the prettiest frescoed churches in the Boi Valley and the volcanic stone houses of La Roca tightrope-walk along a clifftop. Meanwhile, the medieval streets of riverside Sort (Catalan for “luck”) are filled with bars and restaurants.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Spain multi activity or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

What are multi activity vacations in the Spanish Pyrenees like?

Active small group tours

Most multi activity vacations in the Spanish Pyrenees are small group tours of 8-16 people. They run on fixed dates, following an itinerary designed by local experts. Most of your costs are included in the vacation price, including transfers (if needed), most meals, accommodation and national park entry fees. Read carefully which activities are included and which you pay extra to add on. You’ll get a packing list covering essentials like hiking boots and reusable water bottles; things like wetsuits and cycle helmets are always included.

Locally owned hotels in the mountains

Activity vacations are based in one place: a family-run spa hotel, guest houses with pool or farmhouse B&B in a town or village in easy reach of a range of activituies. Sometimes, meals are included at the hotel; other trips prefer to let you delve into the restaurants in the town to try Pyrenean specialities such as chorizo-like Longaniza. Wherever you stay, the hotel employs local staff year-round, including chefs and guides, supporting the local community by investing in the people.

Family-friendly trips

Antony Barton, from our partner Explore, explains how their family vacations in the Spanish Pyrenees work: “We plan our center-based activity trips with the formula of one day of an included activity and one day off. Often, half the family want to take it easy and relax at the hotel, enjoying the swimming pool, while the other half want to take part in an adventurous activity such as canyoning, abseiling or mountain biking. This way, everyone can be kept happy and no one loses out. Most kids certainly want to do as much as possible!”

Some activities have suggested minimum ages or weight limits; just ask the tour operator if you’re unsure if an activity is suitable for your child.

When to go on a multi activity vacation in the Spanish Pyrenees

This region is best-known for the winter ski season. However, some of our best multi activity vacations in the Spanish Pyrenees run between April and July, when all the trails are open and free of snow. It’s an exciting prospect to be given the opportunity to explore in summer, when the landscape is transformed. It’s also a boost for rural communities, helping activity centers, hotels and restaurants to open year-round instead of just for the ski season.
Photo credits: [Page banner: Mael BALLAND] [Intro: David Domingo] [White-water rafting & kayaking: Wallpaperflare] [Yoga: Eneko Urunuela] [Hiking pilgrimage paths & alpine hikes: Mael BALLAND] [Best time to go: Mael BALLAND]