The Ultimate 5 to 7-Day Pyrenees Road Trip Itinerary

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by Neota Langley

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It’s a real joy to spend 5 to 7 days in the Pyrenees, this majestic mountain range named after Pyrene, a princess of Greek mythology. With endless mountain roads, scenic hikes, hidden alpine villages and incredible views the ideal Pyrenees road trip itinerary has it all. 

The Pyrenees Mountain Range stretches for 270 miles along the border between France and Spain, forming a natural barrier between the Iberian Peninsula and the rest of Europe.

This magnificent mountain range also serves as a cultural crossroads, blending French, Spanish, and Catalan influences, history and cuisine in the surrounding towns and villages. 

How Many Days in the Pyrenees?

The Pyrenees cover a vast area along the border between France and the Catalonia and Aragon regions of Spain, even including the small country of Andorra. There is so much to see and do, whether you are an avid outdoor adventurer or more of a culture seeker. But how long do you need to spend in this area to discover the hidden gems as well as the popular hot spots? 

With 5 days in the Pyrenees, you will want to focus your visit on a slightly smaller area than if you had more time. There will still be plenty of time to visit the French and Spanish Pyrenees as well as dipping into Andorra, but you may not have time to extend your exploration to the eastern side of the region. 

If you are lucky enough to have a full week in the Pyrenees — or maybe even more — you will be able to really delve into the region.

Meander along the mountain passes without rushing (which is preferable because there are a lot of photo breaks along the way!) and explore the southern side of the range in the Catalan National Park (Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park), ending your trip in the coastal city of Perpignan in the South of France. 

Hiking in the Spanish Pyrenees
Hiking in the Spanish Pyrenees

Getting To & Around the Pyrenees

Major airports serving the Pyrenees region include Toulouse Airport in France, Barcelona Airport in Spain, and the smaller, Tarbes-Lourdes-Pyrénées Airport in France.

These are the closest major airports but depending on your travel plans, you could easily fly to Madrid, Paris or even Montpellier and spend a day or two exploring these cities before heading into the mountains.

This is a Pyrenees road trip itinerary, so the best way to travel from destination to destination is by hiring a car. In a mountainous zone with lots of off-the-beaten-path locations, this is by far the quickest and easiest way to explore.

Plus, you have the added bonus of taking your time, stopping wherever you like and finding accommodation tucked away in nature. You can browse to compare prices for car hire.

If for some reason you are unable to hire a car, public transport is still an option. Local buses, trains and taxi services are available and they do tend to include the main tourist highlights but there may be a few destinations you might miss out on because of accessibility or timetables. 

You could also stay in one city nearby and rely on organised tours such as this full-day tour from Barcelona or

For the intrepid explorers, there is a national hiking route (the GR10) called the Pyrenean Way which traverses the entire Pyrenees. This is not for the faint of heart however, covering over 500 miles with around 50,000m of ascent (that’s almost 6 times Everest!) in roughly 45 days. Even some routes of the famed Camino de Santiago cross the Pyrenees!

Most hikers split this trail into sections to complete at various stages throughout their lives but there are a few that decide to take it all in one go.  

Puilaurens Castle
Puilaurens Castle

5 to 7-Day Pyrenees Itinerary

This route is packed full of adventure, culture and of course, delicious local cuisine. From mountain railways to emerald lakes, snowy peaks and ancient woodland. Weaving in and out of 3 different countries, there is a lot to see. 

Day 1 – Lourdes, Gavarnie & Pic du Midi

For the purpose of this Pyrenees trip, we will be starting in the city of Toulouse. Whilst not in the Pyrenees itself, Toulouse has a large, international airport and plenty of options for either hiring a car or taking public transport into the mountains. If you have additional time, you could always spend a few days in Toulouse before heading out on your road trip. 


Nestled in the foothills of the Pyrenees, Lourdes is the perfect base for the first two nights of our itinerary. Based in the Parc National Des Pyrenees, this picturesque medieval town is celebrated for its tranquil surroundings, lush greenery, cascading waterfalls, and a unique spiritual significance. 

Lourdes is roughly 125 miles from Toulouse, taking 2 hours to drive there by car and anywhere from 3-4 hours via public transport.

Spend your morning discovering the spiritual sites and learning about the pilgrimage that takes place here.

Visit the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, the heart of the pilgrimage. Explore the Grotto of Massabielle, where Saint Bernadette had her visions of the Virgin Mary, and, if available, participate in the moving experience of the Mass and the Blessing of the Sick. You can join a walking tour or arrange a private tour.

Cathedral in Lourdes
Cathedral in Lourdes

Cirque de Gavarnie

From Lourdes, it’s a little under an hour to reach the Cirque de Gavarnie and the incredible landscape of the natural park along the way is truly stunning. Snow-capped limestone cliffs, cascading waterfalls and emerald alpine meadows, it’s not hard to see why this gigantic natural amphitheatre is a World UNESCO Heritage site. 

Rising to heights of over 1,500 metres, the sheer walls of the cirque enclose a vast bowl-shaped valley, carved over millennia by glacial and river erosion. At the centre of this majestic amphitheatre, the Grande Cascade de Gavarnie, Europe’s tallest waterfall, plunges from a height of 422 metres. From here, there are several hiking trails, weaving alongside crystal clear rivers beneath the towering cliffs. 

During the summer months, there is a bus that runs from Lourdes to the Gavarnie car park but this does limit your flexibility. If you are taking a car, it’s worth noting that during the winter months, you may need snow chains to navigate the mountain pass.

Pic Du Midi

Towering 2,877 metres into the sky, the Pic Du Midi mountain summit is home to an observation station that provides spectacular views across the entire Pyrenees, extending as far as the plains of southwest France and the peaks of the Spanish Pyrenees and Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park.

To reach the cable car, you must first drive the world famous mountain pass, Col du Tourmalet. This is one of the highest passes in the French Pyrenees and is also the most famous climb in the bike race, the Tour de France. 

From the highest point on the mountain pass, you leave your car behind and take a cable car to reach the Pic du Midi Observatory. This summit station is unique, with a research station and planetarium as well as a restaurant, bistro and metal boardwalk jutting out into the abyss. Overnight stays and stargazing experiences are also available at Pic du Midi but these must be booked well in advance. 

If you are not spending a night at the summit of Pic du Midi, return to your accommodation in Lourdes. If you’re staying overnight in Lourdes, consider attending the Torchlight Procession, a beautiful and moving evening ritual where pilgrims walk in procession, carrying candles and singing hymns in honour of the Virgin Mary.

Pic du Midi Observatory
Pic du Midi Observatory
Where to Stay in Lourdes

Hôtel Saint Sébastien – A cosy hotel in the centre of Lourdes, they have rooms ranging from single to family-sized, a restaurant serving rustic fare and a very good breakfast to fuel up on each morning.

Hôtel Alba – A modern hotel in Lourdes, this place has several comfortable rooms to choose from, private parking available for guests, a restaurant and bar on site and a fab breakfast in the mornings.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Lourdes hotels!

Day 2 – Ossau Valley & Train d’Artouste

Ossau Valley 

Named after the iconic Pic d’Ossau, a distinctive mountain peak that dominates the skyline, this meandering valley is dotted with picturesque villages such as Laruns, Eaux-Bonnes, and Arudy, where traditional Pyrenean architecture and local customs are perfectly preserved. 

You may recognise the name Ossau from the famous cheese that is produced here, Ossau-Iraty. Dating back over 3000 years, it is said to be one of the first cheeses ever made and holds AOC status.

If you are a cheese enthusiast, you can visit one of the dairies such as Pays d’Aramits or an ecomuseum such as Fermiers Basco Béarnais.

The Ossau Valley also attracts outdoor enthusiasts from around the world. Endless hiking trails lead through lush forests, past serene mountain lakes, and up to panoramic viewpoints offering sweeping vistas of the surrounding peaks.

Scenary near Laruns
Scenary near Laruns

Train d’Artouste

One of the highest railways in Europe, this little yellow vintage train provides an unforgettable journey into the mountains. In the heart of the Ossau Valley, on the border between France and Spain, you will find the small ski resort of Artouste.

To reach the train station you must first take the Sagette gondola. This tiny, open carriage train was originally built to transport men and equipment up to the lake to build the Artouste dam and a hydroelectric power station between 1924 and 1932.

Powered by locomotive, the train travels at 10km/h giving you a full 55 minutes to enjoy the scenery on your way up the mountainside. 

The vibrant blue Lake Artouste is the final destination, here you can take a hike and enjoy a picnic made up of local cheese, bread and wine. Make sure to take all of your rubbish away with you as there are no facilities in this natural paradise.  

Head back down through the Ossau Valley to return to Lourdes for the evening. 

Day 3 – Lourdes to Andorra

Spanish Pyrenees

So far, we have been on a French Pyrenees road trip but there is plenty to see and do in this mountain range on the Spanish side too (although you will have to remember to swap your bonjour for hola!). 

Whilst you could choose to focus your trip on the French side, we have included a road trip through the Spanish side for day 3 before heading on to the micro country, Andorra. 

From Lourdes, head to the border between the French town of Montauban-de-Luchon and the Spanish village of Bossòst. From here, set your sat nav to Andorra la Vella and follow the mountain roads through quaint villages, high up to ski resorts (known as a parador in Spanish) and down through scenic valleys.

It’s up to you how many times you stop along the route but at a minimum, the town of Aínsa, the ski resort of Baqueira and the quaint mountain town Esterri d’Àneu are well worth visiting. 

After meandering up and over mountain passes and through sweeping valleys, cross the border into Andorra to spend the next 2 evenings. This means you are perfectly situated to spend day 4 fully immersing yourself in this small but beautiful country. 

Where to Stay in Andorra

Les Closes – Situated in the centre of Andorra la Vella within easy reach of the famed shopping boutiques, this hotel has countless chic and modern rooms along with a great buffet breakfast for guests.

Fènix Hotel – A beautiful luxury option in Andorra la Vella, this hotel boasts several suites and rooms, 2 restaurants, a spa and wellness centre and plenty of other incredible amenities available to guests.

Font Andorra Hostel – A highly-rated hostel located in the town of La Massana, this is a great budget base for exploring the Pyrenees and enjoying Andorra. There are clean dorms and privates available along with great common spaces.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Andorra hotels!

Countryside near La Massana
Countryside near La Massana

Day 4 – Andorra

Day 4 of our Pyrenees itinerary is primarily focused on the small, landlocked country of Andorra. Home to 79k residents within an area of 181 sq miles, Andorra is one of the smallest countries in Europe. It may be diminutive, but there is plenty to see and do here all year round. 

From the Spanish border to the French, there is one main road that runs through the entire country and although it can get busy, it is incredibly scenic so make sure you allocate plenty of time for photo breaks. 

Tristania Lake Hike

To reach one of the best hikes in the country, we are taking a diversion up a small mountain road into the mountains. The area of Ordino was declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2020 and the Tristania Lake hike is the best way to appreciate the unspoilt natural surroundings. 

The circular trail is 4.5km long, with a moderate elevation of 200m which makes it suitable for most hikers. There are three alpine lakes to discover on this route, surrounded by vibrant flora and fauna, a monument created by the sculpture artist Mauro Staccioli and wild Percheron horses.

If you have young children or don’t want to walk the entire circuit, you can make it up to the first lake within 40 minutes. Swimming is permitted so if you are a fan of cold water swimming, don’t forget your swimming costume. 

Andorra la Vella

The capital of Andorra, Andorra la Vella is located towards the border with Spain. It is a charming city, home to a historic old town, where cobblestone streets wind past ancient buildings, local boutiques, and cosy cafes. Andorra is also a ‘low tax jurisdiction’ which means there is plenty of duty free shopping to be done. 

Don’t miss the iconic Casa de la Vall, a historic parliamentary building dating back to the 16th century and the oldest church in the country, Santa Coloma d’Andorra. You could also visit the Sant Joan de Caselles Church, a lovely Romanesque church in the capital.

Andorra La Vella
Andorra La Vella

Day 5 – Grotte du Mas d’Azil, Labouiche & Ax-les-Thermes

Grotte du Mas d’Azil

Day 5 and it’s time to head back into France to another national park, the Parc naturel regional des Pyrenees Ariegeoises.

On the edge of this national park, you will find the Grotte du Mas d’Azil, a vast limestone cave, carved by the Arize River, that has served as a shelter for humans and animals since prehistoric times.

Explore its expansive chambers and winding passages, marvelling at the stalactites and stalagmites. The cave’s archaeological significance is evident with numerous discoveries of prehistoric artefacts within its depths, including tools, pottery and evidence of ancient human habitation. You will also find animal bones from the Ice Age from bears to mammoths and woolly rhinos.

Entrance includes a tour lasting around one hour and admission to the museum. 

Rivière souterraine de Labouiche

Continuing the underground exploration, our next stop is the river of Labouiche. Discover the longest navigable underground river in Europe, 60m below the surface on a small metal boat.

Your guide pulls you along by hand using cables along the cave system through an underground network extending to 3.8km with sinkholes, stalactites, stalagmites, wells and even a waterfall. 

If you only have 5 days to spend in the Pyrenees, this is the perfect place to end your trip, with easy access to Toulouse for onward travel. If you are lucky enough to have 7 days, however, head to the small town of Ax-les-Thermes.


For the next 2 nights, Ax-les-Thermes will be our base, a charming spa town renowned for its thermal springs and stunning mountain scenery. Perfectly situated between the Ariegeoises Pyrenees, Catalan Pyrenees and Andorra to the south this historic town is as convenient as it is beautiful. 

Discover the town’s historic centre, characterised by narrow cobblestone streets, traditional stone buildings, and quaint shops selling local crafts and delicacies before Spending your evening relaxing and rejuvenating in the town’s renowned natural hot springs.

In addition to its spa facilities and historical streets, Ax-les-Thermes is a year-round adventure paradise. From skiing and snowboarding in the winter months to hiking, mountain biking, and fishing in the summer.  

Town of Ax-les-Thermes
Town of Ax-les-Thermes
Where to Stay in Ax-les-Thermes

Hôtel Le Chalet – Perfect for a skiing holiday or for simply exploring this area of the Pyrenees, this hotel has lots of great rooms, a great restaurant and breakfast available. There is also a jacuzzi for guests to enjoy.

Les appartements de Clélia – These flats make for a great option when basing yourself in this part of the French Pyrenees. Boasting balconies and mountain views, there are both one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments to choose from.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Ax-les-Thermes hotels!

Day 6 – Orlu Valley

Orlu Valley

After spending the morning exploring more of Ax-les-Thermes, it’s time to head up into the Orlu Valley. Here, where the road ends, you will find a nature reserve, surrounded by lush forests, mountain lakes and snow-capped peaks.

This is the perfect place to go for a hike, especially if you are a wildlife enthusiast, the valley is home to ibex, marmots, eagles and more.

Maison des Loupes

On the way back to Ax-les-Thermes from the Orlu Nature Reserve, you can’t miss signs for the Maison des Loupes or the ‘House of Wolves’. Hidden within 10 acres of forestry, this park is home to 25 wolves from Europe, Canada and the Arctic.

There are two feedings per day so if you can time your visit during these times, you are guaranteed to see the wolves and their keeper will help you get to know them better. 

Day 7 – Pyrenees of Catalonia 

At the easternmost edge of the Pyrenees mountain range, the Catalan Pyrenees National Park is our final destination. The perfect blend of alpine and Mediterranean culture, full of history, legends and of course, the natural beauty of the Pyrenees. This area and its people wear their Catalonian identity with pride. 


Another UNESCO World Heritage site, this historic village is encircled by rugged mountains and fortified walls, narrow cobblestone streets lined with perfectly preserved stone houses and historic landmarks.

Explore the Vauban Fortifications, a series of defensive walls and ramparts built by renowned military engineer Vauban in the 17th century, offering panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Discover the Saint-Jacques Church, a masterpiece of Catalan Gothic architecture, and the 12th-century Sainte-Marie Church, with its intricate sculptures and stained glass windows.

Villefranche-de-Conflent also serves as the gateway to the scenic Yellow Train, often referred to as the Canary (this is not deja vu, there are two vintage yellow train journeys to choose from in the Pyrenees!), offering a breathtaking journey through the Pyrenees mountains to Latour-de-Carol.


Puilaurens Castle

Perched atop a rocky ridge, Puilaurens Castle has a dramatic presence due to its formidable stone walls and panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. Dating back to the 11th century, this mediaeval fortress served as a strategic eagle’s nest-type stronghold during the Cathar Crusades and the Hundred Years’ War.

Climb up through the botanical path to explore its well-preserved ramparts, towers, and inner courtyards, imagining life within its walls centuries ago. 

Galamus Gorges

Carved by the Agly River over millions of years, this gorge extends for 2 miles in the shadow of vertical limestone cliffs.

From April – September this is a popular place to come canyoning which involves navigating through canyons, gorges, and ravines using a variety of techniques such as hiking, scrambling, climbing, rappelling, swimming, and sometimes even jumping or sliding down natural water slides and waterfalls.

You will need specialist equipment to take part so there are several companies offering tours. If you would prefer to stay on dry land, you can explore the gorge on the narrow road that snakes along the edge but during the summer months, there is a system of alternating traffic to avoid build-ups. 


Our Pyrenees road trip comes to a close in the city of Perpignan, on the south coast of France. From here, onward travel is convenient, with transport links to nearby European cities such as Barcelona, Toulouse and Montpellier (which is the perfect place to start another road trip around the South of France.)

Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Perpignan
Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Perpignan

Have More Time?

If you have more than 7 days, you may want to spend a day in Perpignan itself. 

Perpignan is a vibrant city with a rich history and a unique blend of French, Catalan, and Spanish influences. Known as the “Capital of French Catalonia”. Home to a charming old town characterised by narrow cobblestone streets, colourful buildings, and lively squares lined with cafes and boutiques.

Discover the Palace of the Kings of Majorca, a mediaeval palace surrounded by beautiful gardens and the iconic Le Castillet, a 14th-century fortress that once served as part of the city’s defensive walls.

With its sunny, Mediterranean climate and delicious culinary offerings, Perpignan is the perfect place to discover Catalan culture. Tuck in to an Escudella i carn d’olla, a hearty stew or try a Crema Catalana, a creamy dessert similar to creme brulee, flavoured with cinnamon and lemon zest.

Alternatively, you could venture south and spend time in Catalonia itself. Visit the city of Girona, head to Salvador Dalí’s birthplace of Figueres, wander the gorgeous town of Besalú or take in the volcanoes of the Parc Natural de la Zona Volcànica de la Garrotxa. This is just some of what you can do if you extend your trip to the Spanish Pyrenees.

Beautiful Besalu
Beautiful Besalú

Over 270 miles long, taking a road trip through the Pyrenees is the ultimate adventure holiday. Combining alpine lakes, hidden valleys, towering mountains, ancient villages and some of Europe’s most scenic hikes, the Pyrenees really do have it all.

Are planning to visit the Pyrenees? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!

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Neota Langley

Neota is a writer for The World Was Here First. Born and bred in Cornwall, she can usually be found with hiking boots on, ready to embark on an adventure. For the last 6 years, she has travelled throughout Europe in her self-built campervan with her trusty canine companion, Ivy. She loves exploring France, the Nordics and spending time in Alpine destinations.

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