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Exploring 7 Best Hidden Mountain Towns In The Spanish Pyrenees!

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Are you planning a visit to the stunning Spanish Pyrenees? Don’t miss out on these 7 beautiful and hidden mountain towns in the Spanish Pyrenees!

The Spanish Pyrenees, a staggering 430 km-long mountain range between Spain and France, is an untrodden territory rich in cultural diversity and thrilling outdoor activities. This vast expanse is home to a dynamic mix of cultures from the mysterious Basques to the lively Catalans. 

Alongside its cultural allure, it offers an array of adrenaline-pumping adventures. Embarking on a journey through the Spanish Pyrenees will not only satiate your wanderlust but also provide an intimate encounter with the breathtaking beauty of nature and the world’s uncharted cultural diversity, making every step of the journey as extraordinary as the destination.

In this guide you’ll learn more of the best hidden towns in the Spanish Pyrenees. 

Best Spanish Pyrenees Towns – A Quick Summary

Nestled in the majestic Spanish Pyrenees, the charming mountain towns of Lanuza, Besalú, Viella and Santa Pau to name but a few, beckon travelers with their enchanting beauty and are considered some of the best mountain towns to visit in the Pyrenees. 

Lanuza, a hidden gem, offers serene waterside vistas, while Besalú boasts a rich medieval heritage, complete with Romanesque architecture. Santa Pau, a quaint village, charms visitors with its volcanic landscape and ancient stone structures. 

Each town, steeped in history and surrounded by natural splendor, provides a unique glimpse into the tranquil yet vibrant mountain life of this awe-inspiring region.

7 Hidden Towns In The Spanish Pyrenees

Vielha e Mijaran

Village of Viella in the Spanish Pyrenees © Image Courtesy of Tomas Guardia Bencomo from Getty Images by Canva
Village of Viella in the Spanish Pyrenees © Image Courtesy of Tomas Guardia Bencomo from Getty Images by Canva

Vielha e Mijaran, also known as Viella, is the capital of Val d’Aran or the Aran Valley, and it’s the perfect place to start your exploration of the Spanish Pyrenees. It’s the commercial and tourist hub of the valley where you can find restaurants, shops and places of interest. 

Among the main attractions of this municipality is the Church of Sant Miqueu and the Museum of the Val d’Aran, which is a museum housed in a 17th century manor that showcases the history, art, language, and fauna of the valley. 

You can also do a bit of shopping as there are various vintage shops lining the streets of Viella. Surprisingly, this small town boasts a few Michelin-starred restaurants, such as the Era Coquela which serves modern cuisine, and Era Lucana, which specialises in traditional fare.

Its proximity to ski resorts makes it the perfect hub if you want to stay in a quiet town while engaging in winter sports for your holiday. What’s more, the peaceful and friendly nature of the locals makes it safe for solo female travellers, just like other top-rated, women-friendly US destinations like Irvine, California and Portland, Maine. 

You can expect to have a relaxing time in Viella as you’ll be treated to amazing nature views every time you head outdoors.

Lanuza, Huesca

Lanuza © Image Courtesy of HugoValle88 from Getty Images by Canva
Lanuza © Image Courtesy of HugoValle88 from Getty Images by Canva

Lanuza is considered to be one of the most beautiful villages in the Spanish Pyrenees. Surrounded by mountains and a crystal clear reservoir, it’s easy to imagine that you’re at a lakeside area somewhere in Switzerland. 

This is a relatively young place since it was rebuilt in 1978, with the old town under the waters of the reservoir since that year. There’s an 8-kilometer hiking trail that goes around the reservoir, and when the weather is mild, you can go sailing, canoeing, or swimming too. 

In the winter, you can head to Formigal Station and go skiing or snowboarding. One attraction that you shouldn’t miss is the Mirador de San Mames, where you can do tons of activities. Try rafting, paragliding, or go on a private canyoning adventure with your friends and loved ones.

Biescas, Huesca

Biescas © Image Courtesy of Lunamarina by Canva
Biescas © Image Courtesy of Lunamarina by Canva

Travelling to the picturesque municipality of Biescas feels like a dream since it’s where you’ll see charming local architecture amidst breathtaking natural views. This is a town that’s situated 3,000 feet above an ancient valley, and it’s an underrated yet attractive place to enjoy some sightseeing, outdoor sports, and leisure activities. 

Here, you can rent bikes and go on guided bike tours, or fish for trout in the rivers of the Spanish Pyrenees. There’s also a town hall square that’s surrounded by bars and restaurants so you’ll have different dining options available while staying here.

Huesca also has several ski resorts with facilities that are suitable for every age, which makes it ideal for families with kids. Some of these resorts include Candanchu, which has a snow garden and a large slope, as well as Cerier ski resort where children can enjoy dog-pulled sleigh rides and play in igloos.

Want to see the local wildlife? Head to Parque Faunistico- La Cuniacha, which is a zoological park. As you go up and down the mountain, you’ll see animals like bears, lynxes, and bison in enclosures. You’ll also encounter deer and mountain goats, which freely roam around in the area. 

Meanwhile, those who want to test their physical skills should visit the Biescas Aventura. This adventure park features obstacles, tree climbs, and rides, so it’s perfect for those who love a good adrenaline rush. 

For more thrills, go on the Valle de Tena zip line, which holds the record for being the longest double zip line in Europe. You’re guaranteed to have lots of fun as you zip over Lake Bubal and get the best view of the entire Tena Valley.

La Cerdanya

La Cerdanya © Image Courtesy of arocas from Getty Images by Canva
La Cerdanya © Image Courtesy of arocas from Getty Images by Canva

Cerdanya is a Pyrenean comarca, or a territorial subdivision, that spans both Spain and France. This hidden gem is divided between the two countries, with the southern part, La Cerdanya, belonging to Spain. 

Here, you’ll encounter rivers winding through deep valleys, and lakes that are surrounded by towering pine trees amidst a stunning backdrop of snow capped mountains. In the summer, the valley is ideal for long hiking trips and mountain climbing. But in winter, La Cerdanya turns into a ski resort town as locals head to La Molina, which is Spain’s oldest ski resort.

Since La Cerdanya has been inhabited by humans for thousands of years, evidence of the past can be seen all over the comarca. You’ll be amazed by the perfectly preserved cave paintings, as well as the prehistoric tombs and dolmens in this area. 

There are also a few Gothic churches and traditional stone houses here, so visiting this place feels like travelling back in time. If you’re planning to stay though, don’t fret. There are lots of modern hostels, hotels, and beautiful chalets in the ski resorts, so you can have a comfortable stay during your holiday in the comarca.

If you’re missing modern sights and are raring to do some shopping, go north towards the French border and you’ll find Puigcerda, which is the capital. This town artfully blends modernity with history, so you’ll see old monuments in streets where restaurants and boutiques are located. 

Meanwhile, for those who love sports, head on over to the Puliesportiu Municipal. This place has indoor and outdoor swimming pools, an ice rink, and tennis courts, so consider playing a game or two with friends or with other tourists.

Besalu

Besalu © Image Courtesy of Brzozwska from Getty Images Signature by Canva
Besalu © Image Courtesy of Brzozwska from Getty Images Signature by Canva

Want to have a travel experience that will make you feel like you’re in a fairytale? Head to Besalu, which is a small town in the province of Girona situated in the foothills of the Pyrenees. 

It takes about 2.5 hours to get there if you’re driving from Barcelona, making this destination ideal for a day trip or a weekend stay. You’ll know that you’ve arrived once you see the town’s most photographed bridge, the Besalu Bridge, a 12th Century structure which stretches over the Fluvia river. 

This stone bridge has become an iconic landmark of the town and it’s also a popular place to take pictures, so don’t hesitate to take a few photos of the bridge before entering Besalu.

The bridge stretches towards the entrance of the town, and from here, you can wander through the cobbled streets and admire the old buildings and structures. This town has become a favourite among architecture fans and history buffs, and people often come here to see the structures built in the medieval, Romanesque, and Gothic styles. 

If you make your way towards the town center, which is the Placa de la Llibertat, you’ll see charming stores selling handcrafted items such as leather goods and ceramics. The perfect spot to buy a Spanish souvenir to remember your visit by.

Besalu is also famous for its Jewish heritage, so make sure to go on a tour of the public baths in the Jewish Quarter to know the significance of the bathing rituals of the olden days. You can also visit the remains of an old synagogue, or La Sinagoga, and here, you can clearly see how each room had specific purposes. 

Some were used for prayer, while others were used to educate young boys and girls. Visiting this place is a fantastic way to learn something new about a different religion, so it’s a definite must-see if you want an enlightening experience during your travels.

Portbou, Catalonia

Portbou © Image Courtesy of Alexey Tyurin from Getty Images by Canva
Portbou © Image Courtesy of Alexey Tyurin from Getty Images by Canva

Need to go somewhere that’s less likely to be teeming with tourists? Head to the municipality of Portbou, which is on the border of the Roussillon region and the Spanish-French border. This is the last town in Catalonia before the French border, and it used to be a fishing village until a railway station was opened here in 1878 to link France and Catalonia.

The town has a mostly modern feel, with paved streets lined with lush trees. Portbou’s major attractions include the neo-gothic Parish Church of Santa Maria de Portbou, which was built in 1878, as well as a beautiful stone fountain built during the late 1950s. But the main draw here is the pebbled, crescent beach where you can go swimming or sunbathing. 

The main beach in front of the harbour is never jam packed with people, even during July and August, which is peak tourist season in this area. This makes it a good place for those who want to avoid crowds, or for families traveling with young children. 

Along the beach, there are restaurants and cafeterias which cater to locals and tourists, so you can take your pick from any of these dining establishments if you’re feeling somewhat peckish.

Portbou is also a shopper’s dream since some items are cheaper here compared to neighbouring towns. This is why residents from both the Spanish and French borders often come here to buy leather goods, clothing, alcohol, and tobacco, among others. 

Those who are living on the French border are particularly fond of Portbou since these items are more affordable here than in their area, and they frequent the town on Friday, which is market day. For a quiet, peaceful holiday, definitely consider Portbou if you’re in the mood for a relaxing stay. 

Santa Pau

Santa Pau © Image Courtesy of pabkov from Getty Images by Canva
Santa Pau © Image Courtesy of pabkov from Getty Images by Canva

In the middle of the Garrotxa Natural Park is a hidden village that’s full of history, and it’s where the nobility of the olden days used to live. Santa Pau, which is home to around 1,500 people, is a destination in the Spanish Pyrenees that has a 13th-century castle. 

This castle became the residence of the lords of Santa Pau in the late 1200s, and later, a walled town was built around it to make room for construction of the first houses in the village. Make sure to look around this area, and visit the rectory beside the castle as it’s considered to be the most important dwelling in the walled town.

Head to the 13th century main square, or Placa Major,  so you can see the stone buildings and the place where people used to gather for markets and fairs. Next, stop by the Santa Maria parish church. This church is a favourite among architecture buffs as it has a Gothic design on the outside, but the inside feels light and airy since the walls have been painted white. There’s also an impressive bell tower here which is a prime photo spot for day trippers.

Those who want to go on outdoor adventures should definitely take a hot air balloon ride in Santa Pau, which will take you over the thirty dormant volcanoes in the area. 

If you’d rather go by land, consider a land rover ride in between the craters, or go horseback riding. You should also check out the woods close to the village which has several walking trails in it, perfect for a hike or sightseeing. 

Meanwhile, going the other way will take you to a river with a waterfall, and it’s the perfect place to stop for a quick splash in the water or a nice picnic with friends.

Conclusion – Exploring The Spanish Pyrenees

Going on a trip to the Spanish Pyrenees will give you the experience of a lifetime. Not only will you discover historic structures, but you’ll also get to see beautiful natural views while engaging in fun outdoor activities. Consider visiting some of these hidden towns and villages in this amazing destination to get closer to nature and engage in the local culture and pastimes.

Mountain Towns In The Spanish Pyrenees! Spanish Pyrenees Towns to Visit, Spain Travel, Spanish Travel Guide.