The Pyrenees mountain range spans the border between France and Spain from the Cantabrian Sea to the Mediterranean. This unforgettable and demanding journey has become a classic in cycle touring. In this Collection I propose a west-east journey by road bike, following the southern slopes of the Pyrenees.
Unlike other journeys of this nature, the route stays in Spain and passes through towns. This means you can travel with the promise of rural accommodation, hostels or hotels at the end of each day. With stages over 150 kilometres (90 mi) long and more than 2,500 metres (5,000 ft) of elevation gain, you’ll need a good level of fitness. This Collection splits the 810-kilometre (503-mi) route into seven days but you can access the complete route to create your own version in more or less time.
The trip starts in Hondarribia, on the Cantabrian coast, where it enters the valleys of Navarre. As you head east you’ll leave the Irati Mountains, the Larra Nature Reserve and the Western Valleys Nature Park in the north to reach Aragon. There, you cross the regions of Jacetania, Alto Gallego, Sobrarbe and Ribagorza, always accompanied by the imposing presence of the mountain peaks in the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park. As you enter Catalonia, you’ll discover small valleys that run from north to south, making this part of the route full of ups and downs. The Cadí-Moixeró natural park and the volcanic area of La Garrotxa showcase landscapes of great beauty. The final part of the journey descends towards the sea, passing the majestic lake of Banyoles.
To get to Hondarribia, you have several options, arriving by train or bus, or even by plane, via San Sebastián airport (which is in Hondarribia itself) or Bilbao airport. On arrival, in Roses, you can cycle to nearby Figueres, which has a regional and high-speed train station. The route can also be completed in the opposite direction, leaving Roses and arriving in Hondarribia.
The route is suitable for road or gravel bikes with narrow tyres. It’s important to have a wide range of gears, as there are numerous mountain passes. These slopes are especially challenging with a fully loaded bike. Although the route passes through many towns, make sure you always carry the necessary spare parts and tools to carry out repairs. It’s also advisable to carry food and water so you’ll have enough fuel to tackle the frequent and long climbs.
Spring and autumn are the best times of year to take this trip. The high summer temperatures, even in the Pyrenees, can be challenging, especially in the middle of the day. In addition, there are fewer visitors in spring and autumn, although bear in mind that the Pyrenees is a popular tourist destination almost all year round. In any case, the stages always end in towns and, in many cases, they are county capitals with a wide range of facilities.
You have a major challenge ahead of you: to ride between two seas by following the contour of one of the longest mountain ranges in Europe. You’ll feel a huge sense of achievement after conquering every mountain pass and valley, and spectacular landscapes are your reward.
Ready to get going? Create and customize your own version of this adventure using the full Tour below as a template.
Last updated: September 26, 2023
Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.
The first stage takes you from the Basque beaches of the Cantabrian Sea, in Hondarribia, to the Esteribar valley, in Navarra. With 117 kilometers and almost 3,000 meters of positive elevation gain, this stage is marked by four mountain passes, with special mention to the last one, Artesiaga, 15 kilometers…
The Navarrese Pyrenean valleys are the protagonists of the second stage of the Collection, of 108 kilometers and 2,500 meters of altitude. The Route begins in the Esteribar valley, the westernmost, enters the Erro valley, continues through the Aezkoa valley and advances in an easterly direction towards…
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The third stage is noticeably shorter than the previous ones. Its 1600 meters of unevenness are spread over several ports that remind you of the harshness of the Pyrenean geography. The transit to Aragón is done through the Hecho valley, where the Route heads south, towards the Aragón valley, to finish…
The fourth stage of the Collection is a long stage, marked by two equally long but stretched climbs, Serrablo and Bonansa, as well as a couple more, short and with hard ramps, such as Foradada and Serrate. In short, 150 kilometers and 2,600 meters of unevenness in which you cross three of the four Pyrenean…
The fifth stage of the Collection fully enters the Catalan Pyrenees, and proposes a climb to one of the Pyrenean giants: the Port del Cantó. This Route accumulates 2,500 meters of unevenness in just 113 kilometers, so once again it is a hard day on the bike. However, the stage has a very regular profile…
Without a doubt, this is the queen stage of this Collection, with 153 kilometers and 3,400 meters of elevation gain and up to five mountain passes to overcome. The Route enters the Cadí-Moixeró Natural Park and surrounds the unique Pedraforca massif before descending towards the Llobregat River. From…
The last stage of the Collection takes you back to the sea and, therefore, in its 92 kilometers, you spend more time going down than going up, something that your legs will surely appreciate. The Route begins in the natural park of the volcanic area of La Garrotxa and descends to another area of natural…
Bike Touring Collection by Tobias
Bike Touring Collection by Tobias
Bike Touring Collection by Vincent Reboul
Bike Touring Collection by Henna