Not every day we have the possibility to visit one of the most spectacular valleys of the Pyrenees, the Aran Valley. A place that gives you the possibility to ski, to make routes of trekking, via ferrata, gastronomic routes or visit a varied artistic heritage of elegance and sobriety where architecture stands out Romanesque and Gothic This is the Aran Valley, and we tell you what villages to visit along this unique valley.
Unha, Church of Santa Eulalia
It's funny to see that when you decide on your ski plan we always think of places like Andorra, Huesca, Sierra Nevada or Baqueira in the Aran Valley. When we think of snow, in the winter, sometimes we do not think beyond, but there are valleys in the Pyrenees where the mountain and architecture form unforgettable routes like the one we live in the Aran Valley.
Throughout 4 nights and 5 days we discover the western villages, next to the border with France, to the east, where one of the best ski resorts in Spain is, Baqueira Beret. Our little trip consisted of seeing the valley in winter from another perspective, out of the hustle or bustle of any ski trip, and betting on the Romanesque route, gastronomy and crossings withsnow rackets. In the valley you can do almost everything, since it has all kinds of services and is prepared for any type of tourism based on activities such as:
- Horse riding, sledding by huskies or snowmobiles.
- Any winter sport like skiing or snowboarding.
- Cultural visits through Romanesque architecture.
- Cozy and romantic restaurants, where they always take care of their cuisine with exquisiteness.
So many things can be done that today we are going to focus on the most cultural part and the closest to the tourist on foot, touring the best villages in the Aran Valley.
By the way, we did not want to mention the greatest singularity of the valley, its language, since they have their own language, the Aranese, which comes from a variety gascona of the Occitan language. Perhaps due to the marked tourist nature of the valley, its use extends to 35% of the population, although Spanish is the most common language over Catalan. As you can see, this beautiful valley hides many surprises.
Route through the villages of the Aran Valley
The Aran Valley is made up of 33 municipalities that house just over 10,000 inhabitants. Much of the territory, 30%, is over 2,000m high and a road, the C-28, crosses much of the valley. Luckily in winter the snowblowers pass regularly, so do not be afraid to stay lying down, just keep the chains at hand, since there are narrower roads and special corners It is worth spending a little uncertainty just to see the views or enjoy the best villages and spectacular places in the valley. On our route through the villages of the Aran Valley we will focus on the 10 most emblematic towns and churches in the area.
Aran Valley - map
It is located next to the border with France on top of a mountain. This small town has one of the best views of the valley. It is little visited and gives the impression that a great snowfall can leave you isolated, but it is worth your visit for the spectacular road that goes up to the town and for the various abandoned factories that are there before reaching the town.
Going up to Canejan
Canejan A vertigo basketball game
At the entrance of the town there is a small parking lot to leave the car. As much of the villages of the Aran Valley crossing it from end to end will not take you more than 10 min, so your visit is short, but yes, we hardly perceive tourism in this isolated town.
When we arrived at Bossost, the first thing we thought was, how much French is here? Of course, it is the largest town next to the border with France, so it has a multitude of stores dedicated to our neighboring country for those who come, in part, to cram tobacco and alcohol because of the difference in taxes we have. You know, the inequalities of this European Community as equal and united.
By the way, in Bossost there is a Urtau, one of the best skewer restaurants from all over the valley and that you can also find in Vielha.
Bossost is divided by the Garonne river, but the part that is most worth visiting is the one along the main road, next to the souvenir shops. There you will find the church in a small square with several restaurants.
The capital of the Aran Valley houses the 40% of its population and much of the services and industry of the valley, things that do not have to diminish the charm of this city. For us it is one of our favorites of the valley for the amount of churches, charming restaurants and places of drinks or routes of skewers that it has. It is clear that these options make many prefer to stay in this idyllic mountain city.
The city is divided by the river Garonne, a river that is born in Spain and flows into France and that many Spaniards do not know that it is one of the largest and most important rivers in our neighboring country. An unknown pit.
The most interesting part of the city is the one on the main road, although this road in Vielha is now called Avenguda deth Pas d'Arró and Avenguda Castiero.
We highlight of Vielha the possibility of being our center for excursions and for having many of the best restaurants in the valley, romantic or tapas, which we will see later.
This small town next to Vielha hides the church of St. Peir, an 11th-century Romanesque church with gothic aspects 15th century Like many churches in the area, the passage of time has made part of its architecture from different eras, such as its bell tower, dating from the XVI-XVII century.
St. Peir d'Escunhau
For many of those who visit the valley, this small town goes almost unnoticed unless you stay in one of its hotels or rural houses. It stands out for its church, that of San Julián and for being the first town of Alto Arán.
As a curiosity the legend tells that the imposing tower of the church housed a skull of no less than 3 meters in length, that of a warrior named Gegant Mandrónius who fought against the invasion of the Romans.
For many the prettiest city from the Aran Valley. It has a multitude of hotels and restaurants of the highest quality, including a classic Parador. Due to the number of people who visit it during the winter season, at night they close traffic to give priority to the resident. Anyway, if you do not stay there, it is possible to leave the car outside the town and stroll through one of the most charming villages in the entire valley.
In Arties stands out his church, the church of Saint Mary of Arties of the twelfth century, with restorations of the fifteenth century that give it a more gothic air. Inside it is possible to see several baroque altarpieces from the 17th and 18th centuries.
Salardú is a good place to stay if you go to Baqueira and prefer to pay a little less for your hotel. The town is also located on the main road and few tourists know that the road to the Aigues Tortes National Park and Colomers there are memorable views of the town, a panorama that glimpses both Salardú and Unha in the background.
This road goes to a small reservoir, Aiquamog, to the restaurant of Montadi and a multitude of hiking trails and snowshoes in Colomers.
This small town somewhat hidden behind Salardú has several surprises. Two good wine bars and a church high in the village, the church ofSanta Eulària d'Unha. This church is an excellent example of the Romanesque of the twelfth century and inside it keeps some paintings from the same period. Next to the church we can see a small cemetery overlooking Salardú.
Unha, Church of Santa Eulalia
Leaving behind the church at the entrance of the town of Unha there is a small building that few people pay attention to, the Unha Fort House. It is possibly one of the most unique buildings of the valley, with its old defensive bastions, a loft and a small cellar. It was built in 1580.
Tredos is the last town before reaching Baqueira. The town does not stand out among the others if it were not because not far from it there is a tiny hotel that bears the name of this town. This hotel is the Banhs de Tredós, the most spectacular hotel in the valley. We are not talking about a luxurious hotel, if not the hotel with the most privileged situation in the valley. To access it you have to take a road from Salardú, frozen in winter, to a small parking lot next to the restaurant of the Montadi. From there they separate you about 4km from paradise and that you must cover with snowshoes, sledding or snowmobiling, since in winter the road is under snow. Don't you think this adventure is worth it?
10 Baqueira and the Plat de Beret
Baqueria is possibly the best ski resort in all of Spain. It has more than 100km of skiing in mountains that will exceed 2,500m at some point. But not everything is skiing in Baqueira, in winter apart from practicing this sport there is also hiking and snow rackets, since from Plat de Beret it is possible to make several routes, some of them will be described soon in Travel for free.
Plat de Beret - Tuc de Pedescau
Where to eat / dine ?. The best restaurants
Save this information as in gold cloth, because here comes a selection of best restaurants from the valley. A real gem.
- Devins. To tapas and have the best Gin Tonic in the city. It is in an idyllic place located on Major Street, 23. Telephone: 973641950.
- All i Oli. Traditional Aranese cuisine with some infarct snails on Major Street, 9. Telephone: 973 641 757.
- Urtau. The best skewers in the city. It has no loss, it is on the main street next to the church.
- Petit Basteret. Tapas and skewers also Calle Major, 6.
- Vielhitos. Tapas and skewers. Freedom Walk, 5.
- Jimena House. Hidden in the upper part of Vielha is one of the most charming restaurants. It is on Sant Esteve street, 8. Telephone: 973 642105.
- Eth corner. With space, less hustle and good white potatoes. C / Sant Nicolau, 2.
- Cider house It was bruisha. C / Marrec, 20. Telephone: 973 642 976.
- He Niu. One of the expensive restaurants in the valley. It is located in the street of Santa Ana, 1. Telephone: 973641406.
- Turnay House. Of the best of the valley. Calle sant sebastià, 2. Telephone: 973 64 02 92.
- Candelaria. The romantic dinner par excellence, yes, get ready for the dive. Carrer Major, 16. Telephone: 973 642 024.
- Urtao. Tapas and skewers in a valley classic.
- Pinotage. Restaurant and Cafe Tapeo and skewers. Ctra. Baqueira Beret, 7.
- Irene House. Other romantic, located in a hotel. Expensive, but worth it. C / Major, 3. Telephone: 973 64 43 64.
- Biniaran Romantic dinner Carrer Dera Hònt, 2. Telephone: 973 641 058.
- Vinacoteca Eth cerer.
- Montadi. Idyllic for its situation. Do not be surprised that to leave you escort a machine removes snow. Telephone: 636 245 771.
- Rufus House. Carrer de San Jaime 8. Gessa. Telephone: 973 64 52 46.
Where to sleep?. Hotel selection
The Aran Valley is very diverse in qualities and prices, so we are going to propose the following selection:
Low / medium price
- The Vall Blanca. Apartment complex in Vielha Ideal for a ski trip.
- Verneda campsite. Wooden houses ideal for a family trip.
- Banhs de Tredós, on the road from Salardú to the National Park. It is one of the most spas / hotel isolated Pyrenees
- Portola pension. Situated in Arties.
- Montardo Guesthouse. Situated in Arties.
- Edelweiss A classic of Arties.
- Val de Neu Hotel. With indoor pool and impeccable facilities
- Rafael Hotels by La Pleta. Open only in high season it is one of the most spectacular and also the most recent.
- AC Baqueira Ski. Sublime rooms next to the ski resort. One of the best in the area
Activities in the Aran Valley. Trekking
- Unaruta with rackets in Beret
- Pass'Aran Latravesia
- Simple route with snowshoes to Colomers
Other places of interest near the Aran Valley
- The Lourdes Sanctuary
Rent a car to tour the Pyrenees
Looking to find a car rental agency we leave you a discount code valid for several agencies. You just have to click on the following image, find the car and see how it compares prices with a lot of agencies.