Family holidays in the Spanish Pyrenees

The Spanish Pyrenees are something of a well kept secret when it comes to family holiday destinations. Here you’ve got a spectacular range of activities all year-round that are especially suited to older children and teens, hearty regional cuisine and absolutely sublime mountain landscapes cut through with rivers, canyons and waterfalls. Guests will normally be picked up from Barcelona and transferred, around a three-hour drive which rather rules out daytrips to the city but does mean you can easily bookend your trip with a few days to admire the Sagrada Familia and hit the beach. Winter trips in the Spanish Pyrenees can focus on Cerler, in a ‘hidden valley’ high up in the mountains, while during the warmer months the historic town of Sort, in the Pallars Sobirà region, serves as the launch pad for a stunning variety of outdoor fun.

Where you’ll stay

In Sort, you’ll be accommodated in a riverside aparthotel with different room sizes available convenient for families, located close to the towns many restaurants and cafes. If you’re skiing then you’ll be staying in a stylish locally owned hotel, at the foot of the slopes in a peaceful hamlet. This area has no through-connections with France so there are few overseas visitors; the slopes are therefore refreshingly uncrowded.

What you’ll be doing

The Spanish Pyrenees are essentially a vast outdoor playground for those that have a thirst for adrenaline. From Sort you have the Aigüestortes and Lake Sant Maurici National Park right on your doorstep, a wild and beautiful landscape that’s immensely popular for trail hiking. At points you can make out the precarious routes that escapees in World War II would have taken as they crossed from Nazi-occupied France into Spain.

Small group trips build flexible itineraries according to what you prefer to do with your time, with afternoons often left free to do your own thing as a family or add in more activities. You might be tackling the foaming rapids on a white water rafting expedition, a great team-building experience; sliding, jumping and abseiling your way around a canyoning course, which may sound a little scary if you’ve never done it before but is all handled by well qualified instructors; or mountain biking and horse riding along scenic trails in the national park. Sort itself is a very attractive old town, where those less inclined towards the white-knuckle adventures can enjoy whiling away some time.

Skiing and snowboarding trips in the Spanish Pyrenees are focused on Cerler, where tailor made itineraries can mix fun snowshoeing or husky sledding with private lessons. This resort is fantastic for beginners and intermediates with some 65 runs and reliable snow, and there is supervised play and babysitting available for non-skiing younger children.
“This was a brilliant holiday for us and our three daughters aged 13, 10 and 10. The level of challenge and adventure was just right for us. (We are all fit and healthy but not massively sporty.)” – Deborah Crewe in a review of her Catalan Pyrenees activity holiday

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From €396 to €607 8 days ex flights
Tailor made:
This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
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When to go

If you’re planning a winter family holiday then the snow tends to be best between Christmas and March. At Responsible Travel we don’t offer holidays that use artificial snow cannons because of their environmental impact as well as safety concerns, but in Cerler if snowfall isn’t sufficient itineraries can be adapted with other activities such as husky sledding. In July Sort is a good base to attend the traditional fiesta, as the historic centre of the Pallars Sobirà region.

Adventure capital

Antony Barton from our supplier Explore on why this is such a great destination for family holidays: “Sort has long been a favored destination for Barcelona residents, its surrounding area offering respite from the summer head and crowds. At 700m above sea level along the Noguera Pallaresa River, the town provides ample opportunities to experience the beauty and nature of Aigues Tortes National Park. This is the adventure capital of the Spanish Pyrenees with mountain biking, canyoning, river kayaking and white water rafting all available. The hotel we use has a spa and an excellent swimming pool which is always a popular spot for families to get together and relax after a busy day of activities, with the kids all enjoying the pool and the adults relaxing with a drink enjoying the afternoon sunshine.”
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: ikeofspain] [Top box : Juanedc] [Walking: Kitty Terwolbeck] [Rafting:]