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Epic Mountain Bike Holidays | Spain | Basque Country | Pyrenees
High Pyrenees Adventure

The Pyrenees

The Pyrenees Mountains

We are lucky to call the Pyrenees mountains our base for our mountain biking holidays. We were also the first mountain bike holiday company working in this area, back when Ainsa and Puro Pirineo were still unknown. This page will give you a lot of advice about the Pyrenees mountains in general and about mountain biking in the Pyrenees.

Quick Guide: The Pyrenees

What Trips Do We Run in the Pyrenees?

Actually all of our holidays are in the Pyrenees, which reach right down to the Basque Coast where the mountains are still plenty big enough! When we talk about our mountain bike holidays we separate the Basque Coast area from the more central Pyrenees area. This is what we mean when we say “Coast” and “Pyrenees” in our descriptions. These are the mountain bike holidays we offer in the Pyrenees.

This article is going to tell you a bit about our part of the Pyrenees, that is to say both sides from Val d´Aran back to the west. From Val d´Aran eastwards we currently don’t guide so I am not going to those areas, although we will update this page in the future.

Where are the Pyrenees?

Situated between northern Spain and France, the Pyrenees mountians form a fence-like barrier between the two countries. Extending more than 430km from West to East there are more than 200 peaks in the Pyrenees, with Aneto reaching 3404m. On the French side there are no foothills, however on the Spanish side there are a complicated system of foothills, called the Pre-Pyrenees which reach up to 2600m tall.

Mountain Biking Seasons in the Pyrenees

There are four seasons for mountain biking in the Pyrenees and they are really clearly defined. We time our mountain bike holidays in the Pyrenees to take advange of the best seasons to be in each place and ride each trail. Spring is the the perfect Backcountry Pyrenees weather, before the heat comes. Summer is only for getting high, or hitting the Basque Coast. Autumn means our High Pyrenees holiday and winter is a great time to ride the Ainsa Enduro.


Winter in the Pyrenees

Winter is cold and dry. Higher mountains are no longer accessible by bike and the biking is limited to the Pre-Pyrenees and lower valleys. It is a fantastic time for mountain biking in Ainsa and the Pre Pyrenees areas though, with generally sunny weather. Overnight temperatures may drop down to below zero but by 10am the temperatures are climbing and by the afternoon we are often biking in short sleeves.
The trails are at an all time peak in the Ainsa area, less dusty and often running really fast and grippy.


Spring in the Pyrenees

Spring is probably the most beautiful time in the Pyrenes. The high mountains are still topped with snow but the lower mountains are green and peppered with flowers. The best thing about Spring though is the long days, which mean lots of riding and no stress.


Summer in the Pyrenees

Summer really isn´t the best time to visit unless you want to go high. We run our Ultimate Pyrenees trip to get high and stay high. With a good mountian bike guide you can plan your days to explore the peaks. Be aware that when you drop down to the valleys the temperature can be suffocating.


Autumn in the Pyrenees

Autumn is amazing. The days are shorter than Spring but the temperatures are usually warmer and it is a little bit drier. Snow hasn’t arrived yet so we can ride as high as we want. If you are lucky enough to be here the 2 weeks when the leaves change it is positively pyrotechnical.

What Is The Weather Like In The Pyrenees?

The southern side of the Pyrenees, in Spain, is fairly dry all year round. The temperatures in winter are cold but with the normal sunshine it is very pleasant for biking. Of course there is snow about 1200m often. June, July and August start to be too hot in the valleys for pleasurable biking, although starting early and getting high is a good tactic for mountain bikers.

Our Mountain Biking Hotspots in the Pyrenees

We are constantly expanding our trips in the Pyrenees, adding new areas and adapting our holidays. Here are some of the mountain bike areas in the Pyrenees which you can expect to visit on some of our trips. If you are going to visit the Pyrenees give us a shout and see why people say such good things about our holidays.

Ainsa / Zona Zero

Zona Zero, was one of the first places in Spain to offer top-quality way-marked mountain biking, and has helped make the whole of the Pyrenees into a world class mountain bike destination. Zona Zero and basqueMTB started around the same time, and we have been guiding here right from the start.
If you want to explore the area with dedicated shuttles then check out our Ainsa Enduro Trip.

basqueMTB take. Fantastic destination, well organised and endless trail options. Go to pedal, or if you want gravity assist and to see the whole area and more then book our Ainsa Enduro trip. We feel it is a shame to visit and not see more of the surrounding area. Don’t visit during summer unless you like extreme heat. Drink in Abrevadero or drink Rondadora, who put money back into the trails.


Puro Pirineo

Puro Pirineo. It´s an amazing spot for gravity riding. You really need uplift to see the best of the area. This is the most height in this area of the Pyrenees and 1000m descents are possible. Trails are waymarked but it is worth getting a decent guide to link up some of the out of bounds stuff. We have a few routes here which are spectacular on our High Pyrenees or Ultimate Pyrenees weeks.

basqueMTB take. One of the few valleys in the Pyrenees you can spend a full week in. Great riding! Lots of out of bounds riding available and a good guide will really open possibilities here. You can visit this area on our High Pyrenees or Ultimate Pyrenees trips.


Val d´Aran

The Val d´Aran is somewhat of an oddity in the Pyrenees, it is the only Spanish valley which extends north, into France. As such it is damper, woodier and earthier. Being Spanish it doesn’t suffer with many of the drawbacks of the French Pyrenees, namely poor food, poor accommodation and unfriendly opening hours. Here you will find some amazing trails, marked and not marked, making it one of the very best mountain biking areas in the Pyrenees.

basqueMTB take. One of my favourite areas in the Pyrenees. You can visit this area on our High Pyrenees, or our “coming soon” Tour of Aneto trip.


Valle de Tena

This is one of the most western valleys in the Pyrenees to offer marked trails. There is some fantastic mountain biking here, a little bit rougher and with a more DH edge to the trails. Food is hit and miss outside of the peak months but there are always some basic options. Guests of basqueMTB benefit from the fact that some of the best restaurants open just for us! Trails range from absolutely fantastic to poorly maintained, the secret is knowing which is which. In August you can ride here as it stays a bit cooler but it does get busy.

basqueMTB take. One of my favourite areas in the Pyrenees. You can visit this area on our High Pyrenees, or our Backcountry Pyrenees holiday.


Loudenvielle

I have already covered to downsides of the French side of the Pyrenees. Loudenvielle is not perfect in that regard but it is better. They are putitng a LOT of effort into the trails so hopefully this will improve as they realise that bikers want decent food and not to be confined to strict dining times. The trails here are really good and there is a town sponsored uplift service that is cheap. (How come the French and Spanish can’t get together and take the best parts of each side of the mountians!). These are the closest to “trail center” trails I have ridden. With the coming of the EWS expect a big boom here.

basqueMTB take. This area is coming very soon to some of our trips. Great possibilities and there is a lot of trail development happening here.


Lourdes

Let’s be totally honest here. Lourdes is a soul destroying, commercial, christianity theme park. You can literally buy flesh-colored Christ dolls that glow in the dark. Never, never go to Lourdes town if you don’t have to. Having said that, there is some great biking there which doesn’t require you to pass through the town itself. Served by a funicular railway there are three official trails on the Pic du Jer, a black, red and blue. It’s not a destination in itself but worth a stop if you are looking for marked trails and easy uplift.

basqueMTB take: Not worth the effort to go as a destination, although it is one of the few places with fixed uplifts. There are better places to ride but if you are passing through. Just avoid Lourdes town.


Airports and Getting to the Pyrenees

Getting here is probably the hardest part if you are visiting the Pyrenees on a non-guided holiday. We have transfers included as part of our holidays of course, however there some other options.

Barcelona Airport

Public transport is really difficult. You are best hiring a car, or a taxi is about €250 each way to Ainsa. If you fancy an adventure you can get a bus but it takes a full day and you need to go to Barbastro and will probably need a taxi from there.

We pick up here for our Ainsa Enduro holiday.

Bilbao Airport

You can get public transport to Jaca and from there to Ainsa but it is a full day of messing around. Really you need to hire a car if you want to ride in the Pyrneees. From Bilbao you have 4 hours to Ainsa, less to Jaca or similar to Val d´Aran. The roads are mostly great on the Spanish side and the French motorway is very boring and straight but quick.

We organise trasfers from here for all of our other Pyrenees mountain bike holidays.

Madrid Airport

From Madrid you really only have the option for hiring a car hire. You have a 5 hour drive, maybe a bit less but taking into account that you don’t know the roads and want to drive safely! The road is all motorway until the last hour. If you are on one of our trips you are better getting a connecting flight to San Sebastian airport and we will get you there.

Tolouse Airport

Great for Val d´Aran but if you are going to the southern side of the Pyrenees be careful as sometimes the most direct Bielsa tunnel can be closed in the evenings. It is still possible to cross the Pyrneees but the drive is much longer. For groups we can offer cheap transfers from Tolouse.

Pyrenees Points of Interest

Ordesa Valley

It’s not the best place to ride to be honest. There is one amazing trail called Cebollar which you can get from the Zona Zero website but it is a 1000m fireroad climb and then a cool descent. Uplift is almost impossible to organise due to Spanish bureaucracy, it is a trail we sometimes ride as part of our trips but the effort to get it uplifted and link it into a day means we largely avoid mountain biking in the Ordesa valley. For walking it is amazing through.

Ordesa is an amazing valley, with sharpsided vallys and when you visit you see why it is often referred to as Europe’s Grand Canyon. Monte Perdido. Only vally which runs easy west. Very protected, don’t be tempted to try and ride it.

WHAT TRIP DO WE OFFER HERE? Our Ultimate Pyrenees Tour has an amazing day riding through here, with specially negotiated uplifts. Our soon to be launched e-bike trips will use this area as well (watch this space!)

El Aneto (3404m)

Aneto is the tallest mountain in the Pyrenees and the third tallest in Spain, standing at 3404m. Aneto is located in the Posets-Maladeta Natural Park, standing above Benasque in the region of Aragon. Made mostly of granite, it has largest glacier in the Pyrenees, which is sadly shrinking rapidly due to warming summer temperatures and is likely to dissapear in the next 20-30 years.

There is no mountain biking on Aneto itself but all around is some great mountain biking. Check out our Tour de Aneto trip which we ran in 2020.

WHAT TRIP DO WE OFFER HERE? The area has our Ultimate Pyrenees Tour and High Pyrenees MTB Holidays. Also our soon to be launched Tour de Anteo dirty weekender! (watch this space!)


Somontano Wine Region

Somontano is just south of Ainsa and is the second biggest grape region in Spain. Grapes have been grown in the Somontano region since at least the 2nd century BC, thanks to the Romans. (What did the Romans ever do for us?). In the 19th century, the phylloxera plague hit France and many grape varieties were taken to Somontano, hoping the Pyrenees would act as a barrier and save them.

With 8 red grape varieties and seven whites, it is a region with a lot of variety compared to La Rioja for example.

HOW CAN I DO LOCAL WINE TASTING? We offer wine tasting on our High Pyrenees Holidays as standard. We can also organise it if the group is interested on our Backcountry Pyrenees Mountain Bike Holidays and Ainsa Enduro MTB trips.

Riglos

Riglos, or more accurately Los Mallos de Riglos are 300m tall overhaning red cliffs. Formed from sedimentary rock washed down from the Pyrenees, mixed with limestone and squashed together into a durable conglomoreate, this is a climbing mecca. The biking is great too! It is worth a drive just to look, and visit Loarre too to see the 11th century castle.

WHAT TRIP DO WE OFFER HERE? We mountain bike through Riglos on our Backcountry Pyrenees Mountain Bike Holidays. The geology is amazing, the biking is mindblowing!

VAL D´ARAN

Val d´Aran (Valley of Aran)

Val d´Aran is a strange region of the Spanish Pyrenees. Whereas the other valleys in Spain are on the sunnier (and rockier) southern side of the chain, Val d´Aran juts out northwards, extending into what should be France. As such the trails are totally different. It is wetter, that is for sure, but the trails are earthier and flowier. Honestly, it is one of our favourite regions to ride.

You can ride this area on our High Pyrenees trip. Make sure we show you the tobboggan run trail, definitely the most fun you can have with your clothes on!

WHAT TRIP DO WE OFFER HERE? The area has our Ultimate Pyrenees Tour and High Pyrenees MTB Holidays. Also our soon to be launched Tour de Anteo dirty weekender! (watch this space!)


Ainsa and Zona Zero

It is hard to say what is more impressive about Ainsa, it’s location beneath the striking Peña Montanesa or the 11th century castle on top of the hill. Or maybe the 12th century church? Or maybe just the great beers in Abrevadero? Voted the most beautiful town in spain.

Of course there is all the mountain biking in Zona Zero too. Read about the history of mountain biking in Ainsa here.


Alquézar

Sitting south of Ainsa, on the edge of the Guara National park, Alquézar is perched on a limestone outcrop. Fought over between the Muslims and Christians, Alquézar has changed hands over the centruies. The monastry was one of the main refuge points for residents in the nearby town of Barbastro during these conflicts.

There is some cool biking here but better for walking and having a drink. Do not miss the walk up to see the prehistoric cave paintings in the surrounding area, which has led to the region being declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1998. Also don´t miss tasing the local Somontano wine!


Benasque

Benasque sits below Aneto, surrounded by the 3000m+ peaks of Posets-Maladeta. Benasque is a beautiful stone village, with great atmosphere. There is great biking there, both marked and unmarked. Benasque is really isolated from the nearest Spanish villages and historically had more contact with France, across the Pyrenees.

You can ride this as part of our High Pyrenees and Ultimate Pyrenees mountain bike holidays.

That is all! I hope you enjoyed our Pyrenees information.

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basqueMTB

Established 2008, basqueMTB have been offering amazing mountain bike holidays across the Pyrenees, San Sebastian and Northern Spain. Dedicated shuttles, the most experienced guides and more than a decade of experience organising our award winning mountain bike holidays, come and visit us and see what all the fuss is about.

Email: doug@basquemtb.com
Tel. +34 662 614 470
Agencia de viajes CI NA-148
Registro de turismo activo y cultural UETAC055