The Pyrenees mountain range is one of Europe’s prettiest spots and camping here among the snow-capped peaks which lead down into ancient forests is one of the best ways to experience this geographical wonder. It’s also crisscrossed with countless hiking trails, which makes it a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, and a perfect place for camping. Which is one reason why so many people have camping in the Pyrenees on their travel bucket list!
Stretching over 400km across France and Spain, the Pyrenees has many options for camping – both paid campsites and wild camping. We look at both in this article, including the rules, tips, and some of the best campsites to visit if you’re planning a trip.
So read on, and begin your Pyrenees camping adventure!
Camping in the Pyrenees: Fresh air and spectacular views
Camping is a very popular pastime in Andorra, France and Spain – the three countries that share this stunning part of the world. As such there are campsites throughout the Pyrenees, covering all budgets. Many lie close to the most popular hiking trails too, allowing walkers to enjoy the mountains knowing they can have a well-deserved hot shower at the end of the day.
For serious walkers, the best way to work out which campsite to use is probably to determine the route you wish to walk or hike. Once you have your route, mark out any settlements. It’s highly likely they will have at least one campsite near by. A quick Google search will do the rest.
If your hike doesn’t take you near a town – don’t worry! Wild camping is mostly allowed here but there are some rules you must be aware of. More on that later.
There are also many huts or ‘refuges’ where walkers can take shelter for the night – you can find almost all of them on this map. They are situated along the main hiking trails and can be found in a good Pyrenees hiking book too – like this one. The refuges are either manned or non-manned and range from tiny Shepard’s huts with bunks, to one-star hotel standard. Expect to pay a small fee at the manned huts.
You can also pitch your tent near these huts as well. If the hut is manned, expect to pay 3-5 euros to pitch your tent. The huts are usually close to water sources too, so a good place to top up.
We’d recommend buying a Pyrenees hiking book as it will show you all of the main routes and huts – and therefore places to camp. The best is Walks and Climbs in the Pyrenees, which covers dozens of trails from day walks to multi-day hikes. Some free maps like this one also exist online, but they’re not as thorough.
The Pyrenees has a short hiking season (June to September) that often has dramatic thunderstorms, so make sure you have good-quality equipment. A durable, lightweight, and rainproof tent is a must. If you don’t have one, we’d recommend one like this. In June and September, crampons might be needed to hike the Pyrenees High Route.
If you’re not a serious walker, and are just looking for great campsite suggestions for where to base yourself as you enjoy the Pyrenees, our favorites are below!
Campsites in the Pyrenees: Four of our favorites
Campsites in the Pyrenees cater for all ages and have a range of amenities. Some even have outdoor swimming pools – perfect for a dip after a hard day’s walk.
Camping Pyrénées Natura
This campsite on the edge of the Pyrenean National Park, is set in stunning surroundings. It also has direct access to the popular GR 10 – the hiking route that runs the length of the mountain range.
After a day’s walking you can enjoy a local beer in the campsite’s bar and restaurant. This family-orientated site even has a games room, whilst they can help set up pony rides.
Deep in the heart of the mountains, it’s also close to Lac d’Estaing – a mountain lake where you can fish. You can visit their website to find out more.
Campsite Les Albères
This campsite not only sits at the foot of the Pyrenees, but it’s also just a half-hour drive from the Mediterranean Sea! So you can be hiking one of the world’s best mountain ranges in the morning, and sunbathing at the sea with a beer in the afternoon. Not a bad life.
They have a big outdoor pool on the complex too – which is always a good thing. Find out more on their website.
A well-equipped campsite with swimming pool, tennis court, football pitch and more! What we like about this site though, is what’s beside it – and there’s a clue in the name…..
The small town of Llivia is situated beside the campsite, yet curiously this town is Spanish, while everything around it is French. That’s because Llivia was not included in the Treaty of the Pyrenees signed between France and Spain in the 17th century.
It’s one of Europe’s curiosities, as well as being one of the prettiest towns in the Pyrenees. Find out more about the campsite on their website.
Camping Era Yerla
This little campsite in Catalonia is perched beside a mountain river. You can sit and enjoy a moaning coffee with the sound of water, while looking out at snow-capped peaks.
It has an outdoor swimming pool, and there’s many great walking routes around. Worth exploring is the pretty little town beside it called Arties. There’s also some fantastic sulfur baths nearby.
Wild (free) camping in the Pyrenees
For those looking for a more ‘wild’ experience – you’re in luck!
Wild camping in the Pyrenees is generally well tolerated. Which makes sense considering some of the hiking trails in this mountain range can take days or even weeks to complete. However there are some rules that wild campers are expected to abide by.
In general, wild campers are expected to stay in the same place for one night only, and to camp in a rural place. Therefore don’t camp in or near villages, someone’s farm, or building. The exception is a hut or refuge.
If you find a rural camping spot but suspect it’s private land, then it’s best to seek out and ask permission from a landowner if you can. Or ask the nearest shepherd – just listen out for the sound of bells. All the sheep will be wearing them.
Campers are expected to set up their tent near dusk, and take it down at dawn. You may see signs across the Pyrenees saying similar.
In general, campfires are to be avoided. For cooking, use a storm cooker. The Swedish brand Trangia make fantastic storm cookers that are virtually indestructible. If you want to go completely off-grid, a portable solar powered cooker like this one would work. Plus, is there anything cooler than harnessing the power of the sun for your breakfast!
And of course, take any trash with you, and leave your camping spot the way you found it. Below are our top tips for wild camping in the Pyrenees.
Tips for wild (free) camping in the Pyrenees
- Thunderstorms and heavy rain are to be expected when camping in the Pyrenees – even during the hiking season. Make sure you have a durable, rainproof tent that can survive heavy rain. A lightweight one-man hiking tent like this or similar would be perfect.
- There are lots of different water sources in the mountains, but remember to always have plenty of water on you if you’re walking. A space-saving collapsible water bottle would be a good purchase.
- Keep an eye out for animal poo – if there’s a lot near your perfect camping spot, you may end up being woken up by some enthusiastic sheep or something else in the middle of the night!
- When going to the toilet you should do it far from water sources, such as rivers and lakes. Make sure to use a trowel (like this folding one) to bury any human waste – don’t just leave it out in the open.
- If you are hiking a popular walking route, then camp away from the main route as a matter of courtesy.
- Like many rugged and wild rural areas around the world, there are flora and fauna to be aware of. So read up and make sure you know what to expect in the region or area you are planning to wild camp in.
Recommended reading for your trip to the Pyrenees
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