4-day Val d’Aran drive

The Val d’Aran It is reputed to be a secluded place with its own customs. It even has its own language, Aranese – a dialect of the ancient Ocician language, Occitan. Nestled in the middle of the Pyrenees, you will need a car to be able to travel in depth. And, if there is a car, there is a route. After looking at the places we wanted to visit, the distances and the times, we organized our route by car through the Val d’Aran. And, after the experience, we think that we did well, and that it can be useful to you too.

Jumping in the Baricauba Forest

¿Why 4 days drive in the Val d’Aran? The answer might be, and why not? Only based on Hiking trails By the valley you could fill many more. Visit all Romanesque churches It would also take you more than a day. Although the total population of the valley is about 10,000 inhabitants, there are 33 villages. Then there are the restaurantsthe Viewpoints and until Ski resorts -If you go in season and ski, which was not our case-.

The 4 days in the Val d’Aran will serve you for a bridge or a long weekend. We assure you that you will not get bored. The Val d’Aran awaits you, do you sign up?

How to get to the Val d’Aran

The first surprise you will take when planning your trip to the Val d’Aran is that it is in the north face of the Pyrenees –the Atlantic slope, because the rivers that originate here flow into the Atlantic Ocean–. Yes, on the other side. What we learned in school that the Pyrenees are the border between Spain and France is not entirely real. There is a small Spanish valley on the “French side”.

Route by Car through the Val d'Aran Vista
View of Baqueira from the viewpoint of Beret

That position makes the Aranese go to hospitals in France, make urban getaways to Toulouse and “go down” little to the rest of Lleida. In fact, as we discovered in the Museum of the Val d’Aran de Vielha, there was no tunnel that connected the valley with the rest of Spain until 1948 –and only since 1924 could it be reached through the Puerto de la Bonaigua–. That tunnel – Vielha-Alfonso XIII Tunnel – gave way to the Viella-Juan Carlos I Tunnel, more than 5 km long, in 2007.

The tunnel is part of the N-230 road linking Lleida with Vielha and it will be through it that you will reach the Val d’Aran. If you do not arrive in your car, you can rent it at Lleida –2 hours and a quarter to Vielha–, Saragossa –three and a quarter hours– or Barcelona “Three hours and three quarters.” From experience, prices from Zaragoza are more competitive than from Lleida. Another option is to go from Toulouse -two hours-, but you will have to pay to get the car out of the country.

4-day Val d’Aran drive

As we have said, there are a thousand things what to do in the Val d’Aran, but time is not infinite. In our opinion, 4 days seem suitable for a first contact with the valley.

Car Route through the Val d'Aran Salardu Church
The Romanesque church of St. Andrew in Salardù

In addition, it must be taken into account that The outward and return journey They’re going to take you a few hours too. Our route by car through the Val d’Aran It begins after the meal of the first day – assuming that the morning goes on the outward journey – and ends after the meal of the fourth – for the same reason. Come on, you’ll be “only” three days in the valley. But three days very well spent.

Day 1: Vielha

The first day of the route by car through the Val d’Aran It starts after eating in Vielha. Nothing better than a warm-up approaching the local gastronomy with a good plate of Olha Aranesa, without forgetting the Sausagesthe Sausages and the Meats.

Eating at Vielha Hotel Aran La Abuela Olha Aranesa
The Aranese olha of the Hotel Aran La Abuela

With your strength replenished, shop around to see the Christ of Mijaran in the church of Sant Miquèu, stroll through the narrow streets of the Town and look out over the banks of the Nere and Garonne rivers. If you dare, visit one of the villages that form the municipality of Vielha e Mijaranhow Vilac or Gausach. Check out our article What to see in Vielha and surroundings to have all the details.

What to see in Vielha Sant Miqueu Cristo Mijaran Church
Christ of Mijaran

Overnight in Vielha. We did Base in the capital of the valley and we sleep every day in the Hotel Arán la Abuela. If you want to look at other accommodations, check out the Val d’Aran hotels.

Sleep in Vielha Hotel Aran La Abuela Room
Our room at Hotel Aran La Abuela de Vielha

Day 2: Cirque de Colomèrs and Naut Aran

We did not wait any longer and the second day of our route by car through the Val d’Aran We go to nature to do the route of the seven lakes in the Cirque of Colomèrs. If the conditions – climatological and physical – allow you to do the complete route, you will not have much time for more visits. Although, some detour on the road back to Vielha can be allowed…

The route of the lakes in the Cirque de Colomèrs

Depending on the time of year you go, you can take the car to the Colomèrs taxi rank –closed for private vehicles from June 15 to September 15– or you will have to stop at the Banhs de Tredòs car park and get on by taxi. We mark the two points on the map.

Route by Car through the Val d'Aran Route Colomers Lakes Sara Snow
Snow on the way to the refuge on the route of the lakes of Colomèrs


If you have to end up taking a taxi, ask until what time they make the trip back to the Banhs de Tredòs car park. We have read in some places that they stop at 17:30 and, afterwards, you will have to walk there.

The route is well signposted, although we recommend you download the track. Pay attention, because there are Two routes of the lakes: the short one –about 3 or 4 hours– and the long –7 hours–. We, in mid-May, find fresh, high and unstepped snow after the refuge of Colomèrs And we decided to turn around because we were not prepared to do the whole route in those conditions. Still, between the snow and the photos, it took us more than Two hours to travel the just under 4.5 km From the taxi rank to the refuge round trip.

Route by Car through the Val d'Aran Colomers Lakes Route Lake Maggiore Refuge
The main lake of Colomèrs with the refuge and the dam

Villages of Naut Aran and Pla de Beret

As we only occupy the morning on the route, the afternoon is dedicated to visiting some villages of Naut Aran how Arties, Salardù, Unha or Bagergue –in the list of Most beautiful villages in Spain–.

Car Route through the Val d'Aran Bagergue

The order in which we did it was: Bagergue and Unha first; Then we approached the Pla de Beret and Sanctuary and abandoned village of Montgarri, and, back to Vielha, we stopped at Tredòs, in Salardù, in Arties and, finally, in Escunhau.

Route by Car through the Val d'Aran Montgarri Sanctuary
Sanctuary of Montgarri

If you have done the Complete Lakes Route, seven hours, visit only Bagergue. If you have done the Short, 3 or 4 hours, take a tour also by Arties and Salardù with its impressive Romanesque church of San Andrés –open all year round–.

Car Route through the Val d'Aran Arties

Overnight in Vielha.

Day 3: Lin’s Artiga and Baish Aran

The third day of the route by car through the Val d’Aran We return to nature. The first stop will be the Bassa d’Oles, a lake in the vicinity of the Baricauba Forest, through which we will pass with the car and stop to walk among the trees along one of its many trails. On the way to the Bassa d’Oles, we stop in front of the Gausach Church, still in the municipality of Vielha.

Car Route through the Val d'Aran Baricauba Forest
A trail in the Baricauba Forest

We continue with more nature and walks, this time in the Artiga de Lin. Do not forget to look at the waterfall of Es Uelhs deth Joeu. Climb to the top of the waterfall, on the way to the refuge, to see how the water comes out of the earth. There is no river in the upper part.

Car Route through the Val d'Aran Artiga Lin Uelhs deth Joeu
The waterfall of Es Uelhs deth Joeu

Did you know…?

The water of the waterfall comes from the Aneto peak. It seeps into the Forau d’Aigualluts – on the Mediterranean side of the Pyrenees, because the rivers that flow there flow into the Mediterranean – and reappears here – the Atlantic slope.

In the afternoon, at the Baish Aran, we stopped in the village of Bossòst with its murals and another Romanesque church open all year round. Then, we approached Bausen, almost on the border with France, and Canejan. From Canejan leaves a route of about 3 km to the neighbouring abandoned village of Porcingles. It is linear, so you will have to return by the same place, but it is quite flat and simple, we did it in just over an hour and a half.

Route by Car through the Val d'Aran Bossost Church
The Romanesque church of Bossòst

Overnight in Vielha.

Day 4: the Saut deth Pish and the museum of Vilamòs

The last day of the route by car through the Val d’Aran It will be a little quieter. In fact, you can take advantage of Visit somewhere that has been left out by time in previous days – take into account the times rather than the distances when including stops.

What to see in Vielha Gausac Vilac Calle
A street in Vilac

In our case, we intended to see the Saut deth Pish waterfall, the most famous of the valley in the Plan des Artiguetes. The problem is that it is reached through a forest track and that fresh snow that prevented us from completing the route of the lakes had also caused a landslide that forced the track to close.

Car Route through the Val d'Aran Vilamos Ecomuseu Joanchiquet Sala
The living room of the Joanchiquet house in Vilamòs

With more time than anticipated, we visited the village of Vilac –one of our favourites in the Val d’Aran– and the Ecomusèu çò de Joanchiquet in Vilamòs, an old Aranese house converted into a museum.

Back to Vielha and home.

Map of the route by car through the Val d’Aran

As you can see in the map of the route by car through the Val d’Aran, we divide the valley into two halves east and west of Vielha. In this way we optimize the times on the road and take the opportunity to visit more places. As we have said, the distances in the Val d’Aran are better measured in time than in kilometers…

Tips for driving in the Val d’Aran

That we have a section of tips for driving in the Val d’Aran no signifICA that you have to be more careful for the rest of the drivers. On the contrary, we found them to be very respectful and understood that tourists are not used to driving on narrow mountain roads with cliffs on one side.

Car Route through the Val d'Aran Car
Our car on a forest track in the Val d’Aran

What we are going to advise you when traveling by car through the Val d’Aran is that you take a Tall car. Obviously, if you get there with yours, it will be the one you have. But, if you have thought of renting one – we did it in Zaragoza – book a high car because you will end up driving for more than one Forest track And you do not want to go with the nerves of tip thinking about the low and the deposit of the car insurance.

On the other hand, and bearing in mind the issue of forest tracks and slopes, it tries to Control the speed of the car with the engine whenever you can instead of braking continuously. On forest tracks, having the wheels blocked with loose sand is not a very good idea and, on the roads, you can end up warming up the brakes more than necessary – remember that you will go up and down all the time.

Car Route through the Val d'Aran Canejan
Canejan from the walking route to Porcingles

Enjoy the landscapes, the villages, the tranquility, nature, food… Enjoy the Val d’Aran.

Do you want to go trip to the Val d’Aran? Here you can:

  • Search for your cheapest transport to Lleida here.
  • Choose the hotel you like at the best price in the Val d’Aran here or compare between several accommodation portals here.
  • Rent a car in the Val d’Aran at the best price comparing between several companies here.
  • The best guides in Catalonia here.
  • Hire your tour guided tour in Lleida here.
  • Hire your Travel insurance with a 5% discount here.

Artículo publicado en saltaconmigo.com