Where to stay in Val d’Aran: A guide to the “Valley of Valleys”
Aran, known in Spanish as Valle de Arán, in Aranese as Val d’Aran and in Catalan as Vall d’Aran, is a unique territorial entity located in the extreme north-west of the province of Lleida. This region, part of the historic region of Gascony, has a unique language and culture, and, from a tourist point of view, is famous for being one of the most visited snow and adventure sports destinations in Spain, home to the Baqueira-Beret winter sports complex. In this post, we will explore the best areas to stay in the Arán Valley, Spain.
Why you should visit Val d’Aran
The name Val d’Aran comes from the Basque language and literally means “Valley of the Valleys“. Its distinctive history and wide cultural heritage make this corner of Catalonia one of the most visited destinations in the Pyrenees. Find accommodation in Val d’Arán.
The Arán Valley is home to numerous examples of Romanesque architecture scattered around its small mountain villages. Some of the churches within the Val d’Aran Romanesque Route include Sant Miquèu de Vielha, Santa Maria de Arties, Sant Andreu de Salardú and Santa Eulàlia de Unha.
Vielha, with about 2,500 inhabitants, is the capital and the most populated town in the region. In addition to the aforementioned church of Sant Miquèu, other tourist sights in Vielha include the Val d’Aran Museum, the Vielha Viewpoint, the Varicauba Forest and the Bassa d’Oles. Find accommodation in Vielha.
In addition to its unique culture and extensive medieval heritage, Val d’Aran is famous for the impressive natural landscapes of the Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park. This vast natural area, the only national park in Catalonia, is divided into four regions and is a paradise for those seeking alpine nature. Aigüestortes stands out for its hundreds of glacial lakes, high mountain meanders, forests and meadows surrounded by peaks up to 3,000 meters high. Find accommodation near Aigüestortes National Park.
The Baqueira-Beret ski resort, located in the heart of the Arán Valley, is the most visited winter sports centre in Spain. With 167 kilometres of slopes and a vertical drop of 1,000 metres, Baqueira-Beret is the only Spanish resort located on the northern slope of the Pyrenees, which guarantees excellent levels of snow throughout the winter. This world-class resort offers cable car and ski lift systems, restaurants, bars, shops, thousands of parking spaces and dozens of accommodations. Find accommodation in Baqueira-Beret.
What’s the best time to visit Val d’Aran
The Arán Valley is the only region in Catalonia with an Atlantic climate. Average annual rainfall is high and is distributed regularly throughout the year. Being in the Pyrenees area, winter temperatures are cold, with averages usually below 0 °C in the valleys and even colder in the mountains. Summers are mild, with averages of 17 °C in the valleys and 14 °C in the mountains.
As a tourist destination, and thanks to its ski slopes and a variety of winter activities, the Arán Valley is mostly visited between the months of November and February when thousands of snow sports enthusiasts come to enjoy its ski slopes. That said, this Catalan region can also be an excellent place to visit during spring and summer thanks to its many options for adventure activities, hiking and cultural tours.
Bear in mind that the winter, especially between November and February, is the high season in the Aran Valley, and it’s better to book your accommodation as far in advance as possible. Find accommodation in Val d’ Aran in winter.
Val d’Aran: Getting there and around
Located 84 kilometres from Vielha, the closest airport to the Arán Valley is Aéroport Tarbes Lourdes Pyrénées. This small airport offers connections to Paris and some European routes. Much busier and with many more destinations, Aéroport de Toulouse – Blagnac is located 166 kilometres (about two hours by road) north of Vielha and offers frequent connections to destinations in France, Spain and the rest of Europe, as well as several medium and long-haul routes to North Africa and the Middle East.
Val d’Aran does not have direct train connections. The closest station on the Catalan side is Lleida-Pirineus. This major station is located 165 km from Vielha and has Regional and Medium Distance services connecting it to the rest of Catalonia, Aragon and Valencia, as well as long-distance and high-speed trains to Madrid and the rest of Spain. On the French side, located about 80 kilometers from Val d’Aran, the Montréjeau-Gourdan-Polignan station has services to Hendaye, Pau and Toulouse. There are frequent coach connections from both stations to the centre of Vielha. Check train and coach schedules, rates and routes.
However, the easiest way to get directly to Val d’Aran is by car. You can access it by road from Pallars, Ribagorça, France and Portilhon. You can find a cheap rental car here.
Where to stay in Val d’Arán
The best area to stay in Val d’Aran is Vielha. The charming capital of the Aran Valley is the epicentre of Aranese culture and is ideally located for discovering the natural wonders of the Aigüestortes National Park and the ski slopes of the Pyrenees. In addition, Vielha has a wide selection of hotels and tourist apartments. Find accommodation in Vielha.
Other excellent areas to consider when choosing the best areas to stay in Val d’Aran include the Baqueira-Beret ski resort and the charming village of Salardú.
Continue reading to find out more about the best areas to stay in Val d’Aran.
The Best Areas to Stay in Val d’Aran, Spain
1. Recommended area: Vielha
Vielha, also known as Viella, is the capital and most populated town of the Arán Valley.
Located at an altitude of 900 metres above sea level, in a valley at the confluence of the Garona and Nere rivers, and surrounded by Pyrenean peaks, Vielha is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful towns in Catalonia.
The main tourist attraction in Vielha is undoubtedly the church of Sant Miquèu, a Romanesque jewel that houses the 12th-century Cristo de Mijaran. Other attractions in Vielha include the Ethnological Museum, the Ço de Rodès manor house and the Wool Museum.
This small town of just over 2,500 inhabitants is the main crossroads of the Valley. It is where roads N-230 (Lleida – France) and C-28 (Esterri d’Àneu – France) converge and also where the main long-distance bus stop, connecting the Valley of Arán with other towns on both sides of the border, is located.
The accommodation offer in Vielha is the most varied in the entire Val d’Aran. In addition to luxury hotels, this town offers a huge range of tourist apartments and family-run inns.
Why is this a recommended area to stay in the Arán Valley:
- Good transport connections
- Widest variety of accommodation in Val d’Aran
- Historical and cultural attractions
Accommodation in this area
- Top Choice
Hotel Riu Nere
This hotel is ideal for skiing and enjoying the winter sports that can be practiced in the region. During the winter months, there is a public service stop 30 meters away.
Hotel Urogallo is located in the center of Viella, the capital of the Arán Valley. It houses a restaurant and café, and offers ski storage and parking near the accommodation.
Hotel Spa Acevi Val d’Aran
The Acevi is decorated in a rustic style with wooden ceiling beams, and the rooms have heating, satellite TV and a fully equipped bathroom.
Baqueira-Beret is, every winter, the meeting point for snow sports professionals and enthusiasts.
Considered the main tourist attraction in the Arán Valley, Baqueira-Beret is the largest and most visited ski resort in all of Spain.
The Baqueira Beret resort consists of 4 areas and 167 kilometres of ski slopes, over 20 restaurants and all the necessary services for a perfect holiday in the snow.
Some of the winter activities that Baqueira-Beret offers include skiing, snowboarding, horse or husky sleigh rides, excursions to the semi-abandoned town of Montgarrí, snowmobile racing and more.
The ski resort is also the setting for world-famous sporting events such as the Vuelta a España and the Tour de France bicycle races.
In addition to being one of the best ski resorts in Europe, Baqueira-Beret has many accommodation options, many of which include a ski pass.
Why is this a recommended area to stay in the Arán Valley:
- Baqueira-Beret ski resort
- Winter sports
- Luxury accommodation
Very close to Baqueira-Beret is Salardú, a small historic town located in Val d’Aran.
Salardú offers visitors splendid natural landscapes, typical restaurants and all the charm that one would expect from a small mountain village in the middle of the Pyrenees.
Salardú has the typical appearance of the villages of the Pyrenees, with stone houses and pointed slate roofs.
The main tourist attraction in Salardú is the church of Sant Andreu, a church dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries that combines Romanesque and Gothic styles. Its bell tower is one of the most outstanding in the valley.
Salardú also offers outdoors activities such as golf in one of its nearby courses, sport fishing and excursions to the nearby mountains.
Salardú has a good hotel offer, including aparthotels and rural accommodations.
Why is this a recommended area to stay in Val d’Aran:
- Historic village
- Great restaurants
- Church of Sant Andreu
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