Pyrénées-Orientales Travel Guide

Explore the best places to visit, hike, eat, and stay in Pyrénées-Orientales. Find out about local culture and customs, transportation options, and safety tips.

Introduction to Pyrénées-Orientales

Pyrénées-Orientales is a department in Occitanie, located in the southern part of France. The department is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, Spain, and the Departments of Aude, Ariège and Pyrénées-Atlantiques. Pyrénées-Orientales offers visitors a diverse range of experiences from beautiful beaches, scenic walks, historic towns, to world-class cuisine.

List of Places to Visit in Pyrénées-Orientales

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

Perpignan is the department’s capital and features many top museums and historical sites. The Palace of the Kings of Majorca is one of the most famous. This 13th-century castle overlooks the city and offers breathtaking views. The Museum of Hyacinthe Rigaud, the Musée d’Art Moderne de Céret, and the Château Royal de Collioure are other popular cultural attractions to visit within the department.

Natural Attractions of Pyrénées-Orientales: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

The coast of Pyrénées-Orientales is very popular with visitors, and the most famous town on the coast is probably Collioure. The coast between Argelès and Collioure is one of the most scenic drives in France, with stunning views of the sea and the hills. For hiking enthusiasts, the department features the stunning Canigou mountain, which at 2,784 meters, towers over the surrounding hills. Visitors can also enjoy taking scenic walks along the many rivers that run through the department.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Pyrénées-Orientales

The GR10 trail is a linear walk that runs through Pyrénées-Orientales and is considered to be one of the most famous walking routes of France. This trail offers visitors beautiful views of the Pyrenees mountains and opportunities to explore local flora and fauna. The Sentier Cathare, which travels through the department, follows a 240km route through valleys, villages, and castles. Alternatively, if you are an avid cyclist, Pyrénées-Orientales offers visitors challenging bike routes such as the Col de Port, which features 22 switchbacks over 8.6km.

Best Things to Do in Pyrénées-Orientales: Activities and Tours

Pyrénées-Orientales offers visitors a wealth of outdoor activities, including windsurfing and kitesurfing in Argelès, diving in Banyuls, and skiing in the Pyrenees mountains. Visitors can take guided walking tours of the coastal towns or the mountains, or go on boat trips to explore the coastline. For wine enthusiasts, there are numerous vineyards and wineries that offer tastings. And for art lovers, there are many galleries and exhibitions on show throughout the year.

Week-Long Itinerary for Pyrénées-Orientales

Day 1: Explore Perpignan’s cultural attractions, including the Palace of the Kings of Majorca and the Museum of Hyacinthe Rigaud.

Day 2: Visit the picturesque coastal town of Collioure and explore its historic castle and art galleries.

Day 3: Take a guided walking tour of the mountain town of Prades and its central square with plane trees known as “Cours Sully.”

Day 4: Go for a scenic drive along the coast from Argelès to Collioure, stopping off for a picnic and a swim and enjoying the stunning views.

Day 5: Hike up Canigou Mountain and take in the breathtaking sights of forests, valleys, and rivers.

Day 6: Go on a wine tour of the region and sample the local wines of Banyuls-sur-Mer and Collioure.

Day 7: Enjoy a boat tour of the coast, taking in the beautiful scenery and stopping off at some of the more remote beaches and coves.

Food and Drink Scene of Pyrénées-Orientales

Must-Try Dishes

Pyrénées-Orientales is famous for its Catalan cuisine, which blends French and Spanish influences. Some of the must-try dishes include the ollada, a vegetable and meat soup, and the boles de picolat, meatballs cooked in a spicy tomato sauce. The region is also well known for its seafood, especially the anchovies from Collioure and the mussels from Perpignan. Finally, not to be missed are the regional cheeses such as the Tomme de Catalogne

Local Beverages

Wine is one of the biggest local drinks, especially in the Banyuls and Collioure regions. Visitors can take tours of the vineyards and wineries to try the wines. The most famous local beverage is the Byrrh, a sweet fortified wine made from quinine and other botanicals.

Where to Stay in Pyrénées-Orientales: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

Pyrénées-Orientales has a wide range of accommodations, from luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels. Many visitors choose to stay in seaside villages or towns to enjoy the beautiful Mediterranean scenery. Alternatively, for those wanting to be closer to nature, there are plenty of campsites and rural cottages to choose from.

What to Buy in Pyrénées-Orientales: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

Visitors to Pyrénées-Orientales can find many local products to bring home, such as honey, olive oil, and saffron. The department is also known for its ceramics and pottery, which can be found in many local markets and shops. Other souvenirs to consider purchasing include Catalan textiles, artisanal carvings, and jazz music CDs.

Local Culture and Customs of Pyrénées-Orientales

The locals of Pyrénées-Orientales are known for their Catalan traditions, which is evident in their architecture, food, and language. Visitors can experience the local culture by attending local festivals, which often include music, dancing, and fireworks.

Best Time to Visit Pyrénées-Orientales

The best time to visit Pyrénées-Orientales is from May to September when the weather is warm and sunny. However, the winters can also be pleasant for outdoor activities such as skiing.

Do’s and Don’ts of Pyrénées-Orientales


  • Try the local cuisine and wine
  • Explore the natural parks and take guided walks
  • Attend local festivals


  • Smoke in public areas as this is banned in France
  • Leave valuables unattended on beaches or in cars.

Safety and Health

Safety in Pyrénées-Orientales

Pyrénées-Orientales is considered a safe department, but visitors should still take precautions against petty crime. This includes staying alert and keeping an eye on belongings when on the beach or in busy areas.

Health in Pyrénées-Orientales

Visitors to Pyrénées-Orientales should always carry their EU health card when traveling in Europe. The department has many healthcare facilities, including hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies, so healthcare should be accessible.

Getting to Pyrénées-Orientales: Transportation Options and Logistics

Airports Near Pyrénées-Orientales

The closest airports to Pyrénées-Orientales are in Perpignan and Girona, Spain. Both offer several daily flights to European destinations.

Bus Stations Near Pyrénées-Orientales

Pyrénées-Orientales is well connected by bus, with regular services running from Perpignan and connecting several of the department’s towns and villages.

Other Options

Visitors can also travel by train, which connects Pyrénées-Orientales to Paris and Barcelona via a high-speed TGV service.

How to Get Around in Pyrénées-Orientales

The best way to explore Pyrénées-Orientales is by car, as it offers the most flexibility and the ability to access the remote mountain trails and scenic drives. Alternatively, visitors can take the train or bus to connect between towns and villages.

Where to Go Next from Pyrénées-Orientales: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

Some of the nearby destinations to explore from Pyrénées-Orientales include the city of Montpellier and the beaches of the Languedoc-Roussillon region. Visitors can also cross the border into Spain and explore the Costa Brava or the city of Barcelona.


Pyrénées-Orientales offers visitors a diverse range of experiences, from beautiful beaches, mountain scenery, and outdoor activities to world-class cuisine and cultural attractions. With a wealth of accommodation options and excellent transport connections, Pyrénées-Orientales is the perfect destination for any traveler looking to experience southern France.