Huesca is one of the most beautiful places in Spain that I have visited. The landscape is varied and rugged, dominated by the peaks of the Pyrenees, rocky outcrops of stone left over from the shifting of tectonic plates and fertile fields nurtured by the rivers flowing from the mountains. The mass tourism that has become a blight in other parts of the country have not discovered this part of Aragon in Northeast Spain abutting France. Their loss is your gain!
To clear things up, you need to know that there is a Huesca which is a city and the capitol of Huesca, a small province in Northeast Spain.
Huesca The City
The city of Huesca has a long history dating back to Roman times. It was under Arab rule for about 400 years from the late 8th century. During the Spanish Civil War, the city and surrounding area was the site of heavy fighting.
George Orwell memorialised a famous quote by an optimistic Republican General when he was fighting alongside the Republicans as they laid siege to Huesca.
‘Tomorrow we’ll have coffee in Huesca’ had become a standing joke throughout the army. If I ever go back to Spain I shall make a point of having a cup of coffee in Huesca.
– George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia
Orwell never did get around to having coffee in Huesca but there’s no reason you can’t!
The city of Huesca has some beautiful historic buildings such as the gothic-style Cathedral and the Romanesque Monastery of San Piedro. Built in the 12th century, San Piedro is one of the oldest Romanesque buildings in Spain.
You can bet the tapas are excellent in Huesca – in fact, there is an entire area in the old town where the tapas bars congregate. There is also one modern tapas bar, Tatau, which is the first tapas restaurants in the world, to have received a coveted Michelin-star.
Fiesta de San Lorenzo
The festival of San Lorenzo is a very big deal in Huesca. It runs for a week in early August in conjunction with the feast day for San Lorenzo on August 10th. San Lorenzo was a native of Huesca who was burned to death by the Romans in AD 268. Locals wear green and white, party through the streets, set off fireworks, etc – you can bet a fun time will be had.
The Espacio 0.42 Planetarium
The Planetarium for Huesca is named after its latitude and longitude (o/42). The low population density of Huesca makes it perfect for dark sky viewing. Espacio 0.42 has the capacity to show films on their big dome in English but it really does depend on how many English-speakers attend a viewing.
During the summer weekends the planetarium has family-events. You and your child spent some time together, they stay for a sleepover and you go off and enjoy yourself. Pick-up for the children is the next morning. Once again it is helpful if your children speak Spanish.
Huesca The Province
Almost 25% of the people in the province of Huesca live in the city of Huesca. With so few people, the countryside has lots of agriculture and unspoiled beauty. It is wonderful for active families with lots of things to do like, hiking, climbing, canoeing and skiing.
Castle of Loarre
Loarre Castle is a UNESCO Heritage site which is an impressive site to behold. Considered one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in Europe, the Castle of Loarre dominates the landscape from its perch on a cliff.
The castle was built in the 11th century on the remains of a Roman fort. It was never conquered – no one bothered trying – and so is still in remarkable condition! Children will love exploring its rooms, ruins and staircases.
Los Mallos de Riglos are sandstone rock formations which rise vertically from the relatively flat Earth. The little village of Riglos is tucked into a corner of the rocky pillars. Presumably no one in the village is worried about falling rocks? Sandstone after all is not one of the more stable and enduring rocks. Vultures and other birds make their nests in the crags of the rock formations.
I’m not good with heights so I would leave the mountain climbing to my husband and the kids. I would enjoy the hiking very much though! There are hiking trails marked by difficulty. The blue trail is good with kids and takes only 2 hours.
The rivers run down from the Pyrenees into the valleys of Huesca. They are perfect for lots of different water-based activities, such as canoeing, kayaking, canyoning, stand up paddle boarding and white water rafting.
We went white water rafting with UR Pireneos in the Murillo de Gallegos about 1/2 hour from the city of Huesca. The company provided everything and also speak excellent English. On a hot summer’s day, white water rafting was a high-adrenaline way to cool off!
Family water rafting is available for those with children who are at least 8 years old. For older children and more experienced rafters, there is a separate course that is considered class 3 (with one sneaky class 4 thrown in for good measure).
The company also have weekly family camps where you can learn do water-based family activities together (e.g, rafting, canyoning) with an experienced guide and transport. UR Pireneos can arrange your accommodation as well if you so wish.
Abutting the Pyrenees, in winter Huesca provides skiing opportunities as well. There are 6 ski resorts in Huesca which are a bit further west than the ones in Andorra or Bequeira-Beret where we have previously skied. The resorts are about 2000 sq. m. above ski level so snow conditions may vary from year to year. The most extensive is Formigal with 16 ski lifts and an array of blue, red and black runs.
Practical Information for Visiting Huesca
Huesca is situated in the foothills of the Pyrenees on the Spanish side of the Franco-Spanish border.
You can fly directly into Zaragoza airport from London via Ryanair. Zaragoza airport is approximately one hour away from the city of Huesca. Barcelona and Madrid are a bit further away (approximately 3 hours and 4 hours, respectively).
In Huesca, we stayed at the modern Abba Huesca, a short walk from the city centre. The hotel has a pool and children’s facilities.
Although we did not stay at the Real Posada de Liena in Murillo de Gállego, we had lunch there. It is a small and charming boutique hotel near the Los Mallos de Riglos with duplex family rooms. I thought it was pretty perfect and the only things my kids would miss would be a pool.
My stay was courtesy of the Aragon Tourist Board. All words and opinions are my own. This site also generates income via partnerships with carefully-curated travel and lifestyle brands and/or purchases made through links to them. More information may be found on our Disclosure Policy.