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25 September 2023

GUIDE TO SALARDÚ AND GESSA

Located in the Alto Arán region, Salardú and Gessa are two bucolic villages characterized by typical Aranese architecture, cobbled streets, traditional restaurants, and spectacular mountain views. In fact, they are part of the Inventory of Architectural Heritage of Catalonia. In this guide, we’ll tell you what to see in Salardú and Gessa so you can make the most of both towns during your stay in FeelFree.

WHAT TO SEE IN SALARDÚ

Let’s start with Salardú. Surrounded by the Garonne and Unhola rivers, Salardú is the capital of Alto Arán. This beautiful village, adorned with slate roofs and stone walls—some of which are centuries old—is located at the gates of the Aigüestortes National Park and only 4 km from the Baqueira Beret ski resort, making it an ideal accommodation choice if you’re looking to enjoy outdoor activities in any season.

A Stroll Through Salardú

As in many villages in the Aran Valley, Salardú invites you to get lost while wandering its well-kept and very tranquil streets. Its stone houses that seem to be taken from a fairy tale – some even from the 17th century – blend perfectly with historical buildings like the church of Sant Andreu. As an interesting fact, this 12th-century Romanesque and Gothic church boasts an impressive bell tower built in the 15th century using stones from the Salardú castle.

Museums to Travel Back in Time

As you stroll through the streets of Salardú, you’ll arrive at the Main Square, where most of the local cuisine restaurants are located. Here, you’ll also find the PyrenMuseu – specifically in the historic Refugi Rosta – with an exhibition that invites you to delve into the Pyrenees of the 19th and 20th centuries and discover the refuge where illustrious figures – like King Alfonso XIII, cartographer Franz Schrader, Pyrenean enthusiast Maurice Gourdon, hiker Juli Soler, or climber Lluís Estasen – spent their nights after their expeditions.

Excursion from Salardú to Tredós

Among the numerous outdoor activities you can enjoy from Salardú, the Ribera de Aiguamòg route in Tredós is one of the most best plans to enjoy with family or friends.

To do this, prepare your mountain gear and also your swimwear – you’ll discover why now. We recommend taking your car and parking it at the Balneario Banhs de Tredós. From here, a beautiful 5 km path begins to the Aiguamòng reservoir, passing through forests of black pine, beech trees, clear streams, and turquoise-blue lakes. Upon returning to the spa, it’s time to put on your swimwear…or maybe to dine at its magnificent restaurant?taurante?

Where to Eat in Salardú

Seasonal produce, which goes straight from the garden to the table, and a strong livestock tradition make the cuisine of the Aran Valley a delight for the palate and stomach, even more so after a day outdoors! Visit some of its restaurants and cafes to enjoy local dishes such as olla aranesa (Aranese stew), valley fish, game meat, cured sausages, cheeses, pâtés, and delicious homemade desserts.

SEE RESTAURANTS IN SALARDÚ

Festivals in Salardú

Salardú also has room for celebrations. The Fiesta Mayor of Santa Cruz welcomes people from all over the Aran Valley every May 3rd to enjoy a different plan that includes traditional Aranese dances.

If you visit Salardú in October, we recommend taking a stroll through the livestock fair, where the best seasonal products are showcased. Additionally, on November 30th, the celebration in honor of the patron saint, San Andrés, is organized along with a plethora of activities that kick off the popular festivities of Salardú.

WHAT TO SEE IN GESSA

We continue our guide with another picturesque village. Gessa is the perfect retreat for disconnecting, where mountain landscapes, silence, and tranquility reign. If you’re thinking about staying in a charming, small, and less-visited village, yet still very close to the main towns – Arties at 2 km, Baqueira at 5 km, and Vielha at 8 km – Gessa is likely your perfect refuge. In this guide, we’ll reveal what to see in Gessa through a tour of the village and its surroundings.

A STROLL THROUGH ITS STREETS

Thanks to its altitude – located at over 1,200 meters above sea level – Gessa offers spectacular views of Mont Romies forest and the Baqueira Beret slopes, an idyllic natural landscape that perfectly complements the black slate roofs and gray walls of its houses. Taking a walk through its cobbled streets, you’ll notice wooden balconies adorned with vibrant colored flowers, so beautiful and well-kept that Gessa has been awarded the “Pobles Florits” distinction.

Among its architectural treasures, the Church of San Pedro stands out, a Romanesque temple that, although dating back to the 12th century, was reconstructed in the 17th century, resulting in the church with a hexagonal bell tower that we can see today.

EXCURSIONS NEAR GESSA

If you enjoy hiking, there are plenty of routes to explore near Gessa. One of our must-visit recommendations is the Aigüestortes National Park, with numerous trails of varying difficulty levels amidst mountains towering over 2,500 meters, turquoise-blue lakes, crystal-clear streams, pine and fir forests. If you’re lucky, you might spot some roe deer, red squirrels, marmots, golden eagles, or even bearded vultures!

Alternatively, if you prefer a fun and family-friendly trail, you can try the “Camino de la Bruja” (Witch’s Path) in Tredós. It’s a relatively easy circular route that runs alongside the river, allowing you to enjoy the fresh air and lush vegetation of the area while learning about the legends of the Aran Valley.

WHERE TO EAT IN GESSA

Gessa boasts a traditional Aranese cuisine restaurant, Casa Rufus, perfect for those days when you don’t feel like cooking. Their menu features hearty soups, stews, sautéed vegetables, grilled meats, fish, and homemade desserts, all prepared with fresh local ingredients. Their specialty is the tripe stew (callos), a dish they’ve been serving since 1963, perfect for any time of the year, even on cool summer nights! However, if you prefer, they also offer vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options.

If you’re considering visiting Baqueira in winter, you may be interested in our guide to the Baqueira Beret ski resort, where we explain the best areas depending on your skill level and share some must-visit recommendations!

SEE BAQUEIRA BERET GUIDE