Trek the Cathar Trail

Montsegur cathar castle in France
Duration: 7 nights
Type: Guided trails
Walking Grade: 4
from £1,529pp

One for the history buffs and fans of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, this walk takes you through the Pyrenees mountains along the Cathar Trail – a 58-mile long-distance route that crosses from France into Spain. Explore an incredible lineup of ruined castles and chateaux that tell the tragic tale of the Cathars – a persecuted religious group destroyed by the Spanish Inquisition in the 13th century. Highlights include Chateau de Foix, the spa town of Ax-les-Thermes, and Cadí-Moixeró Natural Park – a mountainous wonderland with peaks that reach over 2,500 metres.

What you’ll love

  • Exploring the stunning Pyrenees mountains on foot
  • Visiting medieval towns, ruined castles, and charming chateaux
  • Learning about the history of the Cathars
  • Conquering one of Europe's most historic trails
  • Discovering the spa town of Ax-les-Thermes
  • Walking through the heart of Cadí-Moixeró Natural Park

What’s included

  • Full programme of guided walks led by local HF Holidays Leaders
  • Comfortable accommodation
  • Full-board
  • All sightseeing and entrance fees (as per itinerary)
  • Air-conditioned transport
  • Return flights from the UK including hold baggage and airport transfers

Trip Notes

Easy to download as a PDF, our trip notes provide detailed information for every holiday. Please click below to find the trip notes for your departure date.

All our carefully-curated itineraries are designed by our experts. While we make every effort to adhere to the described itinerary, we may take alternative routes or adapt the running order for weather and/or operational reasons.

Transfer from Toulouse to the medieval town of Foix, where you spend the first night. If time allows take time to visit the castle of Count Gaston Fébus or stroll around the medieval city.

Hotel Lons - Cathar Crossing

The Hotel Lons (1 night) is located in the historic centre of Foix, 5 minutes walk from the imposing castle,”Château de Foix”. Formerly a coaching inn, Hotel Lons has been owned and run as a hotel by the Lons family for over half a century. 


A coach transfer of 45 minutes will take you to the beginning of today’s walk at Montségur and to meet your leader.

You'll meet at the Castle where you can enjoy magnificent views of the valleys and mountains around you. You'll also enjoy an introduction to Cathar history and legend on your visit to this famous castle, before traversing the spectacular Frau gorges where the Mediterranean influence is more present.

You’ll walk from Ariège to the Plateau de Sault before a 30-minute coach journey to the spa town of Ax-les-Thermes for the night with its hot springs and thermal baths.  (If time allows enjoy a relaxing time in the wellness centre “Les Bains du Couloubret”- 18.50€ for 2 hours).

9½ miles (15km) with 3,000 feet (900m) of ascent and 2,700 feet (800m) of descent.

Le Chalet or Hotel Restaurant Le Bellevue - Cathar Crossing

You will stay at one of the following small family-run hotels in Ax-les-Thermes: 

Le Chalet (2 nights) - The hotel has recently been refurbished, with light and airy rooms, and is renowned for its restaurant.

Hotel Restaurant Le Bellevue (2 nights) - is a comfortable hotel located close to all the local amenities in Ax-les-Thermes.


Today we take a short train transfer to Mérens and a beautiful walk, giving close-up views of the high mountains of Ariège. Taking shepherds’ paths and forest trails, we reach the high-point of the day with spectacular far-reaching views of the Pyrenean chain. Descending through the meadows and woods surrounding the village of Mérens, we can revive our feet in the natural springs, before taking the short train or bus journey back to Ax-les-Thermes.

8 miles (13km), with 2,500 feet (750m) of ascent and 2,500 feet (750m) of descent.

Le Chalet or Hotel Restaurant Le Bellevue - Cathar Crossing

You will stay at one of the following small family-run hotels in Ax-les-Thermes: 

Le Chalet (2 nights) - The hotel has recently been refurbished, with light and airy rooms, and is renowned for its restaurant.

Hotel Restaurant Le Bellevue (2 nights) - is a comfortable hotel located close to all the local amenities in Ax-les-Thermes.


Today we take a 40 minute coach journey on the famous route to Porté Puymorens and the Mediterranean Pyrenees. From here we begin our ascent to the Portella Blanca (8,257ft above sea level), and the border of France, Andorra and Spain.

Crossing into Spain, the landscape changes yet again, as we are greeted by the stunning sight of the Sierra del Cadi. You'll be rewarded by beautiful scenery as you cross into Spain. A short transfer from the end of your walk takes you to your hotel.

This is the longest day, as you cross the border and it involves a very early start.

14½ miles (23km), with 3,700 feet (1,100m) of ascent and 3,700 feet (1,100m) of descent.

Hotel Bellavista - Cathar Crossing

A family-run hotel (2 nights) from which you can enjoy the spectacular scenery of northern Catalonia. The hotel is located in the mountainous area of Cerdanya, part of the Spanish Pyrenees, just a short distance from the French border and Andorra. All rooms are outward-facing and en-suite with telephones and TV. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel. During the summer months, guests can enjoy a game of tennis on the Bellavista’s own court or a dip in the open-air swimming pool.


Today, on the agenda, a nice loop on the heights of Bellver de Cerdanya. It allows you to discover the geological richness of the Sierra de Cadi and undoubtedly admire the wild vultures, these Pyrenean giants, from very close up.

7 miles (11km), with 2,000 feet (600m) of ascent and 2,000 feet (600m) of descent.

Hotel Bellavista - Cathar Crossing

A family-run hotel (2 nights) from which you can enjoy the spectacular scenery of northern Catalonia. The hotel is located in the mountainous area of Cerdanya, part of the Spanish Pyrenees, just a short distance from the French border and Andorra. All rooms are outward-facing and en-suite with telephones and TV. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel. During the summer months, guests can enjoy a game of tennis on the Bellavista’s own court or a dip in the open-air swimming pool.


From Bellver we take a 20 minute transfer to Baga where we begin our walk through the heart of the Cadi-Moxero national park and in the shadows of the emblematic fortress of Pedraforca’s Peak. Our trail ends today at the town of Gosol with its castle, a place of refuge for many Cathars.

10 miles (15km), with 2,400 feet (700m) of ascent and 2,000 feet (600m) of descent.

Hostal Cal Francisco - Cathar Crossing

The Hostal Cal Francisco at Gosol (1 night) is basic, but comfortable and clean. All rooms are en-suite and the welcome from the owners will ensure you enjoy your evening’s stay. This is a small establishment and the menu offered for the evening meal is limited. It will however offer hearty food, from locally sourced produce.


The final chapter in this legendary journey leads us from Gisclareny (after a short transfer from Gosol to Gisclareny), to the Cathar sanctuary of Queralt, the ‘balcony of Catalonia’, and through the Mediterranean forest to Berga, where we can toast the life and legend of the “Bon Hommes”, and enjoy the final section of our journey.

9½ miles (15km), with 1,400 feet (400m) of ascent and 3,000 feet (900m) of descent.

Hotel Estel - Cathar Crossing

This comfortable, family-run 2-star hotel is located just a few minutes' walk from the centre of town. All bedrooms have an en-suite bathroom and television. Facilities include: Sun terrace, coffee house, snack bar, bar & restaurant.


Free time in Berga before your transfer to Barcelona airport which takes just over an hour.


Hotel Lons - Cathar Crossing

The Hotel Lons (1 night) is located in the historic centre of Foix, 5 minutes walk from the imposing castle,”Château de Foix”. Formerly a coaching inn, Hotel Lons has been owned and run as a hotel by the Lons family for over half a century. 

Le Chalet or Hotel Restaurant Le Bellevue - Cathar Crossing

You will stay at one of the following small family-run hotels in Ax-les-Thermes:  Le Chalet (2 nights) - The hotel has recently been refurbished, with light and airy rooms, and is renowned for its restaurant. Hotel Restaurant Le Bellevue (2 nights) - is a comfortable hotel located close to all the local amenities in Ax-les-Thermes.

Hotel Bellavista - Cathar Crossing

A family-run hotel (2 nights) from which you can enjoy the spectacular scenery of northern Catalonia. The hotel is located in the mountainous area of Cerdanya, part of the Spanish Pyrenees, just a short distance from the French border and Andorra. All rooms are outward-facing and en-suite with telephones and TV. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel. During the summer months, guests can enjoy a game of tennis on the Bellavista’s own court or a dip in the open-air swimming pool.

Hostal Cal Francisco - Cathar Crossing

The Hostal Cal Francisco at Gosol (1 night) is basic, but comfortable and clean. All rooms are en-suite and the welcome from the owners will ensure you enjoy your evening’s stay. This is a small establishment and the menu offered for the evening meal is limited. It will however offer hearty food, from locally sourced produce.

Hotel Estel - Cathar Crossing

This comfortable, family-run 2-star hotel is located just a few minutes' walk from the centre of town. All bedrooms have an en-suite bathroom and television. Facilities include: Sun terrace, coffee house, snack bar, bar & restaurant.

Essential information

It's best to be prepared for all weather conditions. To make it easier, here is a list of items you should consider packing.   

Essentials  

  • Walking boots 
  • Waterproof jacket 
  • Waterproof trousers 
  • Insulated jacket/top 
  • Walking clothing  
  • Walking socks (plus spares)  
  • Sunhat 
  • Gloves/mitts and warm hat
  • Water bottle (minimum 2 litre capacity)  
  • Headtorch 
  • High-factor sunscreen (minimum SPF 30)  
  • Sunglasses with a dark lens 
  • Rucksack (15-30 litres)  
  • Mobile phone 
  • Personal first aid kit (containing your medication, blister plasters, etc.) 
  • Passport 
  • Visa (if applicable) 
  • Copy of your travel insurance policy 
  • UK Global Health Insurance Card (formerly known as EHIC

Recommended

  • Collapsible walking poles 
  • Swimwear and travel towel
  • Snacks
  • Dry bags
  • Rubbish bags
  • Insect repellent

Optional extras

  • Camera 
  • Sit mat
  • Flask for hot drinks 
  • Durable lunch box
  • Gaiters 
  • GPS device 

Guest reviews

All holidays are subject to availability. Supplements may apply.

Non-member fee: £30 per person.

All packages that include flights are ATOL protected. Advertised prices listed below show the lowest economy flight price option for that departure. On holidays where we offer local UK airports, details will appear in the “Important Information” section below and available alternative flight options will be offered when you book. Seating upgrades may be available on request and at an additional charge, please call 020 3974 8865 for a quote.

Date (Start - End) Itinerary Double / Twin Room Single Room Notes / Offers Trip Notes Book
2024

01 Jul - 08 Jul 2024

7 nights

Itinerary
Flight from London Heathrow Airport

Single Call to Enquire
Double Call to Enquire
Call to Enquire Call to Enquire Trip Notes

09 Sep - 16 Sep 2024

7 nights

Itinerary
Flight from London Heathrow Airport

Single from

£2,049

Double from

£1,769 pp

from

£1,769 pp

from

£2,049

Call us to book
Trip Notes
Enquire
Date (Start - End) Itinerary Double / Twin Room Single Room Notes / Offers Trip Notes Book
2024

01 Jul - 08 Jul 2024

7 nights

Itinerary

Single Call to Enquire
Double Call to Enquire
Call to Enquire Call to Enquire Trip Notes

09 Sep - 16 Sep 2024

7 nights

Itinerary

Single from

£1,809

Double from

£1,529 pp

from

£1,529 pp

from

£1,809

Trip Notes
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Important information

  • With flights holidays: Price includes return flights to Toulouse-Blagnac Airport, hold baggage and airport transfers
  • Independent travellers can join our transfer from Toulouse-Blagnac Airport - please contact us for prices
Duration:
7 nights
Type:
Guided trails
Walking Grade:
4

7 nights from £1,529pp

or call 020 3974 8865

For group bookings of 10+ guests click here

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