Aínsa is one of the most beautiful villages you can visit in the Pyrenees. Surrounded by the majestic mountains of the Spanish Pyrenees, the picturesque medieval town of Aínsa has a lot to offer its visitors all year round.
We visited Aínsa coming from the French side of the Pyrenees. The drive took us through meandering mountain roads, climbing to an altitude of 1800 metres above sea level where we crossed to Spain via the Bielsa-Aragnouet tunnel. Even though we were visiting on New Year’s day in the middle of Winter, the day was really mild and the roads were open and clear from snow.
Before arriving in Ainsa, the road takes you past the nearby Ordesa and Monte Perdida National Park (or Parque Nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdida). The first thing we noticed when arriving is the more modern part of town. Only when looking up you can see the walls of the medieval village perched high up the hill.
In this post you can read all about the historical part of Aínsa, the things to see and do and the main attractions. Also the tours you can do in the area, mainly during the summer months.
Why visit Aínsa in Spain
Located in the southern part of the Spanish Pyrenees, Ainsa is the capital of the Sobrarbe region at the confluence of the rivers Cinca and Ara. The town is divided in two parts. The modern part of Aínsa is located down below by the rivers, next to a busy crossroad. The medieval part of Aínsa is located on a hilltop, and when walking from the modern section to the old part it is like crossing into a whole different world. With cute cobblestone streets and ancient looking houses, the town invites you to stroll around and peep into every little corner to discover something new(old).
The old town offers enough for a whole day visit and some gastronomic discovery but with having the Pyrenees mountains on its doorstep, the surrounding area of Aínsa is perfect for all sorts of adrenaline activities and adventures.
Things to do in Aínsa Spain
Plaza Mayor of Aínsa
The Plaza Mayor of Aínsa is one of the prettiest in Spain. Dating back to the 12-13th century, this fairly large plaza is surrounded with stone walls and a handful of restaurants, cafes and Spanish souvenir shops hidden in the beautiful archways. Full of old charm and character, the terraces of the various restaurants and bars invite you to spend the afternoon or evening enjoying the lovely atmosphere of the old town. It’s a perfect place to eat some tapas or enjoy a tasty meal of Spanish food. The square is located right next to a large parking lot and is accessible from it via the Aínsa castle
Aínsa Castle or Castillo de Aínsa
The ruins of the Aínsa castle are located right next to the Plaza Mayor. The construction of the castle was done in various stages, resulting in different construction styles. The first part was built in the 11th century and consisted of a main rectangular square with high walls. This was used by the inhabitants as shelter in case of danger. During the next centuries the castle was enlarged and reinforced. The last major change was done in the 16th century which gave the fortress its current design.
It is possible to climb the stairs and walk on top of the castle walls to see some of the most breathtaking views of the surrounding area as well as the Plaza Mayor. The entrance of the castle is free of charge.
Santa Maria church or Iglesia Santa Maria
The construction of the Santa Maria church originates in the 11th century. However, further extensions were made during the following centuries. The original construction of the church was done in Aragon Romanesque style. The interior is pretty sober but also has a beautiful little crypt and cloister which can be visited.
It is possible to climb the top of the bell tower, which is well worth it to enjoy the spectacular views from above. The climbing of the tower costs 1 Euro. The church is located at one side of the Plaza Mayor, opposite the castle.
Eco Museum – Museum of Pyrenean Fauna
The Eco museum is located in one of the towers of the Aínsa castle. This small museum offers more information about the nature and wildlife of the Pyrenees. They also have a bird of prey section where you can visit birds that cannot live in freedom anymore due to injury. More information about visiting hours and fees can be found here.
La Morisma festival
Every two years in September, the festival of ‘La Morisma’ is held in the old town of Aínsa. La Morisma conmemorates the victory of the battle against the Moorish army in the year 724. The origins of the festival have been traced back as early as the 17th century. However, the current festivities have been modernised as of 1970. Around 250 people participate in the performance. The festival has been declared a Festival of Regional Touristic Interest by the Spanish government.
Adventure activities to do around Aínsa
What with being located in the Pyrenees and having various national parks on its doorstep, Aínsa is the perfect starting point for any adventure or adrenaline activity in the Huesca province. This is a list of activities you can do in the area.
- Hiking – The National Park of Ordesa and Monte Perdido offers some great hikes. More information about hiking in this national park can be found here.
- Mountain biking: Aínsa has some great mountain bike trails. You can find more info here on the Morcat Trail.
- Canyoning is a very popular activity in the Spanish Pyrenees. One of the canyoning tours that offers pick up in Aínsa is this one.
Best time to visit Aínsa
The best time to visit Aínsa is during the summer months, which is from June to September. During that time the weather is pleasant and warm with low rainfall. During the summer months you can expect more people will be visiting the village, so it can get a bit crowded.
However, Aínsa can be visited all year round depending on the amount of snowfall in the Pyrenees which might make accessibility from France more difficult during Winter. We visited Aínsa beginning of January and were fortunate enough to have a nice sunny and enjoyable day.