Print free trekking maps of the Pyrenees
Go to Open Street Map, navigate to the sector, choose “Map for cyclists” and print.
If you want to plan your walk on your computer in more detail download
Install free trekking maps of the Pyrenees for your GPS
Again, download and install the files listed above. Try these out first and if you need “routing” (see below) download
- OpenStreetMap of Europe from Alternativas Libres (10GB, phew!)
Everything you always wanted to know about maps but were afraid to ask
What is important for GPS maps of the Pyrenees?
Some years ago I paid a total of about 400€ for Garmin GPS vector maps covering the whole of France and Spain and I have been looking for a cheaper solution so I can update them.
The good news is that free high-quality GPS maps of the Pyrenees are available to be downloaded from the internet. The bad news is that – for the moment – no single map reproduces all the features of the Garmin maps.
- Vector maps so that the lines are always sharp however much you zoom
- A single map which covers all the Pyrenees
- Routing. Click on two points on a path and the software will fill in the gap, including all the bends and junctions.
None of the vector maps of the Pyrenees currently available offers all these features
|Version tested||Garmin Topo France v3||Garmin Topo Espagne v3.0||Open Street Map Europe||Topo Pireneos 6.1|
|Latest version||Garmin Topo France v4||Topo Espagne v5||OSM Europe (weekly updates)||Topo Pireneos 6.1 (2014)|
|Coverage||France||Spain and Andorra||Europe||Pyrenees|
|Space needed||0.2GB||0.4GB||Up to 10 GB*||0.4GB|
|Density of paths||lowest||lowest||moderate||highest|
|Calculation of climbing||yes||yes||sometimes||sometimes|
*to install the OSM map you need 20GB of free space. Once installed it is possible to eliminate the installation files (8GB) and areas of Europe not needed (9GB)
Comparison of Pyrenees ramblers’ maps
Open Street Map Project: source of the free maps
OSM is a Wikipedia-like collaborative project which aims to chart the world and make the results available for free on the Internet. It is the source of most of the data available on the free Pyrenean maps, some of which display different elements better than others.
The best way to appreciate how OSM works and the potential quality of the free maps is to connect to the OSM site. I have used the Basque village of Zugarramurdi as an example.
This is the beauty of OpenSteetMap. Cartographers can choose which elements they wish to show and how to display them. My favourite free map is Topo Pirineos 6.1 [Spanish]
Not only does the map show buildings and shading to highlight the relief but also it has extra features such as the routes of classic GR11 (Senda Pirenaica), GR10 (Pyrenean Way) and HRP (Haute Route Pyrénéenne). Beware, however, some of the ‘paths’ marked have been taken from sites such as Wikiloc and may be one person’s idea of the best way from A to B rather than an established path.
But why look any further? Well, unfortunately the Topo Pirineos map doesn’t have routing; you get straight lines. So I investigated further and discovered another open-source map based on OpenStreetMaps, created by the Spanish Alternativas Libres. (The website is in both Spanish and English.)
Routing for GPS maps of the Pyrenees
The Alternativas rendering is not as good as Topo Pirineos’ and buildings are not visible! But routing does work.
So the trick is to use the Alternativas Libres map for creating the route/track you are going to walk and then transfer it to the Topo Pirineos base map without recalculating.