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
- Basecamp (0.1GB)
- Topo Pirineos 6.1 [Spanish ] (0.4GB)
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.
9 thoughts on “Free maps of the Pyrenees”
I am planning to walk part of the Chemin de Cathars in May starting in Foix and walking for five days via Mont Segur.
I am a novice at internet but very glad to see so much available.Can you please advise?
The simplest thing to do is to go to openstreetmap.org and put Foix into the search box (top left). You can then click on Print (in File menu) and print out the map. Use the + sign at the top right to enlarge if necessary. Then drag the map to show the next section which interests you. Let me know if you have any problems.
I walked the Chemin des Cathares from Foix a few years ago. It is magnificent.
Hi I am planning to walk from Lourdes France to St Jean Pierre du Port in September on my way to walk the Camino. I welcome any guidance you may have to offer. Do I need a GPS or will my phone GPS work for this route. I am told that the route is well marked but I am having my doubts. Thank you. Bill
From Lourdes to St-Jean-Pied-de-Port you should have no problems using the GPS on your phone (as long as it is recent) but make sure to download the maps beforehand or data charges could be expensive. I am currently experimenting with the Wikiloc maps on my phone and they seem pretty good.
I am wondering if your vector map of the GR11 is available and will work on my Samsung Tablet? I am heading for the Pyrenees (East end, we are thinking) in August and, as a surveyor who has worked through every way of map presentation in a 40+ years career, love the idea of digital mapping (just not the battery life of all the current devices!!). I also collect maps so looking forward to buying some Spanish ones to cover the area but would be grateful for your help with the vector version.. Enjoying your book but still well West of Andorra!! Thanks Ian
Glad you are enjoying the book. The GR11 vector map is available, but although it is vector it is only a sketch and not accurate enough for walking. If you want a vector map you will find all you need on Wikiloc which you can use in conjunction with the free TopoPirineos base map and Garmin’s free Basecamp software. Download the .GPX files.
Alternatively you can uses Wikiloc’s tracks and basemaps on your mobile phone and (I imagine) a tablet.
For me too, one of the pleasures of walking is planning the route.
I am not very good with technology and wish to walk the GR 10 west to east- late August and through Sept this year 2019. How do i download good maps and also include the route. Is there a youtube video or teachingsite i can visit?
Many thanks for all your great advice!
Downloading the software and incorporating the route requires modest computer skills. I would suggest you either get a friend to help, using the instructions above, or simply buy a printed guide with maps.
I hope this helps.
thanks for providing this article.
Do you know the OSM Freizeitkarte website?
There is a map that includes all Pyrenees.
Here is the link:
You need to scroll down a little.
Give it a try.
Hope this helps..