There is so much more to Spain than beach holidays or weekend breaks to Barcelona; it’s time to consider hiking in Spain. We have put together a guide to find out more.
When you think of Spain, you probably imagine hot weather, sunny beaches and relaxing holidays sipping an umbrellaed drink by the pool. Spain is a beautiful country full of diverse and unique terrain, as well as being surrounded by volcanic islands and mountains that rival those in the Alps. There are endless amounts of walking routes and steep hiking trails, and there is something out there for everyone.
We have compiled a list of some of the best hiking routes in Spain, to show you how versatile this beautiful Mediterranean country is and how incredible it is to explore on foot.
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Obviously, the weather in Spain in the summer is incredible, with around 300 days of sun (actually the sunniest country in Europe), so you can be pretty secure in the fact that the weather will hold up. The temperatures do change depending on where you are in Spain, but in general, the summer temperatures can be anything from over 23 degrees celsius to 40 degrees celsius. Although, hiking in the height of summer isn’t always that pleasant but if you are doing one of the high altitude trails, it can be better in the summer to ensure the snow has melted and the temperature at the summits will not be too cold. But for the other trails, you may want to consider hiking in Spring and Autumn to get most moderate temperatures but still have the sun.
Trail Length: 12km
Best For: Beginner hikers
Visit one of the most popular hiking trails in the Picos De Europa, which is a beautiful mountain range in the north of Spain. It runs through the Cares Canyon and by the Cares river from the region of Asterius to Leon. The gorge between the mountains is referred to as the ‘Divine Gorge’, which has an interesting history of being the only pathway between the two regions during the winter months centuries ago. This relativity easy trail can be tackled in a day, but will keep you entertained as you make your way through natural pathways in the rock, over bridges and in caves.
Bring a picnic to have in Cains which is the halfway point if you are doing the round trip.
Trail Length: 13.7km
Best For: Mountaineers
Heading closer towards the French border with the French Pyrenees standing strong in the distance, there is the Pico Sobarcal trail. This hike can be done in a day but don’t be fooled and don’t get complacent with the moderate incline and terrain for majority of the trail, as the end part to the summit will challenge the very best of us. Along 7 hours you will be in awe of the incredible views of the Pyrenees, but then be hit by a tough and treacherous final climb to the summit, but it is worth the extra effort. You will eventually reach the dizzying heights of 2269m and incredible views to match.
Bring mountaineering equipment so you are prepared for the final summit.
Trail Length: 14.5km
Best For: hikers who are looking for a challenge
This is a steep and challenging trail, for those who like to push themselves to tackle steep and treacherous inclines. The trail starts and ends at Joanetes and you know you have reached the summit when you get to the Hermitage De Santa Magdalena on Les Agulles mountain. You follow the yellow markers on the rocks and trees as you make your way through dense forest, in the region of Catalonia. Like the previous trail, the difficulty really takes a turn for the more challenging, as you have to use the hooks to lift yourself up to the last section.
Take all your food and drink for the day as this route has no refreshment facilities.
Trail Length: 780km
Difficulty: Easy to intermediate
Best For: Religious hikers
If you are familiar with religious pilgrimages in Europe, then you are probably aware of the famous Camino de Santiago or the Saint James’ Way. The full route is a whopping 780km long and can take around 40 days to complete, starting in Biarritz in France. There are a number of routes that you can join the main pilgrimage from in Spain, such as the Camino Aragones or Camino Ingles. There is an incredible community of pilgrims that all set off on this journey for many reasons, but join together along the way to meet at the resting place of Saint James in Santiago de Compostela. The route is a relatively easy and flat and an incredible way to explore Spain on foot, but of course, it can be tough for those who are not used to walking for long distances and many days.
The pilgrimage is a beautiful spiritual journey, so you can do whatever you can manage, the whole route does not need to be tacked at once, some stages you can fly to or hire a car or take a bus.
Trail Length: 7km
Difficulty: Easy to intermediate
Best For: good for large groups
Penelara is the highest peak in the Sierra de Guadarrama near Madrid, located in the Penelara national park. There are many routes to choose from in the national park but most only take around a few hours up to one day to tackle. It is a very interesting terrain, with remains of an old ski resort such as the old mountains huts and marked runs. One of the main routes is the trail to Laguna Grande, which is an impressive glacier lake just under the highest peak of 2592m. There are some easy routes to explore, but if you are looking for a challenge then head to the glacial peaks.
Check the weather before you go as it can be cold and windy at the top even in the summer.
Trail Length: 10km
Best For: High altitude walkers
The Canary Islands are a group of volcanic islands off the coast of Spain, one of them is Tenerife which is home to the famous Las Canadas caldera in the Teide National Park. There are many walking routes in the National Park, but there is also the classic Montana Blanca route, that takes you the summit of Mount Teide at an eye-watering 3718m. You must secure a permit to actually do the walk to the summit well in advance of your trek. You can do this hike in a day by getting the cable car most of the way up, which massively reduces the length to the summit, but you can also do the whole thing in a couple of days. Once at the summit, you will be blessed with the amazing views of the island and the national park.
You can camp overnight near the summit and watch the sunrise at 3700m
Trail Length: 14.5km
Best For: Mountaineers in training
Mulhacen is one of the highest mountains in the Iberian Penninsula and is part of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, at 3479m above sea level. You have to take a bus from Capileria, which will take you to the starting point at 2600m. It is a relatively easy hike, as the ascent is not too steep and the ground is not too temperamental. Although the mountain itself is quite barren, as it is high above the tree line, there are awesome vistas of the Mediterranean sea, plus being surrounded by snow-capped mountains.
You can start from lower down the mountain and spread the trek out over two days, and stay overnight at the designated rifugio.
Trail Length: 820km
Best For: Long distance walkers
The GR11 route is an epic Spanish adventure crossing the whole of the Spanish Pyrenees. This 46 day stretch takes your from Hondarribia, on the Atlantic coast to Cap de Creus, on the Mediterranean coast. This ultimate trek across Spain is broken down into 46 day-long sections that can be tackled all in one go, just for one day or for as many days as you have. The sections are all perfectly timed to be the ideal pitstop, refuel and overnight stay. Over 820km you will experience on foot many different terrains, high altitude, steep ascents, villages and valleys, which is why this trek so exciting to experience true Spain.
Prebook the mountain huts each night ahead as they get booked up.
Trail Length: 5km
Best For: Day trips from Barcelona
In Catalonia, just 54km from Barcelona, there is the beautiful religious site high on a hill in Monserrat, which is a popular day hike away from the city. Get the train to Montiserol from Barcelona and head to the starting point, which will suddenly take you on a single dirt path through lush green fauna. There are incredible views of the valley and interesting rock formations. After an hour and half of hiking uphill in the heat, you will end up at the religious site of the Santa Cova Monastery, with historic significance to the Virgin Mary and incredible architecture.
Bring a picnic with you or buy some fresh ingredients at a local shop to enjoy whilst at the top and dine with impressive views.
Trail Length: Varied km
Best For: Young families with kids
A trip to Algar waterfalls is not a big hiking adventure but instead a lovely walk through the forest and along banks of the natural pools of the fall. Algar waterfalls are around 3 hours drive from the famous Benidorm, so perfect for a fun day trip out with the family. There are a few waterfalls, all of which are around 15m high and create some spectacular scenery. You can walk around the forest area and explore all the different crystal clear pools and the many waterfalls along the designated path and paved stairs. Make sure to bring your swimming gear on a hot day, as the kids will love to have a swim and a cool down.
Visit the nearby medieval town of Callosa for some traditional Spanish cuisines and culture.
So there we have it, 10 hiking trails in Spain that will have you reconsidering your typical Spanish getaway. There really is something for everyone, so if you don’t want to spend 30 days hiking across the Pyrenees or scrambling up to reach summits, you can still get out and explore by visiting a waterfall or doing a day trip to a volcano. Spain is an awesome country and it can’t be fully appreciated by just staying on the beaches. Give one of these hikes a try on your next trip, however big or small and we know for a fact you won’t be missing your poolside bar.
Hey Riders, note from your gal Angelica here. All information was correct at the time of writing through research and extensive knowledge and experience. However, things change during different periods in the season and some websites offer out of date information and links may change.
Maybe you have some better information to offer or any addendum or changes to make, in which case, feel free to email me on email@example.com, and we can consider adding them in! Let me know. . .