Walking Holidays Spain: Best Routes for Hiking in Spain

By Rintsje Bosch

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Walking Holidays Spain: Best Routes for Hiking in Spain
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You may know Spain from the beaches, the Rioja, and the bullfights, but did you know that Spain is actually a true mountain country? That's right, the Pyrenees, Sierra Nevada, the Canary Islands, the Balearic Islands all have some of the best trails in Europe

Your Walking Holidays in Spain: Bienvenido

Spain delights hiking enthusiasts with fascinating scenic facets! Of course, the Way of St. James, which leads to Santiago de Compostela and has experienced a real pilgrimage hype in recent years, is particularly popular. But other parts of the country are also more than interesting and well worth a visit: In the north, green forests and mountains, the Picos de Europa or the vineyards of the Basque country attract visitors - but also the inland and, of course, the panoramic paths along the barren peaks and blue glacial lakes of the Sierra Nevada are very inviting.

Welcome to Spain! Travellers can discover multifaceted landscapes, tranquil villages and a contrasting flora and fauna on foot. Major cities like Madrid and Barcelona make a holiday in Spain perfect. Spain is anything but an unknown country, but there are many secrets to be discovered on extended walking tours. In the north, the country is very mountainous with the Pyrenees and the Cantabrian Mountains, in the heart of the country there are wide plains such as the Ebro basin and in the south it is mountainous again in the Sierra Nevada. There are therefore unlimited possibilities for hiking, whether individually or as a guided group hiking tour.

The Way of St. James plays an important role in Spain and is the perfect opportunity to hike to Santiago de Compostela and at the same time dedicate oneself to self-awareness. Those who do not necessarily want to go on a pilgrimage as part of their hiking trip to Spain, but are looking for nature experiences, will find suitable terrain in the Andalusian nature park "Los Alcornocales", among others. The Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands also prove to be excellent destinations for hiking and also present themselves as real island paradises. Becoming curious? These are some of the best options for your walking holidays in Spain.

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For Mountain Goats: Picos de Europa

The Picos de Europa (Peaks of Europe) is the name given to a part of the Cantabrian Mountains in northern Spain that stretches from eastern Asturias to Cantabria. The small but spectacular limestone massif reaches almost to the Atlantic coast in some places and rises to more than 2500 metres above sea level. The highest peak is the 2518 meter high Naranjo de Bulnes. The national park of the same name, "Picos de Europa", extends over large parts of the mountain range and is one of the most visited national parks in the country.

The mountain world of the "Picos de Europa" is a wonderful, albeit very demanding hiking area and is criss-crossed with a dense network of paths and trails. In the national park itself there are 34 official short or day hiking routes - green signs with yellow and white colour markers indicate the paths. Even short hikes often involve large differences in altitude and difficulties such as sloping paths, temperature fluctuations and weather changes. A good hiking guide should therefore be in the luggage of every backpack.

For Mountain Goats: Picos de Europa

For Pilgrims: El Camino de Santiago

El Camino de Santiago, also known as The Way of Saint James in English, is one of the oldest pilgrimage routes in the world. Dive deep in the Mediterranean culture and walk through vineyards, dine in little bistros and meet like-minded pilgrims while walking el Camino de Santiago. A glass of Rioja is well deserved after a good day of trekking along the Camino de Santiago de Compostela.

When walking the Camino de Santiago, there are several options to choose from in order to get to Santiago de Compostela. The French way is by far the most popular route, but, having said that, the Portuguese, English, and Finisterre way gained a great number of trekkers as well over the last few years. The Pilgrim's passport or credential accredits the traveler as a pilgrim and certifies his or her orderly passage through the different towns and villages on any of the Jacobean routes. It includes the personal details of the pilgrim, space for the stamps, and useful information about the Way of Saint James, with maps and routes. You can get the Pilgrim's passport at one of the many Pilgrim's associations, hotels, churches, or in one of the Confraternities of the Apostle James.

For Pilgrims: El Camino de Santiago

For Daredevils: Caminito del Rey

The Caminito del Rey (King's Path) - formerly Europe's most dangerous hiking trail - is a via ferrata several kilometres long and is located between the towns of Ardales and El Chorro in the province of Málaga, around 60 kilometres from the city of Málaga. To conquer the Caminito del Rey, you need a fair amount of courage and a certain level of physical fitness. The path leads at dizzying heights over deep ravines and along steep cliffs. The route runs through the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes gorge, through which the Guadalhorce, the most famous river in the province, flows. The trail owes its name to King Alfonso XIII, who visited it in 1921.

For many years, the once most dangerous path in the world was closed after several fatal accidents. This was not least due to the fact that the Caminito del Rey had fallen into disrepair since the visit of its namesake. Since 2015, however, it has been completely restored and is now officially open to visitors over the age of 8. You should allow about three to four hours for the walk. Since there is no circular route, but rather a destination trail that runs from north to south, the way back must also be taken into account. You can either do the return on foot or use the inexpensive shuttle bus express. The hiking trail always leads from Ardales in the direction of El Chorro.

For Daredevils: Caminito del Rey

For Endurers: GR92 Costa Brava

The GR92 is one of the Long-Distance Footpaths marked as GRs across Europe. GR stands for Grand-Randonnée or in Spanish Gran Recorrido. The GR 92 is a 131 mi trail that starts in Lloret de Mar, Spain and ends in Portbou, Spain. The trail is considered to be medium to hike and has a total elevation gain of 13248 ft. Normally the trail takes 11 days to complete but can be finished in as little as 8 days.

Part of the GR92 is the Cami de Ronda.A large part of the trail is made up of narrow paths that can only be covered on foot, also because of the uneven terrain, ascents and descents, which sometimes require some skill. All these aspects, combined with the beautiful landscape, the flora and the contrast with the sometimes rugged geography of the Costa Brava, make the Camí de Ronda a unique paradise for any walker or excursionist. Furthermore, and unlike comparable routes, the Camí de Ronda can be hiked 365 days a year.

For Endurers: GR92 Costa Brava

For Families: Carros de Foc

Once started as a joke by local hut wardens to visit each other, the Carros de Foc has now grown into a world-renowned multi-day mountain trek that is mentioned in many a guidebook as one of the most beautiful multi-day hut-to-hut treks in Europe. You can find the Carros de Foc about 4 hours northwest of Barcelona, and because they are the Pyrenees after all, basically on the border with France. The route was created in 1987 when the caretakers of the refuges in Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici Park decided to visit each other's huts, resulting in a beautiful circular hike, connecting all the mountain huts, "Refugi" in Catalan, in the area.

A great takeaway for Carros de Foc is that there is still this bond between the different refugis. The 9 huts are not only connected by 65 kilometres of trails, hikers are also able to collect stamps from each and every refugi, allowing for a great tangible memory to take home. The hike can be started at any of the participating refugis and you can choose your own pace and decide to stay in as many or few refugis as you wish. This makes the route not only appealing to seasoned hikers but also to families.Read more about the Carros de Foc here and have a look at our self-guided options while you're at it.

For Families: Carros de Foc

For Island Hoppers: The Canary Islands

Escaping winter and enjoying a hiking trip in the sun can be so easy. However, the right trip should be carefully considered. If you don't want to miss out on the sun even in winter and want to relax in the sun on a hiking trip, you should consider the Canary Islands or Madeira. On the Canary Islands, you can follow in the footsteps of the ancient Guanches and not only learn more about the culture of the indigenous people but also explore the breathtaking volcanic landscapes. Gran Canaria and La Palma, for example, offer some of the densest laurel forests on earth. On the coast, you can stroll along the black volcanic ash beaches, and in the mountains, rugged gorges await you.

For Island Hoppers: The Canary Islands

For Thrill Seekers: Sierra Nevada

Andalusia with its eight provinces is the land of sun, flamenco and bullfighting. In the heart of Spain, these traditions are still cultivated today by numerous young men and women. Its beaches, especially on the Costa del Sol, have always captivated holidaymakers hungry for a swim; for the hiker, however, the interior of the country with its barely touched nature is a special attraction. In its long and eventful history, the land between Malaga and Granada is considered the last bastion of the Moors on Spanish soil.

At 3482 meters, the Sierra Nevada (Spanish for snow-covered mountain range) is the highest mountain range in the Iberian Peninsula, which usually wears a bonnet of snow from November to May each year. It is located in southern Spain in the provinces of Granada and Almería in the Autonomous Region of Andalusia and is a 100 km long part of the Betic Cordillera. Sierra Nevada is home to the GR7, among other hiking trails.

For Thrill Seekers: Sierra Nevada

For Perseverists: Porta del Cel in the Pyrenees

Porta del Cel is Catalan for Heaven's Gate. In the Catalan Pyrenees, you can't higher than the Porta del Cel. This makes this trek an adventure for seasoned mountain goats. If you want a little piece of Catalan heaven, then the Porta del Cel with 65 kilometres and 11.000 vertical meters, is the hiking route to take. Just as the Carros de Foc, this is the Catalan side of Spain and the Pyrenees. Where the Carros de Foc already offers plenty of elevation, the Porta del Cel takes you much higher by adding in the 3,164-meter-high peak Pica d'Estats. This is the highest point of the Catalan Pyrenees.

Not only do you climb the highest peak, but you are in the largest national park and see the largest mountain lake in Catalonia. In that respect, the Porta del Cel is truly a trek of superlatives. That largest national park is called Parc Natural de l'Alt Pirinieu and you will have some of the most beautiful views that not only Catalonia but also Spain has to offer. On the Porta del Cel you will definitely be hiking for at least 6 to 7 hours a day. During the final stage, you are even hiking for a bit longer than that. This, together with all the elevation, makes the Porta del Cel definitely a hike for seasoned mountain goats. If you are not new to hut-to-hut treks, multi-day hiking, and have your gear up to level, you could totally consider doing the Porta del Cel. Here you can go straight to our overview with self-guided treks. Not entirely sure yet? Read our extensive blog post about the Porta del Cel here.

For Perseverists: Porta del Cel in the Pyrenees

For Club Med Lovers: GR221 on Mallorca

Mallorca is part of the Balearic Islands, a group of islands in the Mediterranean Sea which also includes Ibiza and Menorca. The island has been a popular holiday destination for sunny beach holidays for decades, which is where you might recognize Mallorca from. Besides a number of seaside resorts, the island also boasts a varied and mountainous landscape with a nice sea breeze. Here you walk among almond and orange trees and enjoy views of the sea and mountains. Meanwhile, you'll hear the occasional goat bleating among the tall grasses and you might encounter a shepherd with his flock.

The GR221 is divided into ten stages of varying lengths. Further below you can find an overview of the stages, the number of kilometres and the metres you will ascend and descend during a day. While officially the route is divided into eight stages, Bookatrekking.com really recommends completing the route in ten stages. This way, you build in more of a break and the day-to-day distances are not excessively long. In total, you cover over 140 kilometres and ascend and descend 6,140 and 6,150 metres respectively. The route has no technical difficulties and is suitable for anyone with a decent fitness level. That leaves plenty of time for breaks at the orchards, enjoying the beautiful views from the mountain trails and a drink on a terrace at the end of the day. Read more about the GR221 here and find our offers right there.

For Club Med Lovers: GR221 on Mallorca

Best Season for Your Walking Holidays in Spain

Spain is a large country and if you include the islands, which we will, there is a season for each part of the country. Let's match the best season to the best region for you:

Spring

If you want to go on holiday in Spain in spring, you should prefer the southernmost regions. Besides the Canary Islands, this is above all Andalusia on the Spanish mainland. Here in southern Spain, pleasant temperatures and sunshine can be expected as early as the middle/end of February. Spring is also a good time to take a tour of Andalusia. At the end of April, beginning of May, it also gets warmer on the northern sections of the Spanish central coast.

Summer

Those who want to spend their holidays in Spain in the summer are usually looking for sun and beach. Beautiful seaside resorts are located on the Costa de Luz. There is usually some wind on the Spanish Atlantic coast, which is certainly an advantage at this time of year. For a camping holiday with family, the excellent campsites on the Costa Brava are a recommendation. A nice holiday destination in summer is the green northern Spanish Atlantic coast. The regions of the Basque Country, Cantabria, and Asturias are particularly recommended as destinations.

Autumn

A special attraction in Navarre is the bright colours of the forests in the varied landscapes between the Pyrenees and the plain of the river Ebro. Wine lovers take a tour through the wine region of La Rioja. From mid-September, the grape harvest begins and with it the time of the wine festivals. And of course, autumn is again a good time to visit Andalusia. It is possible to hike until November.

Winter

In winter, the Canary Islands off the coast of West Africa once again attract visitors with pleasant temperatures, lots of sunshine and varied holiday offers such as water sports, hiking or simply lazing around.

Best Season for Your Walking Holidays in Spain

Where can I book my walking holiday in Spain?

At Bookatrekking.com you can book many treks in Spain. We take care of all the details for you, give you personal trekking advice and give you the best service possible. Find all our offers for Spain here. Our easy-to-use platform allows you to browse and compare different trekking options and find the perfect fit for your interests, abilities, and budget.

If you have any questions about a specific trek or need help choosing the right one for you, our team of Trekking Experts is here to assist you. Simply reach out to us and we will be happy to provide you with personalized recommendations and advice to help you plan the trekking adventure of a lifetime.

Is a walking holiday in Spain not your cup of tea and are you looking for other epic adventures? Check out one of our following blog posts:

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