8 Classic Walking Routes in Spain
Walking reveals parts of Spain that casual tourists don’t really get to see. With its picturesque coastal routes, varied landscapes, and awe-inspiring mountain ranges, Spain is the perfect destination for trekking and hiking holidays. Whether you are a novice or an experienced walker or hiker, you will surely find the perfect walking route for you in Spain.
**THANKS TO ANNA FROM CAMINO ADVENTURES FOR WRITING THIS GUEST POST**
Las Cañadas del Teide National Park is located in the Canary Islands, on the island of Tenerife. It’s home to the highest mountain in Spain—Mount Teide (12,198 ft). The whole park is a UNESCO world heritage site.
It’s astonishing volcanic landscapes have earned it that title. Las Cañadas is home to several walking trails. You can even walk across the mountain itself.
However, if you visit in summer, you’ll need to apply for a permit to hike to the peak. You’ll also need a professional guide. But, seeing the 262-ft crater at the top is certainly worth the hassle.
Picos de Europa (Ruta del Cares)
Picos de Europa (“peaks of Europe”) is the oldest national park in Spain. It’s located in the woolly and wild part of northern Spain. It has a rich wildlife and incredible vistas to show, such as lush valleys and dramatic limestone peaks.
Its milder climate and a variety of contrasting landscapes are perfect for trekking. The Ruta Del Cares (aka “the Divine Gorge”) is one of the most popular and most beautiful routes in this region.
The route goes through streams and over bridges. But, what really makes the Ruta del Cares so interesting is the fact that it’s carved out of the side of rocks. The trail is not too difficult, as it’s just 7.5 miles long, but it does require a reasonable fitness level.
If you walk this trail, you’ll get to enjoy beautiful views of the Cares river and its surrounding cliffs below. But, do know that there are several other routes that go through the Picos de Europa. Ruta del Cares is just the most popular one.
If you want to walk a longer or more difficult route in this national park, you’ll be able to find a route that’s more suitable for you. The best time to go to the Picos de Europa is when the weather is milder, which is in June and September. But, if you want to view the flower season or go birdwatching, April, May, or October may be better.
Camino de Santiago
Camino de Santiago (The Way of Saint James) is an ancient pilgrimage that encompasses several routes that stretch over several different countries. All routes end in one place—Santiago de Compostela Cathedral.
Even though the Way of Saint James is a Christian pilgrimage, hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life (pun intended) arrive as pilgrims at the Santiago Cathedral each year—the religious and irreligious alike. So, you can rest assured that everyone is welcomed to experience the magic of the Camino. Some routes even pre-date Christianity.
It’s arguably the most popular trail in Spain. Many different routes lead to the cathedral, but the most popular ones start in Spain, France, and Portugal. More specifically, most pilgrims start their walk in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France. The Camino de Santiago trails are fairly easy. Most of the tracks are paved, well-marked, and well-maintained. The trails are flat as well. You do not need a lot of trekking experience to walk the Camino. If you are looking for an incredibly social walk, the Camino de Santiago may be the best choice for you.
Camino de Rey
This walkway is also known as the King’s Little Path and is located in Malaga. It used to be known as one of the most dangerous hikes in the world. Because of that, it had been closed for many years.
The route was reopened in 2015 after extensive renovations. Now, it has everything you need for a safe hike, including stairs, bridges, handrails, and tracks. The new improvements allow for a spectacular, but safe trekking experience. The trail runs from Ardales to Alora. It’s about 5 miles long.
The trail is not reserved just for hard-core adventurers and thrill-seekers anymore. Anyone can enjoy the landscapes and views of the Camino del Rey. However, walking next to the side of the spectacularly beautiful gorge is sure to give you an adrenaline rush.
Cami Dels Bons Homes
The Path of the Good Men, or Cami dels Bons Homes, encompasses the routes the Cathars walked over seven centuries ago when they fled from the Inquisition. This multi-day trail is not for novices, although some stages are ideal for casual hikers.
The Path of the Good Men starts in Southern France and ends in Berga, Catalonia. It takes 5 days to complete the Spanish side of the Hike. The trail is a cornucopia of stunning valleys, ancient ruins, mysterious forests, and idyllic meadows.
If you walk the Cami Dels Bons Homes in September or May, you won’t see many other hikers. Chances are you’ll see more deer than humans. So, this can be the perfect trail for those who prefer solitude.
Sierra Nevada Trail
This Andalusian mountain range has several hiking trails to offer. Some are more challenging, while others are easy, but it is possible to walk every one of them within a day.
The Mulhacén is not just the highest mountain of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, but it is also the highest mountain of the Iberian Peninsula. It’s best to climb it in summer.
The most popular route is via the southern face. It’s also the easiest one and takes only 2 hours. Even if you’re not up for the challenge of climbing the summit, the foothills provide gorgeous views and pleasant weather as well.
Or, if you are up for an even bigger challenge than that one, you can walk the North Face route. It’s reserved for more advanced hikers.
The Pico Sobarcal is a part of the Pyrenees—a mountain range that spreads out between France and Spain, forming a natural border between the two countries. This trail can be physically challenging, but it offers interesting cultural experiences.
It takes 7 hours to reach the summit of Pico Sobarcal. The majority of the hike is moderate, but the terrain near the summit is quite rocky. So, the last segment is a bit difficult, but the awe-inspiring views of the Pyrenees are well worth it.
Aside from offering a spectacular panoramic view of the Pyrenees, the summit also makes for quite an excellent spot to take a relaxing break and energize yourself. However, don’t attempt to climb the peak if you are not an experienced hiker. Walking along the foothills of the Pyrenees allows you to enjoy beautiful waterfalls, variable lush forests, and plenty of mountain torrents.
Peñalara Natural Park
If you want to escape the hectic environment of Madrid, the Peñalara is the best place to go. The Peñalara mountain is in the Sierra de Guadarrama and is the highest mountain in the province of Madrid.
The trail is fairly short and easy. The hike takes around 3.5 hours. There are several routes that lead to the peak and all of them are well-marked. Aside from its beautiful landscape, the park is famous for being the home of many rare and interesting amphibians.
Thanks again to Ana from Camino Adventures for writing this wonderful guest post about hiking in Spain. Her website has all the information you need about hiking Camino de Santiago, Camino de Frances and more!
Ana loves getting out hiking during the weekend and has completed a few long multi-day hikes including twice on the Camino de Santiago for 4 weeks and then a Camino route in France for 2 weeks. She has also had the pleasure of hiking up Ben Nevis, hiking all over Ireland, and my favorite was 3 weeks in the Canadian Rockies.