There are some incredible hikes in Spain and if you are looking for a getaway that perfectly combines nature and adventure with excellent sightseeing, delicious food and wine, this is one of the best countries in Europe.
But what are the nicest places for hiking in Spain? It is not easy to select them – the country is actually quite big, and the weather changes a lot depending on the region; so where you go hiking should also be based on the season you want to hike! I have my preferences, though, and thought I’d put them on a list, divided by region and which, however, is hardly exhaustive.
Continue reading this post for the most amazing hikes in Spain.
The Best Hikes In Spain
Camino de Santiago
The most famous trail in Spain is the Camino de Santiago (AKA the Way of St. James), which isn’s just a hike, but a series of walks departing from various places in Spain – in fact, also from Portugal and France – and that criss-cross the country leading pilgrims to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, the capital of Galicia, the resting place of St. James. This isn’t the average multi-day hike, though: it’s a spiritual experience, a companionship one during which you end up meeting people from all over the world. You will enjoy it even if you are not religious.
I have walked parts of the the Camino Camino del Norte, and found it an incredible experience.
This easy hike goes through Peñalara Natural Park, in the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range located just outside Madrid. The park is a lovely place with glacier peaks, but the hike is best avoided in the summer, when the temperatures are too hot. It takes up to four hours to complete.
Picos de Europa
The Picos de Europa are located in the North of the country, in an area known as “green spain,” and have some of the best hiking trails in Spain. They are a mountain range set at about 20 km inland from the north coast, and part of the Cantabrian mountains. The Picos de Europa spread across four different regions: Asturias, Cantabria, Castille and León.
The name Picos de Europa (Peaks of Europe) is a reference to the first sight of Europe that sailors coming back from the Americas would get. Often referred to as “the Dolomites of Spain,” they are home to some of the nicest hikes in Spain. These limestone mountains are packed with caves (some as deep as 1500 meters) and gorges. The highest peak there is the Torre de Cerredo, with its 2650 meters. Several others reach 2600 meters.
What’s great about the Picos de Europa is that they are beautifully quiet, unknown as they are to mass tourism. Only Potes, the main resort town in the area, gets a bit more visitors. But it is never overwhelming.
Picos de Europa National Park has several day hikes; trails are well marked and you will find lots of lovely villages to visit during your hikes or where to spend the night. The best views in the area are from Fuente Dé, which you can reach by cable car or on a hike. Make sure to go on sunny day for best views.
Ruta del Cares
The best hike in the Picos de Europa is by far the Ruta del Cares, a 12 km hike that goes along the Cares River and has been nicknamed “the Divine Gorge.” The hike will take you from Poncebos, in Asturias, to Caín, in León, offering great views along the way. It’s an easy walk suitable for children too, as there is little ascent and lots of places for breaks and views.
The Sierra Nevada mountain range has some of the nicest hikes in Spain. Located in Andalucia, it spreads across the provinces of Granada and Almería. The mountains are within easy reach of Granada, and the range is home to the highest peak in Europe other than those of the Alps – the Mulhacén, which reaches 3478 meters. The high mountain peaks make the Sierra Nevada a fantastic skiing destination in the winter – all the while, the rest of Andalusia is warm and sunny.
You can go hiking here throughout the year, even during the winter months: when snow and ice make the highest peaks inaccessible to most, the foothills still have pleasant temperatures and beautiful views, and are perfect for hiking. Likewise, when the summer heat kicks in in Andalucia, you can escape to the highest peaks for fresh air – though beware of sudden weather changes.
Most trails in the Mulhacén are perfect for day-hikes, but the ones on its northern side are accounted among the most difficult hikes in Spain.
Sierra Nevada National Park occupies most of the Sierra Nevada range and is a UNESCO biosphere reserve. The National Park is really vast and there are many trails. The good news is that few people outside of Spain visit with the intent to hike, so the trails are peaceful hiking region throughout the year.
Beas de Granada
The best hike in the Sierra Nevada is the Beas de Granada, which offers impressive views of the mountain range. It’s a 16 km trail that starts in Granada, perfect for a day trip or, if you prefer a slower pace, to be completed in two days. The best time to walk this trail is the winter, so that you can admire the snow-capped mountains – but keep in mind there may be snow on the trail. It’s not suitable in the summer as it is very exposed to the sun.
Mirador de Travélez
For the more impressive views of the Sierra Nevada, opt for this two hour walk on the southern side of the Mulhacén mountain. The trail is fairly easy as a bus or car ride will take you all the way to 2700 meters above sea level, but the altitude can make it tricky! Keep in mind you will find many more trails in the area, if you are up for a challenge.
Los Cahorros de Monachil
A great hike for families with children as it is easy and it goes to gorgeous meadows with lots of flowers, lavender and rosemary bushes, it’s great to do in the spring, but also in the fall. You will love crossing the gorge on the hanging bridges! The trail is a circular route of about 8 km which you can complete in around 3 hours or so. You will have to scramble under a rock in points, but other than that it’s one of the easiest hikes in the area.
The Pyrenees mark the border between Spain and France, and within them there’s the small State of Andorra. The mountain range goes from the Western Cap Higuer in the Bay of Biscay to the Eastern Cap de Creus in the Mediterranean Sea, and includes Catalonia, Aragon and Navarre. The highest peak is Aneto, reaching a height of 3404 meters.
With many mountain torrents and beautiful waterfalls – the most famous one is Gavarnie, with its 462 meters jump – this is a fantastic part of the country to go hiking, but keep in mind that the West, closer to the Bay of Biscay, is more rainy and colder than the East (not to mention the only part of the range where you can find glaciers).
The most challenging trails in the Pyrenees are the GR10 in the northern area, in France; the GR11 in the southern parts; and the HRP, which is even more challenging as it goes at a higher altitude.
One of the best hikes in this part of Spain is that to Pico Sobarcal, which reaches 2200 meters above sea level. It’s generally a moderate hike for the most part, though it can get difficult once you get closer to the summit, from where the views of the French Pyrenees are incredibly rewarding.
Camí dels Ganxos
Among the most challenging hikes in the Costa Brava section of the Pyrenees there’s the Camí dels Ganxos, a circular hike starting in Joanetes, in Alta Garrotxa. The most rewarding bits are the views of the Puigsacalm and visiting the small isolated hermitage of Santa Magdalena.
This is a very challenging hike that can take you 7 hours, on good terrain but with some almost completely vertical bits with hooks (ganxos) you will need to use to lift yourself over the next bit. It’s definitely not achievable alone and you should avoid it if you are afraid of heights.
Cami dels Bons Homes
The Path of the Good Men is one of the longest hikes in the Pyrenees. It actually starts in France and ends in Costa Brava and will take you up to 12 days to complete the entire trail which goes by beautiful romanesque churches, castles and shepherd’s huts. The trail follows the footsteps of the Cathars who fled the inquisition and traveled from Foix to the sanctuary of Berga. The starting point is Ariège Pyrenees, in France, and you can walk all the way to Queralt in Costa Brava. Wildlife watching opportunities abound too!
Costa Brava literally means “rugged coast.” This lovely coastal region is located in Catalonia, and starts at around 40 km north of Barcelona, in Blanes, going all the way to the border with France. Though most people go there for the beautiful beaches and lovely small cities, the nature is incredible too, and you’ll find some of the nicest hikes in Spain.
Costa Brava boasts three natural parks, several areas of natural interest, and a fine range of trails which are completely different from the rest of the country: most go along the coast, with breathtaking views of small coastal towns, small coves with clear turquoise waters, and the typical Mediterranean vegetation.
Camino de Ronda
The most famous trail in Costa Brava is the Camino de Ronda, or GR92, which runs for around 220 km. Most of it goes along the coast and through beautiful fishing villages, coves and beaches, not nearly as crowded as the ones in other parts of the country. You can walk the entire trail, which takes you about 10 days, or just portions of it, since the trail can be accessed from various places.
Via Ferrata de la Cala del Moli
This Via Ferrata is not for the faint of heart. Strapped to a cable you will be walking along the edge of a mountain over bridges and wooden pathways and you’ll have truly breathtaking views of the Mediterranean throughout. A guide is by all means necessary!
Cami de Rodes
Sant Pere de Rodes is a scenic Benedictine monastery located at 500 meters above sea level and from where you can see the Cap de Creus peninsula. You will find several trails that all go to the monastery, but for an added bonus make sure to walk to Sant Salvador de Verdera fortress, which is located just above the monastery at an extra 30 minutes walk. The trail is well marked, though a steady uphill, but the views from there absolutely worth the efforts.
Montserrat peak is located in Catalonia, just outside Barcelona and a great day trip from the city, and is where you will find the Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey and Benedictine Monastery, home of La Moreneta, AKA the Black Madonna. Some say that this is actually where the Holy Grail has been hidden.
The nearby Santa Cova cave is an important pilgrimage site as it’s where the Virgin first appeared to a group of young kids. The views from the mountain are absolutely stunning.
The best trail in the area will take you all the way up the monastery, through gorgeous landscape – but if you are feeling lazy you can also opt for a cable car ride.
San Jeroni trail will take you to the top of the mountain for more impressive views – just take the Funicular at the monastery heading to Sant Joan, from where you will have to start walking.
Caminito del Rey, Malaga
Located in Andalusia, Malaga is mostly known for the lively, pretty and colorful city home of some fantastic art museums. What many seem to ignore is that this region is an adventure lover’s paradise: the mountainous inland terrain has some of the most amazing, scenic hikes in Spain.
One of the most famous hiking trails in Spain in the Malaga region is the Caminito del Rey (AKA the King’s Road), which used to be considered one of the most dangerous hikes in the world because of some missing sections of pathway and its cliffside drops. The entire area was closed for years for safety reasons, but thanks to renovation and maintenance works the trail opened again in 2015. The trail, one of the nicest hikes in Spain, is around 8 km long and it takes about 4 hours to complete. There’s a €10 fee to enter the trail.
TIP: You may also want to consider the nearby El Saltillo, an easy 4 hour hike that starts in Canillas de Aceituno and is thought to be El Caminito little’s brother.
El Torcal de Antequera, Malaga
The Montes de Malaga natural park, located north of the city, is a series of beautiful hills, mountains and forest with hiking trails of various length and difficulty. Antequera, which is even more inland, is where El Torcal Nature Reserve (13 km from Antequera and 45 km from Malaga), famous for its karst landscape, is located. This limestone rock forest is packed with flowers in the spring months, and incredibly colorful. It’s also the habitat of various species of birds which include golden eagles and griffon vultures, as well as foxes and wildcats.
Las Ventanillas viewpoint will take you to an area known as “Ammonites,” which is packed with fossils.
There are many hiking trails in El Torcal, but keep in mind that for some you will need to hire a guide directly at the visitor’s center.
The Canary Islands
While most Europeans visit the Canary Islands to enjoy the pleasant weather while the rest of the continent is going through the cold winter, and go there to enjoy the beaches, surfing, wildlife and delicious food, these islands offer some of the best trails in the country.
As these are volcanic islands, you will find a great deal of volcanoes hike to tackle, as well as mountain and forest trails, not to mention beautiful coastal trails that lead to gorgeous, secluded beaches. Most of the trails are doable independently, but for the most challenging ones you will want a guide.
Route of the Volcanoes, La Palma
Among the most challenging hikes in the Canary Islands there’s the Route of the Volcanoes, a 17.5 km trail in La Palma, one of the lesser visited islands in the archipelago. It will take you to a bunch of craters and you will be able to admire unique rock formations, lava flows, volcanic lakes and more. A guide is absolutely necessary as the trails aren’t well marked and you need to know where to go, as the volcanoes are active!
Tenerife’s 4th highest peak is called Guajara and is located on the south eastern edge of Las Cañadas ridge, in Las Cañadas National Park. This 9 km hike is one of the most challenging on the island as – despite the fact that there aren’t any major ascents – you will be walking at an altitude. The views are truly rewarding, as you can see all the way to Las Cañadas, Mount Teide and the south coast of Tenerife. The shelter at the peak is a great lunch spot and perfect to stay out of the wind while admiring the view.
For more Mount Teide hikes, you may want to consider this Pico del Teide full day ascending hiking tour or this Mount Teide hiking tour.
Final Consideration on Hiking In Spain
Different regions of Spain are best walked at different times of year; and you’ll find hiking trails for all levels of difficulty, all of them offering the most varied views (whether it is breathtaking mountains or gorgeous coastal panoramas).
Some hikes require a modest effort – just a few hours walking, and are perfect for one day out in the nature; other hiking trails in Spain are much longer, more challenging, and needless to say they offer some truly rewarding views.
By all means, my recommendation as an experienced hiker is never to hike alone, especially in the most remote areas; and never to underestimate a trail – wearing good hiking shoes or boots is essential, as well as carrying enough food and water for the duration of the hike, and applying copious amounts of sunblock (because Spain is beautifully sunny!).
Have you ever done any hiking in Spain? What’s your favorite place to do it?
Are you planning a trip to Spain? Make sure to check out my posts:
- Which Are The Best Canary Islands?
- 11 Incredible Hikes In Gran Canaria
- 10 Incredible Places To Go Hiking In Lanzarote
- 10 Great Hikes In Tenerife
- The Most Beautiful Hikes In Garrotxa: A One Week Itinerary
- Hiking In The Pyrenees: The Best Trails
- Hiking The Picos De Europa: The Best Trails
- Hiking In Sierra Nevada, Spain: The Best Trails
- 10 Fabulous Places To Go Hiking In Malaga And Its Province
- The Best Places To Visit In Northern Spain
- 11 Reasons To Visit Galicia
- What To See And Do In Cantabria, Spain
- 11 Gorgeous Places To Visit In Asturias, Spain
- 7 Reasons To Visit The Basque Country