There are some incredible hikes in Spain. This is a fantastic destination for any kind of traveler, and I keep going there. I may as well say that it is my favorite country in Europe, the only one I’d consider living outside my beloved Sardinia – save of course for Israel, but that isn’t in Europe, right?
What I like about Spain is that there are many beautiful cities – some very big ones and a bunch of medium and smaller cities. There’s an incredible amount of lovely village. Not to mention the fabulous art and museums – my favorite is the Guggenheim in Bilbao, in the Basque Country. The food is so good, even for a picky eater like me: Spain it is among my top 5 favorite foodie destinations. And last, but not least, nature is absolutely gorgeous, which makes hiking in Spain a real treat.
I truly enjoy nature and I am a bit of a hiking junkie (though I never hike alone, and here is why), and any time I visit the country I find a great variety of hiking trails in Spain.
A few things to know about hiking in Spain is that different regions are best walked at different times of year; there’s hiking trails in Spain for all levels of difficulty, all of them offering the most varied views (whether it is breathtaking mountains or gorgeous coastal panoramas).
Some of the best hikes in Spain require a modest effort of 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.
But what are the nicest places for hiking in Spain? It is not easy to select them. I have my preferences, though, and thought I’d put them on a list which, however, is hardly exhaustive. In this post I explain where to find the most amazing hikes in Spain.
Where To Find The Most Amazing Hikes In Spain
Spain is famous for the Camino de Santiago, a series of walks that may well be considered one of the top hikes in Spain. The trails depart from many places around the country (in fact, around Europe! Some leave from Portugal and France too) and all end up in Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia. This isn’t the average multi-day hike, though: many see it as a pilgrimage. I am not religious, but I have walked bits of the Camino and visited many places along the Camino del Norte, and found it an incredible experience.
But for the purpose of this post, I have decided to talk about other hikes in Spain that are not just those along the Camino de Santiago.
Picos de Europa
The Picos de Europa are located in the North of the country 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. I visited them during one of my trips to Spain, when I went to Cantabria, and loved it (though it was mighty cold on that day, though it was meant to be summer).
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.
The Picos de Europa are mostly made of limestone, so the area is packed with caves (some of which are as deep as 1500 meters) and gorges. The highest peak of the range is the Torre de Cerredo, with its 2650 meters. Several others in the Picos de Europa reach 2600 meters. With such peaks, it’s easy to see why some of the most beautiful hiking in Spain is here!
The North of Spain, where the Picos de Europa are located, is known as “green Spain.” Indeed, it gets a lot of rain throughout the year. The best time for hikes in Spain in the Picos de Europa is the summer time: August is supposed to be the driest month.
Either way, it’s important to remember that the weather can change quickly and abruptly, and wearing or carrying rain gear is recommended regardless of the season. I hiked there at the end of June and sure enough I got caught in the rain (and fog), but loved it all the same – these are some of the pretties hikes in Spain.
Independent of the season, the Picos de Europa are beautifully quiet: they are unknown to mass tourism, and still quite off the beaten path. The few people who visit find some of the nicest hikes in Spain. Only Potes, the main resort town in the area, gets a bit more visitors. But it is never overwhelming.
In order to get the most amazing views of the Picos de Europa, go to Fuente Dé. This can be reached via a cable car, which climbs over 800 meters. It is also nice to hike all the way to the top (it’s one of the nicest hiking trails in Spain). Try to go on a sunny day, though, because during a rainy or cloudy day there’ll be no view at all!
One of the most scenic hikes in Spain that’s in the Picos de Europa is the Ruta del Cares, a 12 km trail that goes from Poncebos in Asturias to Caín in León.
Picos de Europa National Park has several places for those who plan to stay overnight. However, most of the hikes in this part of Spain can be done in a day. There’s several good, well marked hiking trails (some of them in the National Park, others outside) and a bunch of lovely villages which make for an interesting visit. The region is still used for farming, so it is quite common to come across herds of cows and sheep, as well as farmhouses. Easy to see why the Picos de Europa have some of the top hikes in Spain.
Here is a more detailed post about the nicest hikes in the Picos de Europa!
The Sierra Nevada mountain range has some of the nicest hikes in Spain. It is located in one of the most famous, touristic and (obviously) beautiful regions of Spain: Andalucia. It spreads across the provinces of Granada and Almería. The mountains are within easy reach of Granada, a city I fell in love with when I visited with my cousin in what seems like forever ago.
This range is home to the highest peak in Europe outside those of the Alps – the Mulhacén, which reaches 3478 meters. Easy to see why some of the best hiking trails in Spain are here. Needless to say, 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, (after all, it is quite far south in Europe).
What this means is that hiking here is good in any season, even during the winter months: when snow and ice make the highest peaks of Sierra Nevada inaccessible to most, the foothills still have pleasant temperatures and beautiful views, and offer some of the top hiking in Spain.
The good news for hiking junkies is that when the terrible heat strikes in the summer months and makes hiking impossible at the foothills, the highest peaks provide a good escape and some fresh air – though be advised that the weather can change dramatically within a short time, and it may rain in the summer too. Either way, it’s one of the best regions for hiking in Spain.
There are several hiking trails in the Sierra Nevada. Some go all the way to the Mulhacén. All these trails can be walked in a day, though some of them are way more difficult than others – reminding me of the incredible variety of hikes in Spain. The northern side of the mountain is where the hardest trails are, suitable only for real mountaineers. As a consequence, the southern part, which is much easier, is more popular and crowded.
A good walk (one of the nicest and sweetest hikes in Spain) is the one that goes from the Mirador de Trevélez to the peak of Mulhacén, and it takes around two hours walk.
Sierra Nevada National Park occupies most of the Sierra Nevada range. It’s also been recognized as a UNESCO biosphere reserve. The National Park is really vast and there’s many trails. Add to this that few people outside of Spain are aware that the region has some of the most scenic hikes in Spain, and this means having a nice and peaceful hiking region throughout the year.
Here is a more detailed post about the nicest hikes in the Sierra Nevada!
The Pyrenees mark the border between Spain and France, and within them there’s the small State of Andorra. The mountain range, where some of the greatest hikes in Spain are located, goes from the Western Cap Higuer in the Bay of Biscay to the Eastern Cap de Creus in the Mediterranean Sea. The highest peak is Aneto, reaching a height of 3404 meters.
The mountain range goes all the way through Catalonia, Aragon and Navarre. One interesting fact about the Pyreness is that, unlike the Alps, there are no lakes at all here, and not many usable high mountain passes. However, there’s plenty of mountain torrents and some beautiful waterfalls – the most famous one is Gavarnie, with its 462 meters jump. And most importantly so, for the purpose of this post, is that there’s some of the top hiking in Spain.
Another interesting thing about the Pyrenees is that the can vary a lot. The West, closer to the Bay of Biscay, is more rainy and colder than the East. It is also where the only glaciers in the Pyrenees are located. Both areas are home to some fabulous hikes in Spain, where some of the most famous and challenging trails in Europe are located: 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.
Other than having some of the top hikes in Spain, the Pyrenees are a good skiing destination in the winter.
Here is a more insightful post about the best hikes in the Pyrenees. Some hikes in the Pyrenees are located in Garrotxa: check out this 7 days hiking itinerary through Garrotxa.
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 who visit this popular part of the country go for the beautiful beaches and lovely small cities, the nature is incredible too, and there’s some of the nicest hikes in Spain.
Costa Brava boasts three natural parks, several areas of natural interest, and an fine range of trails – some of the nicest hiking in Spain. What I love about hiking here is that it is completely different from the rest of the country, and in a way it reminds me of hiking in Sardinia: most trails go along the coast, all the time having breathtaking views of small coastal towns, small coves with clear turquoise waters, and the typical Mediterranean vegetation.
The most famous trail (actually one of the most famous hikes in Spain) is the Camino de Ronda, or GR92. The trail runs for around 220 km. Most of it goes the coast and through beautiful fishing villages, coves and beaches, not nearly as croweded as the ones in other parts of the country.
I know that hiking junkies will want to walk the entire trail, which takes ten days. The good news for those who don’t have that much time or that just want to add a day hike to their trip is that the Camino de Ronda can be accessed from many places, to walk just portions of it – something that makes it one of my favorite hikes in Spain.
I will be writing a more detailed post about the hikes in Costa Brava, too.
I have some great memories of Malaga and of a feria I went to in the summer, years and years ago. 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.
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 natural park, famous for its karst landscape, is located. The region is scattered with pretty villages, so that going on what are some of the top hikes in Spain can be paired with a cultural experience too.
One of the most famous hiking trails in Spain in the Malaga region is the Caminito del Rey, 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.
Here is a post on the best hikes in Malaga.
Have you ever done any hiking in Spain? What’s your favorite place to do it?