Best hikes in Spain
For this collection of the best hikes in Spain I asked some of my fellow travel writers to pitch in and tell us about their experience. I may be the expert when it comes to the best hikes in Barcelona Spain, hiking along the beaches of Spain and some of the best hikes in the Spanish pyrenees.
But when it comes to southern and northern Spain hikes, the infamous trail Camino de Santiago as well as hikes on the Canary islands, let’s read about their first hand experience. Even though I may hint, that I will have some Canary Island hiking content coming up soon – stay tuned!
But now, let’s get going with Spain’s best hikes, the expert collection! Starting with… What is the famous walking trail in Spain? The Camino!
Camino de Santiago
By Carol of California Crossings
Spain has many beautiful hikes, but the oldest is the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route in Northern Spain. The Camino is a 1,000 year old network of pilgrimage routes which all end in Santiago de Campostela.
The cathedral houses the remains of Saint James and it has long been a place where people to go to seek forgiveness. This includes Saint Francis himself, who did the pilgrimage 800 years ago.
During modern times, the route has attracted many non-Catholics who take to the trail for self-discovery or a physical challenge.
The most popular route on the Camino is the Frances. It starts in St. Jean Pied de Port, goes over the Pyrenees, and stretches 800 kilometers to Santiago.
The route passes through cities like Pamplona, Burgos, Leon. The route also passes through some lovely countryside, vineyards and tiny little towns.
The best time to do the Camino is May-October, although the summer months are very busy. You can do as much or as little of the Camino as you like, but if you want to earn a Compostela (which is certification of completion that also come with some forgiveness bonuses), you’ll need to do the final 100 kilometers into Santiago.
You will want to spend some time training for the hike but you don’t need to be an Olympic athlete to do it. All you need is a positive attitude and the will to keep walking. As they say on the trail, Buen Camino.
A day on the Camino de Santiago
By Karen Warren at Outdoor Adventure Sampler
The Camino de Santiago is the most famous hiking trail in Spain. Starting in the Pyrenees, it is also known as the Way of Saint James or the French Way. This entire route covers 738 km. For over eleven thousand years, pilgrims have journeyed to Santiago de Compostela to visit the shrine of the apostle, Saint James.
The scallop shell with its yellow rays is the trail marker seen along the Camino de Santiago. This symbol signifies the many pilgrimage routes that head toward Santiago de Compostela. The trail winds through mountain passes, pastoral fields, eucalyptus forests, and rustic villages.
Unlike most trails, the Camino de Santiago travels mostly on paved roads or cobblestones. Therefore, the hard ground is brutal on your feet.
There is much infrastructure to support the pilgrim’s journey. Albergues, or hostels for pilgrims, are the evening destination for hikers as camping is not allowed. Cafes, bars, and stores line the route so it’s possible to carry a very light backpack.
A typical day for a contemporary pilgrim begins early by packing their humble belongings at the albergue for the day’s hike. During the height of the hiking season, the Camino de Santiago is packed with hikers from all over the world.
Therefore, the hike can be a social experience of meeting other pilgrims. At the end of the day, a simple 3-course pilgrim meal is served at the albergues or a nearby restaurant for the budget hiker.
Lost Village Acebuchal – best hike in Southern Spain
by Victoria of Guide your Travel
Acebuchal is a tiny town in the mountains of southern Spain close to the villages of Competa and Frigiliana. It’s sometimes called the “lost village” because it was abandoned for more than 50 years.
During the civil war in 1948, the inhabitants of this village were forced to leave and it lay in ruins until the late 1990s when descendants of the villagers decided to rebuild it.
Today Acebuchal is a beautiful little town with a popular restaurant and some holiday apartments. The best way to visit this tiny town is by hiking there from Frigiliana.
Frigiliana is a much larger village nearby that is easily reachable by car or bus. The hike is around 7 kilometres long and fairly easy to manage.
It goes almost entirely along a dirt road but is comfortable to walk since there rarely is any traffic. The elevation is manageable despite the proximity of the Axarquia mountains.
Depending on how many breaks you take it should take you between 2 and 3 hours to reach Acebuchal and the same time to get back to Frigiliana.
The restaurant in town is a great place for a lunch break halfway through. Be aware that the summers in Spain are incredibly hot and there is little shade on this hike.
It is much more comfortable to do in the months between October and May. Click here to read more about Acebuchal’s incredible history and all you need to know before you go.
Cares Gorge Trail – best hike in Northern Spain
By Megan of Packing Up the Pieces
One of the best hikes in Spain lies nestled in its northern National Park, the Picos de Europa. The hiking route is known as “Ruta del Cares,” or simply the Cares Gorge hike. It’s official trail reference is PR-PNPE-3.
This 12 Km trek follows along the Cares River and offers incredible views of the jagged limestone peaks and connects the adorable mountain hamlets of Caín de Valdeón and Poncebos.
The Cares Gorge hike can be completed as a full day hike (out and back trail, 24 km in total). However, the Picos de Europa are so beautiful, you may wish to slow down and sleep in either of the picturesque villages and explore even more hidden gem hiking trails.
This mostly flat hike is a real adventure and is extremely diverse. Wind along the steep river trail, which oftentimes has no handrails. It can be thrilling to look down at the stunning canyon.
Some sections of the trail actually cut through the mighty mountains, creating almost a cave-like feel. The scenic path crosses over sturdy bridges that follow a small water canal, which create delightful, trickling waterfalls. Keep your eyes peeled for the silly goats who are often curious of fellow hikers.
The Cares Gorge trail is a fairly easy trail that packs in a huge amount of adventure. The scenery is diverse and beautiful, making it one of the best hikes to experience in Spain.
Playa Guigui – best hike on the Canary islands
by Maria of A World Of Destinations
Playa Guigui is Gran Canaria’s best kept secret and the island’s most remote beach. Located in the western part of Gran Canaria, Playa Guigui is hidden behind mountains and visited by very few tourists only. What makes this beach so remote is the fact that you need to cross a mountain to get there.
A small parking space near the tiny village Tasartico indicates the trailhead. You need a car to get there as it’s too remote for public transport.
Next to the parking space a small and well-maintained path leads uphill. It takes about an hour to reach the top of the mountain, where you’re rewarded with a stunning ocean view.
Then you need to hike down again on the other side of the mountain for about an hour and a half.
During the hike you’ll enjoy scenic views of surrounding mountains and the ocean. The closer you get to the beach, the more lush green vegetation there is around the path.
Be aware that there’s no phone signal on the hike to Playa Guigui and there’s no shade on the beach. Also, you should be fit enough to hike back on the same day.
A return trip to Playa Guigui takes about 4-6 hours of hiking. Bring at least 1-2 liters of water per person and some snacks, as there’s nowhere to buy anything.
GR11 from Respomuso to Panticosa – best hike in the Spanish Pyrenees
by Victoria of The Solivagant Soul
This extraordinary trek starts from Panticosa, a beautiful small town known for their Spa facilities. This town, located in Huesca is near France in the Pyrenees and one of the most beautiful locations of Northern Spain.
This trek, it is a section of one of the most well-known routes in Spain, the GR11. Only experienced hikers should attempt this trail since it is not for beginners.
For example, an averagely fit person will need from six to eight hours to complete the 14km (or 9 miles) that separate Panticosa from the Respomuso. One way.
This trail passes through several small valleys and peaks often covered with snow until well into summer and it is common to find ice plaques until mid-July or August.
It is a hard trek, with a first an intense climb uphill followed by a slow descension to reach the Mountain Refuge Hut Respomuso.
During this trail there are several interesting and breathtaking points to find. One of these are the Ibones Azules. This lake, also known as Hell’s lake, is a small mass of water hidden between sharp and rocky mountains with a greenish blue color that will delight any experienced trekker.
Following that, there is a magnificent slope only suitable for the bravest: the Collado de Tebarray. Unstable rocks will be your only company, but do not worry, there is a lake at the end of the valley, were you to fall.
After a few more interesting waypoints (such as the Collado de los infiernos or Llena Cantal), there is the Respomuso, one of the highest lakes in the Pyrinees and the Mountain Refuge Hut Respomuso.
With a reservation, it is possible to spend the night there for a very fair price and wake up when the sun is rising behind the mountains and reflected on the lake’s surface.
Camí de la Colònia – hiking in Dénia
by Charity of The On the Goers
So, what are the best hikes in Spain?
I hope you enjoyed reading through our compilation and found some inspiration for slow travel experiences in Spain. Get outside into nature and take in the beauty of this planet!
Do you have any trails to add to this list of the best hikes in Spain? Comment below and let us know!
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