Hiking in Spain – Trekking through the Spanish countryside

May 25, 2021

Hiking, which is known as excursionismo in Spanish, is an activity that humans have done for many centuries. And Spain is one of the most beautiful and diverse places to enjoy it! There are many well known trails sprinkled throughout the Spanish countryside as well as lesser known shorter trails suitable for those seeking relatively easier excursions. 

Hiking in Spain is fantastic year-round. However, we do recommend flying to Spain in the springtime, which lasts from mid-March to late May. Spring is the best season to travel to Spain and explore the countryside. The wildflowers are in full bloom and accommodation prices are a lot more reasonable during this time of the year. 

There are many incredible hikes to experience in Spain which we will explore further down below.

The best hiking trail in Spain

There are many incredible hikes in Spain, making it hard to decide between them. But we’ve found the most beautiful and interesting treks, so that you can find the best option for your interests.

Many of these trails are incredibly old and have seen use from many pilgrims, locals and foreigners throughout the years. They are absolutely stunning and can truly inspire awe in those who hike them. 

Be sure to always bring the right goods with you on these hikes such as water, food and the right clothing that can keep you sheltered from the sun’s rays. And most importantly, pack in good hiking shoes.

Many of the more popular paths can see thousands of visitors year round and are famous for the stories behind them as well as their destinations. Here are our favourites:

The Camino de Santiago

This particular hiking trail is seen by many as the most famous in all of Spain. This is mainly due to the historical and religious importance that it is associated with. 

In English this trail is known as the Way of Saint James. It’s made up of many interlinking paths and routes spread throughout the Spanish countryside. Ancient pilgrims from all over Europe would take these to reach the shrine of Saint James located in Galicia. 

Spaniards see the walking of this path as a way of achieving personal and spiritual growth. As a result it has become widely popular with the locals and foreigners alike all looking to hike the trail to its end. 

This route has been walked by pilgrims since the late Medieval Era. Due to the cultural and historical significance of this pilgrim’s path it has been named a UNESCO world heritage site. 

There are many routes that lead to the shrine of Saint James. The most commonly used place to start the hike in Spain is Camino Primitivo which starts in Oviedo, Asturias. Due to the many routes and paths there is much flexibility to the people seeking to walk the Way of Saint James and perhaps even achieve some level of enlightenment along the way. The entire pilgrimage is an incredibly long journey so most hikers only walk for short distances between villages.

  • Length: 5-10km between certain villages
  • Time: 1-2 hours
  • Best time to do it: Early morning on a calm day

Other notable Spanish hiking trails

There are many other famous hiking trails found dotted around Spain. The country is seen as an absolute paradise for hikers and has a lot to offer. Especially when it comes to the sheer amount of biodiversity in the country’s natural environment. 

The warm, sunny weather is also incredibly pleasant in the spring and summer months. From short paths to long trails there’s so much available. And it only takes a small search to discover which works best for your unique tastes and preferences. 

Hiking the Ruta del Cares in Spain

Ruta del Cares is located between the provinces of León and Asturias. This picturesque 10 km hiking trail will take you through an absolutely stunning slice of nature. The trail leads you through gorges and cliff faces which are covered in lush flora. It’s possible to start the hike from either the southern or northern entrance. 

It’s important to bring your own water as there are no drinkable water sources on the route. Ensure that you have everything important packed, and comfortable hiking shoes. 

It is possible to complete the walk in a single afternoon. It is recommended that you arrange transport to pick you up at the end so that you don’t have to walk back to where you started in order to leave.

All along this hike there are beautiful sights to be seen and stunning vistas that stretch on as far as the eye can see. Ruta del Cares is truly a magnificent area to experience and is hands down one of the best hikes to go on in Spain.

  • Length: 10-12km
  • Time: 4 hours
  • Best time to do it: Early on a cool day

Hiking in Northern Spain – Penelara Natural Park

The Penelara hiking trail is located close to the bustling city of Madrid. A few kilometres north to be precise. It’s a relatively easy and pleasurable Spanish hiking trail, which takes around 4 hours to complete. However, this time varies greatly depending on the particular paths you take as well as the speed at which you walk.

The hike itself can take you through the glacial peaks located in the higher regions of the Penelara Natural Park. A truly breathtaking sight to see. 

Keep in mind that during the summer months it can become incredibly hot on the hiking trail and it is recommended that you bring water and wear the necessary equipment to keep yourself well hydrated and cool. 

The Penelara Natural Park was designated as a protected area back in June 1990. This has allowed for the natural environment located within to truly flourish in the many years that have passed since then. 

The Penelara hike is truly a stunning trail to experience in Spain.

  • Length: 8km (higher depending on which routes were chosen)
  • Time: 3-4 hours
  • Best time to do it: Earlier in the day when the weather is mild

Adrenaline fueled hiking – Caminito del Rey

This particular hiking trail in Spain is not for the faint of heart, formerly one of the most dangerous hiking paths in the world. In recent years, however, the Spanish government has carefully restored it and improved all the safety precautions throughout the hike itself. 

Even though it’s much safer now one thing surely hasn’t changed, and that’s the feeling of walking along a cliff face more than 100 metres up in the air!

The route itself spans about 8 km and is located in the southern part of Spain, close to Malaga, Andalusia

Many parts of the trail allow hikers to use a harness to clip themselves to steel beams to stay safe while traversing the terrain. However, you need to either bring your own harness or rent one at the beginning of the hike. 

Many of the thrill-seekers that have finished this route compliment it on its natural beauty and stunning views.  But it’s incredibly important to ensure that you and those hiking with you to take all the necessary safety precautions before attempting the hike.

  • Length: 8km
  • Time: 4-5 hours
  • Best time to do it: Early in the day when the temperatures aren’t too high

The Montserrat Hike

This scenic hike takes you along a jagged mountain range close to Barcelona. The start of the hike is a short trip outside of the city itself and is seen by many as one of the most popular attractions in the area, with good reason! 

The mountain range the hike takes you on stretches through the Spanish countryside giving you absolutely magnificent views of the surrounding land.

Montserrat monastery, very similar to Camino de Santiago, is also seen as an important place in the Catholic religion. There is an ancient Benedictine Monastery and a statue of Madonna located in the higher regions of this hike, both of which are said to be incredibly sights to see. This hike is also a pilgrimage for many who seek to achieve spiritual harmony. 

The monastery and the statue are located very close to the summit of the mountain. If heights aren’t your forte there are many forks in the path that branch off in other routes that can take you to equally interesting locations. 

One of these walks will take you to Santa Cova, a hillside cave along the slopes of the mountain where many believe the Virgin Mary rested while she too was on pilgrimage. 

It is also useful to keep in mind that there are cable cars that can take you to certain pieces of this mountain range if you wish to get to any particular milestones without hiking too far.

  • Length: 7km (More or less, varies with route chosen)
  • Time: 2-3 hours
  • Best time to do it: Later in the afternoon for views of the beautiful sunset

Final thoughts on Spanish hiking trails

Hiking is almost synonymous with the spirit of Spain. With many of these trails being famous among the locals and foreigners alike it’s easy to see why Spain is a popular destination for hikers. 

Many of these fabled trails that pepper the country have been used for centuries by pilgrims who come from far and wide to walk them, seeking to discover and enlighten themselves.

Regardless of the reason to come hike in Spain it’s undisputed that the picturesque vistas and ancient architecture make it worthwhile for everyone. Spain is truly a country of wonder, just waiting for you to come and experience it firsthand.

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