Snowcapped mountains, turquoise waters, verdant valleys, and village-lined country lanes. Whether you yearn to get lost in natural beauty or immerse yourself in iconic cultural experiences, Spain is a destination that has it all.
And you can experience both on Spain’s spectacular hikes.
The Spanish landscape brims with hiking trails woven around mountains and gorges, past vineyards and olive groves. The country is divided in two by the world-famous Pyrenees, where you’ll find challenging treks ascending precarious peaks and leisurely jaunts over gentle, rolling hills.
But a closer look at the landscape reveals centuries-old pilgrim routes rich in culture and history, scenic walks through lush pine forest, and cliffside hikes to explore. And no matter what path you take, you’ll be rewarded with delightfully sunny days and incredible views of green valleys, blue lakes, and rocky peaks.
Our guide on the best hiking in Spain takes you through six of the country’s most celebrated trails and pilgrim routes for an adventure you’ll never forget.
1. El Caminito del Rey
El Caminito del Rey, also known as The King’s Little Pathway, is a thrilling trek among treacherous peaks with spectacular views of the Cantabrian Mountains and the Andalusian coast.
Once rated among the most dangerous hikes in the world, El Caminito del Rey is the perfect showcase of heart-pounding hiking in Spain. Clinging to the cliffs of the Gaitanes Gorge in Ardales, Malaga, the trail sits 100 meters (350 feet) above the forest below.
This famous hike was built in 1905 to help move materials between the hydroelectric power plants in the small town of El Chorro and Gaitanejo Falls. The nickname stuck after Spain’s King Alfonso XIII hiked the trail on its official opening in 1921.
Adrenaline junkies flocked to the original path, broken up by entire sections completely eroded away from collapsed concrete, and large gaps connected by tiny three-inch steel beams to balance on.
Luckily, the hiking trail was renovated and reopened in 2015 with new guardrails, bridges, and boardwalks for an incredible but safer journey. If you add hiking El Caminito to your list, stay one step ahead by pre-planning. The 8-kilometer (4.9 miles) long trail takes about four hours to complete and requires tickets for entry.
2. Camino de Santiago
Want to know the best way to experience Spain’s storied history? Walk in the footsteps of countless pilgrims from centuries past on the Camino de Santiago, also known as the Way of St. James.
Connected by a series of paths, this journey stretches approximately 1000 kilometers (621 miles) across ancient hamlets, villages, and cities in the north of Spain. Since the 9th century, religious pilgrims have followed this path from the French border to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, where the remains of St. James the apostle lay in the town’s cathedral.
Camino de Santiago is both a spiritual pilgrimage and a physical challenge, fully immersing you in the rich culture and history of hiking in Spain. Stop in at monasteries and churches along the way, and rest in rural inns surrounded in the seclusion of stunning verdant forests and barren stretches of highland.
The full trip takes an average of four to six weeks – sometimes longer as you linger in the charming locales. But before you set foot on this path, you’ll need to obtain a pilgrim’s passport (Credencial del Peregrino) which you can apply for at various major towns and cities.
3. La Ruta del Cares
It’s hard to describe the perfect hiking trail, but La Ruta del Cares comes incredibly close.
Located in the Picos de Europa National Park in northern Spain, this beautiful hike just about ticks all the boxes: mountain-clinging paths, picturesque streams, wildlife spotting, and epic views. And the best part? This is one of Spain’s least crowded hikes, allowing you to ease into the tranquility of the surrounding scenery.
La Ruta del Cares, also known as the Divine Gorge, takes you from the village of Poncebos to Cain de Valdeón. The route leads you through a winding trail carved into the side of the cliffs, traversing across bridges and streams below. Along the way you’ll spot wild sheep, horses, and mountain goats, creating a pastoral scene straight out of a museum masterpiece.
This 12-kilometer (7 miles) trail takes about 8 hours to complete, ranked among the more strenuous yet moderate hiking in Spain.
4. El Saltillo
Trade dizzying cliff-drops and precarious canyon walls for the panoramic views of green valleys and olive groves on El Saltillo. This trail is a hidden favorite for hiking in Spain, still undiscovered by most tourists. El Saltillo starts from Canillas de Aceituno, a charming white village in Malaga, Andalusia, and follows stunning views of the countryside with a backdrop of dramatic ranges.
The trail starts in the main village square and zig-zags through charming white-washed villas. Signposts lead you to the gentle wilderness of olive trees, following along a concrete aqueduct. As you delve deeper into the green-clad valleys, you’ll encounter a bridge – the third-longest in Spain stretching 54 meters long (117 feet) and hanging 79 meters (259 feet) above the ground.
Cross the bridge to reach the other side of El Saltillo gorge for a glimpse of the breathtaking landscape. The crystal-clear Almanchares River flows through the valleys, pooling into natural swimming holes perfect for a refreshing dip after your hike.
Conquer Spain’s highest peak with a hike to the top of the Mulhacen. Located in the Sierra Nevada range, a trek up the Mulhacen is perfect for both extreme mountaineers and eager hikers.
The trail begins at Hoya del Portillo, set in the town of Capileira in the Alpujarra region of Spain. Aromatic pine forest envelopes you as the trail leads to the snowcapped peaks of the Sierra Nevada.
From this point, more experienced hikers can take to the northern face to reach the summit, a path characterized by steep slopes and undulations. Hiking the southern face of Mulhacen is more beginner-friendly, with natural clearings to admire the astounding views.
As you near the summit, the air gets thinner and your legs may start to feel like concrete, so take it slow and stop to catch your breath. As a plus, these pauses are a fantastic chance to snap a photo of the gorgeous vistas and spot wild goats along the trail.
Want to linger a little longer? Break up the trail into a two-day hike by stopping at Refugio de Poqueira before climbing to the top of Mulhacen the next day. This will no doubt make for an unforgettable experience hiking in Spain.
This craggy mountain in Monistrol de Montserrat in Catalonia, Spain is home to the stunning Sanctuary of Montserrat, a collection of churches and monasteries dating back to the 9th century. Only one of these chapels still stands, known today as the Montserrat Monastery.
There are several trails to scale the mountain, all boasting breathtaking views of Montserrat Monastery sitting at the base of the towering rocks. A cable car takes you up the mountain for easy access to more hikes, including Sant Jeroni. This hiking trail takes you to the very top of the mountain, where steep inclines and dizzying heights have nothing on the natural beauty of the panoramas below.
If heights aren’t your jam, you can explore the numerous hikes beginning at the Monastery, threading throughout the local sacred sites scattered at the foot of the mountain.
Spain has become quite popular with hikers over the last few years, and it’s easy to see why. The country offers a stunning and varied landscape, from the stark, snowcapped peaks of the Pyrenees to the rolling green hills of Castile, all boasting extraordinary hikes to discover.
And you don’t have to be a seasoned hiker – the most important thing to remember is it’s not always about the destination, but the journey.
Especially when you’re surrounded in the unmatched scenery of Spain.