Hi there fellow hikers! We are Isaac and Bea, from Madrid. Welcome to our guide on the best hikes of Spain. We are a travel couple inspired by both nature and adventure. The call of the wild and the unknown is strong for us, and we love discovering the world while learning more about ourselves.
Since we enjoy photography and videography so much, it makes us happy to capture all the memories we make and share them with our followers on social media. Our Instagram page can be found here: @al5pino.
Why Spain is a Paradise for Hikers
The best thing about Spain is that our country is blessed with a massive variety of different landscapes – from peaks that exceed 3,000 meters in the Pyrenees or Sierra Nevada mountain ranges, to vast deserts like the Tabernas Desert in Almeria or the rolling sand dunes of Maspalomas.
Our homeland also boasts wild coasts full of dramatic cliffs, the beautiful Cantabrian sea, incredible coves such as the ones dotted around the island of Mallorca, tropical forests, volcanoes in the Canary Islands and open plains where you can go on safaris – for example in Cabaneros National Park.
You can be exploring a desert in Spain (like Bardenas Reales) and within a two hour drive be in the second largest beech forest in Europe, surfing on the coast of the Basque Country or embarking on a trail in the Pyrenees. This means Spain is the ultimate destination for adventure travel!
Our Favorite Hiking Spot in Spain
The area of Spain we have explored the most is the north. We adore its landscapes, and the Pyrenees is a paradise for any hiking and mountain enthusiast. That being said, we still have many regions of the south on our bucket-list and we really want to visit some of the more remote islands.
From our travels in Spain, our favorite hiking area would have to be Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park. We went here on a weekend getaway in the fall and stayed in a small wooden cabin. The waterfalls in the park – along with the yellow and ocher tones of autumn, and the fog mixed with the peaks of the highest limestone massif in Europe – were simply spectacular!
But by no means is this the only hiking attraction to check out while in Spain. Below we outline the seven best hikes in Spain that resonate with us the most: from El Camino de Santiago to Picos de Europa National Park.
7 Best Hikes in Spain
1. Horsetail Route to the Goriz Refuge
Located in Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park, this trail is one of the most emblematic in Spain. The path leads you to majestic waterfalls, lush forests and enormous peaks. The distance is 25 km and takes around six hours, depending on your fitness level. Considered a moderate hike, you won’t exceed an altitude of higher than 2,200 m. The Horsetail Route can be done in a circular navigation, returning you back to the starting point.
2. Ibon de Escarpinosa
Each step of the Ibon de Escarpinosa trail in Huesca is exceptionally beautiful. You will pass several mountain lakes through forests and alpine landscapes, while being accompanied by the sound of the river and the vistas of the Pyrenees in the distance. With a distance of just 13 km, over four hours, it’s the perfect experience for casual hikers and regular travelers.
3. The Cares Trail
One of the most famous routes within the Picos de Europa, you will cross the Cares River gorge while marveling at impressive mountains. Most hikers find the trail to be easy/moderate, however the 12 km of distance and the approximately five hour duration will test your endurance.
4. Route Ports of Aliva
Another gem in Picos de Europa, the Route Ports of Aliva is perfect for those who want to immerse themselves in pure greenery. Its alpine meadows are surrounded by wildlife and livestock, and the views offer panoramic perspectives of some of the highest peaks in Spain. Additionally, you have the option of starting from the Fuente De Cable Car. All in all, this trail lasts for four hours and requires at least 14 km of walking.
5. El Camino de Santiago
No list of the best hikes in Spain is complete without El Camino de Santiago. Made up of a network of different routes, the hiking converges at the magnificent Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The Camino is a unique experience bursting with natural landscapes, historic cities and charming towns – ideal for people who want to know Spanish culture.
6. Caminito del Rey
Once dubbed the most dangerous route in the world, Caminito del Rey is now a trail known for its walkways suspended on the walls of a gorge and for its epic views. It was completely renovated in 2015 to enhance its safety. The walk is a breezy 8 km that won’t last longer than four hours there and back, depending on how many photo stops you take along the way.
7. Los Tilos Waterfall & Las Barandas Viewpoint
On La Palma in the Canary Islands, there exists a wonderful hike called Los Tilos Waterfall and Las Barandas Viewpoint. The pathway is breathtaking, taking you through a tropical Laurisilva forest until you reach a waterfall. This circular route is 3 km and accessible to all hiking levels.
How to Get Info About the Trails
Apart from seeking advice from us on Instagram (shameless self-promotion!), you can use Wikiloc to know the distances and difficulty of the routes. We also visit blogs, and the websites of the parks, to find out about the regulations and to see updated maps of the open routes or shelters.
We also ask the owners of the places we stay at what routes they suggest. Most accommodations provide maps and information. On top of that, we recommend visiting the tourism and interpretation centers in Spain – as they always give you a map and advice on which routes you should do.
Accommodation for Spain Hikes
In Spain we have a superb network of hostels and mountain refuges. Some are even free to use, while others have security guards and you have to reserve them. Additionally, near the natural parks, there is always a campsite where you can spend the night with your tent or campervan.
In regards to camping, it depends on the area you want to do the route since each park has different rules. In general, bivouacs are allowed in the majority – and in some you can carry out high mountain camping from a certain height by placing the tent an hour before sunset and removing it an hour after sunrise – for example: from 1,600 m within Picos de Europa.
In other places, you are only allowed to set up a tent in certain areas. For instance, in Ordesa you can establish a tent in the vicinity of the Goriz Refuge by booking in advance. Finally, there are also parks like Aiguestortes where sleeping is only permitted in the huts. Our advice is to look on the park’s website for the regulations regarding camping and shelters.
When To Go Hiking in Spain
The best time of year to go hiking in the high mountains of Spain, and the one we take advantage of the most, is summer. The snow will have already melted, and most of the routes and shelters can be accessed. However, the good thing about Spain is that you can go hiking year round.
In winter, you can embark on the snowshoe routes of the Pyrenees, Picos de Europa National Park, Sierra Nevada mountain range or even an hour from Madrid (in the Guadarrama mountains). On the other hand, at lower altitudes you can continue doing routes without any problem.
In spring, the weather is pleasant and you can enjoy the flowering of trees such as the almond tree. And finally, our favorite time to hike is fall. Despite the rain, it’s still a very good time to do many routes – since the snow hasn’t arrived yet, and seeing the change of leaves in the forests such as beech or oak forests is spectacular. Plus the rain clouds give off a special aura in fall.
Important Tips for Spain Hikes
Spain is a great country to set off on a road trip, and the connections between the big cities with buses and high-speed trains are decent. However, some distances between communities can be long – so we recommend focusing on a specific area. For example: Picos de Europa, the Pyrenees, Cantabrian coast, Andalusia or one of the islands.
Don’t just stay in the tourist areas too. Investigate and look for cool places, such as small towns on the outskirts or less crowded routes. They will surely surprise you! Another reason why Spain is famous is because of its delicious gastronomy. Be sure to try all of the local foods. In particular we rate the croquettes, cachopo, serrano ham, paella and the potato omelette.