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Best Hiking Trails in Spain

Overview

There’s so much to experience in Spain, a large, beautiful country on the Iberian peninsula, and hiking the scenic mountains is one of them.  From the beautiful Pyrenees on the northeastern border with France, to the stunning Cantabrian mountains along the northern coast, to the Sierra Nevada in southern, sunny Andalusia, and ranges in between, there are thousands of km of hiking trails to explore in Spain. The long distance pilgrim route Camino de Santiago is one of the most popular routes in the country; some of the others include El Caminto del Rey, the Cares Trail, Peñalara, and the highest peak in mainland Spain, Mulhalcen.  

Capital: Madrid

For the islands that belong to Spain, see their separate pages: Canary Islands, Mallorca (Majorca)

When To Hike in Spain?

Year Round: The optimal months depend on the region. For the peaks in the north of the country, the summer months are ideal for higher altitudes whereas late spring and early fall are fine for lower altitude.  For southern regions, spring and fall are optimal, although the high peaks of the Sierra Nevada are best in summer.  In the Costa Blanca region, fall, winter, and spring are best.  Filter by region in the map to see the best months for the region.
Varies 
November to April: Too cold/snowy in the northern and higher altitude regions

 

Climate:  There are various climates in Spain (Mediterranean, arid, mountain, continental and oceanic). The weather on the Spanish side (south facing) of Pyrenees is generally sunnier and drier than the French side (north facing).  The gota fría (cold drop) in autumn can bring really bad thunderstorms/hailstorms.  

 

Spain Monthly Weather

Accessibility of Hiking

Easy: There are a thousands of km of established trails; there are plenty of guidebooks and trails on various apps.  

Transportation required: Public transit to many trailheads; car for others

Where to stay in Spain for hiking:

  • Cercedilla
  • Benidorm
  • Capileira, Pampaneira
  • Marbella
  • Santinalla del Mar
  • Potes
  • Ainsa

 

Top Places to Hike in Spain

The main areas to hike are in the Pyrenees (northeast bordering France); Sierra Nevada and other ranges in Andalucia; Cordillera Central (ranges in the central part of the country); Cordillera Cantabrica (northern coast). There are a number of national parks with established trails and places to hike outside of these. Highest Mountain: Mulhalcén (3482 m) in the Sierra Nevada

Filter out hiking places of Spain by month

Click on the red map pointers to see more info.

Serra d’Aitana

  • On the Costa Blanca

Sierra de Gredos

  • Close to Madrid

Sierra de Guadarrama

  • Close to Madrid

Monfragüe National Park

Sierra Morena

  • Parque natural de la Sierra de Andújar 
  • Parque Natural Sierra de Cardeña y Montoro

Sierra de las Nieves

Sierra de Grazalema

  • April – Oct; could be too hot during summer months
  • Parque Natural Sierra de Grazalema
  • Sierra de Grazalema

Las Alpujarras

Parque Natural Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara y Alhama

Sierra Nevada

  • Popular area
  • Parque Nacional Sierra Nevada – www.magrama.gob.es
  • Site of highest peak, Mulhalcén

Parc Natural de la Muntanya de Montserrat

Parc Natural de l’Alt Pirineu

Benasque Valley

  • Contains the Parque Natural Posets-Maladeta
  • Highest peaks in Aragón
  • Valle de Benasque

Parque Natural de los Valles Occidentales

Parque Nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdido

Parque Natural de Somiedo

Parque Natural Las Ubiñas La Mesa

Parque Regional Montaña de Riaño y Mampodre

Parque Natural Montaña Palentina

  • July – September for higher altitudes

Picos de Europa National Park

Spain's Long Distance Trails

Long Distance Walks – known as Gran Recorrido (GR); as well the Pequeno Recorrido (PR) – shorter treks 

Spain's Walking & Hiking Resources

Spain Hiking Books:

General

  • Best Day Walks Spain 1, by Stuart Butler, Anna Kaminski, John Noble (Travel writer), Zora O’Neill, 2022, Lonely Planet Global Limited 
  • Spanish Trails: A guide to walking in the Spanish mountains, by Phil Lawler, 2018, Spanish Trails (there’s a different book covering different areas: Picos de Europa, Andalucia, Pyrenees, Central Spain)

Pyrenees

  • Walks and Climbs in the Pyrenees: Walks, Climbs and Multi-Day Treks, by Kev Reynolds, 2015, Cicerone Press
  • Shorter Treks in the Pyrenees: 7 great one and two week circular treks, by Brian Johnson, 2019, Cicerone Press
  • The GR11 Trail: The Traverse of the Spanish Pyrenees – La Senda Pirenaica, by Brian Johnson, 2018, Cicerone Press
  • The Pyrenean Haute Route: Through the central Pyrenees, by Tom Martens, 2022, Cicerone Press

Picos de Europa

  • Walks and Climbs in the Picos de Europa, by Derek Walker, 2010, Cicerone Press

Andalucía

  • Walking & Trekking in the Sierra Nevada: 38 Walks, Scrambles, and Multi-day Traverses, by Richard Hartley, 2017, Cicerone Press
  • Walking in Andalucía: 36 Routes in Andalucía’s Natural Parks, by Guy Hunter-Watts, 2016, Cicerone Press
  • On Foot in Andalucia: 40 Hiking Excursions in Southern Spain, by Else Byskov, 2014, CreateSpace Independent Publishing
  • Walking the Mountains of Ronda and Grazalema: Grazalema and La Sierra de las Nieves Natural Parks, Genal and Guadiaro valleys, by Guy Hunter-Watts, 2018, Cicerone Press
  • The Mountains of Nerja: Sierras Tejeda, Almijara y Alhama, by Jim Ryan, 2014, Cicerone Press

Costa Blanca

  • Costa Blanca: Denia – Calpe – Benidorm – Alcoy – Alicante – Orihuela, by Gill Round, 2019, Rother Walking Guide
  • Walking on the Costa Blanca: 50 mountain walks and scrambles, by Terry Fletcher, 2015, Cicerone Press

Central Spain

  • The Mountains of Central Spain, by Jacqueline Oglesby, 1996, Cicerone Guide (old)
  • Sierra de Gredos: Circo de Gredos – Valle del Tiétar – Valle del Jerte, by Bernd Plikat, 2011, Rother Guide (in Spanish)

Extremadura

  • Walking the Sierras of Extremadura: 32 half and full day walks in western Spain, by Gisela Radant Wood, 2017, Cicerone Press
  • Mountain Walking in Southern Catalunya: The mountains of Tarragona, by Philip and Vivian Freakley, 2011, Cicerone Press 

 

Spain Hiking Associations:

 

Best Hiking Trails in Spain:

It is impossible to pick a handful of best hikes in a country full of spectacular hikes, but here is a sample. You can find more details on hiking these trails from hiking guidebooks, official hiking websites, trail maps/apps, other websites, and tourist offices:

  • Cares Trail – Picos de Europa
  • Peñalara – Sierra de Guadarrama
  • Sant Jeroni – Montserrat Mountain Nature Park
  • Camino de Santiago
  • Pico Sobarcal – Pyrenees
  • Mulhalcen – Sierra Nevada
  • Saliencia Lakes – Somiedo Natural Park
  • Cola de Caballo – Odessa, Pyrenees
  • La Pedriza – Sierra de Guadarrama
  • Sierra de Aitana

Easy Hiking Trails in Spain:

  • El Caminito del Rey – near Malaga, hugely popular, many steps taken to ensure safety on this vertigo-inducing hike
  • Cami de Rodes

 

Spain Hiking Websites: Lots of travel blogs on hiking in Spain, particularly the Camino de Santiago

 

Spain Weather Websites:

 

Spain Official Tourism Site:  

 

Spain Hiking Apps: 

 

Spain Hiking Maps: 

What Else To Do

  • Islamic architecture
  • Food
  • Wine
  • Flamenco
  • Beaches (ie. Costa Brava)
  • Pilgrimages (Camino de Santiago)
  • Art
  • Museums
  • Architecture
  • Tabernas desert

Other Important Points

  • Wolves and bears in some parts