Hiking in Spain: A Guide

Samuel Clennett

Hiking In Spain

As one of the sunniest, warmest, countries in Europe with an abundance of mountains and coastlines, Spain is a popular hiking destination for vacationers. Truth be told, Spain is a popular travel destination, period, and hiking is one of its many appealing qualities.

This article will explain the different types of hiking in Spain, the best hikes in the country, and some pointers to keep in mind when hiking.

Popular Hikes In Spain

When you boil it down, a hike is just a walk in a scenic, outdoors area. Beyond that, hikes can be self-guided, tour-guided, single-day and multi-day. A self-guided means the hiker goes solo and follows a trail but doesn’t use a guide. The perk of these is they tend to be free. If you’re willing to shell out some cash, though, you can take a guided hike with an experienced and knowledgeable tour guide.

Camino De Santiago: To put it mildly, this is an ambitious hike. But it ties everything together, giving you the beauty of the countryside, immersing you in authentic Spanish country life, and integrating religious history and culture into one excursion. We’re talking about the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile loose network of old routes to Catholic pilgrimage sites, all leading to the tomb of St. James at the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, in the northwestern Basque country of Spain. The most popular route, the Camino Frances, which runs east and then north into the Pyrenees and France. Most hikers don’t go in for the full 500 miles, but there are a number of smaller hikes you can take along the route. This isn’t treacherous, high-adrenaline mountain hiking. Most of the hiking is simply walking on a relatively flat path, but voyagers get to take in the Spanish countryside¹.

Sant Jeroni Trail (Montserrat): This moderate hike is located in the region of Catalonia and is only an hours drive away from Spain’s second biggest city (and huge tourist draw), Barcelona. Montserrat is a craggy mountain range, and nested in that range is the Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat, which houses one of the few black madonnas in Europe. Curious travelers have a couple options. They can either hike to the monastery itself, which is 5km and takes about 90 minutes, or taking the Sant Jeroni trail to the highest peak of Montserrat, and take in a panoramic view of Catalonia. This is a more intense hike, about 12km long, with around 700-800km of vertical gain, and typically takes around 6 hours²,³.

Irati Forest Trail: Any list of hiking trails in Spain must include the Pyrenees, the mountain range on the border of Spain and France. This moderate (6.5km) hike skips the gorges and boulders and cirques and wild elevation gain, and takes the user on a foggy hike through the second-largest beech-tree forest in Europe (behind one in Germany) in the region of Navarre. Your best bet is to try the San Cristobal Chapel circuit, which takes you through the woods and also the lovely village of Ochagavía⁴.

The GR92: For a longer hike, consider the GR92 trail (“Mediterranean Track”), which that takes advantage of Spain’s enviable coastline. Running along the Mediterranean coast in the Catalonian region of Costa Brava, there’s a picturesque multi-day 28.6km hike from the town of Portbou to Ulldecona. This coastline trail lets viewers see the beauty of the Mediterranean, and cross over a number of beaches and coves. In addition to the seascapes, the hike takes you along the through the other tourist-friendly spots of Cap de Creus, the Empordà Wetlands and the Ebro Delta⁵.

Ruta Del Cares: This hike gives you more than your typical mountain trail sights, which is why it’s one of the most popular hikes in all of Europe, not just Spain. Located in the Picos de Europa range in Northwestern Spain, this 12km hike is fairly tame and can be done in a day, but weaves through a gorge (known as “The Divine Gorge”) of striking ochre cliff faces, and features multiple cool tunnels through the rock and bridges over rushing streams⁶.

Hoya de la Mora Summit of Veleta: Veleta is Spain’s third-highest mountain, located in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Though it reaches 3,396-meters into the sky, it’s a relatively easy hike, with sloping hills. Taking around 7-9km, it can be done in a couple hours. From the summit, you can look down on the city of Granada, the Mediterranean to the south, and even Africa⁷.

Things To Look Out For

Hiking is a fun and healthy outdoor pastime for all ages, but all hikers should follow a few simple guidelines in order to keep safe in the wilderness⁸.

  • If you can, bring a friend. If you go it alone, make sure you notify a friend or loved one where you will be hiking and at what times.
  • Watch the weather forecast and ensure you’ll be hiking in favorable conditions.
  • Wear proper footwear, wear suntan lotion, bring plenty of water and a snack.
  • Bring a first aid kit.
  • Observe any local wildlife you encounter from a safe distance.
  • As they say “take only pictures, leave only footprints.” Leave the nature around you undisturbed.
  • Don’t litter. Just don’t.
  • Bring plenty of water and drink even when you don’t feel thirsty.

Remember Transferwise

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  1. Camino De Santiago
  2. Sant Jeroni Trail
  3. Sant Jeroni Trail 2
  4. Irati Forest Trail
  5. The GR92
  6. Ruta Del Cares
  7. Hoya de la Mora Summit of Veleta
  8. Hiking Safety Tips

All sources accurate as of 29 February 2020

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