Spanish Steps: Incredible Walks Through Spain for Your Next Trip
Spain is an incredible country for walking. There are amazing opportunities for walking and hiking all over Europe, but Spain is one of the top picks for both long walks and shorter, thrilling hikes that offer a challenge. You can also find more family-friendly walks if you’re looking for something more gentle to moderate, and perhaps want to take your children on vacation with you. Spain provides plenty of sunny weather, and you can hike earlier or later in the year if you want to go at a cooler time too. If you’re a walking or hiking enthusiast, consider these top walks in Spain for your next vacation.
Camino de Santiago
The Camino de Santiago is one of the most famous walking routes in Spain, in Europe, and even around the world. This pilgrimage takes you to Santiago de Compostela, in the northwest region of Galicia. It takes between four to six weeks to complete if you start at the popular starting point of St-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France. The great thing about this walk is that there are several routes you can take. Called The Way of St James in English, it gives you the opportunity to take a shorter route if you want to. The English Way was taken by British pilgrims and starts in El Ferrol for a quicker way to make it to Santiago de Compostela. There are a number of other routes to the same destination, including the Camino Portugues, which starts in Portugal.
Camino Dos FarosIf you’re looking for a challenging walk in Galicia that’s not the Camino de Santiago, the Camino Dos Faros (Way of the Lighthouses) is another option. Walking along the ominously named Coast of Death (Costa del Morte), you will be able to push yourself with many ascents and descents to contend with. This path is relatively new, having only been created between 2012 and 2013, but it’s already popular. As well as challenging your levels of fitness, you have the chance to experience beautiful scenery along the rugged coast. There isn’t too much technical difficulty, but it’s tough enough to keep you excited.
Gorge Desfiladero de los Gaitanes
If you like your walks short and thrilling, you might want to try something a little different. The Caminito del Rey might be only a few kilometers long, but it’s still one of the most interesting walks in Spain. You can find it in the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes gorge, where a narrow pathway was attached to the side of the gorge at the turn of the 20th century to allow for access to a hydroelectric plant. As the path deteriorated, it became known as the most dangerous path in the world, thanks to the number of accidents and numerous deaths that occurred there. However, after much work was undertaken to make it safe again, it reopened in 2016. Access to the path is tightly controlled to ensure safety, so you need to book your walk in advance, but it’s worth it for the amazing views and thrilling experience.
The Longest Path – GR7
Spain’s long-distance footpaths are called Grandes Recorridos, and the longest of all is GR7. This walking path, with all its 14 stages, runs from Tarifa in the very southwest corner of Spain to Andorra, on Spain’s northeast border. It’s nearly 300km in total and will give you an incredible way to see the country. Of course, as with any long walk, you could do as much of it as you wanted. There’s no need to do the whole thing, or to do it all at once. If you can make multiple visits, you can tackle the different stages at different times.
Spanish Pyrenees on the GR11
Another long walking route that might interest you is the GR11, which takes you through the stunning Pyrenees mountains. The 840km route takes you from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea, with plenty of wild and remote areas along the way. Unlike some sunnier parts of Spain, you could be contending with snow outside of the summer season when walking the higher altitude parts. Like other long walks, it’s easy to choose stages that suit you, as the length is rather long for most people. There are 45 stages, so you have plenty to choose from, with lots of places to stop along the way.
Picos de Europa
The Picos de Europa, or peaks of Europe, offer a network or walks for you enjoy, high up and close to Spain’s northern coast. The limestone peaks are an offshoot of the Cantabrian mountain range and offer a wild and rugged environment to explore. From forests to meadows and villages, there’s a lot to see, and there are plenty of flexible walk options. There are day walks and even some you can do in an hour or two, or you can spend longer exploring if you want to. Some parts can be crowded with walkers in the summer, but timing your visit and choosing the right location helps. One of the most popular routes is the Ruta del Cares, which takes you through The Divine Gorge.
If you’re thinking of visiting the Canary Islands, there are also some incredible walking routes there too. On La Palma, you will find the volcanic ridge of Cumbre Vieja, a 150km route that that will likely take you between a week and a week and a half to complete. There are shorter walks available on the island too, the Ruta de la Cresteria or the Route of the Volcanoes.
The Costa Brava is popular with people looking for sun, sea and sand, but it’s a great place for a more active time too. The coastal GR92 route begins by the French border in Portbou and ends in Uldecona. There are 20 stages, giving you options between short walks of a few hours and longer ones of several days. The beautiful coastline has a lot to offer, with plenty of stunning places to see along the way.
Spain is a top choice for beautiful walks, as well as some thrilling experiences. If you’re planning a walking vacation, you can’t go wrong with Spain.