Best walks, hikes and treks in Spain [View list of walks]
A long and contorted history has left Spain a rich but confusing and centrifugal place. One of the Roman Empire's wealthiest regions and the homeland of many emperors, it was the occupied by the Moors for centuries, leaving some glorious relics of a vigorous mozarabic culture such as Granada's Alhambra and the flamenco tradition.
The Christian reconquista, vast new world riches then centuries of cruelly enforced, ultra-pious slumber shaped Spain's mindset and left it backward and eccentric, ready meat for a bad 20th Century with a terrible civil war as its centrepiece. The at times weird takes of El Greco, Velazquez, Goya and Dali perhaps sum up the strands. And Spain boasts some of Europe's greatest cathedrals, castles galore and perfect renaissance towns.
As we write, the economy is appalling and the Basques and Catalans want independence, but there is reason for long-term hope: this is a beautiful and fascinating country with kind, friendly inhabitants.
Spain can perhaps be summed up - a bit unfairly perhaps - as a high and dullish central plateau fringed with some natural marvels: the Pyrenees and Picos de Europe to the north, the dry mountains of Andalusia to the south. A half century of development means most of the coast is wrecked, but the good stuff can start a few kilometres inland, where you are suddenly in a different world.
Spain's greatest natural wonders, though, are not in mainland Europe at all: the Canary Islands suffer from an image of mass tourism, but contain thrilling and at times incredible volcanic scenery, not to be missed by any serious walker.
So, Spain has things to fascinate everyone, children included. The variety of travel and tours you can make in Spain is as a result huge. We tell you about walking below, but have a look here for a wide selection of the range of Spain travel, tours, holidays and activities available.
Walking, hiking and trekking in Spain
Spain has some of the world’s best walks, hikes and treks, ranging from famous mountain hiking and trekking in areas such as the Picos de Europa and the Pyrenees to geological absurdities like Las Canadas in Tenerife and the Great Volcanic Ridge in La Palma to historic pilgrimage routes (take a bow, the Camino de Santiago, Europe's and possibly the world's most famous of its kind) to unmissably atmospheric cities such as Toledo.
So, walking, hiking and trekking tours and holidays in Spain are so varied that everyone's taste and energy levels can be met. Walking in Spain isn't just for hard-nuts, although there is plenty to get their juices flowing. The lazy and youngsters alike will be enthralled by what it offers: Spain walking, trekking and hiking holidays and tours really can be for everyone.
See below a (currently incomplete - please give us your ideas!) list of the best walks, treks and hikes in Spain. Various of these are in our world’s Top 100 list.
Famous walking regions include:
Famous walking, hiking and trekking regions include:
- the Picos de Europa, dramatic, harshly beautiful Dolomitic limestone peaks, cliffs and formations but without the crowds of their more famous Italian counterparts
- the Pyrenees: the drier side of this glorious range
- the varied beauties of ancient Andalusia
We intend that our walk pages contain detail and photos on walking, hiking or trekking routes, including books, best times and weather, how to get there, possible problems, walking, trekking and hiking firms, organisers and guides in Spain, accommodation in Spain and useful links. But this takes a lot of research, so if they are not “there” yet, please give us any suggestions you may have.