Juan carlos Poveda
Hiking in the natural monument of Cerro del Hierro. Seville.
Rainbow. Hiking in the Hoces del Cabriel.
Hiking in the Serra Gelada mountains. Alicante - Alacant.
Spain has over 60,000 kilometres of certified footpaths, so this sport is an excellent way to explore all the country's different landscapes from north to south.
On your way you'll be able to see great lakes with glacial origins, volcanoes, marshes teeming with birds, cliffs with centuries of history, forests where you can hear the bellowing of stags… You can book your hiking activities and experiences on this page. Here you'll find information on prices, the dates when you can do the activity, how long it takes, what language options are available and its target public.
Spain is the second most mountainous country in Europe. Around 24% of its area is over 1,000 metres above sea level. The views are guaranteed. It is home to a great number of beautiful nature areas such as its 15 national parks and its biosphere reserves. In fact, Spain is the country with the second most biosphere reserves in the world. It has a mild climate, and over 3,000 hours of sunshine a year. It offers the possibility of enjoying other outdoor sports and activities such as birdwatching. It offers a wide range of rural accommodation, campsites, mountain refuges… Many of these footpaths are associated with important cultural attractions, such as the famous Way of Saint James, the Romanesque route in the Boí valley, and the Silver Route.
Types of footpaths
The Spanish Federation of Mountain Sports and Climbing (FEDME) is responsible for certifying the footpaths. Depending on the route you choose you'll see that each one is indicated with different coloured signs: 1) The Gran Recorrido (GR) long-distance routes cover distances of over 50 kilometres and therefore require several days to do. These routes are marked with red signs. These long distance GR trails also include European footpaths which link several countries. Specifically, the following European routes run through Spain: E3 (from Turkey to Santiago de Compostela), E4 (from Tarifa to Greece), E7 (from Portugal to Hungary) and E9 (from France to Poland). 2) The Pequeño Recorrido (PR) (short hiking routes) are between 10 and 50 kilometres long, and can be done in one or two days. They are marked with yellow signs. 3) The local footpaths (SL) are the shorter, covering distances of under 10 kilometres. They are marked with green signs, and are the most highly recommended (as they have a very low level of difficulty) for doing with children, or for people with low levels of physical fitness. There is also a system of signposting for protected nature areas, and the state's own signposting: Nature Trails (8,000 kilometres of canals, cattle roots, footpaths…) and Green Routes (old railway lines converted into footpaths). Remember that you may come across non-certified footpaths which have a system of signposting used by private institutions and local organisations. If the path is not marked out, find out about its characteristics beforehand.
Best times of year
Although in most parts of Spain you can go hiking all year round, the best times of the year are spring and autumn, in order to avoid snow in winter in certain mountain areas and possible high temperatures in summer.
There are areas specially adapted for hiking in places like the island of La Palma, the Sierra de Tramuntana mountains (on the island of Majorca) and the Pyrenees. There are also some very popular routes. Here are a few examples: Cares Route (a natural gorge in the heart of the Picos de Europa mountains). Senda del Oso (the Bear Route) (in Asturias, where you may even see this animal). Las Médulas (mountains which are in fact an ancient gold mine dating from Roman times in León). Hoces del Duratón gorges (in Segovia, the Duratón river has carved out a steep gorge). Monasterio de Piedra (a landscape of waterfalls in a unique setting in Aragon). La Garrotxa (a volcanic area in Catalonia). Maestrazgo (in Teruel, where you'll find actual imprints of the dinosaurs). El Camí des Cavalls (a path running round the coast of the island of Minorca). Carros de Foc (which links several mountain refuges in the Aigües Tortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park)…
All the National Parks have visitor centres where you can find information about the characteristics of the routes. If you need advice, check with a club, association or a professional guide. If you're planning on taking a long-distance GR route, ask beforehand in the tourist office or visitor centre about its level of difficulty and about nearby refuges. If you want to camp out during your route, there are strict restrictions. Make sure you obtain the necessary permits. You don't need to be federated to go hiking in Spain. However, if you want to take part in any of the competitions that are organised –like mountain races–, you must obtain a licence from the federation in your country, and show you have civil liability and accident insurance with coverage in Spain. It's always a good idea to take out insurance to cover any incident in the setting where you are planning to go hiking. You should seek advice beforehand to make sure you choose your insurance based on the actual activity (its difficulty, among other aspects) you're planning to do. We recommend checking our section on practical information on Health and Safety