When I first moved to Spain I conjured images of chorizo, grilled octopus, sandy beaches, and Flamenco dancing. After eating all those delicious things for several months, I realized I needed to get active! With the mountains and the ocean, Spain is a haven for nature lovers, so I didn’t have to look far.
Sure, you can sip mojitos on the beach, but you can also learn how to surf, get out on a sailboat boat, or hike in one of Spains’ many mountains. Spain is home to five major mountain ranges making it an ideal place to pull out the hiking boots and walk off that burrata!
Here are my top 5 not-to-miss hikes in Spain:
1. Funicular de Tibidabo
I may be biased (seeing as I live here) but Barcelona is a treasure trove of a city. You could spend days wandering the Gothic streets, looking at art, and sipping vermut without getting bored. Barcelona is surrounded by nature with the beach on the east side, and the mountains in the west. It’s the best of both worlds. If you want to maximize your time in the city but still add some activity to your trip, the Funicular de Tibidabo is the perfect hike for you.
Take the metro to penitents station and follow the signs to get to the base of this hike. If there are some members of your party that aren’t up for the hike, there is a funicular that will take you most of the way to the top. However if you do take the funicular, you’ll miss out on the winding forest paths and great views of the city. Once you reach the summit, you can visit the Temple de Sagrat Cor, a beautiful gothic church.
Tibidabo is also home to an interesting theme park, the dates in which the rides have last been maintained is questionable. You can jump on the brightly coloured ferris wheel for a beautiful view all the way out to the ocean. This is a great day trip from the city!
2. The Mediterranean Trail (GR 92)
This gorgeous coastal hike starts just south of the French border in the Pyrenees (Portbou) and continues all the way south to Barcelona. Passing through Costa Brava, known for its’ beautiful beaches, the trail never strays far from the coast, making a dip in the ocean a perfect end to a long hiking day.
The trail runs for 400+km, but like all Great Routes is very well signed and is easy to break down into a day trip, or a multi-day hike.
3. Silleta de Padul
Made famous by the beer of the same name, the Sierra Nevadas near Grenada offer a wealth of hiking opportunities. This hike which starts in Dilar, is a short drive or bus ride from Granada. Dilar is a charming little village and makes for the perfect pre-hike breakfast stop!
While the climb to the peak is steep, it offers brilliant views of the Sierra Nevada mountains from the top. This 15km hike requires a fair amount of endurance, but no technical skills. It can be completed in a day, but depending on the time of year you go, make sure to leave yourself enough daylight to get back safely. When you return to Granada reward yourself with a canya in salute to the mountains!
4. Mt. Mulhacen
At 3,482m this is the highest peak in Spain! There are several routes up the mountain, and all are rewarded with stellar views! You can start the hike directly from Grenada, or take a bus to Capileira or Trevélez as alternate starting points.
This hike can be done in a day, but there are also several refugios (mountain huts) for those wishing to spend the night on the mountain. For the history buffs, this mountain is also prominent in the mythology of the area!
5. Camino de Santiago
It would be hard to write an article about Spanish hikes and not mention the Camino de Santiago! Pilgrims (the people that walk the Camino de Santiago) have been hiking this trail for centuries, and people from all walks of life (pun intended) come to do this trek. The 800km trek takes roughly 30 days but can be broken up into sections.
This trek is not your typical wilderness trail. While you will hike it over the Pyrenees on a grueling first day, you’ll also walk through some major cities like Pamplona, Leon, and Astorga. You’ll also get to make your way through the Rioja region (where you can enjoy a copa), and walk across the plains of Spain. The trail can get pretty busy in the spring and fall, but no matter when you go you’re sure to meet other people with an interesting tale to tell and a bottle of wine to share.
There’s no need to bring a tent as you’ll be able to stay in special Albergues along the way only for Pilgrims (similar to hostels). If you have the time, I highly recommend walking past Santiago to Finisterre – the end of the world.
I hope you enjoy these Spanish hiking spots as much as I have! Buen Camino!
Written by Kayla Kurin
Kayla is a digital nomad, yogi, and social media manager. Currently bunkered up in Europe, but originally from Canada, she’s visited, lived, and worked in over 40 countries! Learn more about her and her work on her website, Twitter, and Instagram.