Destinations Best for Walking Holidays in Spain
Spain is one of the best countries for a walking holiday with its diverse landscapes and pleasant climate. Taking walking holidays in Spain is a wonderful way in which to discover the beauty of the country at a slow pace. Spain has numerous natural parks, 14 national parks, biosphere reserves, historic routes such as the Camino de Santiago (St James Way), World Heritage cities, fishing villages, medieval towns and environmentally friendly paths that will make your walking holiday a unique experience.
Here is a selection of regions that have some of the most enjoyable walking routes in one of the world’s most visited countries:
This world-famous region – the home of Flamenco – is best enjoyed on foot, taking advantage of the extensive network of trails. The “Costa de la Luz” (Coast of Light) enjoys 200km of the finest golden sands. Along this coastline, facing out to the Atlantic, you won’t see any of the high-rise hotel development of other areas, instead many of the beaches are backed by pine trees and sand dunes. This coast is divided in two: the Huelva section which stretches from the Portuguese border south-east to the Donaña National Park and the mouth of the Guadalquivir River; and the Cádiz section, from the River Guadalquivir eastwards to Tarifa.
The “Aracena Sierra” is tucked away inland, close to the Portuguese border. The landscape is varied: rolling hills, rocky protuberances on high peaks, and whitewashed towns and villages. The Aracena Sierra is famous for the rearing of the black Iberian pigs. The pigs can be seen under holm oak trees searching for the acorns that give their ham its distinctive quality.
The Cabo de Gata Natural Park in the province of Almería has landscapes reminiscent of North Africa. Phoenicians, Romans and Arabs were all attracted by the area’s rich mineral deposits. Other inhabitants were Berber pirates. The dozen lookout towers dotted along the coast are signs of the attempts to repel them.
Vejer de la Frontera, about 10km inland, is a classic white village on a hilltop. Its Moorish roots can be appreciated in the rectangular, whitewashed houses.
In this region the large seaside lagoons and multiple wetlands will surprise you. The Alicante province is the most mountainous on mainland Spain. A walking holiday in the secret mountains of Alicante (“La muntanya d’Alacant”) is a total contrast to the busy popular resorts on the nearby Costa Blanca. Just 25km inland, the landscape here is unspoiled and calm. The walking routes in the mountains of Alicante will take you through fertile valleys where you can enjoy wild flowers, orchids and the sound of the nightingale wherever you go.
Enjoy an invigorating walking holiday in Catalonia’s unspoiled corners. From the coast to the mountains, from the sea to rugged cliffs, from sandy beaches to Mediterranean forests. Wherever you go in this region, be certain the landscape will be intriguing, the history rich and the air clean. Walking holidays in Catalonia also offer the chance to discover and delight in the region’s excellent gastronomy.
The views into the Basque Pyrenees near the Atlantic coast or the Catalan Pyrenees are inspirational and beautifully scenic. In the foothills of the Catalan Pyrenees, in the province of Girona, discover the little-known county of La Garrotxa. An area with stunning natural areas, important cultural heritage villages, farms and churches.
Picos de Europa
Welcome to Northern Spain. Green, occasionally rainy but utterly lush. The Picos de Europa mountains contain one of the most famous walks in the country. They can still be considered a well-kept secret as they are best accessed on foot. The Picos de Europa stand between southeast Asturias, southwest Cantabria and northern Castilla y León, they offer some of Europe’s most spectacular mountain scenery.
The Balearic Islands
It may come as a surprise for some, but they do have impressive walking trails. There is Mallorca and Menorca (also known as the jewel of the Mediterranean) as well as Ibiza and Formentera.
Mallorca has rugged footpaths and is the more bustling of all the islands. Tranquil Menorca has a coastline dotted with hidden coves and sleepy little towns. In the north of the island of Ibiza you will find quiet trails that have nothing to do with the “party island” reputation. For the jewel of the Balearics, add on a trip to the stunning island of Formentera.
The Canary Islands
Discover the islands on foot and experience impressive volcanic landscapes. Tenerife offers walking trails all over the island and it is home to Spain’s highest peak, at 3,718m above sea level, and the third largest volcano on the planet, el Teide.
One of the most unspoilt of the Canary Islands, La Gomera, offers an excellent network of walking trails with lush valleys and breathtaking deep ravines. This rugged island is home to the Garajonay National Park.