The Spanish national anthem is one of few in the world to have no lyrics and, although this is a political decision, when a country is as rousing and spectacular as Spain is, sometimes there just are no words to describe it. It is also so vast that, as you will find on our Spain tours, it beats to the rhythm of many different drums.
Walking holidays in Spain, for example, are an ideal way to take it all in and tune in, be it embarking on the Camino or on a Pyrenean pilgrimage. Seek solace on Catalonia’s trails for calm and cultural vitality, and escape the unmelodious Mediterranean crowds for tranquil trekking on Mallorca or Menorca.
Cycling holidays in Spain such as on Asturias’ Green Coast or through Andalucía’s villages are also evocative in their own right, transporting you to lands of whitewashed villages or alongside the white capped peaks of the Picos mountains. Spain tours are, quite simply, anthemic.
Popular regions and trails
Where to go
Andalucía is all about the south, glimmering not only in the summer heat but also with an array of walking and cycling trails that lead you to some of Spain’s finest cultural and natural jewels. A walking holiday in the Sierra Nevada, for example, takes you through the prettiest of whitewashed villages one day, and to the Alhambra Palace the next. Top and tail a cycling holiday in Andalucía, passing orange and olive groves along ancient Roman ways, with stays in the spectacular cities of Jerez and Cadiz.
Picos de Europa, Asturias
The Picos, as they are known for short, are one of Spain’s sixteen national parks and their limestone spires, twisting trails and wildlife habitats are peppered across the provinces of Asturias, Cantabria and León. As well as being part of the Camino de Santiago, the Picos have a tapas style menu of trails to suit all walkers. You can hike the Picos circuit in twelve days, covering its three massifs, or enjoy the range’s highlights in a week, with ever present views of the iconic Picu Urriellu, and the range’s highest summit Torre de Cerredo (2,650m).
Spain’s Balearic and Canary archipelagos, the former basking beauties in the Med, and the latter much further south off the coast of Morocco and shaped by nature’s wilder influences, are all adventure central. They are also magnets for mass tourism, but only at key spots. National park nirvanas such as Mount Teide in Tenerife, Garajonay on La Gomera, or Caldera de Taburiente on La Palma are just some of the Canary islands’ more natural nests. For walking holidays in the Balearics, Mallorca and Menorca are like manna from hiking heaven.
Walking holidays in Spain don’t get much more spectacular than in the Spanish Pyrenees, which boast six of the country’s ten highest peaks. The Pyrenees form a natural border with France, and our Pyrenees Coastal Trail holiday takes in both countries. Keen walkers come back again and again to experience the Pyrenees’ dramatic and varied landscapes, such as on the High Trails of Catalonia or, in contrast, Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park with four valleys packed with glacial treasures such as the Great Canyon of Ordesa and the Añisclo Gorge.
Things to do
- Although the world renowned and ancient Camino tours all lead to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain, there are three main routes to get you there, depending on where you start your mammoth journey: the Camino Portugues starts in Porto; Camino Frances walkers have their debut in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port; and Camino del Norte walkers cling to the north coast all the way from San Sebastián. You can do all of it, a section of it, walk it or cycle it. The most important thing is to choose a Camino that will challenge but also be cherished.
- Get to know Spain far from the madding crowds. La Gomera, for example, under an hour from Tenerife, is like a sub-tropical cake, with layers of ancient trails and traditions, and still unknown to many. The pilgrim paths and wilderness areas of Mallorca’s Serra de Tramuntana are just 20km from the cruises and carousing of its capital, Palma. And you can build up your energy for Barcelona by first hiking or cycling along Catalonia’s coastal trails for a true sense of this spectacular region’s independence.
- Spain loves festivals, not just in its main towns and cities but throughout all rural areas. If you want to bash open a piñata of cultural treats, one of the best times to visit Spain might be for Semana Santa (Holy Week) in March or April where every village creates floats packed with icons. Or take in a wine festival in September, such as the famous one in Jerez, Andalucía, with plenty of flamenco thrown into the heady mix. All Saints Day, or Todos Los Santos, on 1 November, is also a country-wide party of flowers, feasting and festivals.
Responsible travel tips
- Be a responsible traveller and prepare yourself for all weathers. If you are on a walking holiday or cycling holiday in Catalonia or the Balearic Islands, always check for extreme weather warnings, avoid the middle of the day and take plenty of water.
- Spain has been progressively hit by the ravages of the climate crisis, with the Iberian Peninsula, in particular, suffering its driest weather in over a thousand years. Water is therefore a scarcity in many parts, and so always use it sparingly at your accommodation when possible, no matter what time of year.
- Similarly, wildfires are becoming more prevalent, so be extra vigilant, never light fires or barbeques out in the wild, and look out for litter on trails such as glass bottles or silvery paper as they can spark fires.
- Spain has some superb train connections and, for international visitors, one of the most efficient and exciting journeys is the direct train between Paris and Barcelona, which takes just under seven hours, and links up easily with Eurostar services. There are often promotional fares on this route, and the best site to keep an eye on these is SNCF- Connect.