Are you a Spanish trekkie? If you are, we have some star treks to share with you in a country with landscapes that sometimes feel like unexplored galaxies. Especially the volcanic trails of the Canary Islands, or the limestone sculptures of the Picos de Europa. For added atmosphere, a day of trekking in the Serra de Traumuntana may even be accompanied by sacred choral music, as your trek comes to a close in a medieval monastery. You may know some of our best hikes in Spain already, but hopefully you will discover some new ones and do the right trekkie thing – go forth boldly.
Cúber Lake to Lluc Monastery, Mallorca
The fact that it’s almost heart shaped is apt, given that this lake is heart stoppingly beautiful, in the heart of Mallorca’s Serra de Tramuntana’s highest peaks. It’s the starting point for a trek to the 13th-century Lluc Monastery, Santuari de Lluc, considered one of the most important pilgrimage sites on the island. And it really is a spectacular walk amongst high peaks with views across the range’s rich valleys, on the waymarked GR221 trail. The trek will be even more extraordinary If you can time your arrival to hear the monastery’s famous choir sing (every day at 13.15) , or just hear their voices echoing across the mountains as they practise, which they have been doing here since 1531. The good news is that you get to slumber at this ethereal retreat not only for the night after the trek, but for one other too.
Hiking time: 5-6h
Ordesa Valley, Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park
Founded in 1918, when Spain was still suffering conflict and crisis after WWI, protecting peaceful, wild places must have felt in deep contrast to everything else that was going on. Still a vast place of peace in the Aragonese Pyrenees, the park’s name comes from two of its most prominent features: Ordesa Valley and Monte Perdido (Lost Mountain). It’s the valley that our customers flag again and again as a highlight on this drive and hike holiday in the national park.
Starting out on day three, so you’ve had a couple of days to imbibe the mountain goodness, you take a 700m ascent up a zig-zag path to the viewpoint at Mirador Calcilarruego (1,950m), then follow the Senda de Los Cazadores trail all the way to the end of the valley. The views over the valley as it rises in the north, with high peaks such as Monte Perdido (3,355m) silhouetted in the background, are way up there in terms of trekkers’ treats. There’s an optional extension of the route to Refugio de Goriz so you can eke out the exquisiteness of it all for just a little longer.
Hiking time: 6-10h
Picu Urriellu, Picos de Europa, Spain
The Picos, as this mountain range is known for short, actually only covers 40km, but it certainly makes its mark, creating a beautiful band along the coasts of Asturias, Cantabria and León. A landscape of limestone spires, twisting trails and tranquil wildlife habitats, you experience peak Picos on a trek up to Picu Urriellu (2,519m), also called Naranjo de Bulnes. Its pointy summit is a mecca for world-class rock climbers, but you can also get pretty up close and personal with no technical experience. It’s close to the end of this Picos de Europa circuit holiday, so you have a great build up to it, starting out from the village of Sotres, one of the highest in the national park (1,050m).
From Sotres, you follow mule tracks up to Pandébano Col (1,240m), then cross lunar-like landscapes at the heart of the central massif, where chamois linger and alpine choughs loom overhead. The trek comes to an end at Vega de Urriellu mountain hut (1,953m), where you also spend the night, so you can string out this great moment for many hours to come. On this Picos de Europa highlights holiday, you come back down to Sotres on the same day and stay in a hotel.
Hiking time: 5-6h
Caldera de Taburiente, La Palma
Otherwise known as La Isla Bonita, if walking trails through deep gorges, laurel forests and dramatic seascapes are your thing, then get your boots ready for walking in La Palma’s Caldera de Taburiente National Park. Named after the massive volcanic crater at its heart, with a diameter of 9km and depths of 1.5km, it’s the walk to the crater’s edge that explodes most hikers’ minds on our walking holiday here, although you also get a chance to walk inside it the next day. To walk along the rim, you trek up to an elevation of 2,000m on a gradual ascent, where you are rewarded not only with views down into the amphitheatre-like crater, caused by one side of a volcano collapsing, but also out to the Atlantic and Tenerife. The caldera itself is surrounded by the island’s highest peaks, including El Roque de los Muchachos (2,426m) and Pico de la Cruz (2,351m).
Hiking time: 6h
Ventosa i Calvell refuge, Aigüestortes National Park
The full name is Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park and, although it’s the country’s only national park in Catalonia, it’s a veritable fiesta of fine natural features, with the Catalan Pyrenees taking centre stage. On day five of our walking holiday here, you trek up to Ventosa i Calvell refuge at an elevation of 2,215m, where you also stay the night. Another example of a place that’s just too good to leave. Starting out at Cavallers Dam, you follow the waterfront along a path peppered with granite rocks, then through high pastures known as Riumalo, where cattle look on curiously and streams appear at just the right moment to cool you down. The last stretch follows a path alongside Barranc Llastres ravine up to the refuge, which overlooks Estany Negre (Black Lake), and has views out to several 3,000m plus peaks.
After a mountain air-infused sleep, you have a glorious circular trail to follow from the refuge. Walk through rugged granite landscape to the more soothing waterscapes of Travessani and Estany de Monges glacial lakes. From here you continue up to Port de Rius (2,475m) mountain pass. More lakes and luscious views follow at Estany de Mangades and Port de Colomèrs, from which you get views over Cirque de Colomers on the north side of the national park.
Trek to refuge distance: 5.5km
Hiking time: 3h
Circular trek from refuge distance: 8.5km
Hiking time: 4h
Pico del Teide, Tenerife
Pico del Teide is Spain’s highest mountain at 3,715m, on the Canary Island of Tenerife, and is at the heart of Teide National Park. You can trek there, but it is highly protected and numbers are limited to 200 per day, so you do need to get a permit in advance. The good news is that it’s free, yet the experience of trekking up this iconic volcano is priceless. The trek starts by cable car up to La Rambleta station at 3,200m, followed by a 3km walk to the Pico Viejo viewpoint. After that, permit holders can continue for an hour or so and, as you approach the crater, you can see fumaroles emitting smoke. Just a little reminder that the volcano is still active. And you will certainly feel very alive by the time you have completed this trail to the top of Spain, especially if you have cloudless skies with infinitesimal views from the top. You can climb Mount Teide on our Tenerife highlights walking holiday, Tenerife and La Gomera holiday, as well as our latest addition to the Canarian family, which hops across three of the islands.
Hiking time: 1h
Choosing treks in Spain is like trying to pick out the best from a top tapas menu. They are all too good to choose from, some are definite regular favourites and others are unexpectedly delicious. These are just a few from the great menu of mountains to explore in Spain. For more ideas, you may enjoy our blogs, Top national parks in Spain, Camino de Santiago routes and Staying in a mountain hut.