Spain has lots of natural parks converted from the country’s wilderness, and they have superb trekking routes that will delight any hiking enthusiast. The country is more than twice the size of the UK, but it has a population that’s 20 million fewer. Here are some of the top trekking destinations you should consider:
1. Camino de Santiago: No list of Spanish trekking destinations is complete without the St. James Way. It’s not just the most popular hiking route in Spain, but it’s also among the most popular hiking routes in the entire world.
This is a pilgrimage route to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, which was once considered the holiest site in Christendom next to Jerusalem and Rome. This is where, according to tradition, the remains of St. James are buried. It has drawn travellers and hikers for more than a thousand years, although today your religious devotion is no longer necessary.
There are several routes to choose from, but the most popular is the Camino Francés, which actually starts in St-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France. The entire route is 780 kilometres long, and you’ll need a whole month to complete it. If you don’t have that long for your holiday, you can take the shorter 111-kilometre version which starts from Sarria.
2. Parque Nacional D’Aiguestortes / Estany de Sant Maurici: The name is long, but the hiking is a bit shorter. You can opt for a week-long hike or you can limit the trek for just a single day. Starting with the glacial valleys, your upward journey leads you through fir and pine woods, alpine grassland, slate and granite, to mountainous peaks. Along the way you can view the twisting waters that feed the various ponds and lakes. And then you can take a rest in one of the refugios in the park.
3. Mallorca: Actually, you’ll find nice trekking destinations in all the Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Minorca, Ibiza, and Formentera) if you look hard enough. Although the current image of the region is all about hotels, beaches, and clubs, in Mallorca your quest for hiking can easily be met. There are coves and mountains, lovely old towns, and you can take your rest in Palma, which is the only real city in all the Balearics.
4. Gran Canaria: The mountains in these islands seem almost beckoning, but your trekking will involve the valleys, forests, and the footpaths along the lakes as well. Some of the paths can take you only a half day, while full-day hikes are available as well.
Your trek will be on old donkey tracks known as Camino Reales. These were the network footpaths used to connect the towns and villages with each other, until modern roads which took a more direct path became more popular. But the Camino Reales will take you through the heart of the island, and you’ll forget all about the modern motorways and hotels.
5. Moorish trails in Andalucia: These are a network of trails and mule routes which linked the quaint Moorish villages, through a landscape filled with olive groves and vineyards.