Beyond the Camino de Santiago: three alternative hikes in Spain
1. Best for History: The Mozarabic Way
If the busier routes of the Camino de Santiago seem too busy, short or easy, then why not walk to Santiago de Compostela in a different way by following the longer and more difficult route taken by the pilgrims. Christians in medieval southern Spain held by Muslims? Several paths lead inland from Malaga and Almería, merge to cross the Sierra Nevada, and then connect with the 620-mile northern stretch of Vía de la Plata. The oldest sections trace the ancient Roman roads, spanning the entire peninsula, from snow-capped peaks to dusty plains and rainy green hills. St James Way Organized runs private tours on this route that include accommodation options.
2. Ideal for peace and quiet: Vías Verdes
Over 1,900 miles of disused railway lines have been redeveloped to create the Vías Verdes (“greenways”): scenic routes for hiking and biking. Among the longest is the 63-mile Vasco-Navarro Greenway, crossing the Basque Country on an old narrow-gauge road, while the Ojos Negros Greenway follows the old Sierra Menera mining railway over ridges. and bridges around the city of Teruel. Along each line, old stations now serve as rest areas, mini-museums and pleasant inns in the hinterland. Cycling Spain offers guided tours on some Greenway routes, while self-guided hikes and walks can be organized with the help of the Spanish Railways Foundation.
Read more: Could pilgrimages be the next post-pandemic travel trend?
3. Ideal for wildlife: Senda Pirenaica
The hike on the Spanish flanks of the Pyrenees, from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, takes around six weeks. Any part of this trail, the Senda Pirenaica, or GR11, can be life changing for its beauty, variety and drama: villages built in stone, gorges and meadows; the skies are home to golden eagles and bearded vultures; the slopes to wild boars, wolves, brown bears and ibex and the endangered semi-wild Pottok ponies. Sherpa Expeditions offers self-guided hiking packages on part of this route starting at £ 1,040.
Read more stories and travel guides for Spain
Published in the June 2021 issue of National Geographic Traveler (UK)
Follow us on social media
Twitter | Facebook | Instagram