The 20 best walking holidays in Spain for autumn
But there is much beyond the Camino pilgrimage routes. Travel the long coast and you will find that the Spanish sea is far from all the high-rise resorts serving English breakfasts. As you walk, you’ll stumble upon fishing villages, seafood tavernas and coves accessible only on foot that feel entirely Spanish. Then there are several mountain ranges, desert chunks, riverside trails, and 1,800 miles of vias verdes (greenways) created from disused train tracks.
There’s even the “most dangerous walk in the world”: the 2.8km Caminito del Rey was built on the walls of the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes gorge near Malaga in the early 20th century and earned that dubious nickname when it fell into disrepair. Officially reopened in 2015, it has been secured – but it’s still a dizzying undertaking.
A huge advantage for hikers here is the length of the season. The northern countryside, ideal for spring-summer walks, will be cool and wet in the fall, and the high mountains like the Pyrenees are only plowed and accessible from July to September. But aim further south and you can continue to trek happily. For example, the Sierra de Guadarrama near Madrid is good until November, while the rugged peaks and whitewashed villages of the Sierra de Grazalema in Andalucia can be hiked all winter. Continue to the Canary Islands and you have even more off-season options – outposts such as La Palma and El Hierro see relatively few tourists but are criss-crossed by footpaths and enjoy pleasantly spring-like climates all year round.
In short, Spain is great for walkers – make sure you give it more than 30 minutes.
Peaks of Europe
The Picos de Europa were Spain’s first national park – and one of the first in Europe – but its pleated peaks and vibrant grasslands, which rise just inland from the Bay of Biscay coast , remain oddly under the radar – although well served by footpaths. The route taken on KE Adventure’s challenging Picos Traverse was designed by KE’s own award-winning guide. It’s a real mountain journey, tackling high peaks, staying in remote huts and hiking Cares Gorge, probably the most spectacular gorge in Europe.
How to do: Seven nights full board from £995 pp including transfers, departing 11 September plus dates set for 2023 (keadventure.com). Fly to Santander.