A land of marvellous nature and astounding contrasts, Spain has made remarkable progress over the past decades in developing hiking trails and facilities. All thanks to the efforts of the Federación Española de Alpinismo (Spanish Mountain Federation) and its many regional branches.
The Spanish Pyrenees are probably the best known hiking area, with the GR11 running all the way across from west to east, parallel to the French GR10. The most beautiful parts of the Pyrenees are protected, like Aigüestortes and Ordesa, and these can get very busy in summer. Another popular hiking area are the Picos de Europa, a limestone massif west of the Pyrenees. The rest of the Cantabrian mountain range, which runs al the way to the northwestern tip of Spain, is much less known. It is a relatively green area and a popular holiday destination for the Spanish themselves. Other mountain ranges, such as the Sierra Nevada, are hiking areas of old. Recent hiking tourism has resulted in the opening up of extraordinary landscapes, like the Extremadura on the border with Portugal which is well-known for its vultures and birds of prey, and of course Andalucia in the south.
Who hasn't heard of Camino de Santiago, the pilgrims' trail to Santiago de Compostela, which exerts an inexplicable attraction on hordes of people?! But there is much more and better too. Nowadays there are more than one hundred long distance trails in Spain. Like in France, these are called GR (Sendero de Gran Recorrido) and marked in red and white. Not surprisingly the "Topoguias" look the same as those of their northern neighbours.
Shorter hiking trails are marked in green and white (Sendero Local) or yellow and white (Sendero de Pequeño Recorrido).
Lastly there are several islands that deserve attention: the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands offer fantastic hiking opportunities. Some long distance footpaths have been established here.