The six best hikes in Spain that aren’t the Camino de Santiago

The Camino de Santiago, the famous pilgrimage route to the city of Santiago, is a magnet for modern hikers, attracting 300,000 people annually. However, its popularity means it overshadows other equally impressive treks in Spain along with many shorter walks offering spectacular scenery.

Spain has around 100 long-distance footpaths or Grandes Recorridos (including the Camino de Santiago, GR65), which are signposted by horizontal red and white stripes, painted on a pine tree, rock or fence post.

GR1, the Sendero Histórico, is a remote but accessible 700-mile path across northern Spain in the foothills of the Pyrenees. It runs along the ancient Muslim–Christian line of control from Puerto de Tarna in the Picos to Sant Martí d’Empúries on the Mediterranean taking in scores of historic medieval and Romanesque churches, castles and towns.

The spine of the 300-mile wide Pyrenees is another epic trek but much shorter sections offer outstanding natural scenery too. The Ordesa valley in the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site with steep-sided canyons on either side and views up to high peaks.

The Picos de Europa is the mountain range behind the coast in Cantabria and Asturias, easily accessed via the ferry to Santander. It became the first of Spain’s 14 national parks in 1995 and was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2003. Much of it is wilderness characterised by huge massifs and rocky pinnacles.

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