For more information on specific regions and activities follow these links - Guided Walking - Hiking Northern Spain - Hiking Southern Spain - Hiking Eastern Spain - Hiking The Costa Blanca - Camino De Santiago - Climbing In Spain - Climbing In Eastern Spain - Climbing In Alicante - Best Climbing In Spain
If you're planning a hiking tour in Spain, your first step is to decide whether to go it alone or use the services of a specialist travel firm.
Thanks to major improvements in Spain's road and rail transport in recent years, it's now possible for the independent traveller to plan a trekking holiday taking in both ends of this vast and fascinating country (it's the second biggest country in Europe after France and the most mountainous after Switzerland). You can spend a week walking in the Pyrenees or the Picos de Europa in northern Spain before taking a day's bus or train ride down to Andalucia or Granada in southern Spain.
Hitch hiking your way from one region of Spain to another is inadvisable, for all the obvious reasons that apply in any country together with the fact that highway bandits (largely from South America) prey on foreign visitors. They're after cash and passports so it's worth bearing in mind that trying to travel on the cheap could end up costing you dearly.
Spain now has more than 15,000 kilometres of rail network and the main train operator, RENFE, runs high speed modern trains connecting all the country's major cities. You can explore the many delights of Catalonia in the north east corner of the country before taking an overnight inter city train from Barcelona down to Granada for some superb hiking in the Alpujarras and the hills of Andalucia. The journey takes about 12 hours and the trains are comfortable with all mod cons including dining cars, video, phone and optional bunk beds. The journey from the capital Madrid (the country's main transport hub) down to Malaga on the Costa del Sol only takes about four hours. You can check out routes, prices and timetables online in English at http://horarios.renfe.es
A cheaper option for budget travellers is the excellent and reasonably priced inter-city bus service. Comfortable coaches connect Madrid with all the country's regional capitals and many inter-city buses run to and from Barcelona. Local bus services are (in the main) cheap, reliable and frequent. The main inter city coach operator is Alsa which also offers an online information and booking service in English (www.alsa.es). In many cases the inter city buses are faster than the train service and an overnight bus trip will spare you the cost of hotel accommodation.
Of course independent travel on the cheap is not for everyone. For those who prefer someone else to handle all the planning and donkey work involved in a hiking tour of Spain, there's a huge array of travel firms offering all kinds of walking tours to suit all tastes and budgets.
Many transport you from one area to another in comfortable air-conditioned vehicles, arrange all your hotel accommodation and walking itineraries and combine hiking trips with various sightseeing and cultural activities. Tours can be tailor-made to suit individual needs - there are women only hiking holidays, walking tours geared to families, tough treks from one mountain refuge to another and luxury packages designed to appeal to those who like to end a relaxed ramble with a gourmet dinner.