Can I go walking in Spain? Walking and trekking summer 2020

6 minute read

Walking, trekking and other outdoor activity holidays in Spain – travel, accommodation and other facilities are open and possible, but with certain restrictions. This page will help you find up-to-date information for walking, trekking and other outdoor activities during summer 2020.

White villages of Andalucia
White villages of Andalucia

Updated 27 July 2020

Areas of Spain make masks mandatory in public spaces

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A second localised lockdown has been ordered in Spain after a spike in coronavirus cases, with 70,000 people told they cannot leave an area in the country's northwest.

Residents of La Marina will be forced to stay put from midnight on Sunday until Friday after a spike in coronavirus cases in the area, located in the Galicia region.

Bars and restaurants will reduce their capacity by half and face masks will be compulsory, even if people are outdoors.

This region effects walkers on the Camino Francés and the Camino Primitivo in particular.


General travel requirements and restrictions

Spain’s borders are open to European Union and Schengen-area countries (with the exception of Portugal where the restrictions will continue to apply), and travellers from the UK. Arrivals from the United Kingdom are not required to self-isolate on arrival but will be subject to a series of three health checks. Travel between regions is now permitted.

All travellers and tourists returning to the United Kingdom from any part of Spain and Spanish islands are required to quarantine for 14 days on arrival in the UK, effective until further notice.

Face masks are obligatory on public transport and in public spaces where it is not possible to maintain social distancing of 1.5 metres. Social distancing measures and other safety precautions must be observed at all times. For full information, see Staying during coronavirus and Entry requirements on the UK government website.

Entry requirements

On arrival, travellers entering Spain from the UK will not be required to self-isolate however, they will be subject to the following three requirements:

  • Provide contact information and any history of exposure to COVID-19
  • Temperature check
  • Undergo a visual health assessment

Anyone who presents symptoms or fails one of the above requirements will be seen by a health professional.

Key ‘new normal’ measures include:

  • social distancing of 1.5-metres
  • obligatory use of face masks in public spaces (see ‘Use of facemasks’).
  • track and trace – all shops, businesses and transport companies are obliged to keep passengers’ contact information (where provided) for up to 4 weeks for tracking and tracing purposes.

Travel to Spain

Flights to Spain
Flights to Spain continue to operate, however there are restrictions, and you should check with your chosen airline to ensure you have everything you need.

Ferries from UK
Brittany Ferries will resume operation from 29 June. They operate a cruise ferry to Spain from the UK with a choice of routes from Portsmouth and Plymouth to Santander and Bilbao. There is also a ferry service from Rosslare in Ireland to Bilbao.

Check this link for Specific travel and safety protocols on Brittany ferries.

Spain's Islands
Canary Islands
are now open to tourism. Since Spain entered its new normal on 21 June, you are allowed to move freely around the archipelago and Spanish mainland, and the Canary Islands have everything ready to welcome tourists.
Mallorca – Palma airport is back to running its normal flight programme and the port has re-opened once again. Arrivals into Palma airport should still expect some health procedures, such as having their temperature taken and stating their contact with the virus. However, the previous two-week confinement after travelling has now come to an end.

Much of Spain is too hot for walking during the height of the summer between June and September, however the heat is less intense at altitude, which means that the Pyrenees and the Sierra Nevada can feel tolerable during these months. Walks and Climbs in the Pyrenees has hundreds of routes, while for longer hiking trips, Shorter Treks in the Pyrenees is a good starting point, while the Pyrenean Haute Route and the GR11 Make for epic adventures, either for hut to hut (refugio to refugio) to wild camping. There is also fantastic summer walking and trekking in the Sierra Nevada, as long as you stay high.

It's possible to walk in Spain at any time of year, but between February and May, and again between September and November are the best seasons. By the autumn there should be less pressure on some accommodation, particularly the Camino albergues, many of which tend to remain open well into November. Less frequently visited walking areas may prove a good bet for 2020 and 2021, such as the Sierras of Extremadura, and Mountain Walking in Southern Catalunya. In northern Spain, intrepid trekkers could try the GR1: Spain's Sendero Historico, a massive 1250km route between Leon to the Mediterranean (which can always be tackled over a series of trips) and takes you to some beautiful and remote regions in the foothills of the Pyrenees. Many will walk the Camino Frances, or the Camino del Norte or Camino Primitivo, but there is also an interesting trek around the coast of Galicia called the Camino dos Faros – the way of the lighthouses, which enjoys 200km of fantastic rugged coastal scenery in eight stages.

When you think of walking in Spain, many think of Andalucia, or the Costa Blanca. In Andalucia the choice is wonderful, and with scenery and hospitality to match. Base yourself somewhere and Walking in Andalucia is the guidebook you will need, with over 40 walks described, while if coastal scenery and breezes is what you crave, the Coastal Walks in Andalucia is the better bet. Base yourself near the mountains of Nerja or nearby, and we even have a guidebook specifically for that area, and it's a similar case for the mountains of Ronda and Grazalema. For trekkers there are superb long distance routes – The Andalucian Coast to Coast is a three week, 416km route, and the GR7 (new edition May 2021), the lower Spanish section of a massive trans European route running through some of the finest Andalucian scenery. Further north, and the selection of 50 circular routes in Walking on the Coast Blanca will keep you interested for some time, as there is everything from short easy walks to some challenging scrambles and ridge routes.

If you plan to go walking or trekking on Spain's islands, then this is now possible. All the Canary Islands are open to visitors, as are the islands of Mallorca and Menorca. This means that both Mountain walking in Mallorca and Trekking the GR221 is possible, but make sure you have accommodation secured.

Accommodation

Not all hotels and other accommodation is open at this time, and in all cases a face mask is required in common areas. Expect other restrictions to be in place according to the size and nature of the accommodation provider.

The Camino de Santiago is officially opening in Galicia on July 1. National sanitary requirements have been resolved, and albergues will be at reduced capacity with reservations required.

Spanish government COVID-19 international travel page

Other helpful links:

Government accommodation guidelines

Association of Municipalities of the Camino de Santiago – health and sanitation instructions for all albergue lodgings

Here we have current advice for walkers in the Sierra Nevada from our friends at Spanish Highs. Richard at Spanish Highs reports:

"In Spain each province is dealing with the crisis in slightly different ways. Some info regarding Andalucia and the Sierra Nevada is set out below. I'm not sure about the Pyrenees but their new norms cannot be vastly different to those of Andalucia I would have thought.
There are two guarded refugios in the Sierra Nevada; Refugio Poqueira is dealing with the crisis following this procedure. Presumably, the other guarded refuge, the Postero Alto, complies with the norms as laid down by the Federation Andaluza de Montanismo (in spanish). These are very similar to those employed by the Refugio Poquiera."

In a nutshell, you MUST book to enter or stay in a hut, even to stop for a drink and snack. You must also bring your own hut shoes, sanitiser, sleeping bag, mask etc.

Mountain refuges in the Pyrenees appear to be open, but offering reduced numbers who can stay at any one time, and with 'new normal' safety restrictions in place.

If undertaking the GR11, wild camping might be the answer!

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