Along with the much smaller Portugal, Spain occupies the mountainous Iberian peninsula of Western Europe. Historically, Spain was Europe's leading power throughout the 16th and 17th centuries and built an empire, mostly in Latin America (including Mexico), that has left a legacy of 400 million Spanish speaking people worldwide. In the north-east of the country, the continuous mountain chain of the Pyrenees extends from the stormy Atlantic coast to the Mediterranean and forms the border with France. The country's highest summit is actually Mount Tiede (3718m) on the Spanish island of Tenerife. Rising above 2600 metres at the summit of Pico Cotalba, the limestone massifs of the Picos de Europa, close to the north coast of mainland Spain, provide some of the country's finest walking terrain. The traverse of the range is ranked amongst Europe's finest treks. This is also a great place for family adventures, combining easy mountain walking and coastal exploration on the Costa Verde. Further regions for walking are the Sierra Nevada in southern Spain with it's white washed Moorish villages and terraced fields. The Canary Islands far south off the coast of Morocco also belong to Spain.


Covering an area of 504,784 sq km, Spain is part of the mountainous Iberian peninsula of Western Europe. In the north of the country, the Pyrenees form a continuous mountain chain stretching from the rugged and stormy Atlantic coast to the balmy beaches of the Mediterranean, and its watershed delineates the border with France. In the south east of the country the Sierra Nevada takes the form of a long curving chain which rises abruptly from the plain of La Vega to the northeast of Malaga, reaching its highest altitude of 3482 metres close to the city of Grenada before dropping gradually to Almeria in the east. Around 100km in length, the main spine of the range, which contains several 3000m peaks, projects ridges north and south. Between the southern ridges are long narrow ravines containing Moorish villages and farms. The valleys to the north are wilder and less accessible, the highest containing dark corries situated beneath 600mfaces.

Time Zone

The time in Spain is GMT +1 hour.

Vaccinations (country)

You should attend your own doctor and dentist for a check-up. No special vaccinations are required for Spain. UK residents should obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before travelling. The EHIC is normally valid for three to five years and covers any medical treatment that becomes necessary during your trip, because of either illness or an accident. The card gives access to state-provided medical treatment only, and you'll be treated on the same basis as an 'insured' person living in the country you're visiting. Remember, this might not cover all the things you'd expect to get free of charge from the NHS in the UK. You may have to make a contribution to the cost of your care. You can obtain an EHIC from the Department of Health by phone, online, or at the post office.

Additional Sources/Information

Walks and Climbs in the Pyrenees. Kev Reynolds
Walking in the Sierra Nevada. Andy Walmsley. Cicerone Press
The Pyrenees. Marc Dubin. Rough Guides.
Trekking in the Pyrenees. Douglas Streatfeild-James. Globe Pequot Press
Trekking and climbing in Northern Spain. Jim Thompson & Ilja Schroder. Stakpole Books
The Story of Spain. Mark Williams. Santana Books

Spain: Editorial Alpina Walking Maps - Extensive and very popular series of walking maps covering the Pyrenees, Catalonia, Picos de Europa, Sierra Nevada and parts of Andalucía. Scales vary from 1:50,000 to 1:10,000, with the majority of the titles at 1:25,000.

Lonely Planet -
Rough Guides -