Spain is a superb country for hiking, but for us, the Caminito Del Rey hike stands out against all the others — an impressive feat! Boasting amazing scenery, thrilling heights, and fascinating history, it’s a must for intrepid adventurers.
Also known as the ‘King’s (Little) Pathway’, the Caminito Del Rey was once considered one of the most dangerous trails in the world. Nowadays, renovations have caused it to lose that title, so what should you expect from the Caminito Del Rey? Information was scarce when we were planning for it, so we’ve written up this detailed guide.
El Caminito Del Rey: The Basics
Before we dive into the hike itself, let’s go over the basics:
- Location: The Caminito Del Rey hike runs along the Guadalhorce River gorge in Andalusia, southern Spain. It’s around 60 km (37 miles) from Málaga, and the closest village is El Chorro.
- Length: 7.7 km (4.8 miles) in total.
- Type of hike: Linear/point-to-point.
- Difficulty: Easy/Moderate.
- When is the Caminito Del Rey open? Tuesday to Sunday throughout the year. It’s closed on Mondays, Christmas (24/25th December), and New Years (31st December and 1st January).
How Long Does It Take to Walk Caminito Del Rey?
At a total length of 7.7 km (4.8 miles), the Caminito Del Rey isn’t overly long, and if you’re walking fast, you can complete the hike in around an hour and a half. However, this is a hike that is well worth taking your time with. The scenery is absolutely stunning, and it’d be a huge shame to not stop and take it all in.
This was one of our favourite things to do in Spain, and when we did it, we spent around 3 hours on the Caminito Del Rey hike, but it’d be easy to spend more time. Along the way, there are around 1.4 km of forest trails that offer some nice spots to settle down for a picnic if the mood takes you.
Is El Caminito Del Rey Still Dangerous?
In the past, the Caminito Del Rey was widely considered one of the most dangerous hikes in the world. This was mostly due to the fact that brave hikers had to traverse slim boardwalks, fixed onto the walls of the gorge.
In time, the old boards and fixings started to wear down, causing several people to lose their lives as they fell from the rickety structures. The trail was closed from 1990, and only reopened to the public again in March 2015. While it was closed, millions of euros were spent on restoring the Caminito Del Rey and making it safe once again.
Is It Still Exciting?
Nowadays, the hike is completely renovated, with sturdy boardwalks and strong guardrails. Hikers must buy a ticket to complete the hike, and are obliged to wear hard-hats for much of the canyon sections. The hike itself isn’t too tough, mostly following flat trails, with just occasional steep climbs.
Don’t think that these safety measures make the hike any less exciting though! It’s an incredible feeling to stand so high above the raging river below, with breathtaking views all around. Even if you’ve got a head for heights, it can be a dizzying experience! In fact, for us, it’s definitely one of the best hiking trails in Europe.
How to Get to Caminito Del Rey?
The Caminito Del Rey is easy to get to from Málaga — which has its own international airport. You essentially have 2 options; drive or take public transport.
Getting to El Caminito Del Rey by car from Málaga is a simple matter of taking the A-357 in the direction of Ardales. This is a fairly large road that passes through some beautiful landscapes along the way. Once you reach Ardales, you need to exit the main road, taking a right turn in the direction of Los Embalses and El Chorro. Follow this stunning, winding road until you reach a large roundabout.
Go straight ahead, following signs for ‘Caminito Del Rey Acceso Norte’ (North Entrance). This is important, the Caminito Del Rey hike only goes in one direction, from north to south, so you need to head to the north entrance to begin. Follow the scenic road, and either park in the official North Car Park, or save a little time by parking up at Restaurante El Kiosko. The tunnel to the trail is right next to the restaurant.
By Public Transport
This is a little trickier, but it can be done. You need to take a train from Málaga to the village of El Chorro. At the time of writing, the train to El Chorro departs twice a day from Málaga-María Zambrano station, and costs €5.
- Málaga-María Zambrano to El Chorro @ 09:06 am arriving at 09:45 am
- Málaga-María Zambrano to El Chorro @ 13:22 arriving at 14:01
While there are 2 trains from El Chorro to Málaga-María Zambrano a day, the first is at 10:47 am, which is too early to complete the hike in time. The second train only leaves at 21.14, arriving in Málaga at 21:52. Both services also cost €5.
From the train station, there’s a Caminito Del Rey shuttle bus station just outside. Jump on the shuttle — more on that below — and it will take you to the north entrance, where you can begin the hike.
What Is the Caminito Del Rey Shuttle?
Since the Caminito Del Rey is a linear hike, and can only be walked from north to south, you’ll need a way to get back to the start if you have a car parked there. Alternatively, if you arrive by train at the south exit of the trail, you’ll need to get to the north entrance to start the hike. You can walk, but the roads are narrow, and it’s quite far.
Alternatively, you can take the handy shuttle bus. This operates every day that El Caminito Del Rey is open for business. Typically, and at the time of writing, the shuttles run every 30 minutes or so from 08:30 am until 17:30 in winter, and 20:00 during the summer season.
The shuttle service costs €1.55 one-way and generally operates on a first-come-first basis. You can pay for the shuttle bus with your Caminito Del Rey entry ticket, or simply pay in cash on the bus. Be aware, drivers don’t carry a lot of change, so be sure to have some smaller notes and coins on you!
How Do I Buy Tickets Caminito Del Rey?
Getting a ticket can be tricky at first, but it’s not too difficult really. The official website offers tickets online, where you can book the date and time you wish to do the walk. A standard ticket costs €10, or you can take a guided tour for €18. If you can’t find tickets online, don’t despair. You can often find same-day or advanced tickets available at the tourist offices in Álora or Ardales.
Alternatively, you’ll find a number of different guided tours available. From small, private groups, to full-day tours with a picnic, they’re a great way to simplify the entire process. In fact, some tours even take care of the travel from Málaga and back, ideal if you’re struggling with public transport. You can check the available options online at GetYourGuide.com.
The Caminito del Rey is really an incredible hike in Spain. We’ve done a lot of hiking in this country, and covered some more amazing trails in our Spain Hiking Guide. So feel free to check it out! If you’re missing information in this guide, please leave a comment below.