If you are looking for the best hikes in Europe, the Caminito del Rey hike in Spain should be at the top of your list.
Once known as the most dangerous hike in the world, the Caminito del Rey was revitalized and reopened to the public in 2015, transforming it into a unique, safe, and the best day trip from Málaga.
Located in the beautiful region of Andalusia, the Caminito del Rey follows the Guadalhorce River gorge and takes you on a journey across a 100-meter-high (328 foot) walkway pinned to the side of towering cliffs.
This linear hike, approximately 7.7 kilometers (or 4.9 miles) in length, offers an unforgettable European Bucket List experience filled with remarkable landscapes and the thrill of traversing along the edge of steep canyons.
As you embark on this epic adventure, expect to be captivated by the natural beauty and history of the Caminito del Rey.
With its recent renovations making it accessible for a wider range of hikers, this is an opportunity you won’t want to miss on your next trip to southern Spain!
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Planning your Caminito Del Rey Day trip last minute? Here are the best Caminito Del Rey tours and places to stay in El Chorro. You will also find the Top Things to do in Málaga or the Best Boutique Hotels in Málaga helpful.
- TOP EXPERIENCES & TOURS FROM MALAGA & SEVILLE TO CAMINITO DEL REY
- From Málaga: Caminito del Rey Guided Tour with Bus – most popular tour from Malaga
- El Chorro Caminito del Rey Hike with Shuttle Bus – a fully guided tour from El Chorro
- BEST HOTELS IN EL CHORRO
- PRACTICAL INFORMATION FOR SPAIN
History of Caminito Del Rey
You may have seen photos of El Caminito del Rey, or the King’s Little Path. It’s hard to forget the vision of a narrow walkway pinned along the steep walls of a gorge. It has an unreal look to it.
Located in the province of Málaga, Spain, the name of this fascinating path dates back to 1921, when Spain’s King Alfonso XIII hiked along the trail during its official opening.
That’s how it gained the nickname “El Caminito del Rey” or the King’s pathway.
Over the years, El Caminito del Rey gained a reputation as a dangerous hike due to the deteriorating condition of the 100-year-old concrete path. It was closed for over a decade after multiple Caminito del Rey deaths.
Today, you’ll be delighted to know that Caminito del Rey has been restored. It is completely safe to walk along its vertical limestone cliffside. Even people with a fear of heights say they feel comfortable.
The new pathway with metal guardrails was built above the old, unsafe path, as you can see in the photo above.
So put on your hiking boots and embrace the thrill awaits you at the Caminito del Rey. You will venture through the beautiful Gorge of the Gaitanes, experiencing a historical site, while enjoying stunning views.
How to Get to Caminito Del Rey Day Trip from Malaga
Getting to Caminito Del Rey from Málaga is quite straightforward and can be done through various modes of transportation.
Depending on your preference, you can choose between a tour with transportation included, or take the train, bus, or car to reach the hike. Here are directions for the various options.
Take a Guided Tour Day Trip from Malaga to the Caminito del Rey
The easiest way to get to Caminito Del Rey is to join a guided tour from Malaga and you will have everything coordinated for you.
The tour includes your round trip bus transportation, your entry fee for Caminito del Rey, a safety helmet, a guide who speaks English or Spanish, and a bottle of water.
Check availability here and don’t wait until the last minute because tours sell out.
Getting to the Caminito del Rey by Train
One popular option is to take the 50 minute train from Málaga Maria Zambrano station to El Chorro railway station. You will depart Malaga in the morning at 10am, then take a shuttle bus from El Chorro to Caminito del Rey.
If you choose this option, you must book your Caminito del Rey ticket between 12:45-1pm to have enough time to get there and back to catch the return tain to Malaga at 6pm.
Roundtrip Train Schedule
- Málaga to El Chorro: Depart 10:00 am – Arrive 10:47 am
- El Chorro to Málaga: Depart 6:00 pm – Arrive 6:50 pm
To catch the shuttle bus in El Chorro that will take you to Caminito del Rey.
Renting a Car and Driving to the Caminito del Rey
If you prefer a more flexible option, driving to Caminito del Rey takes approximately an hour from Málaga. Renting a car gives you the freedom to explore the surrounding areas, such as Alora and Antequera.
Since visiting Malaga and Caminito del Rey was part of a larger Andalucian road trip, we had a car. We always use Discover Cars because they have great deals – sometimes significantly less.
We also like the fact that there are no surprises (like extra fees) when we go to pick up the car, which used to happen when we used other companies.
Rent a car at Malaga airport, then drive from Malaga to Ardales on A-357. Take the MA-5403 exit toward M-442/Ardales/El Chorro. It takes approximately 1 hour for the drive.
You can find plenty of parking spots available near the trail entrance (more parking info below), but be aware that it can get crowded during peak periods.
Depending on where you park, make sure to leave enough time to walk from your car to the starting point.
Caminito del Rey Bus Service
If you are staying in El Chorro or want to park your car in El Chorro, there is a combined shuttle bus and Caminito del Rey tour for approximately 35€.
If you are looking to take the bus from Malaga, it’s not worth the effort because there is no direct service, You are better off taking the train, driving, or taking this guided tour from Malaga.
Stay Overnight at a Caminito Del Rey Accommodation
While planning your visit to Caminito Del Rey, you might want to consider nearby accommodation options. Hotels and guesthouses are available near El Chorro station, providing a convenient place to stay before or after your hike.
Here are a few that we recommend:
- Complejo Turístico La Garganta – a converted 1800’s flour factory, 100 feet from the center of El Chorro. They have a pool and restaurant, are convenient to the train and one of the most popular accommodations.
- Apartamentos Ardales – from 300 ft. studios to 5 bedroom apartments that are new and quite nice. They offer breakfast and have a pool. It’s a good option between a vacation home rental and a hotel.
- La Casita Blanca – a private holiday with a pool home close to El Chorro if you want privacy.
One of the biggest benefits to staying overnight is if you take advantage of some of the other things to do in the area like visit the Conde Guadalhorce reservoir.
El Chorro is a popular destination for rock climbers and nature lovers. With its azure blue water, El Chorro is an excellent place for a relaxing dip or a leisurely walk along the lakeshore after completing the Caminito Del Rey hike.
So What is the Best Way to Get to the Caminito Del Rey Hike?
In our opinion, the best way is a day trip from Malaga by car. It’s easy to get there and find parking and you can go on your own schedule.
We stayed overnight in January and the town was dead. In hindsight, we should have just stayed at our hotel in Málaga for an extra day and done a day trip from Malaga.
2nd Best – A fully guided tour because it’s so easy and you’ll learn a lot of interesting things
3rd Best – the train but it’s not much of a money savings over a tour and it requires you to figure everything out for yourself.
Caminito Del Rey Tickets and Entrance
When planning your Caminito del Rey hike, booking individual tickets at least 3 months in advance is recommended if you want to do the hike without a guide or tour.
There are two types of tickets offered. Below are the rates as of 2023 on the the official website.
- General tickets cost 10€ and include your entry and a helmet.
- Guided tours (not the same as taking a tour from Malaga) are 18€. You show up at the entrance and they put you in a group of 30 people and your group is led by a certified guide.
If you are unable to find individual tickets for the date you want, don’t worry! We had that problem and all we did was buy the group ticket. At the gate we asked if we could go on our own and they let us in. Easy peasy.
Although you’ll be paying the higher rate for the guided tour, you still have the opportunity to go on your own and explore the trail at your own pace.
The trail is open Tuesday through Sunday all year and closed for the holidays on December 24, 25, 31 and January 1.
Also note, children under the age of 8 and pets are not allowed on the Caminito del Rey.
The Caminito Del Rey Hike
The Caminito del Rey hike is 7.7 km (4.8 miles) long. When we did the hike, we started at the south entrance (north was closed at the time).
We started and ended at the same point though I do think that when eveything is open, this is a one way hike.
After checking in at the entrance at the appointed time, you are given a short breifing and supplied with a helmet and hair net.
Feeling like a factory worker from the brewery where Laverne & Shirley worked (I know I’m dating myself), we embarked on the initial part of the hike on an asphalt road going up to the beginning of the pathway.
It’s the most elevation gain you will see on this basically flat and easy hike.
The road has gravel and it’s best to wear sneakers that have traction so you don’t slip. You don’t need full hiking gear but you should be dressed comfortably for an activity.
Remember to also pack sunscreen, and bring plenty of water to ensure a pleasant hiking experience.
The Beginning of the Caminito Del Rey Pathway
The start of the actual path is shown above. It’s a very sturdy wooden path with metal framework that is clinging along a cliff.
I would consider myself a safe thrill seeker and the path was so safe and protected by railing and a cage that it took some of the thrill out of being cliffside.
If you are afraid of heights, you probably won’t have any fear here.
The most exciting part of the hike comes up when you cross the bridge over Desfiladero de Los Gaitanes, a gorge with 700 meter walls (2,297 feet tall).
The jaw-dropping scenery will make you glad you decided to go on this adventure, walking high above the spectacular narrow gorge on the King’s Little Path.
There are Caminito del Rey employees stationed on both sides of the bridge to control the flow of people over the bridge and help anyone who is at all fearful.
When we were there it was pretty windy crossing over the bridge but not anything that felt disconcerting.
As you continue along the route, you’ll be on a study wooden path with substantial railing heading toward the lush valley behind the gorge.
Along the path, you’ll have multiple vantage points to take photos. One of the best places to take pictures of the bridge is after you pass it and look back.
We really enjoyed the hike through the valley because it was incredibly pretty and peaceful. Most people are interested in just the bridge and pathways so you lose a lot of the crowds and can enjoy nature.
If you bring food, this is a perfect place to stop for a picnic.
You’ll also come across the Gaitanejo, another awe-inspiring sight that adorns the Caminito del Rey route.
This iconic dam and reservoir are surrounded by remarkable cliffs and lush green landscapes, offering plenty of photographic opportunities.
Enjoy your hike at Caminito del Rey, and make the most of the remarkable scenery and thrilling adventure awaiting you on the King’s Little Path.
Facilities, Amenities & Caminito del Rey Parking
When embarking on your Caminito del Rey adventure, it’s important to be aware of the facilities, amenities and parking available to make your experience enjoyable.
Upon arriving at your starting point in El Chorro or Ardales, you’ll find parking areas near both entrances of the hike. Just remember that parkin.g can be limited on busy days, especially during the high season.
El Kiosko parking (P2) is an unpaved area across the street near the reservoir. We found parking in the woodsy area between the train station and Caminito del Rey entrance. At the Ardales entrance, there a paved parking lot (P2) with quite a few parking spaces .There’s also pay kiosk at the parking area.
If traveling by public transportation, you can reach the hike by train, disembarking at El Chorro railway station.
From there, a shuttle bus service runs between the two trailheads, making it convenient to return to your starting point after completing the hike.
Before you begin the hike, it’s a good idea to visit the ticket office to secure your entrance and transportation tickets.
Keep in mind that the entrance fee is 10/18 Euros, and must be booked in advance. While exploring the Caminito del Rey, make sure to have your own water bottle as there might not be any water stations along the way.
As you hike along the breathtaking Guadalhorce River, you’ll find a couple of food kiosks to grab a quick snack and recharge your energy.
Also, there are well-maintained bathrooms available in accessible areas at each entry to ensure your comfort throughout the hike.
If you’re looking for accommodation options near the park, there are a few hotels and lodges available close to the trail. We recommend booking your stay in advance to guarantee reservation.
As you make your way through the Caminito del Rey, remember to enjoy the spectacular views and take advantage of the facilities provided to ensure a memorable and comfortable experience.
Is the Caminito del Rey Hike Dangerous?
In the past, the Caminito del Rey used to be known as one of the most dangerous hikes in the world, with dilapidated walkways and many accidents, including deaths.
However, after extensive renovations and safety improvements since its reopening in 2015, the hike is now considerably less dangerous and more accessible to the public.
In this section, we’ll cover the maintenance and repairs that have been carried out on the trail and why the Caminito del Rey is no longer considered a highly dangerous hike.
Maintenance and Repairs
The major renovations on the Caminito del Rey aimed to make the trail safer while preserving its historic and picturesque nature.
A new walkway was constructed, secured to the 100-meter tall vertical cliffside, providing a stable and safe path for hikers to enjoy the breathtaking views along the trail.
This modernization effort has minimized the risk of accidents and made the path suitable for anyone able to handle some vertigo.
Additional safety measures that have been implemented include the use of helmets, which are now mandatory for all hikers to wear during their time on the trail.
There are also safety wires in place along the path, providing an extra layer of security. To ensure visitor safety, the Caminito del Rey now has a set of guidelines in place.
For example, hikers are advised to wear appropriate footwear and clothing and carry a small backpack with water, snacks, and a first aid kit.
Importantly, a controlled cabin at the start of the hike provides assessments to prevent access in case of bad weather or extreme temperatures, further reducing hazards on the trail.
By sticking to the guidelines and taking necessary precautions, you can confidently experience the exhilarating Caminito del Rey hike with a minimized level of risk.
So, gather your helmet, pack your backpack, and embark on this once-dangerous but now awe-inspiring adventure.
What to Bring For the Caminito del Rey Day Trip From Malaga
When preparing for the Caminito del Rey Hike, it’s essential to dress appropriately and ensure you have the necessary items for a comfortable experience.
Our list of Day Hike Essentials has a complete list but here are some of the things you need.
- Clothing: Wear lightweight, breathable, and quick-drying clothing as the temperatures can vary throughout the hike. It gets windy so consider bringing a light jacket or fleece for cooler moments.
- Backpack: Bring a small, lightweight backpack to carry your water, snacks, and personal items. You will want to keep your hands free to take photos and hold onto the rail if needed.
- Sturdy shoes: You will be walking up a hill with gravel and over steel grate path. Comfortable hiking shoes or sturdy sneakers with good grip are best. Don’t wear flip flops or dress shoes.
- Head protection: A mandatory requirement for the hike is wearing a helmet, which will be provided when you purchase your ticket. Bring a hat that will fit under your helmet and sunglasses to shield your eyes from the sun.
- Sun protection: Sunscreen is a must for this outdoor adventure. Apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, and reapply as needed during the day.
- Hydration: Bring plenty of water to stay hydrated during the hike. It’s important to drink regularly, especially in warmer conditions. You can buy water before or after the trail but here are no water sources available along the trail.
- Snacks: Pack high-energy snacks, such as trail mix, fruit, or energy bars if you get hungry. Just make sure to dispose of any trash responsibly and keep the area clean. There are food kiosks at the end where you can eat a meal.
Remember, the Caminito del Rey Hike is an exciting and scenic adventure. By wearing the right clothing and bringing the essentials, you’ll ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I purchase tickets for the hike?
You can purchase tickets for the Caminito del Rey hike through the official website. It is highly recommended to book your tickets in advance since the number of daily visitors is limited and the hike is quite popular.
Make sure to check the availability for your preferred date and time.
What is the best way to reach the starting point?
To reach the starting point, you have several options depending on your location. If you’re staying in Malaga, you can take a train to Álora and then take a bus to the hike’s entrance.
Alternatively, you can drive or join a tour that includes transportation.
What safety measures are in place?
Since its reopening in 2015, the Caminito del Rey has been significantly safer, thanks to a new walkway pinned along the cliffside.
Guardrails and harness points are in place to help ensure your safety throughout the hike. It feels so sturdy, you almost forget that you are on a path perched on the side of a rock wall.
However, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and follow the trail signs and guidelines. Make sure to wear appropriate shoes and bring water to stay hydrated.
How much time should I allot for the hike?
The Caminito del Rey hike covers a distance of approximately 7.7 km (4.8 miles) and the entire journey should take around 3-4 hours to complete, depending on your pace.
Although the hiking trail is considered easy to moderate, it’s good to allocate extra time to appreciate the stunning scenery, take photos, and rest when needed.
You can also only go as fast as the people in front of you at certain points. Remember that the trail is open from Tuesday to Sunday and some Mondays, so plan your visit accordingly.
Final Thoughts About the Caminito Del Rey Hike
The Caminito Del Rey Hike definitely belongs on your Europe Bucket List. We recommend doing the hike as a Malaga Day Trip so you can stay in one Malaga hotel and enjoy the city at the same time.
Another trip we highly recommend in Spain is Hiking Montserrat. It’s a half day trip from Barcelona with a stunning cathedral and lots of beautiful open space to explore.
If you have any questions about the hike or getting there, ask in the comments below and we will be happy to help.