El Torcal de Antequera: Hike through Spain's most unique karst landscape (2023)

Hidden in the inland of Malaga, not far from the main road to Seville, you find one of the most spectacular karst landscapes, not only in Spain but in Europe. El Torcal de Antequera. It all started around 150 million years ago when this whole area was safely tucked under the Tethys Sea.

One day, the seabed was pushed upwards by brutal movements in the earth’s crust which created hills and mountains. Some of them reached as high as 1300 meters above sea level. The following millions of years, the erosion from rain and wind slowly turned this land into some of the most impressive limestone landscapes on the continent.

El Torcal de Antequera hiking trails make the perfect day out for the whole family with various stunning natural spots to have your lunch in the middle of this imposing landscape, the perfect hiking trails for beginners.

Curious mountain goats wander around, used to hikers, so you are likely to see them pretty close during your hike compared to other places in the country. This also means that you have to take care if you hike with a dog.

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Table of Contents

How to get to El Torcal de Antequera

El Torcal de Antequera is situated about an hour inland from the Malaga coast and close to the villages of Antequera and Villanueva de la Concepción.

Getting to El Torcal by public transport

There is no public transport that goes to El Torcal de Antequera. So if you don’t drive, you’ll have to take the train to Santa Ana Train Station in Antequera and take a taxi from there, which is a 40-minute drive.

The train from Malaga to Santa Ana takes about 45 minutes, from Granada it’s around 50 minutes, and from Seville, it takes close to 2 hours 30 minutes.

(Video) Hiking El Torcal de Antequera (Spain)

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Driving to El Torcal

From Malaga, you take the A-45 towards Seville then take the turn towards Villanueva de la Concepción driving along a hairpin mountain road. When you get close, you’ll see a sign to Centro de Visitantes Torcal Alto, there are parking spots at the bottom of the road.

If there are a lot of cars parked there, there is a big chance that the little parking lot at the top by the visitor center is full. Usually, on weekends and public holidays, you need to get there extremely early to have a chance to park at the top. But on weekdays it’s easier.

From Seville it takes 2 hours to drive to El Torcal de Antequera and from Granada it takes 1 hr 30 min.

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Shuttle bus between the lower and upper car park

There is a shuttle bus driving up and down when the upper park is full if you don’t want to hike the Orange trail up to the visitor center where the Green and Yellow trail start.

The shuttle bus costs 2 Euros for a return ticket and has to be paid in cash to the driver. You can also opt for taking the bus one way and hike the other way.

You can bring dogs on the shuttle bus as long as you can show documentation for required vaccinations. But the dog needs to go in the carrier in the back.

However, I’ve taken the shuttle bus down from El Torcal once with Ayla and wasn’t asked for anything. She was also allowed on the bus with me, though it was the last shuttle at night and it was pretty much only my friends and me on the bus.

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When is the best time to hike

El Torcal de Antequera hike is perfect in the winter months. Especially if you hike with dogs, as this is an area without pine trees, thus no processionary caterpillars in season.

(Video) ⛰️ EL TORCAL de Antequera, Malaga, SPAIN | Online Hiking Guided Tour

Between June and September, hiking El Torcal de Antequera will be way too hot, so I really don’t recommend going in that period.

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What to bring

Hiking El Torcal de Antequera is not at all challenging so you won’t need a lot of fancy hiking gadgets.

However, if you struggle with your knees and opt for hiking from the lower car park (which I highly recommend because it’s so beautiful), you might find it useful to bring a knee brace or hiking poles.

You don’t need hiking boots for these hikes, but a pair of good hiking shoes or trainers make a big difference on the uneven terrain.

Other than that, it is an area exposed to the sun and on windy days, you really feel it. So here are a few things I recommend you bring in your day pack depending on the weather.

  • water
  • snacks and lunch
  • sunscreen
  • hat/caps
  • neck gaiter
  • windbreaker
  • a bag for rubbish
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Ethical practices in El Torcal nature reserve

Here are a few things to remember when hiking in El Torcal nature reserve so you contribute to preserving this amazing corner of the world.

  • Don’t feed wildlife
  • Don’t leave any rubbish behind
  • Pick up any rubbish you find along the trail
  • Don’t throw food rests in nature (including fruits, nuts, and seeds – it messes up the ecosystem)
  • Be respectful to wildlife and avoid scaring or chasing animals
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Visitor center and viewpoint

El Torcal Visitor Center has a café where you can get drinks and some snacks. You can also use the toilets at the visitor center.

From there, you can walk about 50 meters to a viewpoint showcasing the spectacular Andalusian countryside.

Next to the viewpoint, there is a plateau of limestone rock where you can walk up for more stunning views. You should also look down, as there are old fossils on the ground you’re stepping on.

(Video) Exploring the Torcal de Antequera and its surroundings

From here you’ll also view a good portion of El Torcal from above. If you stay for sunset, this is the spot you wanna be.

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Practical information Orange trail

  • Province:Malaga
  • Mountain range:Sierra del Torcal
  • Length:7,1 km
  • Time:3,5 hours
  • Route:Round trip
  • Difficulty:Easy
  • Starting point: Lower car park
  • Hiking with dogs: Allowed on a leash
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Hiking El Torcal de Antequera Orange trail

The orange trail of El Torcal de Antequera is perfect to combine with either the green or yellow route. This trail takes you from the lower car park and up to the upper car park where the visitor center is and where the two other trails start.

Walking from the lower car park, you’ll find the trail on the left side of the paved road going straight up past an old refuge and continuing up towards the unique karst landscape.

It takes a couple of hours up and at some point you’ll meet the paved road where you can walk the last hundred meters to the upper car park and visitor center. You’ll see the green and yellow trailhead to the right at the beginning of the car park.

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Practical information Green trail

  • Province:Malaga
  • Mountain range:Sierra del Torcal
  • Length:1.5 km
  • Time:45 min
  • Route:Round trip
  • Difficulty:Easy
  • Starting point: Upper car park
  • Hiking with dogs: Allowed on a leash
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Hiking El Torcal de Antequera Green trail

The green trail is the easiest and shortest of all the trails, but no less beautiful. both the green and the yellow trails start at the same place at the beginning of the upper car park.

Walking on uneven terrain, it keeps going together with the yellow route for a few hundred meters before it opens up and the yellow goes to the right, and the green cuts across the opening on the left side.

Venturing through unique rock formations that will let your imagination loose, you’re likely to have met your first mountain goat long before you arrive at the visitor center and end of the route.

(Video) Panorama of karst at Torcal de Antequera, Spain, 2015-04-22

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Practical information Yellow trail

  • Province:Malaga
  • Mountain range:Sierra del Torcal
  • Length:2.8 km
  • Time:2 hours
  • Route:Round trip
  • Difficulty:Easy
  • Starting point: Upper car park
  • Hiking with dogs: Allowed on a leash
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Hiking El Torcal de Antequera Yellow trail

The yellow trail is the second route starting from the beginning of the upper parking lot. Merged with the green trail for the first hundreds meters, it continues on the right side of the open space you’ll come to. There are signs, so you shouldn’t manage to get lost.

The trail takes you to the Torcal Alto and takes you through narrow caves in the rock and other interesting reminders of early cave settlement in the area. This is a fun route to take for the whole family. Parts of this trail are shaded through a little forest.

The last bit of the trail meets up with the green route again not long before returning to the starting point by the visitor center.

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Reflections on hiking El Torcal de Antequera

Hiking in El Torcal de Antequera is a wonderful day out. It’s one of those places that you can go to over and over again as you’ll always see different figures in the landscape and there are really big chances of seeing mountain goats close up.

Unless you have small children, I highly recommend that you do the orange trail combined with one of the others (the yellow is the most interesting one for sure) to get more hiking done. The views from the orange trail are undeniably some of the best up there.

A truly top notch hiking spot in Andalucia.

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Other unique hiking trails:

  • Ruta de Los Cahorros in Monachil
  • La Concha on Costa del Sol
  • Rio Molinos in Bayarcal, Almeria
  • Caminito del Rey, Malaga
  • Arabic Staircase, Malaga

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What is the most famous hiking trail in Spain? ›

Spain's famous pilgrimage trail, El Camino de Santiago, has become one of the most popular walking holidays and spiritual journeys in Europe.

What type of rock is Torcal de Antequera? ›

The Natural Park of El Torcal is characterized by the impressive karstic landscape made of limestone. Its formation is due to a process that has lasted several hundred million years.

Is Antequera Spain worth visiting? ›

With an incredible rock resembling a man's face, endless ornate churches, dolmens dating back to 1800 BC, and beautiful views, Antequera is an incredible place for a day trip from Malaga. Antequera is a city of history. It's the kind of history you can wander all over, get under the skin of and really soak up!

How was El Torcal de Antequera formed? ›

The limestone bed of the area was first formed during the Jurassic period, 150 million years ago. At the time, it was a completely flat seabed. However, time and erosion led to a series of fractures that delicately carved the rock into a living art-scape, changing over the millennia and becoming more intricate.

What is the famous rock formation in Spain? ›

In the middle of the Sierra del Torcal mountain range in the south of Spain lies the famed Torcal de Antequera, a surreal, almost lunar-looking landscape boasting one of the world's most eclectic mix of rock formations.

What are the rocks near Antequera? ›

At the El Torcal de Antequera, surreal rock formations are everywhere to be seen. The alien landscape is made entirely out of flat-lying limestone which is over 150 million years old. The horizontal limestone formations, formed over thousands of years of erosion and fractures, is unlike anything we've ever seen.

What is El Torcal? ›

The Sierra del Torcal (or El Torcal) is a small mountain range separating the cities of Antequera and Málaga. It has four geological sections: Sierra Pelada, Torcal Alto, Torcal Bajo and Tajos and Laderas. The highest point in El Torcal is Camorro de las Siete Mesas (1336 m) in the Torcal Alto.

What is the prettiest area in Spain? ›

Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Spain
  • San Sebastian. ...
  • Bilbao. ...
  • Zaragoza. ...
  • Salamanca. ...
  • Madrid. ...
  • Malaga. ...
  • Ibiza. ...
  • Santiago de Compostela. Tucked away in the northwest of Spain is one of the country's most underrated historical cities, Santiago de Compostela.
Dec 16, 2022

What is Antequera famous for? ›

Antequera is famous for its desserts, such as bienmesabe (meaning "tastes good to me"), a sponge-based pudding with almonds and cinnamon; and angelorum, a concoction of sponge, meringue and egg yolk.

What is Antequera known for? ›

Antequera - Five Fascinating Facts

The town also has one of the richest archaeological legacies in Andalucia, with Bronze Age and Roman ruins ranking among the most important in Spain, and there's also El Torcal park and the flamingo-filled Pink Lagoon, making it heaven for both history and nature lovers.

What animals live at El Torcal? ›

Griffin vultures are among the most commonly sighted species in El Torcal, along with black and black-eared wheatears, eagles and other owls, kestrels and a number of smaller birds.

What region is Antequera in? ›

Antequera Region is a region in the Province of Malaga, Andalucia. It is in the area of the Surco Intrabético range, on the boundary with the province of Córdoba. The landscape is largely plain (Hoya de Antequera), run by the higher valley of the Guadalhorce river.

What is the most beautiful trek in the world? ›

Sometimes, a trek can be a long walk into a brave new world with the most beautiful views for inspiration.
  1. Appalachian Trail. ...
  2. Via Dinarica. ...
  3. Mount Elgon. ...
  4. Wales Coast Path. ...
  5. Salkantay. ...
  6. Pacific Crest Trail. ...
  7. Annapurna Circuit Trek. ...
  8. Tour du Mont Blanc.
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What is the most beautiful trail in the world? ›

10 Of The Most Beautiful Hiking Trails In The World As Of 2023
  • 8 Milford Track, New Zealand.
  • 7 The Narrows, Utah, United States.
  • 6 Rio Celeste Hike, Costa Rica.
  • 5 Samaria Gorge, Greece.
  • 4 Cliffs Of Moher Coastal Walk.
  • 3 Great Ocean Walk, Australia.
  • 2 Skyline Trail, Nova Scotia.
  • 1 The Trail To Trolltunga, Norway.
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What are 3 landforms in Spain? ›

Major Landforms: Spain is part of the Iberian Peninsula. Major landforms include the Andalusian Plain, Cantabrian Mountains, the Pyrenees, Maseta Central Plateau, Sistema Central Mountains, the Sierra de Guadalupe Mountains, and the Canary Islands.

Where is the oldest rock formation in the world? ›

Bedrock in Canada is 4.28 billion years old

Bedrock along the northeast coast of Hudson Bay, Canada, has the oldest rock on Earth.

What Stone is Spain known for? ›

Andalusite is a transparent to translucent gem that derives its name from Andalusia in Spain where it was first discovered. The gem is actually a polymorph of two gem varieties: Sillimanite and the hugely popular Kyanite.

What rocks are at Garden of the Gods? ›

How did Garden of the Gods form? The park's famous red rocks formed millions of years ago due to upheavals in the earth's surface and erosion. The rocks are conglomerates of red, pink, and white sandstones and limestone.

What are the rocks at Garden of the Gods made of? ›

The 300 foot orange sandstone rocks in the Garden of the Gods were once sand dunes. They may have looked similar to those at the Great Sand Dunes National Monument in southern Colorado. An inland sea once again covered Colorado about 225 million years ago.

What kind of rocks are in Palm Springs? ›

The mahogany-colored rocks visible today on the lower mountain slopes from Palm Springs to Palm Desert are metamorphic rock remnants of that time and process.

Where do millionaires live in Spain? ›

According to the statistics, Madrid and Barcelona have the 10 neighbourhoods with the highest average net annual income per inhabitant in Spain, making Madrid and Barcelona the wealthiest cities in Spain.

What is the history of Antequera? ›

It is said that Antequera was already populated by the year 600 A. D. It was based on the books of the Eskaya tribe which was handed down from generation to generation to the present day Eskayas now living in Taytay, Duero, Bohol. It was stated there that the first Eskayas settled in the town of Talibon.

What is the main product of the people of Antequera? ›

Most of the residents of Antequera depend upon the basket weaving industry. It is their main source of income. For years, this has been the town's main industry and with its growth through the years, has earned them the title of being the “Basket Capital of Bohol”.

What is the meaning of Antequera? ›

Antequera (Spanish pronunciation: [anteˈkeɾa]) is a city and municipality in the Comarca de Antequera, province of Málaga, part of the Spanish autonomous community of Andalusia. It is known as "the heart of Andalusia" (el corazón de Andalucía) because of its central location among Málaga, Granada, Córdoba, and Seville.

Is Antequera nice? ›

Antequera is architecturally beautiful, has an important role in Spanish history, and offers a wealth of things to absorb and enjoy. It has 33 churches, a magnificent Alcazaba (Moor fortress), museums, art exhibitions, and over 100 restaurants and bars scattered over it's pretty plazas and atmospheric streets.

Is Antequera a town or city? ›

Antequera is a charming town, located 62 kilometres north of the city of Malaga, set behind the national park el Torcal and a close distance from the lakes at el Chorro.

Which country is Antequera? ›

Antequera is a city in Malaga province in Spain. Roughly midway between Malaga and Granada it can be done as a daytrip from either, or as a stopover in between.

What wild animals are in Ruidoso New Mexico? ›

Elk, deer, bears, and wild horses are frequently seen in our community. With bald eagles frequently seen at Grindstone and Alto lakes, wild horse herds in the Alto area, and even the occasional mountain lion has made an appearance. So be alert when you're out exploring – or on your deck – and keep your camera ready.

What is the animal in Catalina? ›

The adorable Catalina Island Fox, a sub-species of the Channel Island Fox and a much smaller version of the mainland Grey Fox, is the one of the most charismatic native animals on the Island.

What is the main animal in El Salvador? ›

El Salvador's national animal and national bird is the turquoise-browed motmot (Eumomota superciliosa), a gorgeous, brightly colored tropical bird with a deep turquoise chest and bright blue patches on its head, chest, and long tail feathers. People in El Salvador call this native bird the “torogoz.”

What's Andalucia famous for? ›

Andalucía is renowned for its olive oil and fresh Mediterranean seafood, and so it´s no surprise that fried fish may very well be on the menu. Pescaito frito, fried fish, varies from province to province.

How big is Antequera? ›

How many churches are there in Antequera? ›

One of the 28 churches in Antequera which has an impressive tower and equally impressive architecture and built around...

How long does it take to hike the Camino de Santiago? ›

For a prepared and experienced hiker, this route takes about 30 days start to finish, covering nearly 500 miles. Keep in mind that the Camino Francés receives the most foot traffic, meaning there's plenty of opportunity to meet other pilgrims, but also a fair share of crowds during much of the year.

Where is the best place to hike in Spain? ›

The Ultimate Guide To Hiking In Spain In 2023
  • Ruta Del Cares.
  • Chillar River.
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  • Barceloneta Beach.
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  • El Teide Caldera.
  • Lago de la Ercina.
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How many miles is the Camino de Santiago? ›

The commonly agreed-upon route for El Camino de Santiago (a.k.a. the Way of St. James) begins at Saint Jean Pied de Port, France, and travels 500 miles through four of Spain's 15 regions, ending at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia.

What is the 500 mile trail in Spain? ›

The Camino de Santiago — literally the "Way of St. James" — is Europe's ultimate pilgrimage route. Since the Middle Ages, pilgrims have walked hundreds of miles across North Spain to pay homage to the remains of St. James in the city named for him, Santiago de Compostela.

Which Camino route is the most beautiful? ›

Camino del Norte is considered the most beautiful Camino de Santiago route. It is a moderately challenging hiking trail (more difficult than Camino Frances for instance). Camino del Norte is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

How fit do you need to be to walk the Camino de Santiago? ›

If you intend to cycle the Camino, you should be comfortable cycling 100km per day. If you do not currently enjoy a reasonable level of fitness, it may take many months of training to reach a suitable level of fitness to enjoy the Camino. It is essential to start slowly and gradually increase your fitness.

How much do you walk per day on the Camino? ›

While many hikers average 20-30 kilometers per day, you can always do shorter days and take rest days to do the Camino at an appropriate pace for your needs—particularly on routes like the Camino Francés or the Camino Portugués north of Porto where accommodations are frequent.

What is the hardest day hike in the world? ›

Everest Base Camp (EBC)

The Everest Base Camp Trek in the Himalayas in Nepal is one of the most famous and also, the hardest hikes in the world.

What is the most difficult hike in Spain? ›

Known as Spain's most dangerous path, or the most dangerous walkway in the world, the Caminito del Rey (The King's Little Pathway) is over 100 years old and 100 meters (350 feet) high. The perilous concrete trail winds through steep limestone cliffs near the small village of El Chorro and into a hidden valley.

How difficult is it to walk the Camino? ›

Any relatively fit person can walk the Camino.

You don't need special training and don't have to be a very athletic person. For many people, it'll be challenging especially the first week or so. For those who are used to walking or hiking a lot, it'll be easier. The important thing is that it's absolutely doable.

How long does it take the average person to walk the Camino? ›

How Long Does It Take To Walk The Camino? To walk the full Camino Frances, it typically takes 30-35 days, walking between 25-27km each day. Of course, you can go at a more leisurely pace although the terrain on the Camino is relatively flat and easy.

How many miles a day do you walk for El Camino? ›

Discover the unique and unforgettable experience of walking an ancient pilgrim route, the Unesco World Heritage Way of Saint James,'Camino de Santiago'. Average daily distance / climb:12 miles (20 km) / 976 ft (298 m).

What is the hardest part of the Camino de Santiago? ›

The hardest day of the Camino is on the first day of the French Way, where you have to cross the great mountain range of the Pyrenees over the Napoleon Pass. You must hike 26km to get to the first stop, but you are awarded with a stay in the stunning monastery town of Roncesvalles and two days later Pamplona.

Can you walk the Camino in 2 weeks? ›

The total distance of the Camino Primitivo is 321 km it can be completed in two weeks. The trail starts at the cathedral of Oviedo and finishes at the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. It's considered to be the toughest out of all Camino de Santiago routes due to many steep ascents and descents.

What is the name of the famous trail in Spain? ›

Hike the famed El Camino de Santiago—Europe's longest and most storied pilgrimage route—and stay in historic monasteries and centuries-old paradors along the way.


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