Caminito del Rey Hike
Welcome to the Caminito del Rey: one of the most beautiful hikes in all of Spain (and once the most dangerous!). This path was created in 1901 and used to connect workers between the two El Chorro hydroelectric plants. Back then, the boardwalks were extremely narrow with no railings, and workers were expected to balance precariously to get to their destination.
In later years, hikers also began to attempt this trail, each wanting to reach the end of what was known as ‘the most dangerous hike in the world’.
Sadly, several people died trying to do the Caminito del Rey, which was why in 2015, the path was given a complete overhaul, with strong boardwalks knocked into the side of the gorge, safety railings, and hard helmets provided. These days, it’s completely safe and easy to do and can be enjoyed by everyone—even those that don’t like heights!
How long is the Caminito del Rey hike?
The Caminito del Rey hike is about 3 hours and approximately 8 km. If you want to walk quickly, you could complete the hike in 1.5 – 2 hours. However, we recommend really enjoying this trip, taking in all the views, and stopping to take photos, and have a picnic in the shaded spots under the trees.
It’s also a linear hike, meaning it only runs one way. Because of this, you won’t have people passing you on a return journey, which makes it less busy. The paths are also wide enough that if you do want to stop and take photos, other hikers can easily pass you.
When you get to the end of the hike, a shuttle bus will take you back to the beginning (you can purchase tickets alongside your Caminito del Rey ticket).
Directions for the Caminito del Rey
When you arrive at Caminito del Rey, park at the northern entrance (where the trail starts). Parking costs 2 EUR (2.05 USD), and you can stay for the entire day.
If you arrive and can’t find a parking spot, you can park on the side of the road. However, please be aware that many buses are going back and forth on the road, so there is a risk of damage.
Walking to the start of the Caminito del Rey
From the parking (Ardeles), turn left and walk until you see a tunnel on your right. Walk through the tunnel for 5 minutes until you reach a road. Follow this road for another 10 minutes until you reach the entrance point, where you’ll show your tickets.
In total, it’s about 20 minute’s walk from the parking area.
Caminito del Rey Entrance
When you reach the ticket office, have your tickets ready to show. Although it says online that you need to print your tickets, there is no need; you can simply show the tickets on your phone. This is also where you’ll collect your helmet for the hike (you must wear this for the entire duration).
Hiking along the Caminito del Rey
After the entrance, you’ll pass by a water mill and begin walking on the boardwalk. Most of the hike is made up of boardwalks secured into the side of the gorge. However, in between these areas, you’ll also hike through the forest and across some green hills. During this part of the hike, there are some places you can sit and have lunch you’ve brought with you, enjoying the shade of the trees.
Along the walk, you’ll get to appreciate the stunning wooden walkway that curves around the cliffs, looking down at the massive drop below. As you go around the corners, you’ll also find beautiful views of the valley and mountain ranges. There is even an abandoned house halfway through the trail. The Caminito del Rey is a natural paradise, so look out for eagles hovering overhead and colorful lizards living in the gorge.
The final reward is the beautiful suspension bridge at the end of the trail. Cross this and reach the end of the Caminito del Rey hike!
Did you know? Because of the timeslots made available online, the hike doesn’t get super busy, so you never feel like you’re stuck behind people or can’t spend some time enjoying the views.
Finishing the Caminito del Rey
When you finish the Caminito del Rey, you’ll find yourself at the trail’s south end. Once you’ve crossed the suspension bridge, you walk for 10 more minutes until you reach the very end of the hike, where you’ll see a white box to drop your helmet. At this point, you’ll also find some food and drink stands where you can buy some fresh orange juice, coffee, or small snacks.
Shuttle Bus Collection
Walk for 15 minutes more, and you’ll reach this shuttle bus collection point. You can buy your shuttle bus ticket online (once you’ve purchased your tickets, it will give you the option to buy bus tickets for 1.50 EUR (1.55 USD) per person. However, if you forget to do this, it’s no problem as you can buy them on the bus too.
The Lake (Northern Entrance)
When you arrive at the northern entrance, you’ll see a vast lake where you can swim and hire kayaks. We walked down from the parking spot to the water and swam, entering this beach off the cliffside. There were very few people down here, so we had the lake almost to ourselves. The water is super blue and clear—perfect for a refreshing dip after the hike! Don’t forget to bring your swimsuit.
If you want to hire kayaks or SUPS, you need to drive a little further along the lake where the rental stores are. This area is a little busier, especially in the summer.
Caminito del Rey Tickets
Book your tickets for Caminito del Rey well in advance of your trip to avoid disappointment (especially in high season). Tickets cost 10 EUR (10.25 USD) for a self-guided tour.
There is also the option for a guided tour for the price of 18 EUR (18.50 USD), although we don’t think it’s necessary. Additionally, you can find tour operators selling tickets for Caminito del Rey, which often include return transport. This can be a good option if you want to find an easy way to reach the hike.
When choosing your tickets, you’ll see the options for various time slots. This is to spread the number of people throughout the day so the path never gets too busy. If you can, choose the earliest time slot to escape the day’s heat. You’ll also need to create an account on the website to book your tickets.
Once you’ve booked, make sure to add on the additional shuttle bus ticket for 1.50 EUR (1.55 USD).
Open every day (except Mondays) all through the year from 9 AM – 3.30 PM. Closed only on the 25th of December and 1st of January.
Where to Stay
We recommend staying in Malaga, Ronda, or one of the white villages of Andalusia and visiting Caminito del Rey on a day trip. However, El Chorro and the surrounding area are beautiful, and it’s a great place to locate yourself if you want to explore nature.
There are two official campsites nearby, and you can even camp on the lake – bliss!
How to get to Caminito del Rey
The easiest way to get to the Caminito del Rey is by car. This gives you greater flexibility, especially if you’re on an Andalusia road trip. Once you arrive, follow the signs for the north entrance and find your parking there. Parking is 2 EUR (2.05 USD).
Caminito del Rey is a great place to visit on a day trip from Malaga, as it takes just over an hour to drive there. You can also visit on a day trip from some of the other white villages of Andalusia. Alternatively, it’s a great stopover on your Andalusia road trip (i.e., between Cordoba and Malaga)!
By Public Transport
You can take the train from Malaga to the nearby town of El Chorro. Direct trains run at these times:
- 8.58 AM
- 1.21 PM
- 5.19 PM
The best return times (once you’ve finished your hike) are:
- 1.51 PM
- 9.07 PM
From here, there is a shuttle bus to take you to the trail that runs every 30 minutes (8.30 AM – 5.30 PM in the winter and until 8 PM in the summer). The shuttle bus costs 2 EUR (2.05 USD).
What to bring on the Caminito del Rey
There are a few things to remember to bring with you on the Caminito del Rey to improve your experience!
- Food & drink. There are no food and drink stands during the hike (only at the beginning and the end). Bring a small picnic and plenty of water (in a reusable bottle to travel plastic-free!). Please remember to take all your garbage with you. If you don’t bring food, there are a few restaurants in the nearby village of El Chorro.
- Suitable shoes. Wear sneakers or a closed-toe shoe for the hike. Make sure they’re comfortable, as you’ll be walking for around 3 hours.
- Comfortable clothing. Consider the weather when deciding what to wear.
- Sunscreen. Especially in the summer, temperatures can get very hot, so make sure to wear reef-safe sunscreen for the hike.
Tips for Caminito del Rey
- Book the first time slot in the morning to avoid the heat (if doing the Caminito del Rey hike in the summer)
- Go to the toilet at the entrance, as this will be the last available bathroom before the hike.
- Always wear your helmet (it’s mandatory throughout the hike)
- The hike is great for kids too! It’s very safe throughout, although we recommend them being over the age of 7, simply because of the duration.
- Dogs are not allowed on the hike because of the spaces between the wooden steps and the boardwalk.
- Smoking is prohibited because of the risk of wildfires.
- No swimming in the river. This is because there is no safe way to enter the water, and it’s a protected natural area.
- Fear of heights? It’s still doable! We both have a fear of heights and really enjoyed the Caminito del Rey hike. If you have vertigo, we recommend avoiding this hike; otherwise, it’s very achievable!
- It’s the perfect day trip from Malaga, and other destinations in Andalusia, like Setenil de las Bodegas or Ronda.
Best Time to Visit
Visit Caminito del Rey as early as possible in the hot summer months to avoid the heat of the day. The best time to visit is outside of the high season for both weather and crowds.
This area generally has dry weather most of the year, so doing this hike in the winter could still be lovely!