The Caminito del Rey is one of Europe’s most spectacular cliff path walks, and one of Spain’s best kept secrets, located just 60km from Malaga.
I walked the Gobbins Cliff Path in Northern Ireland a few years ago and absolutely loved it. When I returned I immediately started searching for similar walks in Europe. I stumbled across the Caminito del Rey, and was amazed to find out that it was so close to Malaga, a place I had visited on numerous occasions – why had I not heard about it?
Once I started researching the Caminito del Rey, it went straight on to my bucket list, and I finally managed to experience it during my recent visit to Malaga.
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The Caminito del Rey is a 7.7km cliff path walk was once considered highly dangerous – but thankfully, not anymore. It was originally built to bring materials and maintenance workers to the local hydroelectric dam. In 1921, King Alfonso XIII officially opened it, and since then it has been known as the King’s little walk – Caminito del Rey. After a complete restoration process it was reopened to the public in 2015.
The views are spectacular from beginning to end, with stunning gorges, canyons and cliffs around every corner. The walk culminates at a gorge with 700 metre-high walls – it is hard to describe how incredible the views are, you need to see it for yourself.
The area is also inhabited by a variety of animals – golden eagles, vultures and wild boar can be seen here, although we didn’t come across any such creatures. We did however, find a stunning trail that has to be one of Spain’s best kept secrets! I urge you to put the Caminito del Rey on your bucket list, and check out my top tips below.
1. Pre book tickets in advance.
The visitor numbers are restricted on the Caminito del Rey, so you can not walk it without a reservation – you need to pre-book tickets. Whether you choose to book an excursion from your resort, or go it alone, the earlier you book the better – slots are released 3-4 months in advance. Tickets cost €10 per person, or €18 with a guide.
2. You don’t need to book a guided tour
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Normally I find guided tours preferable to going it alone, but we really enjoyed being able to walk the Caminito at our own pace and stop for pictures at our leisure. If booking an organised excursion there may be a guide automatically included, but I don’t believe it is necessary to enjoy the experience.
3. The Caminito del Rey is suitable for adults and children over 8 years.
The Caminito del Rey is not a difficult walk and takes about 2.5 – 3 hours. Despite walking on suspended walkways that hang 100 metres over a sheer cliff face, I never felt scared at any time. You don’t need to be particularly fit to walk it, and it is suitable for anyone over 8 years of age – unless you have a fear of heights.
4. The terrain is varied throughout
The Caminito del Rey is a one-way trail over mostly flat terrain, consisting of mountain paths as well as suspended walkways. You need to walk through a small pedestrian tunnel to get to the starting point, and there is a suspension bridge at the end, as well as short steep climb.
I don’t like tight spaces but I didn’t feel claustrophobic in the tunnel at any point, nor did I feel scared on the suspension bridge or high cliff paths. I believe the Caminito del Rey is suitable for all (8+), with the exception of those who have a fear of heights.
5. Allow 90 minutes to get to the start of the Caminito del Rey from the train station
Although the walk is only 7.7km, I suggest you allow a full day to experience it properly, if travelling from Malaga City or the Costa del Sol. The Caminto del Rey is a one-way trail, so if driving, you will need to get a shuttle bus back to you car – see more on this below.
The train costs €10 return from Malaga city to El Chorro train station and takes about 50 minutes. There are shuttle buses that leave every 30 minutes (€2.50) from El Chorro that take about 15 minutes to the drop off point, which is a further 1.5km to the starting point of the walk.
If you manage to miss a shuttle, or they are full, you could be waiting an hour before you get another bus – this happened to us, and in turn we arrived late for our guided tour. I suggest allowing 90 minutes from the time the train arrives at El Chorro to your booking time.
Fortunately, the end of the Caminito del Rey is near El Chorro, so you only need to allow 10 minutes to get back to the train station.
6. Stop at the coffee shop in El Chorro before you get on the shuttle bus.
There is a small coffee shop at the train station that sells tasty toasted sandwiches, drinks and snacks. There are toilets here too – note there are no toilets on the Caminito del Rey. This shop also sell masks (you may need them for the shuttle bus).
7. Bring supplies
Make sure to bring plenty of water, especially if walking in very hot weather. The Caminito del Rey is located inland, so weather can be cooler than the coastal resorts in the winter, but also hotter in the summer. Make sure to check the forecast for Ardales and wear the appropriate clothing, including comfortable shoes! Protective helmets are given to all walkers at the entrance.
Snacks may also be useful, as there are plenty of places where you can stop and enjoy the views. Selfie sticks are not allowed, but make sure you have a battery pack for your phone – you will be taking tons of photographs!
8. Plan your return if driving
As this is a one-way trail, parking at the start is not ideal – as you will need to make your way back to your car after you have completed the walk. It is best to park at El Chorro, the town closest to the end of the walk, and take a shuttle bus (€2.50) to the start of the walk from there.
As previously mentioned the shuttle bus usually runs every 30 minutes. Top Tip: Make check to check the time of the last shuttle.
9. Treat yourself to dinner and drinks at La Garganta Hotel at the end of the trail.
Don’t be tempted the stop at the food and beverage huts at the end of the trail. Walk another 10 minutes back to El Chorro train station and you will see a small hotel – La Garganta. This has a gorgeous rooftop terrace and an extensive menu – you will surely have built up an appetite! We opted for a selection of light bites and drinks – I can recommend the vegetable tempura.
10. An organised excursion may be the most efficient way to book the Caminito del Rey.
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An organised excursion may be the most efficient way to travel to the Caminito del Rey. There are collection points from most resorts on the Costa del Sol as well as Malaga city, with tickets and return transport included. You also won’t need to worry about shuttle bus times, or missing your allotted time slot – like we did.
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I hope this post with top tips for visiting the Caminito del Rey will inspire you to visit soon. I know you will love it as much as I did! Some of the links in this post contain affiliate links where I receive a commission if a booking is made, but at not additional cost to you.