El Caminito del Rey, The King’s Little Path, is a 7.7km long picturesque trail, close to cities like Malaga, Ronda, Antequera, or Mijas perfect for a one-day hike. Without a doubt, it’s among the most spectacular natural sites in Andalusia in Spain. Once, it was one of the most dangerous trails in the world due to its poorly maintained footbridges. But don’t worry, the route is perfectly safe to walk nowadays! Keep reading to discover everything you need to know before your visit to the El Caminito del Rey hike in Malaga so you’ll make the most of the experience.
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About Caminito Del Rey Hike in Malaga
El Caminito del Rey is a one-way trail, from north to south. It starts in the municipality of Ardales and finishes in the municipality of Alora. The trail offers quite a unique experience of strolling along walkways hanging over 100 meters up on a sheer cliff face. El Caminito del Rey hike runs through cliffs, canyons, and a large valley. It crosses Desfiladero de Los Gaitanes, a gorge carved out by the river Guadalhorce, with walls 700 meters high.
History of Caminito del Rey
In 1866 the railway line connecting Cordoba and Malaga via the gorge was completed and a hydroelectric station at El Chorro was built shortly afterward. In 1921 a walkway was installed along the gorge, between the waterfalls of Gaitanejo and El Chorro. This solution allowed workers and needed materials to easily get from one end to the other.
The trail was named after King Alfonso XIII who in 1921 inaugurated El Chorro dam and walked along the pathway. “Caminito del Rey” is an abbreviation of “El Camino del Rey” and it’s the same place, so don’t panic if you’ll spot a slightly different name somewhere.
In 2000 the access to Caminito del Rey was closed due to security reasons (poorly maintained footbridges and many fatal accidents). After restoration, in 2015 it was reopened.
Caminito del Rey hike FAQ
Before its restoration, Caminito del Rey took the lives of several people, but currently, it’s a very safe and easy hike, without many obstacles. During the opening hours, there are security cameras as well as guards along the trail taking care of the safety of visitors. You’ll be most vulnerable to falling small rocks, but that’s why you’ll get a helmet at the trail entrance, which you can’t take off even for photos.
To complete the Caminito del Rey hike you’ll need 2-4 hours, depending on your pace and number of stops along the trail.
The current ticket price for the Caminito del Rey hike is 10€ for a self-guided ticket, and 18€ for a guided visit (June 2023).
Yes, a self-guided ticket allows you to walk the Caminito del Rey all by yourself, without a guide during the opening hours.
El Caminito Del Rey Hike in Malaga – Everything You Need To Know
Tickets for the Caminito Del Rey hike
You need to buy tickets in advance to visit Caminito del Rey. Given its popularity, we recommend buying tickets as soon as you know when you’ll be in the area. Particularly if you’re planning your adventure on a weekend when the trail is much busier. You can buy tickets for the Caminito del Rey up to 3 months in advance on the official website. In December we bought our tickets 3 weeks earlier and we were already choosing from leftovers.
Ticket price for Caminito del Rey hike (June 2023): general ticket: 10€, guided visit: 18€. Tickets for return shuttle bus and parking are also available to buy on the website.
What does the Caminito del Rey hike look like?
Keep in mind that you should arrive at the parking in Ardales at least 30 minutes earlier. Before you reach the place where Caminito officially begins (control cabin/entrance) you’ll need to walk a 1.5km forest path. This path starts in a small tunnel, about 200 meters from El Kiosko Restaurant, near the parking lot. You won’t miss it as it’s clearly visible from the road. Once you’ll walk through it, follow the path until you get to the control cabin.
At the control cabin staff will check your tickets, provide you with a helmet, and check if your shoes are suitable for the hike. You’ll also hear about safety guidelines. After all of that, you’ll finally start the hike through Caminito del Rey.
First, you’ll walk down by the old hydroelectric plant before you get to the first boardwalk hanging onto the wall of the narrow gorge.
The next part of the trail leads through a forest path.
After some time you’ll reach the second boardwalk. Here, you can take a good look at the original path. Scary right? No wonder they decided to create a new one!
Also, don’t forget to take a good look at the other side of the gorge – there you can spot a railway line. Maybe you’ll be lucky to even spot a train as it drives through? At the end of this most exciting part of the Caminito del Rey hike, a glass balcony viewpoint is waiting, and then… a hanging bridge which can make you feel dizzy (if you don’t like unstable surfaces). The staff guards this bridge to ensure not too many people cross it at the same time. After the bridge, there’s about a 20 minutes walk left to get to another control cabin where you leave your helmet and take a shuttle bus.
El Caminito del Rey animals & plants
A wide variety of flora and fauna inhabits Caminito del Rey. During your walk don’t forget to look up – maybe you’ll be lucky to spot birds like griffon vultures, Egyptian vultures, or golden eagles. On the ground, you can look for lizards, foxes, Iberian ibexes, or badgers. Be sure to keep your eyes wide open, and even take binoculars for a better look.
El Caminito del Rey return to Ardales
As mentioned before, Caminito del Rey is a one-way trail, so after reaching the end you’ll need to return to the parking lot differently. The easiest and fastest way is to take a shuttle bus – the journey lasts about 15 minutes and costs €2.5 (May 2023). When we used it it was paid only in cash so make sure you’ve got some change with you. Buses run every 30 minutes.
Another option is to park at the south end, take the shuttle bus to the Ardales, walk Caminito, and arrive right back to your car.
You can also try to go on foot but it’s ~9km and almost 2h hours via a rather busy narrow road and we don’t recommend it.
How to get to the Caminito del Rey hike in Malaga?
Caminito del Rey is located about 60km from Malaga, Mijas Pueblo, and Ronda, or about 50km from Antequera. The easiest and fastest way is by car. Another option is to take the train to El Chorro station in Alora. In this case, after arriving, you’ll need to catch the shuttle bus to El Kiosko restaurant car park.
Caminito del Rey parking lot
Caminito del Rey is really popular and kind of remote without a lot of space to leave the car. You’ll need to buy a parking ticket as there are no free spaces to leave the car in the area. Technically, you can try to leave the car alongside the road for free but it will work only early in the morning when the spots are still available. We recommend leaving a car in one of the parking lots near El Kiosko restaurant. You can reserve and purchase your space on the caminitodelrey.info website when buying entrance tickets for the hike.
How do you prepare for the Caminito del Rey hike? Practical information
Most important information that you need to know before visiting the Caminito del Rey hike:
- The trail is not recommended for anyone with a fear of heights
- Remember to buy tickets in advance
- You should arrive at the parking in Ardales at least 30 minutes earlier
- Reserve earlier hours to avoid troubles with parking & crowds on the trail
- Bring plenty of water and snacks to eat
- A helmet is mandatory and you can’t take it off (there are cameras along the way and employees in various places who check it)
- Selfie sticks, tripods, etc. are not allowed so leave them in the car
- Toilets are only at the start and finish of the trail
- Only children over 8 years old can enter the trail
- You cannot carry children of any age in your arms or at any stretch
- You cannot take your dog on the hike
- In case of bad weather, the walk can be temporarily closed
- Take some small change for the shuttle bus
What do you wear to the Caminito del Rey hike?
For the Caminito del Rey hike, prepare comfortable clothing. Wear comfortable sturdy footwear such as trainers or walking boots (visitors in flip-flops or high heels won’t pass the main gate). In the summer use sunscreen and take a hat to protect yourself from the sun. In the winter take some warm layers, gloves also may be very useful (it can get really cold while walking in the shades for most of the walk)
Our opinion about the Caminito del Rey hike in Malaga
Time for our honest opinion about the Caminito del Rey hike. We were very excited about this trail, as we love mountains and have many trails behind us. But although Caminito del Rey is unique and really beautiful none of us found it very exciting. Maybe we’ve seen too many mountains before to fall in love with this trail?
One more thing we really didn’t like was the fact that the trail is popular and because of that full of people. We love silence and enjoying the views without rushing so loud people all around weren’t nice at all. Even though we were there early in the morning as a first group it was already full of people (by our standards). We just can’t imagine what it must look like in the middle of the day when several groups are mixed together.
Would we recommend seeing Caminito del Rey hike to you? Absolutely! After all, it’s a place definitely worth seeing.
BONUS – Viewpoint Mirador de Tres Embalses
After completing Caminito del Rey we decided to visit one more place in the area – Mirador de Tres Embalses… and it made a huge impression on us. Probably because it looks a little bit like our beloved Scotland. Anyway, views from this viewpoint are spectacular. Here you can admire a large part of Malaga’s mountainous region, notably peaks of the Sierra de las Nieves, Sierra de Huma or the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes. Lower you can see three bodies of water fed by the three most important rivers in the area.
Restaurants, accommodations, and map
Check out various recommended places below.
Where to eat in Caminito del Rey Hike?
Here are your best, high-rated options in Caminito del Rey Hike:
Where to sleep in Caminito del Rey Hike?
Hostal Restaurante El Cruce
Hostal Restaurante El Cruce is an inn located in the charming town of Ardales. The property features comfortable rooms with a traditional Spanish decor, and a restaurant serving regional cuisine made with locally sourced ingredients. Guests can enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing and cycling in the beautiful natural surroundings.
Complejo Turístico La Garganta
Complejo Turístico La Garganta is a charming accommodation located in El Chorro, a popular destination in the province of Malaga known for its stunning landscapes and natural attractions. The complex offers various types of lodging options, including rustic cabins, apartments, and rooms. Guests can enjoy the peaceful surroundings and take advantage of the outdoor pool, restaurant, and barbecue facilities.
Apartamentos Ardales is a charming accommodation option located in the heart of the picturesque village of Ardales, Spain. The apartments are beautifully decorated and offer all the necessary amenities for a comfortable stay. Guests can enjoy stunning views of the surrounding countryside and easy access to nearby attractions such as the Caminito del Rey hiking trail and the Guadalhorce River.
Lagar del Chorro
Lagar del Chorro is a charming rural accommodation located in the beautiful natural setting of El Chorro. The property features spacious and comfortable rooms with traditional decor, providing guests with a unique and authentic experience. Guests can enjoy stunning views of the mountains and relax in the outdoor pool or garden terrace.
Accommodations photos source: booking.com