Walk high above a spectacular narrow gorge on the Caminito del Rey walkway – one of the most jaw-dropping trails in Spain. Here is all the information you need to make the most of your thrilling adventure.

The Caminito del Rey, or “King’s Little Pathway,” is one of the most dramatic walks in Spain. Originally built in 1905, it was nicknamed the most dangerous walk in the world. But, after a complete rebuild in 2015, it’s now an easy and very spectacular hike.

The highlight is a series of wooden walkways pinned to the walls of El Chorro gorge. In the most stunning section, the vertical walls are 400 metres high and only 10 metres apart. With the walkway clinging to the walls about a quarter of the way up and a river flowing 100 metres below your feet, it’s a remarkable sight and a thrilling hike.

The entire El Caminito del Rey walk is 7 kilometres long and is a diverse trail including wooded mountain paths, leafy valley strolls, interesting historic markers and the suspended walkway high above a rocky wonderland.

While it’s a very achievable adventure for thrill-seekers and nature-lovers alike, and one of the most-visited attractions near Málaga in Southern Spain, the process is a little complicated and the information not altogether clear.

So, we’ve explained everything you need to know for hiking El Caminito del Rey including how to get there, where to park, how to book tickets and what to expect along the way.

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WHAT IS THE EL CAMINITO DEL REY?

El Caminito del Rey is a walkway pinned along the walls of the El Chorro Gorge. Cut by the Guadalhorce River, the gorge consists of three narrow canyons: Gaitanejo Gorge, El Tajo de las Palomas, and Desfiladero de los Gaitanes.

The final gorge is the most striking, with walls 400 metres high and only 10 metres apart. The walkway clings to the vertical wall around 100 metres above the river, creating a dramatic hike in a beautiful location.

Built between 1901 and 1905, the walkway was designed to transport materials and workers to two hydroelectric power plants. The path was inaugurated by King Alfonso XIII in 1923, hence the name El Caminito del Rey which means “the king’s little path.”

IS EL CAMINITO DEL REY SAFE?

El Caminito del Rey used to be one of the most dangerous walks in the world. The original walkway of concrete and steel became so deteriorated that leaping over massive gaps in the concrete became a high-octane stunt.

After 5 thrill-seekers died on the path between 1999 to 2000, the local government closed access to the public. Yet, people still attempted the path and in 2013, another 4 people died.

Fortunately, this is not the walkway that is there today. In 2015, a completely new walkway was built with wooden planks around 1 to 1.5 metres wide and a guard rail around 1.2 metres high.

Today, El Caminito del Rey is easy enough for anyone with an average level of fitness to complete.

OVERVIEW

EL CAMINITO DEL REY WALK


LOCATION

The Caminito del Rey hike runs along the Guadalhorce River in Andalucía, Southern Spain – 40 miles from Málaga.

START

Restaurant El Kiosko just north of the village of Ardales

ENDS

Village of El Chorro

LENGTH

7 kilometres

ROUTE

Point-to-point hike with a return shuttle bus

TIME

3 hours + 1 hour to get the shuttle bus back

DIFFICULTY

Easy for anyone with reasonable fitness, however you are at times looking through the wooden slats which might bother people with a fear of heights.

CAMINITO DEL REY HIKE INSTRUCTIONS

The 7-kilometre Caminito del Rey hike is split into 3 distinct sections:

  • Stage 1 – The mountain trail walk to get to the start of El Caminito del Rey.
  • Stage 2 – The official Caminito del Rey trail over the suspended walkways (timed ticket required)
  • Stage 3 – Exit from the suspended walkways to El Chorro village.  

STAGE 1EL KIOSKO TO CAMINITO DEL REY OFFICIAL ENTRANCE GATE

This section of the walk goes from the parking and bus stops near Restaurant El Kiosko (just north of the village of Ardales) to the Official Entrance Gate (sometimes called the Control Cabin) of El Caminito del Rey.

There are two possible routes to complete stage 1 and reach the Official Entrance Gate: Gaitanejo Trail or the Pedestrian Tunnel.

Gaitanejo Trail – This route starts on the righthand side of Restaurant El Kiosko and follows the right bank of the river. The rocky earthen path is lined with Aleppo pines as it winds its way towards the Official Entrance Gate at the beginning of the gorge. This route is 2.7 kilometres and takes about 50 minutes.

Pedestrian Tunnel – This route starts alongside the road about 200 metres south of the Restaurant El Kiosko and goes through two 150-metre-long pedestrian tunnels. The tunnels are quite narrow and dark, so bring a torch. This route is 1.5 kilometres and takes about 25 minutes.

STAGE 2 – CAMINITO DEL REY

This is the official section of the El Caminito del Rey hike. The trail heads through the narrow section of the gorge on suspended walkways. It requires tickets which need to be booked in advance.

All tickets have a timed entry, to regulate the flow of visitors. The timed ticket refers to the time you must be at the Official Entrance Gate at the beginning of Stage 2. 

At the Official Entrance Gate, you’ll receive a helmet and hear a short safety briefing.

This section is 3.4 kilometres long and takes about 90 minutes to 2 hours. There are six great places to stop which we have explained further down in this guide and marked on the map below.

STAGE 3 – EXIT TO EL CHORRO

Having exited the Official walk through a metal gate you must now walk to El Chorro where you will find parking, shuttle bus stops and the train station.

This is an easy gradually descending trail that is 2.1 kilometres long and takes about 40 minutes. Just as you reach the bottom of the valley there is a large box to return your helmet.

There is a snack van, and toilets at the exit, and you’ll see signs pointing to the shuttle bus stop.

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EL CAMINITO DEL REY HIGHLIGHTS

01 | Gaitanejo Gorge – This is the first time the walkway heads through a narrow section of gorge. Keep an eye out for the old path below the new one and imagine what walking on it must have been like. It ends at a lovely blue-green pool called El Soto.

02 | Butter Steps – Sometimes called the chocolate or zigzag steps, the trail winds through a wonderful section of rock that looks like waves on the sea.

03 | Kings Bridge – This is the bridge King Alfonso crossed over to inaugurate the dam. Today it straddles the gorge and offers wonderful views up and down the valley. Just afterwards, the path turns to boardwalks again and enters a second canyon called El Tajo de las Palomas.

04 | Hoyo Valley – The El Caminito del Rey exits the second canyon into a wide valley. This is a gentle and easy stroll through a leafy valley but be careful on hot days as it has little shade. Keep an eye out for the train line on the other side, vultures soaring high on the thermals above, and bat caves in the cliff face.

05 | Gaitanes Gorge – The third and final canyon is the most dramatic. The walkway hangs 100 metres above the river, clinging to vertical walls. There are lots of great viewpoints, but Mirador de Cristal is possibly the best.

06 | Suspension Bridge & South Wall – Just before you reach the exit of the Official El Caminito del Rey walk, you cross over a dramatic suspension bridge. The trail then climbs up a set of steps and traverses along the massive South Wall. Once you reach the other side look back to see how tiny the path looks against the gigantic wall of rock.

CAMINITO DEL REY WALK MAP

This map of the entire El Caminito del Rey walk includes each of the 3 stages, marked in different colours. We have also numbered the highlights along the way so you can follow your progress and get the camera ready.

STAGE 1 VIA GAITANEJO TRAIL (BROWN)

2.7 kilometres | 50 minutes

STAGE 1 VIA PEDESTRIAN TUNNEL (BROWN)

1.5 kilometres | 25 minutes

STAGE 2 (RED)

3.4 kilometres | 90 min to 2 hours

STAGE 3 (PURPLE)

2.1 kilometres | 40 minutes

How to use this map / Click on the top left of the map to display the list of locations, then click on the locations to display further information. Click on the top right corner of the map to open a larger version in a new tab or the star to save to your Google Maps.  


CAMINITO DEL REY TICKETS

Section 2 of the El Caminito del Rey walk requires timed tickets which must be booked in advance.

Caminito del Rey tickets are available Tuesday to Sunday 9am to 3.30pm (closed on Mondays and some bank holidays)

There are two types of tickets: General Ticket or Official Guided Ticket.

The General Ticket (€10) – The General Ticket allows you to complete the walk at your own pace. It is a timed entrance, so you must be at the Official Entrance Gate (at the beginning of Stage 2) for the time specified on your ticket. Once you are through the gate, there is no time limit for how long you can stay in the gorge.

The Official Guided Ticket (€18) – The Guided Ticket includes a tour with a certified guide who will provide information about the gorge on the way through. Group size is limited to 30 people.

We highly recommend you buy tickets online well in advance. Only 1,100 places are available each day and it can be booked out months in advance in peak periods.

If tickets are sold out online, some are available on the day at the Official Entrance Gate at the start of stage 2. However, it’s a long way to come to find they don’t have any, so it’s always better to book online. Tickets cannot be purchased at the Visitor Centre.

Ticket Purchase – Buy your Caminito del Rey tickets on the official website.

CAMINITO DEL REY SHUTTLE BUS

You are only permitted to walk Stage 2 of the El Caminito del Rey in one direction (north to south). So, it’s not possible to make the walk circular by going back the way you came.

A shuttle bus runs regularly between El Chorro, the Visitors Centre, and El Kiosko. It takes 20 minutes to complete the trip.

CAMINTO DEL REY // BUS SCHEDULE


SUMMER

8:30am – 6pm | departs every 30 minutes on the hour & half hour

WINTER

8:30am – 5:30pm | departs every hour on the hour

COST

€2.50 | cash or online in advance

The bus does not run when the Caminito del Rey walk is closed.

The shuttle bus costs €2.50 which you pay to the bus driver (cards are not accepted). Alternatively – and more conveniently – you can buy the shuttle bus ticket in advance when you buy your El Caminito del Rey ticket online.

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HOW TO GET TO EL CAMINITO DEL REY

There are three ways to get to the El Caminito del Rey Walk. You can drive yourself, catch the train or take an organised tour.

BY CAR – PARKING AT EL CAMINITO DEL REY

El Caminito del Rey is about a 1-hour drive from Málaga, Ronda or Antequera. There are three possible places to park for the walk, all marked on the map above:

  • P1 – Restaurant El Kiosko at the start of Stage 1
  • P2 – El Chorro at the end of the walk
  • Visitors Centre – The visitors centre in Ardales – halfway between the two

Parking at any of the Caminito del Rey locations costs 2 per day. You can pay on arrival (cash only), but it’s more convenient to reserve a specific car park and pay in advance when you book your tickets. Remember to also include the shuttle bus.

PARKING AT P1 – EL KIOSKO

The easiest option is to park at P1 near El Kiosko, complete the walk, and then get the shuttle bus back to the car.

Aim to arrive 30 minutes to 1 hour before your timed ticket entry depending on whether you intend to walk Stage 1 via the Pedestrian Tunnel or Gaitanejo Trail to reach the Official Entrance Gate.

Ideally don’t book the last few timed entrances because you don’t want to be rushing to get the last shuttle bus (6.30pm in summer, 5.30pm in winter).

There are a café and toilets at El Kiosko.

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PARKING AT P2 – EL CHORRO

If you park at P2 in El Chorro you need to get the shuttle bus to the beginning of the walk, then complete the walk, ending back at your car.

The first shuttle bus departs at 8.30am, you then have a 40-minute walk to get to the Official Entrance Gate, so don’t book your timed entry too early.

There are toilets and a food van at El Chorro.

PARKING AT THE CAMINITO DEL REY VISITOR CENTRE

A new Visitor Centre opened in October 2022 with parking for 240 vehicles. It’s worth checking out the new complex which was sustainably built and blends into the environment with sweeping views.

However, it is the least convenient option for completing the Caminito del Rey hike. It’s located in the middle of the shuttle bus route, so you’ll need to get the bus both at the beginning and at the end of the walk.

There is however more information and facilities on site.

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CAMINITO DEL REY BY TRAIN

Trains from Málaga – María Zambrano train station to El Chorro train station take 40 minutes, but there are only a small number of services each day.

While getting there in the morning is not a problem, getting back can be more inconvenient. At the time of writing (Dec 2022), there were no direct trains between El Chorro and Málaga in the mid to late afternoon.

This means you will either need to take a longer train journey with a change or catch the bus to Alóra to catch the train from there.

In September 2022, RENFE announced that the local train from Málaga to Alóra would be extended to El Chorro. It is due to be completed in 2023 or 2024, but until then it’s easier and more relaxing to take a tour.

Check the latest Málaga to El Chorro route information on Trainline.

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CAMINITO DEL REY TOURS

If tickets are sold out online or you don’t want to mess with shuttle buses and public transport, getting a tour is an excellent way to visit El Caminito del Rey. The most convenient starting point is Málaga, but it’s also possible to get a tour from Seville.

TIPS FOR VISITING EL CAMINITO DEL REY

  • Book tickets online well in advance. It can get very busy in summer.
  • Add parking and the shuttle bus when purchasing your tickets online. Otherwise, make sure you have coins and small notes to pay for them in cash.
  • There are no refreshments on the walk, so take water and snacks with you.
  • Wear sunscreen and take a hat as there is little shade for the last section of the walk.
  • When you book tickets, you’ll get an email saying backpacks are not allowed, however they mean large backpacks. Small day packs for water, snacks, phone and camera are permitted.  
  • It’s a 7-kilometre walk so comfortable footwear is helpful, although the path is mostly flat and not difficult.
  • No pets are allowed on the Kings Pathway section of the walk.
  • Toilets are available at El Kiosko (at the beginning of the walk), the Visitor’s Centre, and El Chorro (at the end of the walk), but not along the walk itself.
  • There are restaurants, snack bars, & food vans at El Kiosko and El Chorro.
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THINGS TO DO NEAR EL CAMINITO DEL REY

While many come to the Costa del Sol for sun and beaches there are loads to do in this intriguing area. Here are a few of the highlights: