Mountaineering & Expeditions

Highest Mountains In Spain | Top 10

From the Pyrenees to the Sierra Nevada, via Tenerife, Spain's mountains are a sight to behold. Here's an essential guide to the 10 highest mountains in Spain

Rich paella, famous artists, regular siestas, tiki-taka football, rioja, cava and so much more; Spain has, it’s fair to say, made some great contributions to the world over the years. Have you though ever stopped to consider the extent to which the highest mountains in Spain make it a truly exciting destination for outdoor adventure? The Spaniards have seen their country go through some pretty famous political and cultural changes, but one thing’s been a constant through it all and that’s its incredible mountainous landscapes. 

Spain’s highest mountain is technically an active volcano, and not even on the country’s mainland (it’s on Tenerife, in the Canary Islands). This list also features summits in the Pyrenees and Sierra Nevada mountain regions, which sit at the northern and southernmost parts of the country respectively. Home to some of Europe’s most impressive mountains, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to rank the nation of Spain’s peaks based on prominence. 

1. Teide, 3718m

Mount Teide, Spain’s highest mountain, looms over the island of Tenerife (Credit: Maria Lupan)

Dominating the skyline of the Canary Islands, Mount Teide (or just Teide) is the highest mountain in Spain. Its summit sits 3718m above sea level. Located on the Spanish island of Tenerife, the national park it resides in (Teide National Park) draws in around three million visitors annually. If you want to join these millions, you should know that Teide is still technically an active volcano. Spain’s highest point last erupted just over 100 years ago, in 1909 (still a bit too recent for our liking).

The volcano was first summited in 1582 by Sir Edmund Scory. You too can summit Teide, but it’s not as simple as rocking up and looking up. Due to its popularity, the national park likes to limit the number of people who can trek on the volcano. You’ll need a permit to climb to the peak, something you can get for free via the Mount Teide National Park website.

2. Mulhacén, 3479m

Mulhacén is the highest mountain on mainland Spain (Credit: Getty Images)

Mulhacén is the tallest mountain on mainland Spain and the second tallest Spanish mountain overall, with a summit 3479 metres above sea level. It’s sometimes considered to be the highest mountain in Western Europe outside of the Alps, as geographically speaking the Canary Islands (home to Teide, the highest Spanish mountain) are far closer to Africa. 

Mainland Spain’s highest peak is part of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. This southern coastal region is home to a handful of other summits that feature on our list here. It’s unknown exactly when Mulhacén was first summited, but it’s estimated that it was before the 16th century (absolutely ages ago, in other words). Over the years, tourists have found easy routes to the peak that don’t present much of a technical challenge. A whole ascent and descent can be done in a day with the right equipment, but it’s common to stay the night at a mountain refuge point at Poqueira . Make a weekend out of climbing the second highest mountain in Spain.

3. Pico Aneto, 3404m

Pico Aneto is the highest mountain in Spain’s Pyrenees mountain range (Credit: Getty Images)

Coming in at a very close third on this list is Pico Aneto. Standing tall at 3404m, it’s the highest mountain in the Pyrenees mountain range. Being just six kilometres south of the French-Spanish border, summiting Spain’s third tallest mountain can give you a glimpse of both countries at once. Aneto belongs to the Maladeta Massif, a site of interest that’s sparked curiosity amongst explorers and geographers for nearly two centuries.

Aneto was first summited in 1842 by Platon Chikhachyov (a vacationing Russian officer on a pretty far-out excursion) and Albert de Franqueville. The pair were accompanied by their guides Pierre Sanio de Luz, Luchonnais Bernard Arrazau, Pierre Redonnet, and Jean Sors. On the expedition the group explored various routes, avoiding Aneto’s enormous glacier on its northern side and pausing at naturally forming spots such as La Renclusa (now the site of an official mountain refuge stop for anyone climbing Aneto).

4. Veleta, 3398m

Quite the drop. Veleta’s peak makes for a spectacle (Credit: Getty Images)

The Sierra Nevada’s second entry on this list, Veleta is the fourth highest mountain in Spain and second highest in the aforementioned mountain range. Its height is either 3394m, 3396m, or 3398. We’ve decided to go with the biggest of the three here because… why not?  

Visible from the city of Granada, its close proximity to busy civilisation has led to the integration of infrastructure on even the highest points of the mountain. There’s even a fully-fledged road just 10 metres from the summit. Sadly for those of us wanting a quick shortcut to the peak, the uppermost part of the road has been closed since the construction of Sierra Nevada’s National Ski Park in 1999 (worth checking out in itself). Fortunately for those wanting a lift on the ascent, a bus service still takes visitors to a viewpoint called Posiciones del Veleta and this is situated within an easy walk of the summit. Easy.

5. Pico Posets, 3375m

Picturesque Pico Posets. Postcard potential. (Credit: Getty Images)

Spain’s fifth highest mountain is Pico Posets, sometimes referred to as Posets o Llardana. It stands at a mighty 3369 metres tall in the Pyrenees. It’s the mountain range’s second tallest mountain, after Pico Aneto, and provides a quieter and more solitary experience of the Pyrenees. 

Pico Posets was, officially speaking, first summited in 1856 by the British hiker Halket and his guides Rendonnet and Barrau. If you’re looking to climb it yourself it’s likely you’ll be taking a very similar route to Halket and his team. The path is relatively simple but the route is, of course, most easily done without snow. If you’re looking to tackle this mountain in winter, you might well need some snowshoes and the guidance of someone who knows where they’re going

6. Alcazaba, 3371m

Not to be mistaken for a certain fictional prison in the wizarding world, Alcazaba is the sixth highest mountain in Spain. Standing tall at 3371m, its northern face is visible from the city of Granada and makes for a picturesque backdrop to the classic Spanish region. Like a handful of other mountains on this list, you’ll find Alcazaba in the Sierra Nevada. It’s one of the most prominent mountains in the region.

This peak’s considered to be one of the most isolated points in the mountain range, so unless you’re a little bit superhuman climbing Alcazaba will require an overnight stay. Check out Refugio de Poqueira if you’re looking for shelter here (you’ll need to book in advance). You’ll find this hut on the western face, to its east you’ll spot the Lagunas de la Calderetas; a collection of picturesque lakes. The mountain’s northern face might be a sight to behold, but it’s also a climb to be wary of and, with that in mind, we recommend the southern face for your way up. It’s a lot easier. 

7. Monte Perdido, 3355m

Spain’s famous Monte Perdido (Credit Marcos Gabarda)

The seventh highest Spanish mountain, and third highest in the Pyrenees, is Monte Perdido. It’s a 3355m-tall spectacle, with a giant north-facing glacier really elevating its sense of grandeur. Despite being just 3km from the Spanish-French border, the mountain is hidden from the view of its friends in the north. Translating into English as Lost Mountain, the peak more than lives up to its name with the mountains of the Cirques of Gavarnie blocking any French view of the Spanish summit.

The mountain’s glacier, the Monte Perdido Glacier, is under threat from the effects of climate change; visible decay is occurring here on an annual basis. There’s been a reported 48 hectares of surface area lost to global warming since 1981. Add this to your endless list of reasons why we need to do more to protect our planet.

8. Pico Maldito, 3350m

The fourth highest mountain in the Pyrenees, and eighth highest peak in Spain, is Pico Maldito. Situated in the Posets–Maladeta Natural Park, it’s another astonishing bit of terrain in amongst the Pyrenees; poking its head out at 3350m above sea level. There’s no easy way of climbing Pico Maldito, but some ace scrambling spots mean that it should make for a fun climb for those experienced enough to take it on.

The dawn of the 19th century marked the start of various attempts to reach the peaks of the Pyrenees, and the first recorded successful summit of Pico Maldito was completed by a German explorer called Johann Jacob Friedrich Wilhelm Parrot in 1817 (what a name, by the way). His guide Pierre Barrau (still a cool name, but no JJFWP) accompanied him on the ascent. At the time it happened, they reportedly thought they’d reached the tallest point in the region. Oh, how wrong they were.

9. Espadas Peak, 3332m

Sitting nice-and-close to Pico Posets, which is number five on this list and also situated in the Pyrenees, is the Espadas Peak (or Pico Espadas). Its summit sits up at a height of 3332m above sea level, and blends magnificently into the skyline of the Posets Massif. The Espadas-Posets ridge joins the Espadas Peak to Pico Posets and makes for a spectacular route – so long as you don’t go weak at the knees at the thought of a (quite literally) mountainous drop. Tightrope Walker’s Pass is a famously narrow 10-metre section that requires a steady heart, level head, and ice in the veins.

10. Cilindro de Marboré, 3328m

Cilindro de Marboré, first summited in 1864 (Credit: Getty Images)

The tenth highest mountain in Spain is Cilindro de Marboré. It pokes its head out of the Monte Perdido Massif, and has an official summit height of 3328m. Along with Monte Perdido and Soum de Ramond, Cilindro de Marboré makes up a famous trio of mountains in the Pyrenees known as Las Tres Sorores (the three sisters).

The first recorded successful summit was completed in 1864 by the Irishman Henry Russell and his guide, Emilien Frossard, during their expedition of the Pyrenees. After taking on Monte Perdido, the pair decided to take on Cilindro de Marboré. Writing about the view from the summit, Russell said “The view is of an indescribable brilliance, more beautiful than that of the Monte Perdido.” See, sometimes bigger isn’t always better.

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