They may be on different continents, but Spain and Morocco are neighbouring countries with just the Strait of Gibraltar between them. While Spain is famous for its beaches and cities, ancient architecture, and rich history, Morocco is known for its deserts, vibrant culture, and colourfully cacophonic souks. Both destinations promise adventurous experiences, sharing influences through Spain’s Moorish heritage. But what are the deciding factors when weighing up which destination to try for your next adventure holiday?
Rewarding climbs: Sierra de Aitana vs Mount Toubkal
Spain and Morocco have perfect peaks for adventurers looking for a challenge. The dramatic massif of Spain’s Sierra de Aitana may not be as familiar as Morocco’s Mount Toubkal – the highest peak in Morocco – but it’s worthy of any keen hikers’ attention. Deciding between these climbs comes down to your appetite and aptitude for a challenge and the views you want to see along the way. On Spain’s east coast, the Sierra de Aitana Trek has a maximum altitude of 5,112 feet, with some testing sections along ridge lines with glorious views of the Mediterranean Sea. Natural springs and limestone amphitheatres await in the valleys you’ll descend through on this five-day guided walk.
On the other hand, you’ll climb much higher by ascending Mount Toubkal in Morocco – over 13,670 feet at the highest point on the Mt Toubkal Long Weekend trip. There are no glittering ocean views on this climb. Instead, you’ll be rewarded with views of the High Atlas Mountains and spend time in the company of the local Amazigh community.
Exhilarating bike descents: Camino de Santiago vs Atlas Descent
Keen cyclists love to Cycle the Camino de Santiago route in Spain. The thrilling long, and steep descent into Molinseca has spectacular valley views, and on this trip, you can cover the best sections in just eight days. With six full days on the bike, there’s exceptional food to look forward to after each day in the saddle, including a renowned octopus dish in Melide and exemplary cheese in Arzua.
In Morocco, not only are the flavours different, but the terrain is, too. On an Atlas Descent, considered a touch more challenging than the Camino de Santiago, you’ll ride through gorges and palmeries around Ait Mansour, following dry riverbeds on long downhill sections. Another spectacular downhill stretch is the 12-mile trail from Tafraoute to Tizi Tasrite.
Panoramic views: Picos de Europa vs Atlas Mountains
While the Picos de Europa mountains are in Northern Spain, the Atlas Mountains spread across Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. Both mountain ranges are known for their adventure-ready terrain, snow-capped peaks, and verdant valleys. Yet, the Atlas Mountains are much higher and stretch over a greater distance with a diverse landscape, ranging from rocky deserts to lush forests and oasis valleys. On the Atlas Panorama trip, you can take moderately easy walks to see some spectacular views, including one that takes you to a lofty 8,530 feet and another that leads to Lake Tamda between two looming peaks, where the vividly blue water stands in stark contrast to the white rocks.
The Picos de Europa is home to a variety of wildlife, including brown bears, wolves, and wildcats. In spring, it’s richly green and blooms with wildflowers. On Walking the Picos de Europa, you’ll have the chance to ascent to the Pandescura Peak, where you’ll get a superb vantage point of the western massif peaks and try one of the most popular and beautiful trails in Spain – the Cares Gorge trail. This famous route has epic views of limestone peaks and the sound of trickling waterfalls as you emerge from narrow caves.
Multi-day hikes: Sierra Nevada vs the Anti-Atlas Mountains
Hiking is a great way to cover plenty of ground while enjoying the beauty of nature. If you are looking for a hiking adventure that reveals plenty of scenic highlights and poses just the right level of challenge, then you might be wondering which one is better, Spain or Morocco?
Spain offers beautiful hiking trails, with the Sierra Nevada mountains being one of the most popular places to hike. Walk Spain’s Sierra Nevada & Granada is a hike that takes you through the heart of the mountains, offering views of the surrounding landscape. You’ll pass through chestnut forests and moorlands as you make your way to the historic city of Granada. Along the way, you’ll come across ancient, white-washed villages rich in history and culture. The Moorish architecture is something that will bring bygone eras to life.
Morocco is also an excellent destination for hikers with a sense of adventure. Join like-minded travellers and enthusiastic hikers on our Undiscovered Atlas trip, which takes you on a multi-day hike deep into the remote Anti-Atlas mountains. Unlike Spain’s Sierra Nevada Mountain Range with its breathtaking alpine meadows and forests, the Anti Atlas Mountains hold a different allure, with its ancient rock formations, sweeping mountain passes and gorges, lush Oases and isolated Amazigh villages. After spending the first few days passing the beautiful villages of Amal and Tagdicht on foot, you’ll make the rewarding climb to the summit of Jebel Aklim (8,303ft/2,531m), one of the highest peaks in the Anti-Atlas on day four. Here, you will be able to see the extinct volcano of Jebel Siroua and an unforgettable panorama of the snow-capped peaks in the High Atlas.
Epic rides: The Catalan Coast vs Paradise Valley
For cyclists who love a mix of challenging terrain and cultural experiences as they ride, both Paradise Valley in Morocco and the Catalan Coast in Spain are fantastic options. If you Cycle Morocco’s Great South, you’ll venture through the narrow palm-lined gorge of Paradise Valley, followed by a refreshing dip in crystal-clear rock pools.
On the other hand, Cycling Girona and the Catalan Coast provides an opportunity to cycle through picturesque seaside villages, beneath coastal cliffs, and through scenic vineyards, with plenty of opportunities to sample local wine, cuisine, and culture as you ride. Another added benefit of this route is that half of your journey is on Via Verdes cycle paths, which means no interference by cars, it’s just you, your bike and the beautifully maintained Catalan countryside.