Physical activity is an increasingly frequent part of our leisure time. Within this context, hiking is a popular form of tourism which has a positive impact on the quality of life. In spite of the importance of climate conditions for this recreational activity, relatively little research has been done on hiking from the perspective of climate and tourism. With this in mind in this paper we make the first detailed extensive assessment of climate preferences for the practice of hiking tourism in Spain. To this end a review of the theoretical/methodological body of literature on tourism climatology was conducted together with a survey aimed at evaluating the stated climate preferences of hiking tourists. The results are offered within the framework of international research on climate preferences for a range of tourism activities. The comparative analysis of these results with regard to those obtained in previous research highlights various similarities but also certain factors specific to hiking in Spain. Overall, the climate preferences of hiking tourists are similar to those of other segments of the tourism market in terms of the aesthetic and physical aspects of the climate, although they also have certain specific preferences as regards thermal aspects, especially regarding the optimal daily thermal conditions for hiking. The results obtained are useful for assessing the suitability of the climate for the practice of hiking tourism in Spain and for promoting proper management and planning of this leisure activity in tourist destinations, including the development of climate calendars detailing the most suitable times of the year for hiking at these destinations. These issues will be addressed in future research studies.
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