Spain has wonderful natural extensions on land and sea, and in all its cardinal points. Join us to discover these 15.
Peaks of Europe
Spring and summer are a hymn to life on the peaks. That is why they are the second most frequented national park in Spain, especially in those seasons. Its three mountainous massifs offer a beautiful natural diversity of elevations, valleys, rivers and lakes, in perfect harmony with the hand of its inhabitants, who live mainly from livestock. The friendliest local in this space that occupies the territories of León, Cantabria and the Principality of Asturias, is the Cantabrian chamois, a bovid capable of making the most hair-raising jumps on the steep slopes of the peaks. Be sure to try the exquisite cheeses, especially Cabrales, Picón Bejes-Tresviso and Gamonéu.
Lakes of Covadonga
In the western massif of the Picos de Europa there are three small lakes of glacial origin, Enol, Ercina and Bricial, a group that has become internationally known for being for some years the arrival point of the highest mountain stage. hard of the Cycling Tour of Spain. Great cycling luminaries such as the Frenchman Laurent Jalabert, the Colombian Lucho Herrera and the Spanish Pedro “Perico” Delgado, triumphed exhausted and wanting to go to rest watching the beautiful lakes. You can go there without being a professional cyclist and enjoy its beauty in a relaxed way, watching the cattle and horses graze on its banks.
Once, two Catalan hunters skipped Sunday mass because they wanted to hunt a roe deer. The legend indicates that as a punishment for being absent from the rite they were turned into stones. From there comes the name of these two peaks that rise more than 2,700 meters. They constitute one of the main challenges in Spain for practitioners of climbing sports. A magnificent view of the elevations can be had from Lake San Mauricio, a body of water located at an altitude of 1,910 meters, which receives the waters of various rivers and torrents of the beautiful and rugged place.
If you are a lover of desert landscapes, you have to go to Navarra to see the Bardenas Reales. These natural and biosphere reserves are curious geographical formations such as hills, plateaus and ravines, which the millenary passage of water has sculpted on the ground, eroding the chalky and clayey soils. Seasonal rivers run along the bottom of the ravines that continue to do their millennial work of carving with each season. One of its most striking configurations is the castildetierra, which looks like a huge bare lighthouse in the midst of the arid horizon. In the inhospitable landscape live Aleppo pines, kermes oaks, steppe birds, birds of prey, reptiles and other brave ones.
The Caldera de Taburiente
It is a national park and world biosphere reserve located on the Canary Island of La Palma. This great depression is one of the most beautiful and wild volcanic ecosystems in Spain, with its springs and streams that form countless waterfalls of different heights and whimsical shapes. Inside the caldera grows the typical Canarian forest, the laurisilva, made up of a wide variety of trees, shrubs, climbing plants and herbs. The most intimidating inhabitants are wolf spiders and centipedes, although the atmosphere is calmed by rock pigeons, blackcaps and blackbirds. A recent local is the arruí, a ram from the Maghreb introduced into various Spanish ecosystems in the 1970s.
Tables of Daimiel
The river tables are the ecosystems that are formed especially in the middle courses of the rivers when they overflow in terrains with little slopes. This Spanish wetland located in the province of Ciudad Real, between the municipalities of Villarrubia de los Ojos and Daimiel, is formed by the confluence of the waters of the Guadiana and Ciguela rivers, and is one of the most peculiar fauna and flora reserves in the country. Mallard ducks, gray herons and red ducks roam among the reeds. In the waters, native fish such as the capuchin and barbel try to survive against the pike, an invader introduced by man. One of the main symbols of Daimiel, the white-legged crab, is about to become extinct.
This maritime-terrestrial national park located in the Balearic archipelago is one of the best preserved virgin spaces in the entire Mediterranean Sea, favored by its isolation. It is an important reservoir of birds and endemic species and holds the category of protected area by different regional, national and international entities. You can access the park by boarding one of the swallows that make the journey from the coastal towns of Colonia de Sant Jordi and Portopetro. It is a place to observe the beauty of the landscape, practice underwater sports, go hiking and visit the caves inland.
It is a park in Cáceres bathed by the waters of the Tagus and Tiétar rivers. On one of the park’s main elevations are the ruins of the Castillo de Monfragüe, a fortress built by the Arabs during the 9th century. Another attraction is the Salto del Gitano, a viewpoint located in the municipality of Torrejón el Rubio. From the top of the rock you can enjoy a spectacular view, with vultures flying over your head and the Tagus running below. Monfragüe is a paradise for birds. Eagles, vultures and storks nest on its escarpments and constantly patrol the clear sky, ideal for observing twilight and starry nights.
The shepherds and charcoal burners of the Montes de Toledo built a hut with materials from the environment, as a temporary refuge to rest and take shelter. This is where the name of this Toledo park of almost 41,000 hectares comes from. It has several visitor service points, from where you can organize a guided tour, which can be on foot or in an all-terrain vehicle. One of the most frequented places is La Chorrera, an 18-meter waterfall near the town of Los Nalucillos. The typical plant of the park is the blond heather, which flowers in a pretty pink color. The park is also home to the imperial eagle, a threatened species.
Arribes del Duero
This immense natural park of more than 100,000 hectares borders the border with Portugal along the Spanish provinces of Salamanca and Zamora, in the Autonomous Community of Castilla y León. In Leonese Romance speech, the arribes are the valleys and gorges produced by the erosion of rivers. Throughout the park or in its vicinity there are a large number of picturesque towns that offer particular tourist interest, such as Fermoselle, San Felices de los Gallegos and Vilvestre. You can also visit archaeological zones and caves with cave paintings. Throughout the park’s geography there are distributed viewpoints to admire the immensity of the landscape. You also have thematic museums alluding to the main products of the region (oil, wine, flour, textiles) and you can visit craft and wine fairs.
Ordesa and Monte Perdido
It is an Aragonese national park of about 16,000 hectares that is a World Heritage Site. It is a Pyrenean territory of massifs, valleys, glaciers and rivers located at more than 3,300 meters above sea level. Its maximum summit is Monte Perdido, which at 3,355 m is the highest calcareous peak in Europe. In its natural spaces you can practice your favorite mountain activities and its villages with a rustic atmosphere are ideal for resting and tasting the delicious food of Aragón. One of the most popular excursions is the route to the Cola de Caballo waterfall, so named because the water falls in an almost vertical slope, reminiscent of a white horse’s mane.
This national park and World Heritage Site covers 4,000 hectares on the Canary Island of La Gomera. Its great treasure is the main European humid forest of evergreen species, the laurel. Another attraction is the Roque de Aguando, a volcanic neck that is the main geographical reference of the island. The name of the park comes from a love legend that is a kind of Romeo and Juliet in a Spanish version, starring Gara and Jonay, a princess and a prince who committed suicide when their parents rejected their relationship. So if you and your girlfriend are lovebirds and can’t make it to Verona, Garajonay is a great place for a well-accompanied getaway. If your plan is more to contemplate the landscape, enjoy observing some endemic species of the Canary Islands archipelago, such as the rabiche pigeon, the natural symbol of La Gomera.
Atlantic Islands of Galicia
This park spans the Galician islands of Cíes, Ons, Sálvora and Cortegada. Cíes has some of the richest and most varied marine ecosystems in Galicia. It was badly affected by the 2002 sinking of the oil tanker Prestige , after which it began a slow recovery. Ons is located at the entrance of the Pontevedra estuary and is experiencing an intense tourist boom. At its highest point there is a lighthouse put into service in 1865, which is a beautiful monument and one of the most far-reaching on the entire Spanish coast. In the city of Vigo there is a museum whose unique theme is the Atlantic Islands.
Sierra de Guadarrama
It is the only Mediterranean high mountain ecosystem in the entire Iberian Peninsula and the closest place for the people of Madrid to practice any alpine sport or entertainment. Its flora is so varied that it has nearly 1,300 species of 30 types of vegetation and its fauna is so rich that it covers 45% of all Spanish animal species and almost 20% of European ones. Some areas of great interest are the mountain of La Maliciosa, the Valley of La Barranca; the El Yelmo cliff, a rock of pink granite very frequented by climbers and the Puerto de Navacerrada, a ski resort and mountain pass. Others are La Pedriza, an immense mass of granite, and Valle del Lozoya.
Teide National Park
This World Heritage Site is the only terrestrial natural monument that was selected in the national contest that chose the 12 Treasures of Spain. It extends over 190 square kilometers in the highest area of the Canary Island of Tenerife, including the Teide volcano, the highest peak in Spain (3,718 m) and the most important natural lighthouse in the Atlantic Ocean. It is the most visited natural park in Europe, receiving more than 3 million tourists a year.