Why Is Spain A Top Destination For Nature Lovers?
By one of our guest expert authors, Matt Robson, creator of Spain Guides
Spain is a destination that attracts millions of tourists each year due to its rich cultural heritage, historic sites, incredible gastronomy, and stunning beaches.
However, what many people may not know is that Spain is also a top destination for nature lovers.
For nature lovers, Spain offers a whole range of possibilities that allows you to enjoy more planet-friendly holidays.
One of the main reasons why Spain is a top holiday destination for nature lovers is its biodiversity. Spain is home to more than 8,000 different plant species, 600 bird species, and 220 mammal species.
Let’s dive in and take a look at all the nature-loving attractions on offer in Spain.
Exploring Spain’s National Parks
Spain boasts a number of beautiful protected areas, including 16 national parks and 151 nature reserves. These areas are home to a range of flora and fauna.
The national parks in Spain are also home to a wide variety of rare and endangered species such as the Iberian lynx, otters, the Spanish Imperial Eagle, wild boar, and black vultures.
Here is a list of all of Spain´s National Parks:
Each park offers its own unique experiences, from hiking and wildlife watching to stargazing and cultural experiences.
1. Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park – located in the Pyrenees mountain range in Catalonia.
2. Archipelago of Cabrera National Park – located in the Balearic Islands, specifically on the Cabrera Archipelago.
3. Atlantic Islands of Galicia National Park – located in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Galicia.
4. Cabañeros National Park – located in the provinces of Ciudad Real and Toledo in Castilla-La Mancha.
5. Caldera de Taburiente National Park – located on the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands.
6. Doñana National Park – located in Andalucia, spanning the provinces of Huelva, Sevilla, and Cádiz.
7. Garajonay National Park – located on the island of La Gomera in the Canary Islands.
8. Monfragüe National Park – located in the province of Cáceres in Extremadura.
9. Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park – located in the Pyrenees mountain range in Aragon.
10. Picos de Europa National Park – located in the Cantabrian Mountains, spanning the provinces of Asturias, Cantabria, and León.
11. Sierra de Guadarrama National Park – located in the province of Madrid and the province of Segovia in Castilla y León.
12. Sierra de las Nieves National Park – located in the province of Malaga in Andalucia.
13. Sierra Nevada National Park – located in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Andalucia.
14. Tablas de Daimiel National Park – located in the province of Ciudad Real in Castilla-La Mancha.
15. Teide National Park – located on the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands.
16. Timanfaya National Park – located on the island of Lanzarote in the Canary Islands.
Here is Matt’s pick of 3 stunning national parks:
Sierra Nevada National Park – Andalucia
The park spans over 2.000 km2, and its highest peak is Mulhacen, standing at 3,482 meters tall.
The park is a paradise for nature lovers, hikers, and skiers alike. It boasts diverse flora and fauna, over 60 endemic plant species, and animals such as the Spanish Ibex and the Golden Eagle.
There are several hiking trails to explore, including the famous Sulayr GR-240, which is a circular route that takes around ten days to complete.
Doñana National Park – Andalucia
The Doñana nature reserve is one of the most important wetlands in Europe. Situated at the mouth of the Guadalquivir River the wetlands covers an area of around 543 km².
Doñana is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including numerous bird species such as flamingos, egrets, and spoonbills, as well as mammals like the Iberian lynx, wild boar, and red deer. The park also has sandy beaches, sand dunes, and pine forests, making it a popular destination for nature lovers.
Here you can explore the park’s trails on foot, by bike, or on horseback, and there are also plenty of guided tours available.
However, due to its fragile ecosystem, access to the park is restricted and controlled, and visitors are required to follow strict rules to minimize the impact on the environment.
Be sure to check out our Andalucia Travel Guide for lots of great ideas when exploring this part of Spain. Olé!!
Picos de Europa National Park
The Picos de Europa National Park is located in the Cantabrian Mountains of northern Spain, straddling the provinces of Asturias, León, and Cantabria.
The park was established in 1918 and covers an area of 646.37 km².
It is known for its breathtaking peaks, gorges, rivers, and forests, making it a popular destination for hikers and nature enthusiasts.
The park is home to an abundance of flora and fauna, including wolves, bears, eagles, and chamois. It also boasts several impressive peaks, including Torre de Cerrado, which is the highest peak in the park and in the Cantabrian Mountains, reaching just over 2,600 meters.
There is plenty to see ad explore within the park including numerous first-class hiking trails, stunning views and awe-inspiring landscapes. There are also lots of outdoor activities to enjoy such as rock climbing, caving, and skiing in the winter months.
There are also several charming towns and villages located in the park, such as Potes and Cangas de Onis, where you can experience traditional Asturian and Cantabrian culture and indulge yourself with top-notch local gastronomy.
Eco-friendly holidays in Spain
Spain has become a popular destination for eco-friendly holidays due to its commitment to sustainable tourism and the growing choice of environmentally-friendly accommodations and activities.
From charming rural retreats to glamping sites and eco-lodges, Spain offers a variety of accommodation options if you are looking to minimize your impact on the environment.
Many of these rural retreats are located in remote areas, allowing you to connect with nature. Popular regions for rural tourism include Andalusia, Galicia, The Basque Country, La Rioja, Catalonia, and the Pyrenees.
Another popular choice for eco-friendly is glamping. This luxurious camping experience offers a unique blend of comfort and adventure, with accommodations ranging from treehouses and yurts to safari tents and domes.
Spain also offers a variety of eco-lodges that are committed to sustainable practices, including using renewable energy, composting, and conserving water.
Rural Tourism in Spain
Rural tourism in Spain is an ideal way to experience the natural beauty of the country. It can provide you with the opportunity to explore Spain’s rural landscapes, traditional architecture, and local cultures.
Rural tourism in Spain offers a wide range of activities, including hiking, horseback riding, cycling, and bird watching. It´s great to explore the countryside and its hidden gems, including traditional villages, medieval castles, and ancient ruins. You can also take part in local activities, such as cheese making, wine tasting, farming, and olive oil production.
There are many types of accommodation on offer when it comes to rural tourism including traditional houses, farmhouses, and charming rural hotels. These accommodations are mostly located in picturesque rural settings that provide an opportunity to support local communities and businesses.
Popular regions for rural tourism include Andalucia, Catalonia, Galicia, and the Balearic Islands, due to their diverse landscapes, rugged mountains, and unique cultural heritage.
Overall, rural tourism in Spain is a great option if you are looking to get away from the crowds, immerse yourself in nature and enjoy an authentic Spanish experience.
Most popular Rural Tourism destinations in Spain
1. Asturias – Known for its stunning mountains, green landscapes, and charming coastal towns.
2. Galicia – Famous for its delicious seafood, green valleys, and historic sites.
3. Andalucia – Renowned for its beautiful beaches, white-washed villages, and rich culture.
4. La Rioja – Famous for its wine production and picturesque landscapes. (Another of our expert authors, Carol offers wonderful wine tours in La Rioja).
5. Extremadura – Known for its untouched nature, medieval castles, and ancient Roman ruins.
6. Castilla y Leon – Rich in history, art, and architecture, with plenty of natural landscapes to explore.
7. Navarra – Known for its beautiful landscapes, historic towns, and the famous Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail.
8. Catalonia – Home to vibrant cities like Barcelona, as well as the rugged Pyrenees mountains and beautiful beaches.
9. Aragon – Renowned for its beautiful natural parks and historic towns.
10. Cantabria – Known for its green valleys, stunning coastline, and historic architecture.
11. Basque Country – A blend of modern and traditional, with beautiful beaches, green hills, and delicious cuisine.
12. Valencia – Known for its beautiful coastline, orange groves, and historic landmarks.
13. Murcia – Known for its beautiful natural parks, historic cities, and delicious cuisine.
14. Castilla-La Mancha – Famous for its beautiful landscapes, historic cities, and literary history.
15. Balearic Islands – Known for its beautiful countryside, picturesque villages, hidden beach coves, and the spectacular Tramuntana Mountain range
Photo by CJ Hamand
Agri-tourism, also known as agricultural tourism, is a popular concept in Spain that involves visitors getting to experience rural life and agriculture.
It provides an opportunity to learn about the country’s agricultural heritage and traditional farming practices.
Many farms and vineyards across the country have opened their doors to nature-loving tourists, offering a chance to explore their lands, learn about agricultural practices and taste the delicious products produced on-site.
You can choose from a range of activities such as harvesting fruits and vegetables, wine-tasting, cheese-making, taking care of animals or learning about organic farming.
Many farms also offer accommodation which is ideal as it allows you to fully immerse yourself into Spanish country life.
Apart from these activities, agri-tourism also plays a significant role in promoting sustainable tourism in Spain. Visitors get to experience local life and culture while supporting local businesses that benefit local communities.
Popular agri-tourism destinations in Spain include the wine regions of La Rioja and Ribera del Duero, the olive groves of Andalusia, Extremadura, Galicia, Salamanca, and the orchards of Valencia.
Eno tourism, also known as wine tourism, has become increasingly popular in Spain over the past 10 years, around 30% of the wineries in Spain offer wine tourism.
It revolves around visiting and even staying at wineries, vineyards, and wine regions to learn about the whole wine-making process.
Eno Tourism is an ideal way to experience the culture, history, and tradition of wine-making in Spain while getting the opportunity to try out some of the best wines the country has to offer.
Spain is one of the world’s largest wine-producing countries in the world with a number of well-known wine regions worth visiting that include La Rioja, Priorat, Ribera del Duero, Penedes, and Jerez.
Many wineries also offer guided tours, wine tastings, and food pairings that showcase the local cuisine.
Spain is a country with a rich and diverse natural heritage, making it a perfect destination for nature lovers.
From a large number of National Parks, the mountains of the Pyrenees and Picos de Europa to the beautiful nature reserves of Asturias, Galicia, Andalucia, and the Balearic Islands, there are countless opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors in Spain.
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing countryside retreat, work on a farm, stay in an eco-friendly retreat, learn about wine-making, or enjoy a delicious gastronomic experience, Spain offers something for every nature lover to enjoy.