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3 Breathtaking National Parks in Spain

Not all must-see places are easily placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. But, three of the national parks in Spain have made it through nonetheless. 

Leave the hustle and bustle of the city, and go on an adventure in any of these national parks in Spain. There are many activities to do, majestic sites to see, and new things to discover. Immerse yourself in culture and breathe in the fresh air. It would be a great way to give yourself space away from your daily routine or spend time with your loved ones. 

A List of National Parks in Spain

1. Doñana National Park

Head on over to the Autonomous Community of Andalusia in the provinces of Huelva and Sevilla, and there you will find the Doñana National Park. It is on the right bank of the Guadalquivir river where it meets with the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. 

In the Doñana National Park, you will be pleased to discover lagoons, marshlands, fixed dunes, mobile dunes, scrub woodlands, and maquis. It is also home to different species, most notably five bird species that have been classified as threatened, such as the Spanish imperial eagle and Iberian lynx. This could be your chance to see them up close, but always keep in mind not to endanger them when you do.

Colonies of heron birds come to the Doñana National Park to breed, making it one of the biggest heronries there is throughout the Mediterranean region. As many as 500,000 waterfowl also migrate to the area during winter to protect themselves from the harsh weather conditions elsewhere.

If you come at the right time, you can even witness a “pink carpet” made by colonies of flamingos as they feed. 

Going Around the Doñana National Park

You can explore one of the must-see national parks in Spain by yourself without worrying about getting lost. There are visitor centers and information points all over the national park where you can always turn to if you have any questions. These centers provide services such as exhibitions, pedestrian paths, recreational areas, audiovisual rooms, observation points, and many more. In the visitor center located in El Acebuche, they even have an observatory for the Iberian lynx.

An Iberian Lynx, which can be found in one of the national parks in Spain

However, if you prefer to have a more guided tour of the Doñana National Park, you can book any of what the authorized companies have to offer. Tour guides will accompany you while going around the national park so that you can learn more about each area as you visit it. Any concerns about a language barrier should not be a problem since they can speak both Spanish and English at the very least.

There are also three itineraries currently offered by the Doñana National Park itself. The “Itinerary Acebuche-La Plancha- Acebuche” and the “Coto del Rey-Jose A. Valverde Visitor Center” allow tourists to explore the southern and northern areas of the national park, respectively. Tourists hop on an all-terrain vehicle for an hours-long adventure around the park. You can also ride the ship “Real Fernando” if you are interested in a river itinerary that traverses through “Sanlúcar-Guadalquivir-Doñana.” It is not just any ordinary ship, though. There is a video room, an exhibition room, and a bar for the 94 passengers that it can accommodate.

2. Garajonay National Park

With the travel restrictions in the Canary Islands being relaxed, you can finally book that trip for your next vacation. When you do, don’t forget to include the island of La Gomera in the province of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Why, you ask? One of the national parks in Spain that have been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List can be found there. 

The Garajonay National Park is mostly made up of the Laurel forest, with around 70% of its size being taken up by the forest. As you venture out into the forest and are met with its luscious greens and gigantic trees, you will feel as if you were in one of your favorite fairy tales as a child. The humidity in the forest is high and its temperature is mild, making it very suitable for a diverse ecosystem. 

You can see numerous species, even more than a thousand of them, in this national park. What even makes it more special is that many of these species can only be found on the island of La Gomera. The laurel trees of the forest are home to the White-tailed Laurel Pigeon and the Dark-tailed Laurel Pigeon. 

But, it’s not just the magical forests that you should be excited about. There are also rock formations that you have to watch out for. One of the more famous ones is Los Roques. Can I climb this awe-inspiring rock formation? The answer is no. Authorities have decided to ban climbing activities in Los Roques. However, don’t be discouraged because you won’t miss out on the beautiful scenic view of the island accessible from Los Roques. There are still established paths that tourists can take to hike around the area.

The highest point in the Garajonay National Park is the Alto de Garajonay, which is 1,457 meters high. You can make use of rental cars or go on the trails available. You’ll see more and more of the beauty of the island as you go higher up the mountain. 

Alto de Garajonay

Early risers can even enjoy watching the sun rise on the hiking trails and feeling the warmth that it brings. However, if you can’t wake up that early, you can still appreciate the sunset together with the land formations. See day turn into night and night turn into day in such a delightful setting. These are moments that you will surely remember for a long time.

Going Around the Garajonay National Park

There are different routes that tourists can take to get around the Garajonay National Park. Suited for individuals of varying experience in such activities, there are 18 routes available in the park. Most of them are not too long and can be easily accessed. 

You can go around with or without a tour guide. If you do decide to explore the park on your own, you can make use of the audio guide that the park offers. For those who prefer guided tours, you can do so without spending any of the money you budgeted for the trip. The park provides free guided tours every Friday of the year. Either way, the amazing sights in the national park will be further enriched by knowing more about its history and ecosystem.

3. Teide National Park

The last of the national parks in Spain that were included as UNESCO World Heritage Sites is the Teide National Park.

It is similarly located in the Santa Cruz de Tenerife province of the Canary Islands. The park is the biggest and oldest of the national parks that can be found on the islands. So, when you do decide to visit the Canary Islands, you can already go to two of the most famous national parks in Spain in just one trip. Make sure you plan a long vacation so that you can go to each one of them and take in their beauty without rushing. 

All eyes are on the Teide volcano located in the Teide National Park. At 3,718 meters above sea level, it is the highest peak across the whole country. At the same time, it ranks third on the list of the tallest volcanoes in the world. 

Teide volcano

The volcanic eruptions that occurred throughout its history, although destructive at the time, resulted in a unique landscape filled with volcanic cones, lava, vents, and different minerals. At the same time, conditions in the area became suitable for the growth of a diverse flora and fauna. 

There are as many as 168 species of plants that can be found in Teide National Park. Fifty-eight of these are unique to the Canary Islands. Out of all of them, the Teide violet is the most sought-after plant. It is a purple flower that can only thrive in an area that is more than 2,500 meters above sea level, making it hard to find in places elsewhere.

A bugloss plant in Tenerife.

Another plant to look out for in the Teide National Park is the red bugloss. It can reach astonishing heights of three meters. Its vibrant red color particularly stands out in the foothills of the Teide volcano during the spring season.

There are 3 different visitor centers, namely the Canada Blanca, El Portillo, and Telesforo Bravo. Each of these visitor centers provides a different experience for tourists. 

An audiovisual room is available where tourists can find out how life in Las Cañadas has changed throughout the years and the relationship between its citizens and the environment. There is also an exhibition where visitors can learn about Tenerife Island.

A botanical garden is also open to the public at any given time. Visitors can visit in the wee hours of the morning or late at night since it operates for 24 hours.

Going Around the Teide National Park

There are different routes that you can take to get around Teide National Park. All of the 41 routes available in its network of trails have appropriate signage so that you know where to go next. Each of these routes has varying difficulty levels, making it easy for tourists to choose whatever route they can physically handle. 

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