11 natural environments you cannot miss in the South of Spain: Natural Parks of Andalucia
Did you know that over 30% of the surface area of Andalusia is a protected space? Andalusia created the Andalusia Natural Park brand to highlight the quality of those craft and natural products, as well as accommodation, restaurants and tourist services, that are made or provided in the interior of Andalusian national parks and their socioeconomic areas of influence. Southern Spain is rich in these landscapes. We recommend you make the most of the chance to enjoy nature tourism in Andalusia, since it will definitely be the most spectacular tourism you will find as the natural spaces in Andalusia are home to snow-capped mountains to Saharan deserts. These are the ones not to be missed.
1. Sierra de Grazalema
Between the provinces of Cadiz and Malaga we can find the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park. There is no better option to clean up one’s lungs with pure air. If you come here you can enjoy the dense Mediterranean forest of holm oaks, cork oaks and gall oaks, as well as its most typical species: the Spanish fir. Mainly concentrated in Sierra del Pinar, as it is the rainiest place in the Peninsula, this species descends from the Central European firs, which formed large forests here during the Ice Ages. Today, these firs live only here, at the Sierra de las Nieves and Sierra Bermeja Natural Parks (both in the province of Malaga), hence their uniqueness. Visit dream-like places to practice any kind of outdoor sports for all tastes. Mountaineers can ascend to peaks like El Torreón or El Reloj, or climb rocky grounds and walls in Peñón Grande, Aguja de las Palomas and Peñaloja, in Grazalema.
2. Sierra de Aracena and Picos de Aroche
The North of the Huelva province is the protagonist of these beautiful natural landscapes. Sierra de Aracena and Picos de Aroche have wide meadows, which are predominant in this land, favoring the breeding of the Iberian pig, which gave rise to an industry that supports the economy of the neighboring towns. The variety of plants has also led to a wide range of animal species, providing a huge natural richness. If you decide to travel to Huelva, do not hesitate to visit this spot, where you can take excursions on foot or on horse while you enjoy the purest air.
3. Malaga Mountains
The typical forests of Aleppo pines in the Montes de Malaga Natural Park act as a protective layer for the land. This spot is close to the towns that make up the Costa del Sol and it is very easy to access. Through different paths, like the Torrijos, the visitor can discover, next to the fresh stream and its gallery forest, remains of cultivations and constructions that evidence the wine-producing past of this land. From the top, one can see beautiful panoramic views of Malaga capital city, as well as rapacious birds like eagles. In the vicinity you can find restaurants that offer the “typical dishes of the Mountains”, prepared with fried potatoes, egg, sausage and pepper, and you can also taste the delicious Muscat wine.
4. La Breña and Marismas del Barbate
From the area of Barbate to Caños de Meca and going inland up to Vejer de la Frontera there extends the small La Breña and Marismas del Barbate Natural Park. In spite of its small size, inside it we can find up to five different ecosystems. Cliffs, pine forests, marshlands and dunes are some of the most unique attractions of this environment. If you come to this spot, take a boat trip along the coast from the Barbate port to enjoy the pure air and the marine breeze. If you are into sports, scuba diving is one of the most common practices in this area, so you can behold not only the beauty of the surface landscapes, but also the bottom of the sea. A unique experience that will leave you unforgettable memories.
The Doñana National and Natural Park has become one of the main natural jewels of Spain, with large forests of umbrella pines, and a thick Mediterranean scrub that provide a suitable habitat for the emblematic Iberian lynx and for several rapacious species like the imperial eagle. This environment, situated between the provinces of Huelva and Seville, is ideal for ornithology lovers, given its broad variety of birds, and for being the place of stay for migratory birds. The system of del Asperillo fossil dunes that runs parallel to the coast is one of the major tourist points. Already in the beach, one can behold the impressive del Asperillo Cliff, declared a Natural Monument for its uniqueness and beauty. If you travel to this place, in the marshlands you will find Doñana’s characteristic picture: flamingos standing in the water, and their magnificent flight. A unique show that you cannot miss.
6. Sierra de las Nieves
To the East of the city of Ronda in Malaga, there is the Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park. Inside it there is a forest of Spanish firs; some of these trees are over 500 years old, and they are regarded as a Natural Monument. Lower in height, we have the holm oaks and cork oaks of the Istán and Monda mountains, and some patches of carob and chestnut trees on the Tolox and Parauta mountains. If you are into sports, you can discover this place in a fun way, taking the open tracks for mountain biking. This environment is also chosen by many photography professionals and amateurs, who decide to immortalize the landscapes and play with the wide range of colors it offers.
7. Bahía de Cádiz
In the Atlantic coast of the province of Cadiz there is the Bahía de Cádiz Natural Park. Although this region has been highly affected by human disturbance, there are still some intact areas kept, like the Marshlands of Sancti Petri and the Island of el Trocadero, declared as Protected Natural Spaces. Around them, Phoenician and Roman remains were found, giving the place a unique richness. Its privileged location allows us to see bird migrations, going from Europe to Africa. As for vegetation, the umbrella pine stands out, which is the habitat of the common chameleon (an endangered species). Come to Cadiz and enjoy the views and the environment offered by its bay.
8. Sierra Nevada
White snow landscape par excellence in the heart of Andalucía. The Sierra Nevada National and Natural Park, situated in the nice city of Granada, is one of the most beautiful Andalusian landscapes. In the high mountains, such as the Veleta or the Tajo de los Machos, between the natural rock cracks one can find exclusive species like the Sierra Nevada violet or the star of the snow. At this altitude there are also valleys of glacial origin, like the Siete Lagunas, and down below we have a landscape formed by deciduous forests like oaks, maples, wild cherry trees and chestnut trees. To its plant richness we must add the fauna: wild boars, foxes, badgers and genets. This environment is ideal for ski lovers. So, do not hesitate to come to Sierra Nevada to enjoy the views and the sports.
9. Del Estrecho Natural Park
The province of Cadiz has an impressive number of landscapes immersed in Nature. Another example of this richness is the Del Estrecho Natural Park, in the area where the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean meet, being a passage area for many civilizations since ancient times. If you come to this place you will see beautiful beaches like Los Lances, sheltered under the protective title of Natural Protected Space, or Bolonia, whose famous dune was declared a Natural Monument. A golden chance to breathe in the sea breeze, surrounded by coastal sandbanks with plants adapted to their dry conditions. Do not miss the opportunity to enjoy seeing animals like the loggerhead turtle, dolphins and porpoises. Cultural heritage is another attraction of the Park, as it houses archeological remains of the ancient Roman city of Baelo Claudia.
The Despeñaperros Natural Park is the geological border that separates Andalucía from Castilla la Mancha. Among the historical feats that took place here, we must mention the battle of Navas de Tolosa. Apart from such curiosities, cliffs, canyons and faults make up this beautiful panoramic scene. Trekkers can enjoy the local vegetation by going on excursions like the one that tours around the Valdeazores Cliff, with Mediterranean forests of wild pear trees, strawberry trees and laurustinus, painting this space with different colors throughout the Fall. Another option is to discover the shaded Collado de la Estrella, but here the different color tones come from a forest of holm oaks and melojo oaks. Do not hesitate to come to Despeñaperros if you want to discover firsthand the natural barrier that separates Andalucía from the rest of Spain.
Natural Parks Mark, a new way to enjoy your holidays. Andalucía is a lucky region, as it has many of the most highly valued spots in the country. Mountains and sea are part of this Andalusian adventure that you should not miss, particularly if you like nature and you would like to bathe your lungs with pure air.
11. Castril Sierra (Granada)
Castril is, strictly speaking, a prolongation of the Cazorla and Segura Sierras. Castril Sierra is defined by abrupt reliefs with steep canyons and a multitude of chams and caves. Here the visitor will find pastures and even pine groves and holm oak forest. As for fauna, it has to be said that here you will be able to spot birds like the griffon vulture, the Egyptian vulture or the spectacular peregrine falcon. This sierra also has a multitude of hiking routes.
WHERE TO STAY
Without a doubt, the best option to stay, if you are looking for tranquility and nature, is Fuerte Hoteles. This chain offers facilities where, apart from its regular services, you can enjoy the best of each spot in the Andalusian geography. Its over 60 years’ experience is the best warranty, so you can devote your time to relaxing and enjoying the natural environment. Marbella, Conil, Grazalema, El Rompido or Torrox are some of the places where you can find these incredible accommodation facilities, near all these Natural Parks we recommend for you.