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Top national parks in Spain

national parks in Spain

If you took an aerial shot of all of Spain’s national parks, of which there are sixteen, you would see the jagged peaks of the Picos de Europa mountains in the north, and the snow-covered slopes of the Sierra Nevada in Andalucía in the south. Head far south-west to the Canary Islands to catch sight of the sub-tropical forests of Garonjay and the voluptuous volcanic landscapes of Teide on La Gomera and Tenerife, respectively. Then, in the east, you have Aigüestortes National Park, just one of Catalonia’s natural nirvanas. And that’s just a quick aerial snapshot. Here are our top national parks in Spain that you can zoom in on while enjoying one of our many walking holidays there. 

Aigüestortes National Park

The full name is Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park and, although it’s the country’s only park in Catalonia, this is a fiesta of fine natural features, with the Catalan Pyrenees taking centre stage. The name Aigüestortes means ‘twisted waters’ in Catalan, and given that it is home to more than 200 glacial lakes, numerous rivers, streams and waterfalls, you certainly feel immersed in its waters when you go walking here. Spend a week walking in both Aigüestortes and nearby Vall de Boí, the natural gateway to the national park. Picnic by glacial lakes, trek up to heartstopping viewpoints such as Port de Rius (2,475m) and have one of the best wake-up views ever at Ventosa i Calvell mountain hut (2,215m). 

Watching the world go by in Aigüestortes National Park.

Sierra Nevada National Park, Andalucía

She’s the queen of national parks in Spain really, covering over 850km2 from Granada to the valleys and foothills of the Alpujarras, with over 20 mountains over 3,000m to her name. Sierra Nevada’s queendom is Andalucía, where cultural heritage oozes from every whitewashed village and shepherd’s trail. Walking in the Sierra Nevada doesn’t have to be too strenuous either. This walking holiday starts and ends in one of the region’s finest cities, Granada, famous for its Moorish heritage and, most particularly, for the Alhambra complex. You then get to explore the national park with short hikes along ancient trails in the Poqueira Valley, or through the oak forests of the Trevélez Valley, in the shadow of Mulhacén (3,479m), the highest mountain on the Iberian Peninsula. 

Alhambra Palace in Granada, with the mountains of Sierra Nevada National Park beckoning in the background.

Picos de Europa National Park, Asturias, Cantabria and León 

The Picos, as this mountain range is known for short, actually only covers 40km, but it certainly makes its mark, creating a beautiful band along the coasts of Asturias, Cantabria and León. A landscape of limestone spires, twisting trails and tranquil wildlife habitats, the Picos feature on the Camino del Norte, But they also have a tapas-style menu of trails to suit all walkers. For example, you can hike the Picos circuit in twelve days, covering its three massifs, or enjoy the range’s highlights in a week, with ever-present views of the iconic Picu Urriellu, and the range’s highest summit Torre de Cerredo (2,650m). 

Garajonay National Park, La Gomera, Spain

Garajonay National Park is a hidden jewel hidden right at the bottom of Spain’s protected pinãta on the island of La Gomera, one of the lesser-known Canary Islands. A landscape of elevated, misty sub-tropical rainforest, made up of beech trees and ancient laurel trees covered in lichen, this is one of southern Europe’s most luscious and stupendous hiking terrains. You can spend a week walking here and in other gorgeous spots on the island, including the terraced slopes of Vallehermoso, or combine it with hikes in Tenerife, including its own Teide National Park. Our latest Canaries walking holiday combines Garojonay with island hopping to walk on both Tenerife and La Palma.

Two island national parks in one, looking over from Garajonay National Park, La Gomera to Teide National Park, Tenerife.

Caldera de Taburiente National Park, La Palma

Otherwise known as La Isla Bonita, if walking trails through deep gorges, laurel forests and dramatic seascapes are your thing, then get your boots ready for walking in La Palma’s Caldera de Taburiente National Park. Named after the massive volcanic crater at its heart, with a diameter of 9km and depths of 1.5km, the park is also rich in pine forests, streams and waterfalls. On our walking holiday here, you can trek to the crater’s ridge, explore the Ruta de Los Volcanes, climb up ancient lava flows, and cool down in a multicoloured waterfall or Cascada de los Colores. It gets its name from the vibrant colours visible on its rock face, created by a magical mix of minerals. Just one of many bewitching places in Caldera de Taburiente National Park.

We hope that you have enjoyed this quick introduction to our favourite national parks in Spain and that it has encouraged you to focus in on parts of the country you may not yet be familiar with. You may also enjoy our blogs on other lesser-known walking and cycling destinations, such as Our favourite lesser-known national parks and Our top lesser-known lake districts in Europe. Just because they are lesser-known, doesn’t mean that they are less for it.