Nature Trips in Andalucía
Sevilla and Huelva:
One of the greatest natural treasures in Spain can be found in the provinces of Huelva and Sevilla. The Parque Nacional Natural de Doñana occupies 50,720 hectares and is defined by its dunes and marshes, which host thousands of birds from Africa and Europe. Several endangered species live there as well, such as the Iberian lynx and the empire eagle.
If you would like to visit the park you need a special permit. You can visit the park either on land from El Acebuche to La Plancha or by river from Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Cádiz) to Doñana. Find out about schedules and special offers by calling the Tourism Office of Acebuche (95 944 87 39), or call 699 292 056 for the river trip.
The province of Huelva also has many other attractions such as beautiful series of mountains with fantastic natural parks and a number of small, interesting communities such as Ayamonte, Niebla, Cartaya, Jabugo, and Trigueros. If you’re more in the mood for a beach setting, check out beaches like La Antilla, Mazagón or Punta Umbría. The most famous festival in Huelva is that of the Virgen del Rocío, an incredible event full of light and color which is a mixture of religious fervor and folklore.
The province of Sevilla also offers a multitude of places to visit. First is the gorgeous Parque Natural Sierra Norte, where you can hike, climb or simply visit some of the park’s towns such as El Pedroso, Constantina or Cazalla. You can also visit other places like Écija (called the city of the towers and known for being one of the hottest places in Spain), Utrera, Osuna, Estepa, Marchena and many others.
If you are looking to enjoy some regional folklore or traditional festivals, any small town or village is a good bet. However, El Viso del Alcor has a festival that is very well known and is about a fifteen minute drive from Sevilla. Check out its Festival of the Cross in May or the festivals honoring their patron saint Maria del Alcor on September 12th, where hot chocolate is popular in the evening and everyone eats a traditional stew at lunchtime. The festival takes place along the streets, and the highlight is the procession of the saint to the hermitage.
The National Park in the Sierra de Grazalema, located in the northwest of the province, is the perfect place to bike or walk due to the Pueblos Blancos which are hidden among the mountains. In the province of Cádiz you can do a bit of everything: from fishing and water sports in the Embalse de los Hurones to paragliding above a spectacular backdrop of pine trees. The Sierra del Pinar is home to a rare type of fir tree which dates from the last ice age. In the area surrounding the village of El Bosque you will find the Sierra de Albarracín, one of the most stunning landscapes near Sevilla. Here you will come across underdeveloped and almost untouched countryside where you can be one with nature and explore the riverside. Your journey may take you past the River Truchero, through the unique Pinsapar (pine forest), or down the Garganta Verde, an impressive gorge with a vertical drop resting below a sky dominated by the largest colony of vultures in Europe. If rock climbing is your thing, the Aguja de las Palomas, the Peñon Grande and the Salto de Cabrero are privileged sites for the sport.
The park also hides another miracle of nature that shouldn’t be missed. Visit the hundreds of caves such as the Cueva del Hundidero-Gato, the Susto and the Cueva de la Pileta which you can explore by candlelight. They are a silent museum with important archaeological treasures. You can also traverse the area on horseback discovering traditional ways of life that continue to honor and respect the land. Visit the famous leather workshops in Ubrique where you will find a host of leather articles to buy. If you go during the summer, take part in the popular festival of Moors and Christians in Benamahoma.
The beaches of Cádiz with their golden sands offer the opportunity to relax, take in some sun and enjoy the Spanish coastline. An escape to the coast is a great way to beat the unbearable summer heat in Seville. The beaches are also a great place to practice your favorite sport. Even though every place along the coast is beautiful, Tarifa is the most popular spot for all types of surfing. If you want to try windsurfing for the first time, you can also go to Cádiz or Algeciras Bays where there are schools that offer lessons and stores that offer equipment rentals. In addition, you can scuba dive, rent a catamaran or sailboat, and go to surrounding ports and yacht clubs. Visit Playa de la Victoria in the city of Cádiz, and the Zahara de los Atunes in Caños de Meca, one of the most beautiful beaches in the area, or Rota, where there is a U.S. military base.
Before setting off to discover the rest of this province, you must stop to explore the capital where you will come across a multitude of historical remains while just wandering through the streets. The main monuments to visit in Córdoba are the Roman bridge, which crosses over the Guadalquivir River, the courtyards, the Jewish quarter, the museum dedicated to the painter Julio Romero de Torres, and the Mezquita. In Cabra you will find the Church of Asuncion y Angeles, also built over an old Arab mosque. It is also worth going to the hermitage of the Virgen de la Sierra to take in the spectacular views over the Sierra. Near Cabra is the lovely whitewashed town of Zuheros, worth seeing for its architecture alone.
If your itinerary takes you through the mountains, make your way to the Cueva la los Murcielagos (cave of bats) in Zuheros, home to interesting remains and paintings suggesting the presence of man in the caves during Neolithic times. In Rute you can sample the delicious cakes for which the village is famous, accompanied by the locally-made Anisado (aniseed liquor). The areas surrounding the village are ideal for a walking trips, for example Hoz River Gorge. Don’t miss the villa of Montilla either, famous for its flavorful wine: Montilla Moriles.
You will definitely be missing an opportunity if you don’t make it to Ronda and the Sierra de las Nieves while you are in Andalucia. From the top of these mountains on a clear day you can see the Sierra Nevada, the provinces of Cádiz and Málaga, and the northern extremes of Africa. Another place you must visit if you find yourself in Málaga is Antequera, a beautiful city in the mountains with numerous monuments such as the Colegiata. One of the most famous places to visit in Antequera is the Torcal which has been declared a national monument.
Finally, in the province of Málaga is the most popular tourist area in Andalucia: the Costa del Sol. Made up of numerous villages along the coast, one can enjoy the sun and the beach as well as the many bars, restaurants and clubs.
The Natural Park of Sierra Nevada has become known as one of the most unique areas in Spain due to its peculiar location. Only a short trip from the coast, a solid mass of rock rises up to form the highest mountain peak of the Iberian Peninsula, El Mulhacén. Enjoy the area hiking or doing any other mountain sport such as skiing.
Between Granada and Sevilla are the natural spas of Santa Fe. The journey is complicated but if you have plenty of patience, it is worth doing. There are always people camped out in the area since bathing in the spas is such an unforgettable experience.
The city of Granada has an incredible history. Its monuments of international fame include the Alhambra. At night, sit and have a beer, which comes with free tapas, often their traditional corn dish, migas.
We hope you have a great time in Sevilla!
Your friends at DiscoverSevilla Excursions
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