Spain’s Top Destinations For Wildlife Tourism

While Spain has earned worldwide acclaim thanks to its vibrant cities, stunning beaches, and wealth of intricate architecture, the nation is still largely underrated when it comes to wildlife tourism. Fortunately, as international travel becomes accessible once more, there’s ample opportunity to experience this industry firsthand.

As you plan your next journey to the Iberian peninsula, the following destinations are sure to deliver some truly spectacular wildlife encounters found nowhere else on earth.

Somiedo Natural Park

Established back in 1988, this verdant preserve in the heart of the Cantabrian Mountains has been referred to as the “Yellowstone of Spain”—a quality best represented by its high concentration of Iberian brown bears. Though these ursids were once driven to the brink of extinction due to human activity, Somiedo Natural Park is one of the nation’s best spots for seeing these beasts in the flesh. Though the bears are easily the most famous inhabitant within the park, it’s also a designated Important Bird Area, with over 100 different avian varieties found throughout the region.

Donana National Park

A UNESCO World Heritage Site and Ramsar Wetland all rolled into one, Doñana National Park offers unrivaled opportunity to spot some of Spain’s most elusive native fauna, ranging from tiny songbirds to the elusive Iberian lynx. While there are over 200 different avian species that call the park home, there’s one bird in particular that serves as a major draw for tourism—the greater flamingo, to be precise. During the springtime, these rosy birds congregate en masse throughout the park, feasting on shrimp and mollusks alongside Eurasian spoonbills, purple herons, and a wealth of other migratory wading birds.

Ebro Delta Natural Park

The Ebro is the second-longest river in the Iberian peninsula, and some of Spain’s finest bird watching opportunities can be enjoyed at its eastern terminus. Using the charming Catalonian town of Amposta as a base, visitors can make multiple forays into the Ebro Delta Natural Park, with the Encanyissada Lagoon serving as one of the park’s most popular destinations for visiting birders. With over 150 different varieties of wading birds, waterfowl, and raptors recorded across the delta, it’s easy to see why this site was awarded Ramsar Wetland status in 1993.

Garajonay National Park

Located in the heart of La Gomera, this remote sanctuary is home to a wealth of native species found only in the Canary Islands. For birders in particular, there are two endemic varieties of pigeon to keep watch for, as well as hawks, partridges, and—of course—canaries. In terms of reptilian life, the endemic West Canary skink is a common sight on the island, while truly fortunate visitors may be able to spot the critically endangered Gomera giant lizard, a native species that’s particularly vulnerable to feral cats.

Sierra Nevada National Park

Avid outdoor adventurers take note—Spain’s Sierra Nevada is equipped with over 212,000 acres of mountains up for exploration. Though ski resorts and luxurious lodges abound throughout the park, wildlife enthusiasts can keep their eyes peeled for a massive variety of native Spanish species including golden eagles, Spanish ibexes, and over 100 different varieties of butterfly. After days spent hiking through the rustic reaches of the Sierra Nevada, the historic city of Granada is the perfect destination for relaxation, with no shortage of hearty Andalusian cuisine and gorgeous architecture to enjoy.


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