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Spain's Best

Simple...a series of lists declaring Spain's "best" in anything and everything...they may be lists compiled by independent reviewers or by myself....whichever, I hope you find them useful :-)

10 of Spain's Best-Preserved Villages to Visit this Summer
Saturday, June 8, 2024

Spain is a country of castles and walls and a good number of these have survived to this day in very good condition. Much of what is preserved from the medieval era, remains in towns, whose streets have maintained their personality, without succumbing to the temptation to expand with modern buildings and complexes.

Walking through these villages is like immersing yourself in a fairy tale. Its narrow streets, walls and castles transport us to a time of legend. If you want to make a trip to the Spanish Middle Ages, why not start with these....10  of the best-preserved medieval villages in Spain:


Besalú, Girona

The name Besalú is derived from the Latin Bisuldunum, meaning a fort on a mountain between two rivers. It is also the historical capital of the county of “La Garrotxa”. Besalú was designated as a historical national property ("conjunt històric-artístic") in 1966. The town's most significant feature is its 12th-century Romanesque bridge over the Fluvià river, which features a gateway at its midpoint. The church of Sant Pere was consecrated in 1003. The town features arcaded streets and squares and also a restored mikveh, a ritual Jewish bath dating from the eleventh or twelfth century, as well as the remains of a medieval synagogue, located in the lower town near the river. Besalú also hosts the Museum of miniatures created by jeweller and art collector Lluís Carreras


Calatañazor, Soria

Calatañazor is a municipality located in the province of Soria, Castile and León, Spain. According to the 2010 census (INE), the municipality has a population of 70 inhabitants...perhaps it's grown a little since then. The municipality is named after the tiny fortified city on top of a hill. 

Also situated in the municipality are the hamlets Aldehuela and Abioncillo. Abioncillo used to be abandoned like many forsaken hamlets in Spain, but in the 1980s was turned around by a few dedicated teachers into an educational centre.

In the valley between Calatañazor and Abioncillo, the Battle of Calatañazor took place in 1002. This place is still named El Valle de la Sangre (the valley of blood). Almanzor, the ruler of Muslim Al-Andalus is by some historians said to have died in this battle. There is a statue of him in Calatañazor.


Peratallada, Girona

Peratallada is a town in the municipality of Forallac, in the county of Baix Empordà, in Catalonia, Spain. It is located 22 km east of Girona.

Its name is derived from pedra tallada, meaning 'carved stone'. Declared a historic-artistic monument, most of the buildings are built from stone carved from the fosse or moat which still encircles parts of this small fortified medieval town. The privately owned Castle of Peratallada is the dominant structure in the center of the town, with a 13th-century Romanesque church dedicated to Sant Esteve (Saint Stephen) outside the town walls. The castle has been documented as early as 1065 AD and it was restored as a luxury hotel in the 1960s. During restoration, traces of settlement were found that date back to the Bronze Age.

Today, Peratallada is known for its beautiful old stone buildings, rutted stone streets and passageways. Its proximity to the beaches of the Costa Brava and its numerous restaurants, small boutique hotels and artists' galleries make it a popular destination. The 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was partly filmed on location here.


Hervás, Cáceres

The most significant feature in Hervás' historical heritage is the Jewish quarter. Its narrow, steep streets are lined with houses clustering together like grapes, which were made with adobe and chestnut-wood frameworks, their roofs plastered with Arab tiles to shield the wind. The architectural heritage includes remarkable civil buildings such as the palace of Dávila, a large house from the middle of the 18th century, which at present houses a stately home-museum, and a public library.

The religious heritage includes the parish church of Santa María, erected in the 13th century, which exhibits elements that were added from the 16th century thru the 17th; the convent of the Trinitarian Fathers, inaugurated in 1659; the hermitage of San Andrés, from the 14th century, which at present houses the religious image of Cristo de la Salud, patron saint of Hervás; and the hermitage of San Antón.The infirmary of the Franciscan monks, from the 18th century, is currently home to the City Hall and the Municipal Police.


Buitrago de Lozoya, Madrid

Buitrago del Lozoya (Spanish pronunciation: [bwiˈtɾaɣo ðel loˈθoʝa]) is a municipality of the autonomous community of Madrid in central Spain. It belongs to the comarca of Sierra Norte. The town is one of the few in the community that have maintained its walls, which are of Moorish origin (11th century) and have been restored in the 15th century. It lies on a peninsula surrounded by the Lozoya river. Other sights include  the Buitrago del Lozoya Castle, a Gothic-Mudéjar structure dating from the 15th century and the Picasso Museum. This small museum contains works by Pablo Picasso from the collection of Eugenio Arias, a friend of the artist.


Peñafiel, Valladolid

Peñafiel is a town in the Valladolid Province and the greater autonomous community of Castile and León, Spain. It is best known for the Peñafiel Castle and for its medieval square used for bullfights and named "Plaza del Coso" (English: "El Coso Square"). The square is surrounded by private homes, but since medieval times the rights to use their windows, balconies and doorways during bullfights are owned by the town (see easement), which auctions them to the highest bidders.

The town is full of deep excavated underground caves which were traditionally used to store the wine because of the constant temperature they kept all year around. These caves have chimney vents for ventilation and to evacuate the gases generated by the fermentation of the wine. These chimney vents dot the landscape in and around the town and the castle.


Ainsa, Huesca

The village, which was the capital of the old Kingdom of Sobrarbe, and was later incorporated into the Kingdom of Aragon in the 11th century, constitutes a magnificent example of medieval urban development.
The historic quarter of the village of Ainsa, declared a Historic-Artistic site, is formed by a group of houses that are packed together in the most harmonious and uniform of ways, among which the slender tower of the collegiate church stands out, as well as the enormous premises of the castle, almost as big as the rest of the town. The walls that surrounded the town centuries ago remain almost intact today, the town itself being filled with monuments that bring us back to the Middle Ages.


Ronda, Málaga

This town in the Málaga region sits on either side of the Tajo del Ronda, a narrow gorge more than 150 metres deep. Its old town has been declared Property of Cultural Interest. Celts, Phoenicians, Romans and Arabs all inhabited these lands, which were reconquered by the Catholic Monarchs. The historic quarter, reminiscent of the Arab age and with a medieval layout is scattered to the south of the Guadalevín, while more modern Ronda, the part which sprang up after the 16th century, unfolds to the north of the course of this river. Several bridges unite the two halves of one of the most interesting towns on the route of the Whitewashed Villages, in the heart of the the Ronda hills, only a few kilometres from the Costa del Sol. 


Albarracín, Teruel

The former capital of a Moorish kingdom (Taifa), the small town of Albarracín has preserved all its Islamic and mediaeval flavour. Its old quarter has the Property of Cultural Interest designation.

The main thing that surprises visitors who arrives at the town of Albarracín is its imposing fortified enclosure, whose perimeter is far larger than the area of the urban centre. What we see today corresponds to three different periods of construction.
The Fortress and the Andador Tower are from the 10th century. In the 11th century, the kings of Albarracín constructed the walls around the poor area of Engarrada. Finally, after the Reconquest, the Christian lords and kings of Aragon erected new sections of walls and most of the forts and towers that remain.


Sepúlveda, Segovia

Declared a Historic-Artistic Site in 1951, Sepúlveda reflects the influence of the Romanesque style in its monuments and streets, dating back to its era of greatest splendour in the 11th to 12th centuries. Sepulveda is the site of the first Romanesque church constructed in the province, El Salvador Church, dating back to 1093. It has only one nave with a semicircular apse and a tower separate from the nave. Another site worth visiting is the 12th-century Santa María de la Peña shrine, located on the outskirts of the town above one of the deepest gorges along the Duratón River. 

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Best Beaches in the Region of Murcia
Friday, May 24, 2024

There is no doubt that Spain has some fantastic beaches and Murcia has its fair share. The Region of Murcia is a Mediterranean area with a contrasting landscape from arid basins to wooded areas in the inland mountains, the meadows of the Segura River and the Mediterranean coastline. It is bordered by the province of Alicante, Granada, Almería and Albacete and finally to the south is where it meets the sea and we can find a string of idyllic beaches and coves.

If you are visiting the region be sure to check out some of the beaches:


These are some of the beaches in the Region of Murcia in no particular order:


1. Playa de Calblanque (Cartagena)


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2. Playa de La Manga 

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3. Playa de los Cocedores del Hornillo(Águilas)

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4. Playa de Bolnuevo (Mazarrón)

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5. Playa de Estacio (San Javier)

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6. Playa de Puerto de Mazarrón (Mazarrón)

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7. Playa de La Llana (San Pedro del Pinatar)

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8. Playa de El Portús (Cartagena)

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9. Playa Mar de Cristal (Cartagena)

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10. Cala Cortina (Cartagena)

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Embracing the Spirit of Spain through Its Traditional Drinks
Saturday, May 11, 2024

Spain, a country renowned for its vibrant culture, exquisite gastronomy, and rich history, offers a plethora of traditional drinks that encapsulate the essence of its regions. These beverages, steeped in tradition, are not just about quenching thirst but are an integral part of the Spanish way of life. They tell stories of ancient civilisations, agricultural practices, and communal celebrations. From the sunny vineyards of Rioja to the bustling streets of the 'Feria', each drink carries the flavour of its heritage, making it a vital component of the Spanish culinary landscape. 

Sangria: A Testament to Spanish Celebrations

Perhaps no other drink screams Spanish festivity quite like sangria. Originating from the Roman period, when water was often unsafe to drink and wine became a safer alternative, sangria has evolved over the centuries. The Romans would mix their wine with water, herbs, and spices, leading to the creation of various wine-based concoctions throughout the regions they conquered. In Spain, this tradition took on a local flair with the addition of native fruits and a bit of sugar to sweeten the deal. The result is a refreshing, fruity beverage that perfectly complements Spain's spicy tapas and sunny afternoons.

Horchata: A Sip of Valencian Tradition

Horchata de chufa, often simply referred to as horchata in Spain, is a sweet, milky drink made from tiger nuts, water, and sugar. Its history is as rich as its flavour, tracing back to North Africa where the Moors introduced chufa (tiger nut) to the Valencia region. The Valencian horchata is a testament to agricultural innovation and cultural exchange, embodying the essence of the Mediterranean diet. Light and refreshing, with a distinct earthy sweetness, horchata is often paired with fartons, elongated, glazed buns, making for a perfect mid-afternoon treat in the balmy Spanish climate.

Sherry: The Pride of Andalusia

Sherry, or 'jerez' in Spanish, is a fortified wine from the Andalusian region of Jerez de la Frontera. Its production is a meticulous process, aged through a system known as 'solera', blending younger wines with older ones for a uniform quality. The origins of sherry date back over 3,000 years, with the Phoenicians introducing winemaking to the region. However, it was not until the Moors conquered Spain, and the subsequent Reconquista by the Christians, that sherry began to gain international fame. With a spectrum ranging from dry to sweet, sherry pairs splendidly with a variety of Spanish dishes, from the salty tang of manchego cheese to the succulent flavours of jamón ibérico.

Sidra: The Echo of Asturias

In the lush, verdant regions of Asturias and the Basque Country, sidra (cider) holds a place of honour. Made from fermented apple juice, this traditional beverage encapsulates the spirit of the northwestern apple orchards. The production of sidra dates back to pre-Roman times, with each locality boasting its variants. The traditional Asturian pouring method, known as 'escanciar', involves pouring the sidra from above the head into a glass held at knee level, aerating the cider and enhancing its flavour. Sidra is typically accompanied by hearty Asturian cuisine, such as fabada asturiana, a rich bean stew that balances the sidra's tartness.

Rebujito: A Refreshing Andalusian Mix

A newer addition to the tapestry of Spanish drinks, the rebujito has quickly cemented its place as a staple of Andalusian fairgrounds. A mix of fino sherry or 'manzanilla' and Sprite or lemonade, served over ice with some spearmint, the rebujito is refreshing and light, making it ideal for the hot Andalusian days. Originating from the Feria de Sevilla, the rebujito offers a modern twist on traditional sherry, pairing well with light tapas and seafood, offering a palate-cleansing effervescence.

Coffee Culture: More Than Just a Morning Brew

Spanish coffee culture is as integral to the fabric of daily life as any meal. From the strong, concentrated 'café solo' to the milky 'café con leche', coffee in Spain is both a morning necessity and an afternoon social ritual. The tradition of coffee in Spain intertwines with the country’s colonial history, particularly in relation to its former colonies in Central and South America. Spanish coffee typically pairs with small pastries or churros for breakfast, while in the afternoon, it becomes a reason to pause and enjoy life’s simpler moments.

The traditional drinks of Spain offer a window into the soul of the country. They are not merely beverages but cultural symbols, embodying the history, geography, and spirit of the Spanish people. From the communal joy of sharing a pitcher of sangria to the solitary pleasure of sipping a café solo, these drinks reflect the diversity and richness of Spain's cultural tapestry. As you explore the country's culinary delights, let these traditional beverages guide your palate through the regions of Spain, each sip a story, each taste a tradition.

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The Best Three Kings Parades
Saturday, January 6, 2024

Lights, floats, pages, sweets, and a lot of excitement are all you need to make a procession of the Magi or Three Kings into a one-of-a-kind experience. Even so, every year towns and cities go the extra mile to make these parades special: theatrical productions with top-quality settings and costumes, and fabulous fireworks. From all the processions organised in Spain every 5 January, we have chosen five which amaze children and adults alike, due to their spectacular production values, their originality, or their history.

1. Alcoy, the oldest in Spain

Any discussion of Magi processions in Spain has to begin with Alcoi, which has been holding its parade since 1885. This is not its only impressive statistic - it also has an enormous number of participants, with nearly a thousand people in the procession. One of the most exciting parts of the parade is the torch-bearers, who light the way for the floats and the royal pages. As always in the Valencia region, bands of musicians are an essential part of the procession, with Christmas carols to add to the mood. Up to three bands participate in the parade, as well as groups of drummers and dulzainas (pipers). Another feature of this parade is the work of les negres, the royal pages who bring presents to the children, using wooden ladders to climb up to the balconies of the houses. Traditionally, the event begins at 6 pm and ends after 10 pm, with the sky lit up by an impressive fireworks display.


2. Girona, all lit up

Processions of the Three Kings in Girona province are lit in a very special way, with the fanalets all the children carry. These are small lanterns, made of paper and brightly painted, with a lightbulb inside and carried on a stick. In recent years they have been modernised and can be bought in the shape of one of the Magi, a Christmas tree, a snowman, or even the latest popular cartoon character. The tradition is thought to have begun in mountain villages where the children would light bunches of lavender to make sure the Three Kings would see them, even though there was no procession in the village. Now there are many towns and villages where children light the parade with their little lanterns, in one of Catalonia's most endearing Christmas scenes. Although the tradition has spread throughout the region, the processions in Girona province, such as in the cities of Girona or Vic, are still among the most spectacular.


3. Cerler, the Magi on skis 

Few presentations are as spectacular as the arrival of the Three Kings at the Cerler ski resort, in the Huesca Pyrenees. Their Majesties sweep down the slopes, leaving the children open-mouthed in amazement, as well as their parents - it is pretty unusual to see the Three Kings riding a chairlift or performing pirouettes on skis. For the whole morning, they chat with the children and pose for photos with them, and even hand out sweets, without the need for royal pages. The celebration continues in the afternoon in Benasque, with a more traditional and restrained procession - this is a small village - but with the best possible setting. There's no need to use fake snow to decorate the parade here, as the real thing is usually in plentiful supply for Epiphany, and the scene could hardly be more picturesque.


4. Madrid, the most spectacular

Although there are several processions in the capital every 5 January, the most spectacular pass through the city centre. This is one of the biggest in Spain, with more than 1,500 volunteers taking part. The route traditionally begins at Nuevos Ministerios and ends at Plaza de Cibeles, like so many of the city's major celebrations. It was first held in 1928, and one of its unusual features is that since the late 1980s, the Three Kings have been played by members of the City Council. Another peculiarity is that the people in this parade don't throw sweets into the crowd along the whole route, only in the fenced-off areas. The City Council introduced this measure in 2014 for the children's safety. The parade ends with a fireworks display after a speech by the Magi in Plaza de Cibeles.


5. Santillana del Mar, like a fairytale 

This is one of the prettiest medieval towns in all of Spain, so here the processions of the Magi have an incomparable setting, one of the main factors which have made it an official National Tourism Festival. The setup is different from most because as well as the traditional procession, eight scenes are performed from a Mystery Play, the Auto Sacramental de Los Reyes Magos. The streets are covered in straw, torches are lit as dusk falls, and the townspeople dress up as pages, washerwomen and shepherds. The scene-setting and the participation of many of the residents completely transform Santillana, giving the sensation of having travelled back in time more than two thousand years. The numbers give an idea of the majestic scale of the event: nearly 500 extras, 100 torch-bearers, 5 floats and around twenty horses to thrilling young and old alike with the magic of Christmas.

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Top Rural Destinations for 2024 in Spain
Saturday, December 9, 2023

Spain offers a plethora of charming towns in practically every province that continually draw the attention of tourists. Each town boasts unique features that set it apart. For those seeking inspiration for their next adventure, it is worth noting these seven popular rural destinations. These picturesque locations range from inland towns to mountain getaways, ensuring that there is something for every type of explorer. Grab a notebook and jot down these must-visit rural destinations in Spain for 2024:

1. Cazorla (Andalusia)

Located in the interior of the Sierra de Cazorla, this municipality is considered the most important in the region, due to remains and excavations of Iberian, Roman and Arab origin that have become historical heritage.


2. Jaca (Aragón)

Located in the Aragón Valley, it is the ideal place to discover the Aragonese Pyrenees and its ski resorts. In addition, Jaca is a place that has witnessed the Roman, Arab and Catholic eras throughout history, and has buildings belonging to Modernism.


3. Cangas de Onís (Asturias)

Cangas de Onís is one of the towns in Asturias that attracts the most tourists due to its proximity to the Sanctuary of Covadonga and the Lakes of Covadonga.


4. Santillana del Mar (Cantabria)

The town of Santillana del Mar is located on the Costa de Cantabria and attracts attention thanks to the cobbled streets, the facades of old houses and the balconies full of flowers.


5. Yeste (Castilla-La Mancha)

Yeste belongs to the Sierra de Segura and has an important historical heritage of which the castle and the Church of Yeste stand out, in addition to the many medieval watchtowers.


6. Navaluenga (Castilla y León)

Navaluenga is located in the Vega del Valle del Alberche, not far from the Sierra de Gredos. It is precisely the Alberche River that leaves the so-called Gorges, causing natural pools in its path.

7. Sant Pere de Vilamajor (Catalonia) 

The town of Sant Pere de Vilamajor is famous for its Iberian and Roman remains, where the Counts of Barcelona later lived in the Condal Palace. In addition, it has several modernist buildings.

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Discover the most beautiful villlages in La Rioja
Friday, September 8, 2023

La Rioja is the smallest region in Spain, but the territory is home to a range of landscapes and locations typical of a continent. The Mediterranean essence appears in the vineyards, the alpine climate takes shape in the snow-capped mountains, and the rain-fed land creates lush valleys. But, above all, water steals the show. Seven rivers are born in the region and crisscross through it, decorating the landscape. Every step opens onto a new world, without ever leaving the region. Staying at a country guesthouse in a unique natural environment and enjoying a starry night with the Starlight reservation are some of the experiences you can enjoy when you visit La Rioja.  Here are 10 of the most beautiful villages in the region worth visiting during your stay...



1. San Millán de la Cogolla 


In the middle of the Cárdenas river valley sits San Millán de la Cogolla, a Rioja town founded by the saint of the same name and linked for centuries to the Pilgrim's Route to Santiago de Compostela. The deep-rooted monastic tradition of the town can be seen in the beautiful collection of historic buildings it houses, where the Monasteries of Suso and Yuso, both declared World Heritage Sites, are outstanding. The importance of San Millán de la Cogolla is also due to its status as the cradle of the Spanish tongue, since the first documents written in this language are preserved here.



2. Nájera 

Situated 27 kilometres from Logroño, Nájera is one of the towns on the Pilgrim's Route to Santiago de Compostela, thanks to King Sancho III, who in the 11th century modified the route so that it became a staging post for passing pilgrims. The town is divided by the river Najerilla and an exceptionally important monument stands on its banks: the monastery of Santa María La Real. Built in 1032, it underwent several modifications in the 15th century. Its fortress-like external appearance contrasts with the ornamental beauty of the cloister of the Caballeros (knights), so-called because of the great many nobles buried here. The church houses a magnificent piece of carving in the choir, a brilliant high reredos with a Romanesque image of Santa María La Real, the Royal Pantheon, bearing the tombs of some thirty monarchs; the mausoleum of the Dukes of Nájera and, in the crypt, the cave where according to legend the Virgin appeared before King Don García, who ordered the construction of the site. Facing the monastery is the Nájera History and Archaeological Museum, with sections on prehistory, the Romans, the medieval period, ethnography and painting, as well as material from the Nájera region. Also of interest is the Santa Cruz parish church and its lantern resting on pendentives, situated in Plaza de San Miguel.




3. Santo Domingo de la Calzada

Santo Domingo de la Calzada is one of the Rioja towns most deeply marked by the Pilgrim's Route to Santiago de Compostela. Its network of medieval streets declared a National Historic Interest Site, store a valuable heritage, particularly its walls, the Cathedral and the old Pilgrims' Hospital. La Rioja's gastronomy, and above all the famous wines of the region, are some of the attractions the area offers, where it is also possible to visit the cradle of the Spanish language and the monasteries of Suso and Yuso, in San Millán de la Cogolla.



4. Ezcaray

Sitting in the Sierra de la Demanda mountains, on the banks of the river Oja, the town of Ezcaray and its surrounding area are ideal for those who seek peace and quiet. Outstanding in the town centre is the church of Santa María la Mayor, built between the 12th and 14th centuries and declared a Historic-Artistic Site. Its Aragonese Gothic style is unique in La Rioja. The cylindrical towers of the church, which reinforce the corners, give it the appearance of a medieval fortress and palace. On the outside, you will see a beautiful row of balconies, carved on which are the coats of arms of the town's former noblemen. The carved wooden door of the main entrance is plateresque in style and dates from 1532. The west door is mannerist, from the mid-16th century. Inside, you will find a church of a single nave with ogival vaults and medallions. Also of interest is the group of buildings which form the Royal Cloth Factory of Santa Bárbara, from the 18th century, and the dyeing house popularly known as “El Fuerte”. The area around Ezcaray is made up of striking mountain scenery, with streams, forests and peaks over 2,000 metres high.



5. San Vicente de la Sonsierra

It was created in the 10th century as a fortress for the people of Navarre and together with the Davalillo castle, it formed a line of defence. The town inherited the chains depicted on the shield from the kingdom of Navarre, which was the ruling power. Since the 16th century, the Vera Cruz Guild has organised traditional processions and flagellations during Easter, on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, during the Cruz de Mayo spring festivities and in September. The most important of these is the «picaos» procession, which is when the guild's penitents whip themselves in public. This is an ancient tradition that has not been seen in the rest of Spain for centuries.



6. Sajazarra

The village is a historic and artistic fortified ensemble with ogival arches on its walls. The impressive castle dated 14th century is one of the better renovated in La Rioja. The Church of La Asunción, from the 12th and 13th centuries, has different styles and is next to the castle. Its interior stores an image of the Virgen de La Antigua.



7. Viniegra de Abajo 

Viniegra de Abajo is one of the 7 Villas in the autonomous region of La Rioja. Viniegra de Abajo is between Camero Nuevo and the Demanda Mountains in the area known as the subdistrict of Upper Najerilla. It stands 881 metres above sea level and is 74 km from Logroño and 50 km from Nájera. The River Urbión crosses Viniegra. The river begins in the Picos de Urbión Mountains which are in the same municipal area as the village.




8. Casalarreina 

Casalarreina is a municipality and town in the autonomous region of La Rioja. It is in the northeast of the province. The district is under the local jurisdiction of Haro. It is predominantly a farming town: wheat, barley, beet and fruit, particularly apples. In the last few years, the number of poultry and pig farms has grown and as a result, there are more sausage businesses. The Dominican Convent of La Piedad in Catholic Monarchs and Plateresque styles is very interesting. This historic and artistic monument was established in 1508. The church has a five-section nave, clover chancel, and chapels between the buttresses. The portal is very decorated. The monastery hosts a Plateresque reredos dated from the beginning of the 16th century, a reliquary cross in gold-plated silver from the same century and several Baroque reredoses with Baroque images.




9. Briñas

Briñas is a municipality in the autonomous region of La Rioja. It is in the northwest of the province between the Toloño Mountains and the left bank of the River Ebro. The district is under the local jurisdiction of Haro. The Parish Church of La Asunción, dated 17th century, has a single nave with chapels between buttresses, a transept, and an octagonal chancel.




10. Uruñuela

Uruñuela is a farming municipality in the autonomous region of La Rioja, just 23 km from the region's capital, Logroño, and 3 km from Nájera. Uruñuela covers 10.4 km2. Today the municipality's surface area measures 13.9 km2, as on the 10 March 2010, the La Rioja government passed Law 3/2010 modifying the municipal areas of Torremontalbo and Uruñuela. Under this ruling, Somalo left the first of these municipalities and became part of the second. The town is 499 metres above sea level and is part of the district of Nájera. The current population is around 950, although this figure increases considerably in summer. Over the last century, the population decreased by 25%.


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It's Water Park Season - Check out the best in Spain!
Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Summer holidays and the beach go together like a bucket and spade, sure, but there are many more ways to get wet and have fun in Spain. Although the beach is undoubtedly one of the best places for cooling off, another great idea is to take your family, grandchildren or some friends to a water park where children will have an awesome time and adults will get to feel like kids again. Here are some of the best water parks in Spain and the first two in the ranking boast worldwide recognition.



Siam Park, the water kingdom opened its doors in 2008 as the most spectacular theme park with water attractions in Europe and many would consider it the best park in the world.

Siam Park adds a whole new dimension to the leisure offering in the Canary Islands and is located in Adeje, south of Tenerife. Siam Park will amaze everyone with its diverse attractions and exotic settings.

The park covers 185,000m2 of natural landscapes and exquisite oriental design makes it a major new development in tourism, where all the family will experience adventure, excitement and plenty of adrenalin.

Every attraction offers a unique experience and combines the mystery of the ancient kingdom of Thailand, to transport visitors into a world of excitement and magic. 

Siam Park offers exclusive facilities for every occasion; events, birthdays, conventions and concerts.  It also has its own surf school where both adults and children can learn to surf. 



Aqualandia in Benidorm, the first water park built in Spain, opened in 1985. Since then it has been not only one of the largest water parks in the world but also ranks among those which offer the most attractions and facilities as well as outstanding customer service.

Aqualandia is an extensive natural area where you can enjoy a wide variety of water activities and many other amenities. It covers an area of 150,000 square metres and has 50,000 square metres of free parking.
With their great range of record-breaking water rides, splash pools and other attractions there’s something for everyone to enjoy a fun day out.


3. AQUOPOLIS - MADRID (7 parks around Spain)

Of course, there are no beaches in the Spanish capital but you don’t need a beach to cool off and forget about the almost unbearable summer heat. Aquopólis is opening a new attraction this summer 2014. Waikiki Jungle, a gigantic, semi-covered water slide for an adventure in pairs on the new-style rubber rings. For a spot of relaxation before returning to the action, there’s nothing like renting one of the cabins in the VIP area. This park forms part of the Parques Reunidos programme, meaning that annual pass holders can enjoy Aquópolis throughout the summer season.



Located in Almuñecar, the Aquatropic water park was opened over 20 years ago, being a reference for entertainment experience on the Costa Tropical. Year after year since opening, they have incorporated new attractions suiting the needs of the visitors, using 35,000 m² of the park.

It offers multiple water attractions such as Tropical Trails, Lake Cascade, the Wave Pool, the Zig-zag, the Kamikaze, the Hidrotubo, the Black Hole, and the Children’s pool and more. As well the parkland is surrounded by extensive vegetation to create shadows and spaces designed for Pic-Nic, to make your visit more enjoyable. The park is an environmental benchmark as it’s the only saltwater water park in Spain.



It is worth tearing yourself away from the wonderful bays of Majorca for a day to visit Aqualand. Of course, relaxation won’t be the reason because nobody goes there to sunbathe; they go to experience the adrenaline rush brought on by its 17 attractions for both the young and not-so-young. However, if you do want to chill out for a while, this can also be done in the water in either the jacuzzi or on the Congo River - a relaxing journey on which you wouldn’t be the first to close your eyes and let yourself be carried away by the current. 



Installed in the heart of the Costa Daurada this amazing water park will plunge you into a refreshing trip that will transport you to paradise in an aquatic adventure. At the Costa Caribe Aquatic Park of Port Aventura, you can practise rafting, go down trepid slides or relax on a lounger indulging yourself with a mixture of the sound of the waves that reach the sand and the tasty reggae rhythm that runs through every corner of this amazing water park. 

During its more than 50,000 square meters you can see more than 4,300 tropical plants that are all carefully looked after to the smallest detail to make your visit an unforgettable experience in PortAventura. 



Just 45 minutes from Valencia, Aquarama water park with over 45,000 square meters is packed full of fun for all of the family. There are some amazing slides from the daring slides such as “The Devil’s Drop” which holds the record as the highest slide in all of Europe with a height of 30 meters with the slide angling in at 62 degrees. The Space shot, which is the only one in Spain, the Whirlpool and more and more rides…. For those who like to relax a bit more, there are pools, jacuzzis and wave pools. There is also The Pirates Cave and the Mini Dunes areas which are for the exclusive use of the younger ones of the family.



Here you are entering a world of experiences of two of the finest water parks imaginable, Aquadiver in Platja d’Aro and Water World in Lloret de Mar. In the two water parks on the Costa Brava, you can enjoy various rides, such as wave pools, rapid rivers, and kamikaze…. A set of attractions for children and adults public. Aquadiver water parks in Platja d'Aro and Waterworld in Lloret de Mar are perfect places to spend unforgettable days with family and friends. You'll find the best services in the same water park, for your comfort and experience, such as restaurants, pancake houses, picnic areas and pine forests, where they can relax and enjoy a wonderful environment.


Aqua Center Los Delfines is in Ciutadella, Menorca. Although it only has 12.500 m², it is the only park on the island but offers a great day out for the whole family with the most modern water attractions:  Black Hole (2-seater float), Adventure River (Single seater float with 91,5m run), Giant Slides, Water Tunnels, Children's Water Shuttles, Kamikaze, Jacuzzi and so on.


Park Aquatico Mijas is located in Fuengirola, Mijas, Costa del Sol. The park offers great attractions such as water rides for all ages, shows, beach areas, wave pool, and Spa treatments.

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Wine Festivals In Spain
Saturday, July 29, 2023

Soon everyone will be celebrating their local wine festivals, same large and some small, but all celebrating "la vindimia": the grape harvest. Take note of the one near you and pay a visit this year...


1 – 8 September , Ciudad Real
Valdepeñas Wine Festival
D.O Valdepeñas
Local cuisine really takes centre stage with this festival. Besides wine tastings that are discussed and paired with local produce, this year the city is holding the 2nd Oenogastronomic Conference, “Saborea Valepeñas”. Every year, a person is awarded the prize for “Best Grape Harvester of the Year”.


5 – 8 September - Cordoba
Montilla-Moriles Grape Harvest Festival Córdoba
D.O Montilla-Moriles
Every year they appoint a master of honour who is given the keys so they can safe guard and defend the wines of the region for the whole year. Declared of National Tourist Interest, its most important acts include competitions for all the venenciadores (wine pourers), bottle turners and coopers in the region.
9 - 14 September
Wine Festival in Jerez
D.O Jerez-Xérès-Sherry and Manzanilla
Cádiz can boast of being European wine city for 2014. The acts include activities for children, such as Children’s Venencia Competition, where they pour wine using a traditional, long handles dipper. Using a venencia to decant Jerez wine is quite an art that has to learn from a young age.
14 September
La Rioja Alavesa Grape Harvest Festival, Labastida
D.O Rioja
It is a travelling festival that began 21 years ago in Laguardia. The 2014 edition will be held in Labastida, which will be in charge of bringing together the most important festivities. However, all the villages will be present in the same way. This is demonstrated in the Wine Competition in which only villages that produce D.O Rioja can take part; so all the villages in the area are legible. There is also the possibility of tasting the wines produced in the villages that comprise La Rioja Alavesa and some wineries, such as Eguren Ugarte, organise activities for the family that range from picking grapes to treading the fruit after it has been harvested- the part children love the most.
14 - 15 September
Cigales Wine Festival,
D.O Cigales
Cigales is the ‘cradle of claret’ and its wine festival is one of the oldest in the country. As a result, it has been awarded the title of Festival of Regional Tourist Interest. Besides the traditional treading, for two days a wide variety of activities are held, such as talks on the world of wine, tasting competitions and a wonderful medieval market, which gives the festival a past times feel, times when wine also played a starring role.
20 September
Wine Festival in Logroño 
D.O Rioja
2014 commemorates the 58th edition of this tradition; it starts off with the Pisada Popular, a public grape-treading event that takes place with the purpose of extracting the first must, which is then dedicated to the city’s patron saint. Another great wine event, known as the Quema de la cuba (the burning of the cask), brings the festival to an end. Continuing with the aim of becoming a gastronomic benchmark, the “Gastronomic Week” is also held during the festival.


28 September
Grape Harvest Festival in Sotillo de la Ribera
D.O Ribera del Duero
Sotillo de la Ribera has been holding a great party every year for 36 years now. It is dedicated to its wines and has guided tours and tasting events, not only of wine but also oil. Some of the wineries in the area also organise special activities to celebrate the festival, including a demonstration of how the local residents used to harvest the grapes in former times.
28 September - 6 October
Grape Harvest Festival in San Miguel de Tabagón, O Rosal
D.O Albariño
A week when there is no chance of getting bored thanks to a complete programme of activities that unsurprisingly, are all related to wine and the grape harvest: Talks on technical aspects of grape-harvesting, wine, gastronomy and photography competitions, as well as a pageant with all the local inhabitants and tourists who decide to visit this town in Pontevedra taking part.


3 - 5  October
Cava and gastronomy exhibition in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia
Cava is the big appeal of this region, one that for the last 18 years has decided a special gastronomic display of products that are the perfect match for these bubbly wines. The activities include a ride on an electric bicycle along the paths that go through the vineyards in the area, the route coming to an end with a local chocolate-tasting event.
3 - 5 Octubre
Riberjoven, Young wine and Gastronomy Festival, Peñafiel
D.O Ribera del Duero
This is the only festival in the country that is dedicated to young wine and it is precisely by taking this concept into account that they offer activities typically associated with children but which are adapted for older people, such as the Grape Harvest Storyteller for Adults. Although in Peñafiel children have a significant role in the festival- they perform a play related to the grape harvest and participate in different workshops.
10-13 October
Cangas del Narcea Festival, Asturias
D.O Vinos de la Tierra de Cangas (Cangas Wine)
The Festival begins when the local hotel and catering professional award the Golden Vine prize to a person with links to Cangas and its wine. The demonstration of the classic grape treading is carried out in a traditional way; a scene is staged with a barrel that is transported on a typical cart. All the restaurant in the area are involved in the festival and while it lasts diners can enjoy a typical grape harvest menu.
10 - 12 October
Grape Harvest Festival in Rueda
D.O Rueda
Despite being well known for its white wines, Rueda also produces some exquisite red wines. So everyone can try them, a marquee is set up in the town’s main square where winery owners offer people the chance to taste their wines and typical local products. In addition, some wineries organise Open Days. The first must extracted from the traditional Grape Treading is given to the participants.
12 - 13 October
Verdu Grape Harvest and Wine Festival
D.O Costers del Segre
This Lleida town runs numerous competitions related to grape harvesting and its associated professions, with competitions such as the one for picadors (grape treaders), porrón lifters (people who lift and drink from traditional wine pitchers), vine throwers; there is even a grape carrier race. To make sure you have enough energy to compete, there is nothing better than tucking into a grape harvester’s breakfast. They are served every day during the festival. If you are looking for something quieter, then you can go to the gastronomic exhibition held in Verdu Castle, which opens its doors especially for the occasion.
14 – 22 October
Wine Festival in Toro
D.O Toro
These days it is normal to see the roads around the city jammed with carts that are overflowing with all kinds of utensils for harvesting grapes, just like in the old days. A festive pilgrimage travels along the main streets announcing the start of the harvest. Another quite strange annual tradition is the Wine Fountain, during which a large cask is set up in the bullring from which the young men have to drink whilst trying to out of the way of the bulls that are guarding the cask.

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10 'must-see' places in Galicia
Saturday, July 15, 2023

Galicia is water, land, wind… Galicia is feeling, passion, joy… Galicia is art, history, legend… It’s everything that makes you dream and marvel…  Galicia is a land you’ll begin to discover little by little, step by step… Here are 10 places you mustn't miss, in no particular order:



1. Ribeira Sacra

The Ribeira Sacra, home to the largest concentration of Romanesque churches and monasteries in Europe. The Ribeira Sacra is a district marked by the River Miño and River Sil, which have shaped its spectacular landscape as they wind their way through the mountains. When this is combined with the faith and spirituality that can still be felt in the numerous monasteries dotted throughout the area, it means that this corner of Galicia cannot fail to appeal to all of your senses.

To mention the Ribeira Sacra is of course to mention wine, something that becomes obvious as soon as you set foot in the district: one of the most characteristic features of its landscape is the famous “socalcos”, the steeply terraced vineyards that run down the hillsides. And whilst you’re there, don’t miss the opportunity to taste some of the fantastic local wines, the product of one of the five Denomination of Origin wine-growing areas in Galicia, to which the district gives its name.


2. City walls of Lugo

The walls of Lugo are the best-preserved example of Roman military fortifications anywhere in the world. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the walls are an outstanding example of a way of building that exemplifies a variety of significant periods in the history of mankind.

From their Roman origins, through the tumultuous period of the Middle Ages and down to the ground-breaking and revolutionary 19th century, they constitute a unique monument that displays the different facets of the way in which the city of Lugo, in itself a conservation area of major importance, has evolved from the original Roman settlement of Lucus Augusti.



3.  Serra da Capelada

Serra da Capelada boasts some of the tallest cliffs in Europe.
Their highest point is Vixía Herbeira, 620 metres above sea level. From this vantage point, you can appreciate the full grandeur and size of these cliffs, second only in height to the sides of the Norwegian fjords, which plunge almost vertically down to the sea, at an angle of over 80º

The views from here are absolutely spectacular: a wonderful panorama of the mighty Atlantic Ocean and the rugged coastline on either side of Santo André are without a doubt some of the best to be found anywhere along the whole of the coast of Europe.



4. The Ferrol of the Age of Enlightenment

Although Ferrol was originally a town with a strong fishing tradition, during the 16th century its port started to become home to the ships of the Spanish Royal Navy. Subsequently, the monarchs Philip V, Ferdinand VI and Charles III were to be the driving force behind the construction of this magnificent complex, making the city the principal military base in Northwest Spain and the largest naval base of its day in Europe. On the inside, which can only be visited with prior permission, you will find the Sala de Armas (Armoury), until recently a training barracks and now residential quarters for Spanish Navy Marines deployed in Ferrol. You can also visit the Museo Naval (Shipbuilding Museum) and the Dique da Campá, one of the largest dry docks in the world. And you mustn’t forget Exponav, a permanent exhibition devoted to the world of shipbuilding.



5. The Tower of Hercules

In A Coruña, we can marvel at the Tower of Hercules, which dates back to Roman times and is the oldest working lighthouse in the world, the reason why it has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Farum Brigantium was built by the Roman Empire at some time between the end of the 1st century AD and the beginning of the following one. Located at the entrance to the harbour of A Coruña, this magnificent lighthouse was designed as an aid to navigation along the rugged Galician coast, a strategic point on the sea route linking the Mediterranean to northeast Europe.



6. The Way of St James

You can’t leave Galicia without having walked at least part of the Way of St James. 
The pilgrims’ route to Santiago played a fundamental role in the exchange of cultures between the Iberian Peninsula and the rest of Europe in the Middle Ages. For this reason, the Way of St James was nominated as the First European Cultural Itinerary by the Council of Europe. The so-called French Route, which has the longest tradition and is the best-known outside Spain, has also been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Starting in Roncesvalles (Navarre), it finally reaches Santiago de Compostela some 750 kilometres later. A route, therefore, which links Europe with northern Spain, passing secluded churches, bridges, cathedrals, monasteries and other such places of interest, accompanied by a permanent backcloth of greenery.



7. Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela has been the Christian pilgrims’ destination since the 9th century. From as far afield as the Baltic or the North Sea, thousands of pilgrims came on foot to the shrine of St James in Galicia, carrying their symbolic scallop shells along all the roads leading to Santiago, veritable paths of faith. To this we must add the fact that during the Romanesque and Baroque periods the shrine at Santiago de Compostela had a decisive influence on the evolution of architecture not just in Galicia, but throughout the whole of the north of the Iberian Peninsula



8. Cape Finisterre

Cape Finisterre, the destination of those pilgrims who, after visiting the St James’ tomb, continued their way along the route marked out for them overhead by the Milky Way until they could go no further. 

Finisterre was considered during the period of Classical Antiquity to be the end of the known world. In fact, its geographical location and impressive sunsets led Decimus Junius Brutus (the Roman general who conquered Galicia) to believe that this was indeed the place where the sun died at dusk. The area surrounding this headland has been considered a magical place since the earliest times, and legend has it that the Phoenicians set up an altar, the Ara Solis, at which they worshipped the sun. So why not take time to discover this corner of our coast, where the magic of the place will guide your footsteps.


9. The Cíes Islands


The Cíes Islands, one of the archipelagos that together with the islands of Ons, Sálvora and Cortegada make up the Galician Atlantic Islands Maritime-Terrestrial National Park.

Their wealth of plant and animal life, combined with spectacular landscapes, make these islands a major and valuable cultural and environmental asset.

Cíes Islands is nature in its purest state. The boat trip from either Vigo, Cangas or Baiona Baiona, all of which have scheduled catamaran sailings to the archipelago in high season, enables us to admire their imposing presence at the mouth of the Ría de Vigo. 


10. Santa Tegra

A Guarda is home to the Celtic hill fort and village of Santa Tegra, from where you’ll be able to enjoy “the best panoramic view of a Celtic hill fort in two countries“. Naturally enough, the views from here are unrivalled: your horizon is bounded only by Galicia, with the fishing town of A Guarda at its head, the mighty Atlantic Ocean and the neighbouring Portuguese coastline.

The view is even more impressive if we travel backwards in time: the inhabitants of this hill fort and village could enjoy it from their very dwellings. However, the site of this settlement wasn’t chosen for its views, but for more mundane reasons such as strategy and security, because from here they could monitor and control the sea traffic and the whole of the mouth of the River Miño.

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Theme Parks in Spain 2023
Friday, June 16, 2023

For a long time now, theme parks have stopped being just for kids and have become a good way of releasing some adrenaline while learning about nature, animals or history. Dizzying speeds, free-falls, zip-lines, film sets and crocodiles await you on this journey around Spain's top 10 most exciting parks.

1. Port Aventura, Salou, Tarragona

You are bound to find what you are after at this park as there is something here for all tastes. As well as the area with rides, there is a water park, four hotels and even a convention centre. The attractions are set in different parts of the world, giving you the chance to journey to places such as China and Polynesia and release some adrenaline on rides like Furius Baco, a roller coaster that takes you from 0 to 135 km/h in only 3 seconds. Meanwhile, there is the area where water takes centre stage, at the Caribe Aquatic Park, where you can experience the excitement of the King Khajuna, the highest free-fall slide in Europe. For those who fancy staying here overnight, there is more fun to be had at the hotels with a wide variety of shows on offer. As good as it gets.

2. Terra Mítica Park, Benidorm, Alicante

The theme park where you can learn about ancient history while having fun. Terra Mítica is set up as a journey through ancient Mediterranean civilisations so you can enjoy adrenaline-packed rides such as The Flight of the Phoenix- a one-hundred-metre free fall- as well as shows demonstrating the wonders of Imperial Rome like the Nero circus. The park has three different theme areas: Egypt, Greece and Rome as well as Iberia Park, designed for younger children. Each area has its own rides, shows and restaurants styled on that era. One of the strong points of this place are the sets. It is a real thrill to walk past the Lighthouse of Alexandria and the Keops Pyramid. It can all be taken in from the top of the park's lookout, a 100-metre-tall tower called Infinite, located in Iberia Park

3. Parque Warner, Madrid

Walking into Warner Bros Park is like entering the world of cinema. You can walk around sets you will recognise from the big screen while taking advantage of all the fun on offer, from riding the dizzying heights of the roller coasters in Super Hero World to strutting like a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Small children will have the time of their life at Cartoon Village where at any moment they might come across their favourite characters like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck or Tweety Bird. When it comes to the rides, you'll have to leave any fear of heights at home if you want to try the Superman roller coaster with its drop of almost 55 metres. Other activities include 3D projections and performances from Westerns, but above all the stunt show by 'Police Academy', making this park one not to be missed.


4. Siam Park, Adeje, Tenerife

One of the biggest water parks in Europe, it is a veritable aquatic kingdom with incredible settings inspired by Thai architecture and lush greenery.. Sunbathe on an enormous white-sand beach or following the river through a world of tropical fish, green, leafy landscapes and waterfalls on Mai Thai River are just some of the many activities you can enjoy here. Without a doubt, the ride that will leave you with your mouth open is Tower of Power, an almost-vertical drop of 28 metres that goes through an aquarium full of fish. The Wave Palace is just as good. In fact, the park boasts the largest artificial wave in the world (three-metres high), which will certainly keep surfing fans happy. 




5. Isla Mágica, Seville


This is another theme park where we can learn a little history while having fun. Isla Mágica took over the site and facilities of the famous Seville World Expo '92 and is themed on the discovery of America. The park is divided into seven worlds of fun and adventure.  You can travel to 16th-century Seville with its merchants and maidens, feel the wrath of the gods at Quetzal, discover the new world at Puerta de América or venture into the Amazon jungle. As well as the attractions and the shows, we can find water games and the Cinemoción virtual simulator. The latest attraction at the park is a whole new area with water rides called Agua Mágica, which opens in summer 2014.

6. Dinópolis, Teruel

The dinosaur fossils found in the area are the reason behind this original theme park. Dinópolis is the perfect combination of a cultural, scientific and theme park. It offers a learning experience and adventure to all those who dare to take a trip to the source of life on Earth. Although Territorio Dinópolis has parks in seven different locations, the most impressive one is in Teruel. Here you will find all kinds of attractions, giving you the chance to put yourself in the shoes of an archaeologist, travel by boat through the last 65 million years on Earth, see why the Tyrannosaurus Rex was the most-feared dinosaur of the Jurassic Age or have a chat with a Prehistoric man.

7. Faunia, Madrid

This is the perfect place to venture into the jungle with its tropical heat and storms, and be surrounded by the many animals that live there. You can find species from all over the planet, from Komodo dragons to sloths. One of this park's biggest advantages is that it allows you to observe the animals without it seeming like a traditional zoo because the enclosures are so well integrated into the park environment. One of the main attractions is The Poles, where you can see up to seven different penguin species. It is definitely worth attending one of the many didactic shows announced in the daily programme and, if your wallet can accommodate it, book one of the interactive encounters with the animals. 

8. Oasys, Tabernas, Almería

Walking around this original theme park you will feel like Clint Eastwood himself in one of his famous films, fighting outlaws in the middle of the desert. Oasys Park was created with the old film sets where hundreds of Spaghetti Westerns were shot in the 60s and 70s.  Entertainment is guaranteed in this corner of Almeria, Europe's only desert, with recreations staged by the park's actors. There is also a zoo reserve with more than 800 animals of 175 different species living in their natural habitat. It is all topped off by a swimming pool with spa, slides and activities related with the environment. 


9. Terra Natura, Alicante and Murcia

Just like Faunia, Terra Natura makes a huge effort to integrate the animals into the general park environment, making the barriers invisible to the visitor to create the impression that they are within reach. As a result, you can observe lions from up close, with just the protective glass standing between you. The park covers an area of over 165,000 m2 and has more than 200 different animal species, surrounded by impressive greenery. To top it all off, there's an aquatic area called Aqua Natura, which opens in summer. It has a wave pool, over a thousand metres of slides and areas reserved for infants so that young children can also enjoy the water.

10. La Selva de l'Aventura, Arbúcies, Girona

Set deep in a Douglas fir forest in Montseny, this adventure park offers circuits that take you around the tops of these giant trees, giving you a whole new perspective. People of all ages can enjoy the great outdoors and the feeling of freedom up high on the two circuits as well as the more than 60 activities, such as hanging bridges, swing ropes and zip-lines of up to 140 metres in length. The most adventurous will feel right at home, playing Tarzan between trees up to 15 metres high. Selva de l’Aventura is also the ideal place to hold an original birthday party or a hen or stag party if you are looking for some added excitement. The park is closed to the public in colder months and during the school year it only opens on weekdays for advance group bookings.

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