There are some truly surprising sights to see in Spain. The variety of landscape, wild beauty and stunning architecture throughout the country provide endless picture-perfect views. Which makes traveling through Spain quite mesmerizing, it’s pretty remarkable to see the dramatic differences across the regions.
You would be right in thinking that you can see lovely little villages, wide stretches of sandy beach and some amazing old towns when you visit Spain. But, would you believe me if I told you, you can see snow covered mountains, lush green forests and volcanoes in Spain?… Well you can.
Here is a list of the 8 most surprising sights in Spain. Sights that are quite unexpected to most visitors because people just don’t expect to see them in Spain. If you are looking for somewhere a little different for your next trip to Spain, here are some great options.
The most surprising sights in Spain
- Snowy mountains
- Pink salt lake
- Lush green forests
- Lunar like landscape
- Sandy deserts
- Roman architecture
- Fresh water lagoons
If you still don’t believe that they are all in Spain, keep reading for more information on where to find them.
*RELATED article: Common misconceptions about Spain
Where to find the most surprising sights in Spain
1. Snow covered mountains
There are 36 ski resorts in Spain covering almost 1000 kilometres of ski runs. Now that is a lot of snow! Most of the snow-covered mountains are in the North of Spain. The Spanish Pyrenees run across Aragon and Catalonia and provide great snow conditions in the winter for skiers and snowboarders of all levels.
If you visit Madrid during winter, snowy mountains will most likely be the back drop for your city break. As temperatures plummet the surroundings mountains in Segovia and Avilla have snow a-top from December-May.
Most surprising is the snow reaches as far South as Granada in Andalusia. Here the Sierra Nevada mountain range provides the highest ski elevation in Spain. Snow will last here from December to April and the snow-capped mountains can be seen from all across Granada province.
2. Pink salt lake
A vivid pink salt lake can be seen in Torrevieja, a town in the Alicante province of Valencia. As you drive into town from the airport you cannot miss the huge lake which is a natural park and haven for birds and plant life. During breeding season thousands of flamingos will descend and take up residence on the lake. All the beautiful shades of pink will shimmer in the Spanish sunshine.
The surprising pink colour is said to come from the pigments of a particular bacteria that lives in high salt conditions. Adding to the vibrant shade are the algae that grow in the lake and the shrimp that feed here. The flamingos are attracted by the high concentration of shrimp and their feathers in turn become brighter as they eat the shrimp.
Photo Credit MarinaReservation.com
3. Lush green forests
There are many species of plant in Spain but some areas have surprising lush green forest areas. The most famous evergreen forest is found in La Gomera, a small island in the Canary Islands. It has a unique eco system that creates misty clouds around the trees which allow the moss and lower level plants to grow.
Other lush forests in Spain are located in Northern Spain. The valleys in Aragon are covered in beech trees and silver firs. Asturias is home to many acres of oak tree and 30% of the region is forest.
*RELATED article: Why Spain is the perfect holiday destination
4. Lunar like landscape
The more dry and arid areas of Spain provide surprising lunar like landscapes. A vast nature reserve in Navarre covers 40,000 hectares of unusual rock formations. Years of erosion has left mysterious markings in the clay, chalk and sandstone making it feel like you have landed on another planet.
One of the most popular areas in Spain for imagining you are walking on the Moon or another planet is in Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Mount Teide in the centre of the island has a very dark soil and spectacular dramatic rock. An area of the park is called “Paisaje Lunar” which translates to Lunar Landscape and is a very popular hiking trail. NASA are even rumoured to have tested pre-space launch equipment here!
5. Sandy deserts
Sandy beaches are expected in Spain but some areas have vast deserts. The sand dunes in Gran Canaria are known as a mini desert because the beach sand extends far inland. This area is located close to North Africa in the Canary Islands but the sand has nothing to do with the Sahara. It comes from the ocean as sea level dropped the sand has become exposed.
Even more surprising is Almeria in Andalucía, the driest region in Europe and one of Europe’s only classified desert climates. It hardly ever rains here and the flat sandy plains have been used for filming many movies. The old western movies that shot here actually left behind the film sets, which were turned into mini Hollywood theme parks.
6. Roman architecture
Most people think that the best Roman architecture is found in France and Italy but some surprising monuments are in Spain. Spanning across the country you can see lots of different types of structures built by the Romans and each are pretty extraordinary.
The Theatre of Merida in Extremadura is recorded as being built in 16bc. The City Walls of Lugo in Galicia still stand intact as a continuous circuit. The Aqueduct of Segovia, in Castilla y Leon is made up of 24,000 granite blocks. The Tower of Hercules in La Coruña in Galicia is a lighthouse that stands 55 metre high.
RELATED article: A quick guide to the different regions of Spain
There are numerous volcanoes all over Spain and most have laid dormant for hundreds of thousands of years. Trees have grown in the craters and people have settled and built towns and villages in the foothills. You can view the most famous volcanic region, not far from Girona in Catalonia by hot air balloon to see the amazing landscape from the sky.
The most active volcanoes in Spain are on the Canary Islands and surprisingly the last eruption was as recent as the 1970’s. In 1971 a volcano on the island of La Palma erupted for a duration of 24 days.
Photo credit Imgur
8. Fresh water lagoons
Natural swimming pools and lakes provide much-needed relief from the heat in Spain, particularly in the central mainland areas that are far from the beach. What’s to surprising is how many of these fresh water lagoons are in the middle of the driest regions of the country. While is recorded that Spain’s wetlands have reduced in size in recent years there are still 637 inland freshwater lagoons.
The largest lake in Spain and one of the most important wetlands is Albufera in Valencia. It’s open for boat trips and the surrounding villages offer local walks, wildlife information and freshly caught food.
I hope you found this article about the 8 most surprising sights to see in Spain interesting. Maybe you can hunt one down on your next trip?
If you have already visited one of these unexpected sights in Spain, tell me all about it in the comments box below and share your experience.
Other Seeking the Spanish Sun Spain travel guides you may enjoy reading…
The 10 most beautiful beaches in Spain
Useful Spanish phrases for traveling in Spain
The most delicious seafood in Spain
A wonderful winter holiday in North Tenerife
The sights and sounds of Seville
Spain is unique, full of surprisingly adventures. I really like all this places you have highlighted. I love Spain so much!
Spain is a truly unique and wonderful place. Thanks for reading and commenting Toti 🙂
That pink salt lake took me by surprise! I had no idea of its existence. Happy to see my beloved region of Extremadura being mentioned, too. It’s really underrated!
The pink salt lake looks gorgeous doesn’t it! Thanks Irene, I hoped to share a few of the more underrated spots so that Spain lovers might find somewhere new to visit and explore 🙂
That is so cool to see the snow and desert all in the same place, not what I expected to see.You could for sure find me at the Pink Salt Lake though! How amazing!
One day I would love to ski in the morning then swim in the sea in the afternoon… how cool would that be! Yeah that pink lake is pretty special too. Thanks for reading this post, hope you enjoyed it 🙂
I have heard of all of these places, and I’ve visited some of them, but this post is exactly why I love Spain so much!
Even as a frequent traveller to Spain, there is always something interesting to see and visit on your next trip. Something new to explore, which helps draw people back year after year. It really is incredible.
This is brilliant, you are so right that these sights are absolutely not what I’d expect to see in Spain, especially the pink salt lake and the volcanoes!
Thanks Kavita! I like to show people a different side to Spain whenever I can 🙂 It is such an awesome country.
My Spanish itinerary for this summer just got a whole lot longer! Those pink waters and snowy mountains are calling my name! I didn’t know Spain was so diverse in its landscapes and environments
Haha awesome! Add a few to your plans, you won’t regret it! There are so many amazing sight to see in Spain.
Ok so I had no idea Spain had deserts, a pink salt lake and volcanoes! I really want to go to Spain now and see this different places.
It’s pretty cool huh! Perfect excuse to visit I say 🙂
Wow, that pink lake, those lagoons and those forests. What a treat for the nature lover! And the architecture lover in me loves those Roman columns too.
It’s all beautiful isn’t it and not quite what you expect to see in Spain. Thanks for reading and commenting.