A secret journey to unusual destinations
13 de March 2024
Alejandro Medina Rojo
Paradores / Shutterstock

Spain is a land that never ceases to amaze us. It is true that we have countless emblematic places that are worthy of a visit, at least once in a lifetime, for example, the Alhambra in Granada, the Mosque of Cordoba or the Monastery of El Escorial. However, beyond the usual tourist destinations, there are countless unique and little-known places that are worth discovering. At Paradores, your wishes are our command. That's why, this week, we have made sure that, while you enjoy all the advantages that our facilities offer you, you can also set off for new destinations that will captivate you.


The Valencian islands you may not know about


Did you know that the Region of Valencia has its own islands? About two hours off the coast of Castellon is the Columbretes Islands Nature Reserve. This island area is the largest point of ecological interest in the Mediterranean. The archipelago forming it include: I'll Grosa, the only island that can be visited, la Ferrera, la Foradada and el Carallot. In I'll Grossa you will be struck by its lunar shape. It is a volcanic landscape with a series of craters linked together that reveal its geological past. The vegetation, full of autochthonous species, is no exception either. The fine sosa (a typical Mediterranean plant), the carrot, sea fennel, common sea buckthorn and the paternostrera add uniqueness to the habitat. However, these are not the only ones, as there is also a Marine Reserve with thousands of aquatic species. Immersing yourself in this territory is a marvel for nature lovers.

To reach the islands, we recommend you go to the information point located in the Castellon Planetarium, where you can obtain all the necessary information on how to get there. Nearby, the Parador de Benicarló awaits you with open arms. A marvellous hotel totally connected to the Mediterranean. From the moment you wake up until you go to bed, the fantastic sea views will be with you every day. Against this backdrop, indulging in the local produce, in particular the artichoke with its own Denomination of Origin or the fresh fish, becomes more appetising than ever.



The best kept secret underground


We continue our route through the Best Spot according to the Repsol Guide: Pozalagua Cave. Located in the heart of the Armañón Natural Park, in Vizcaya, it is a great wonder of nature and a paradise for geologists, partly because of its bizarre stalactites, unique in the world. An underground spectacle of columns and a dry lake, where tens of thousands of stalactites twist around like roots. A sort of coral reef in the depths of the earth.

Good news: just half an hour from the impressive cave you can stay at Eguilior Palace, the home of the Parador de Limpias. This accommodation is on the banks of the Asón River and invites you to disconnect. What's more, in this Cantabrian town you'll find a beautiful historic quarter, full of stately homes and manor houses. Are you ready to explore new horizons?



The Parador de Sigüenza and the town that captivated Camilo José Cela


Delving into rural Spain, we come to the region of La Alcarria. Here you will find Cívica, a small Tibetan village known as the Cappadocia of Alcarria. Giving free rein to creativity, the parish priest Aurelio Pérez and other workers carved balustrades, rocks and galleries into the cut rock. In the rainy season, the waterfalls that form and converge with the river Tajuña create an attractive landscape for capturing on camera. In fact, in his work Nuevo Viaje a la Alcarria, the writer Camilo José Cela praised the majesty of the architecture, comparing it to the set of an opera by Wagner.

And just a stone's throw from Cívica, the Parador de Sigüenza awaits us. This impressive castle dominates the landscape of Sigüenza and has a legend or two to tell, such as that of Blanca de Borbón. To succumb to the adventure of the journey, the medieval train that connects Madrid with the town will be back in service in April. On the journey, period characters such as minstrels and troubadours will accompany you. Enjoy the typical music of that era and taste the irresistible home-made truffles.



Species more than 500 years old in the Faedo de Ciñera


Tourism would not be the same without a touch of magic. That is why this list could not leave out the Faedo de Ciñera, a forest from where fantasy and fairy tales emerge. Its spring colours are a real spectacle for the eyes. Another of its great attractions is the forest of beech and oak trees, which reach an impressive height of 30 metres. However, the jewel in the crown is to be found in the heart of the forest. This is home to 'Fagus', a beech tree that has been standing for more than 500 years. Impressive, isn't it? Well, if this fact amazes you, you might be interested to know that the grove has been declared the Best Kept Forest in Spain.

Just 40 kilometres from this natural treasure is the Parador de León. Did you know that more than 500 works of art are exhibited in our establishment? In the legendary Hostal San Marcos, you can find the mark of the Spanish Renaissance, with the altar of the Nativity by Juan de Juni and the choir stalls carved in walnut wood; with a Mudejar coffered ceiling from the 16th century and with signs of the Avant-Garde of the 50s and 60s on all three floors. In addition, the library contains two 17th century choir books. An endless number of wonders to discover.



Original experience through the enchanted castle of Trigueros del Valle


Fancy a historical visit to an enigmatic 15th century castle? The Town Hall of Trigueros del Valle, the town in the province of Valladolid that houses this complex, offers you a unique walk through its interior, giving free rein to your imagination: there will be no shortage of unicorns, legends, dungeons and dragons, secret passages and fantastic animals. Thanks to the music and special effects, you will be immersed in a totally magical atmosphere.

To visit the Enchanted Castle, why not stay at the Parador de Tordesillas and enjoy the peace and quiet of the pine forest that surrounds our refuge. In addition, with the arrival of the good weather, you have the opportunity to undertake original activities here, for example, river tourism on the Pisuerga River. Being so close to the Denominations of Origin of Rueda, Toro, Ribera del Duero and Cigales, do not miss the opportunity to taste some of the best wines in Spain.



A temple of knowledge for the whole family


The Parque del Pasatiempo, on the outskirts of Betanzos (A Coruña) is considered the first theme and encyclopaedic park in the Iberian Peninsula. This setting is home to grottoes and underground passages that, if you are an intrepid tourist, you will love to explore. One of the most beautiful areas of the natural environment is the pond. Here, the beauty of Roman art and the Tower of Hercules lend the atmosphere unprecedented charm. In support of its pedagogical function, as you wander along the paths, you may come across a mural with no less than 41 clocks showing  the time zones of different countries. As a finishing touch, if you are an avid lover of international culture, bring your camera and take some photos of the figures of the Panama Canal, the Great Wall of China and the Egyptian pyramid of Cheops, among others.

Continuing the artistic line, the Parador de Ferrol is located in the historic district of La Magdalena. Declared a Historic-Artistic Site, this district is full of stately homes that once belonged to the city's bourgeoisie. Two or three-storey mansions, with wide verandas, balconies and glassed-in galleries of white painted wood, inspired by those that covered the stern of ships. From our Galician mansion you can wake up at dawn with views of the sea. Can you think of anything more appealing?



Welcome to Spanish Tuscany


We end the list with a visit to "La Toscana Española", better known as the Matarraña, an Aragonese region, east of Teruel. Wherever you go, its beauty dazzles thanks to its magnificent landscapes that combine rolling hills, lush forests and crystal clear rivers. Its charming stone villages, with narrow streets and quiet squares, reflect a rich history and well-preserved medieval architecture. Nor should we forget the delicious cuisine, headed by local products such as olive oil, artisan cheeses and cured meats, which offer a feast for the palate. In addition, Matarraña breathes peace and serenity, ideal for those seeking to escape the hustle and bustle of urban life and immerse themselves in the authenticity of rural life.

The Parador de Alcañiz, half an hour from Matarraña, is a historical treasure that invites you to immerse yourself in its charm. From the moment you cross the threshold, you are immersed in a world of elegance and tradition. With corridors that whisper stories of centuries gone by and its imposing architecture, the Parador transports its guests to a time of medieval splendour. But it is not only a place of dreams; the cuisine is a true culinary experience that delights the senses with authentic flavours. This is the ideal destination for those seeking a dose of history, luxury and tranquillity in a truly exceptional setting.