The following article is sponsored by Tourist Office of Spain
Often eclipsed by their fantastic arts, architecture,
history, and cuisine, Spain may not be the first place you think of when
considering adventure destinations, but that's just because you haven't done your homework. In addition to their burgeoning
cultural scene, the region is ripe for adventure. As one of the most
mountainous countries in Europe, Spain offers a host of opportunities for hiking, biking, and climbing. From the incredible coast to the
highest peaks, planning an active trip to Spain is the perfect way to ensure you can enjoy
those tapas guilt-free. You know what they say: if the mountains are calling,
you should answer.
Reach New Heights
Via Ferrata routes were once strategic army strongholds; the series of cables, ladders, and ropes were used to position platoons to view enemy troops from above. Nowadays, they’re a cool adrenaline-filled way to explore a countryside inaccessible by simply hiking. The most famous via ferrata in Spain sits above Caminito Del Rey in a remote corner of Andalucía. Known as one of the most dangerous walkways in the world, cables run the entire length of the perilous path so hikers can fearlessly clip in with a harness to view the incredible canyon, falls, and gorge below.
Take Advantage of the Coast
Beautiful beaches line Spain’s coast, but that doesn’t mean you have to bum around on the sand. Kayaking tours are popular along Costa Brava and you’ll see plenty of kite surfers and windsurfers around Andalucía. The waters around Gibraltar boast plenty of wrecks for SCUBA divers and snorkelers to explore along with marine life like dolphins, congers, groupers, seahorses, spider crabs, squid, lobster, trigger fish, and sunfish — just to name a few.
Hike the Pyrenees Mountains
A naturally formed barrier between France and Spain, the Pyrenees Mountains are 20,000 miles of views. They extend from the Bay of Biscay all the way to the Mediterranean Sea and are comprised of breathtaking landscapes made up of glaciers, wildflower fields, dense forest, and deep canyons. It’s a land of extremes so don't be surprised if you have that "a ha" moment while you're there.
Get Off the Beaten Path
Quad bikes and ATVs are a way to explore beyond where a normal set of wheels can take you. Whether you’re racing over the hills in the Sierra Nevadas of Granada, or rolling down the sand dunes and volcanoes of Lanzarote, jeeps can take you where no other vehicle can by tearing through the country on your very own off-road adventure.
Go for a Camel Ride
Camels may not be the first resident you picture in Spain, but the dromedaries have found a home in the Maspalomas Dunes of Gran Canaria. With guides imported all the way from the Sahara, the Camel Safari Park is an authentic desert experience where you’ll learn about breeding and caring for these magnificent creatures while enjoying the ride of a lifetime.
Explore Below the Surface
Spain’s diverse geography boasts as many treasures below ground as it does on land. The Altamira Cave is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an interesting look into pre-historic life. The caves contain Europe´s oldest art; scientists say parts date back more than 40,000 years and believe the Neanderthals created it. Spend the day puzzling over the hieroglyphics and trying to decipher how these early settlers may have lived.
Give Canyoning a Try
There are places to go canyoning all over Spain, but the Guara Mountains and Canyon Nature Reserve boast the highest concentration of canyons in all of Europe, making them a pretty good place to start. Nestled between the Pyrenees Mountains and the Ebro Valley, the contrasting climates make for an interesting setting to rappel, jump, and scramble your way over waterfalls.
Experience the Ultimate Adrenaline Rush
Nothing will get your heart beating quite like a staring down a bull about to charge. Pamplona’s Running with the Bulls is one of the most anticipated events in the year, and every July intrepid travelers make the trek to experience this once-in-a-lifetime festival firsthand. Runners mentally prepare for the crowds and chaos in what will likely be the most intense four minutes of their lives as the frantic spectacle engulfs the town streets and onlookers.