Mónica Da Silva: Hidden places in Spain to enjoy all year around, and far from the madding crowds

During the past few years, Spain has always been among the Top 5 most visited countries in the world and it isn’t difficult to guess why. Delicious food, magnificent beaches, incredible weather and amazing architecture are only some of Spain’s attractions. Hence, tourism is one of the most important sectors for the Spanish economy and even during low season, it is common to see the streets packed with tourists from all over the world.

However, Spain has way more to offer than Madrid and Barcelona, and that’s why I have curated a list of five places that you can visit all year around if you’re trying to avoid crowds. 

No. 5 La Alberca, Castilla y León

This municipality belongs to the province of Salamanca. It is only one hour from the city of Salamanca and three hours from Madrid. And although the town is a beautiful place to visit and experience authentic Spanish food and culture, it’s on my list because it’s the perfect place for accommodation if you want to visit Las Batuecas National Park.

This park is 323 kilometers square and, as you can imagine, there are plenty of things to do. On the park’s website, hiking suggestions and biking routes with various lengths and intensity as well as detailed maps with the locations of rivers and lakes. At night, you can go back to La Alberca and enjoy the typical dish of the region called Hornazo. It is a kind of pie stuffed with meat, chorizo and other sausages, and the locals take a lot of pride in it.  

Petra, Mallorca

No. 4 Petra, Mallorca

Mallorca is an extremely famous island and normally, if you go to an island, you want to enjoy the beach. However, Mallorca has a lot more to offer if you step away from the coast. There is a small village called Petra which is a purely agricultural town. It is beautiful, pleasant and, therefore, quiet. All the commerce is located around its picturesque square full of bars and restaurants where you can enjoy a wide variety of local dishes such as the Tumbet, which is a vegetarian Spanish dish with Arabic reminiscences and a unique flavor. 

Petra is only 45 minutes from the capital and it’s really interesting if you like architecture. There are many monasteries, convents and other religious buildings such as Iglesia de San Pedro, which is a Gothic temple built between the 15th and 17th centuries. This village is also famous because Junípero Serra, a well-known Franciscan priest and missionary, was born and started his religious studies there. So, there are some exhibitions about his life from time to time, and it is also possible to visit his childhood home.

No. 3 Albarracin, Aragón

Albarracín is only three and a half hours from Madrid and, although quite small, it is a truly unique and special place. It is actually perfect for a weekend getaway because it is possible to see the whole town in two days. Its architecture is a living testament to Spain’s rich medieval heritage. For example, Alcázar de Albarracín is a castle from the 10th century where the architecture never ceases to amaze visitors.

It is an ideal village to wander for hours but, if you’d rather enjoy a relaxed picnic, hanging out by the river Guadalaviar seems like the perfect outing. And, for the more adventurous, the cliffs surrounding Albarracín offer excellent opportunities for rock climbing, attracting climbers from all over the world.

Fonsagrada, Galicia

No. Fonsagrada, Galicia

This one is for our readers who love hiking! Fonsagrada is the biggest municipality of Galicia and surprisingly, it has fewer than 4,000 inhabitants. So, this is the perfect destination if you really want to take a break from the cities and the crowds and just immerse yourself in nature. There are many places to see here, but in order to reach the most beautiful sightseeing spots, you will need to walk, walk and walk. 

There is a very famous hiking route in Fonsagrada that is part of El Camino Primitivo, which was the route used by the Jacobins during the ninth century and goes from Oviedo to Santiago de Compostela. The trail in Fonsagrada is 25.4km long, very challenging and takes an average of 8.4 hours. However, the views along the trail and at the end are completely worth the effort.

No. 1 El Charco Azul, La Palma

The Canary Islands are made up of eight isles, all of them worth a visit, but all of them very crowded all year around. However, there is a secret place on La Palma island if you are in the mood for an adventure, because finding this place is not that easy. It is called Charco Azul and it’s a group of natural pools that can only be reached by foot. 

The best way to reach this wonderful nature reserve is by car. There is a parking lot, but after that, you’ll have to walk for about 30 minutes. Once you arrive at Charco Azul, you will be impressed by this almost unreal place, which was renovated a few years ago to add some basic services such as bathrooms and showers. 

This is also an amazing location if you have kids because there are some safe natural pools made especially for them.


Read more about Spain here in Dispatches’ archives.

Read more from Mónica here.

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Mónica da Silva is half-Venezuelan, half Portuguese and has lived in Venezuela, Portugal, Spain and Germany. She has studies linguistics and has a Bachelor’s Degree in European Studies. Besides contributing to Dispatches, she works remotely as an English teacher, which allows her to be on the move as often as she wants. 

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