Spain is a gorgeous country filled with fascinating people and extraordinary wildlife – gems you will not wish to miss. The balance between cultural and natural delights makes Spain a great destination for solo travellers, couples and groups, and of course families with young children.
While you’re there, be sure to visit these secret gems where you can see some incredible wildlife.
Visit Faunia Madrid
Faunia Madrid is a combined botanical garden and zoo where you can see incredible wildlife without leaving the city. This attraction is easily accessible, so you can spend a day meandering or retreat to one of the nicest Madrid villas for a mid-afternoon siesta. To get the best deals on Faunia Madrid and to skip the sometimes long line for entry, book a fast pass ahead of time.
While visiting this tribute to the natural world, you will see a variety of animals, including the notorious Komodo dragon and a variety of playful penguins. As this is also a botanical garden, you can see many of the butterflies Spain is known for, as well as other oddities, like the giant stick bug.
For a one-of-a-kind experience, many visitors will choose to book an interaction although this is not something that Spain Buddy encourages. We would much rather animals were not used for entertainment purposes. However, Faunia Madrid remains wholeheartedly dedicated to the conservation and sustainability of many species, and uses the hands-on experiences to educate people about nature and how we can best support it.
Sail around the Canary Islands
Despite belonging to Spain, the Canary Islands are off the coast of Africa. Don’t fret though– it’s not as far as it sounds and well worth a visit. The Canary Islands are one of the UK’s more popular winter sun destinations.
Take a boat tour off the southern coast of Tenerife, one of the islands in the archipelago. Here you’ll see a variety of wildlife in their natural habitat. This area is the best place to see dolphins playing in the waves, sperm whales on their migratory path, and even giant sea turtles traveling to breed. You may also see some exotic birds, interesting crustaceans, and a swarm of jellyfish. If nothing else, sailing the seas with the sun shining down is relaxing and reinvigorating.
In Lanzarote, we saw dolphins and flying fish while sailing through the Bocayna Straits, the body of water that separates Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. The waters surrounding the area are teeming with wildlife and it is not uncommon to see sharks (not the dangerous kind), rays, octopi and much more besides. We highly recommend “Alex Sailing” who is based at the harbour in Playa Blanca.
When you go, go with mindfulness. Travel with one of the many tour operators who work with Spain’s precious sealife conservation efforts to ensure that the animals you see will be around for a long time. Don’t disturb the animals to get a great photo; enjoy them in their natural state.
Adventure Through Sierra Nevada National Park
Sierra Nevada National Park is home to an incredible ecosystem, which you can explore in a number of ways. For comfort and excitement, take a 4WD tour through this rocky region and catch the sunset across the incredible landscape. If you want to evoke the feeling of being an explorer of old, hike through Los Cahorros. Here, you’ll cross hanging rope bridges, discover hidden caverns and pools, and see amazing animals with an experienced guide.
Sierra Nevada National Park is the largest park in Spain. It spans over 528 square miles, so you’ll likely only experience a small portion of what the area has to offer. You can spend a few hours on a quick trip or dedicate a few days to total immersion with a guide. While you’re there, keep an eye out for one of the 120 species of butterflies that frequent the area, as well as some endemic beetles and bugs.
The Sierra Nevada is also home to the Iberian Ibex, a small breed of wild goat that’s endemic to Spain. This creature is endangered, making it one of the focal points for Spain’s conservation efforts. This adorable mammal is famous for scaling seemingly sheer cliff faces without fear.
The main draw of the area, however, is the diverse birdlife. There are over 60 species of birds in the Sierra Nevada, some that can’t be found anywhere else on earth. Some of the large birds of prey, including eagles and vultures, are awe-inspiring to behold.
Tips for Experiencing Spain’s Wildlife
Due to Spain’s incredible coastline and series of islands, it’s an important destination for many migratory animals. Changes to the landscape have put a lot of animals at risk in recent years. When you visit, be respectful: keep your distance, support organizations that contribute to conservation efforts, and take only photos and memories with you when you leave.