While most travelers visit Spain for its spicy Mediterranean culture, gorgeous historical sites, and impeccable cuisine, many miss out on a relatively small but striking feature that is absolutely worth exploring! Did you know that there are hundreds of historical parks and botanical gardens here? Well, if you did not, you should give it a chance, especially for your first time in Spain. Check out our suggestions!
Park Guell, Barcelona
Covering more than 17 hectares, Park Guell is one of the largest green spaces in Barcelona!
While there are plenty of more popular things to see in Barcelona, we suggest spending one afternoon exploring the immaculate designs of this stunning garden. Park Guell is more than your average botanical garden, as it actually offers you a chance to learn!
Combining greenery and architectural elements, it is one of the most beautiful places in the city, and since you are not yet familiar with all of it, we suggest guided tours. With professional guidance, you can learn about the Mediterranean climate, specific species, and the park’s development.
Many of the columns and walkways are designed by Antoni Gaudi, so you are basically getting a free museum tour in the fresh Spanish air!
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Madrid
After exploring Gaudi’s most beloved city, head back to the capital with a short ride on the Barcelona to Madrid train. There are plenty of gorgeous, carefully-designed spaces here, so make sure you leave plenty of spots in your itinerary!
Founded in 1755 by King Ferdinand VI, Madrid’s Royal Botanical Gardens is one of the most historically, culturally, and even artistically significant spaces in the city. Yes, you are probably wondering how that could be since there are more than enough museums, galleries, and ancient sites to visit. However, these gardens carry a heavy background with them as well!
Back in the day, the park served more purpose than just being a lovely space to spend time. Its original service was to help people learn about botany, promote green expeditions, and, of course, exhibit plans. While things have changed in the past 200+ years, it is still a great place to admire and absorb!
For first-timers, we suggest grabbing a camera and a notebook – especially if you are into herbs! With more than five thousand species of live plants on display, the Royal Botanical Gardens are a great way to get in touch with your inner primeval person!
El Buen Retiro Park, Madrid
Now that you are more familiar with the Spanish ways of greenery display, it might be fun to carry on and start comparing. So, after Madrid’s Royal Botanical Garden, we suggest moving on to El Buen Retiro Park!
With over 125 hectares and more than 15 thousand trees, El Buen Retiro Park is one of Spain’s most striking green areas. Literally meaning the park of pleasant retreat, El Buen is the perfect place to relax and unwind after a long day of sightseeing.
The tree-lined avenues, impeccable flower arrangements, and water fountains create a very zen-feeling oasis, and you should take full advantage of that! Contrary to the first two gardens we suggested, El Buen Retiro Park is better to enjoy in peace and quiet, so we recommend forgoing guides. Instead, take long walks and turn off your phone – you will leave much more relaxed than when you entered!
The Alcazar Gardens, Seville
Possibly the oldest ones in Spain, the Alcazar Gardens give you the most straightforward and clearest path into the olden Spanish cultural ways.
As you have probably noticed, these stunning parks in Spain are more than what meets the eye, but you should especially pay attention to this one. One of the few authentic places so perfectly portraying the old Hispanic style, the Mudejar, which is an ancient Muslim artistic expression, Alcazar Gardens serve a great purpose.
If this is your first time in Spain, it is only natural that you will want to visit the most widely-acclaimed museums, and that is completely fine! However, consider switching something up in order to spend more time at these gardens. The specific plant arrangements and species will tell you more about the Moorish culture and Renaissance heritage than you would think!
The Generalife Gardens, Granada
Speaking of culturally and historically significant natural spaces in Spain, let the Generalife Gardens in Granada be your next stop.
This structure which used to be the royal’s leisure place is another perfect example of how you can learn about Spain’s history in nature. The Generalife Gardens allows you glimpses into the legacy left by Arab conquerors and some of the most beautiful formations containing some well-known plants as well as several unique species and rare combinations!
Make your way through these botanical mazes, and soon enough, you will understand why the kings of Granada and the Nasrid rulers loved it so much! So keep your eyes open and get a pamphlet or an audio guide to walk you through and explain specific features of Arabian art.
Unleash your inner nature-lover and learn about Spain’s history simultaneously! These parks and gardens are perfect for you to ease into your travels as they explain much of the more rural side of the country without you having to hike and go on long expeditions. Grab a camera, a friend, and adios!