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Top 16 unusual places to visit in Spain

22 February 2017

Discover some of the more unusual places and events to visit in Spain including the 'lost village' of El Acebuchal and the unspoilt Playa de Frejulfe beach.

Magdalena Peninsula
The Magdalena Peninsula, one of Spain's hidden gems, is a 62-acre peninsula has a lovely grassy park, polo pitch, palace, (free) zoo, three galleons and a couple of beaches.


Most of the 17 million Brits who took a holiday to Spain last year flocked only to the big well-known coastal resorts or cities such as Barcelona and Madrid.

But there are many more natural, cultural and historical treasures to discover.

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El Acebuchal

El Acebuchal

Forty miles east of Malaga, this village was thought to be sympathetic to the Republican cause during the Spanish Civil War. In 1948, the residents paid a heavy price when Franco’s forces ordered everyone to leave.

It remained a ghost town until 50 years later when one of the former residents’ sons returned. Today, all the houses and streets have been returned to how they were. 

Take the ‘Lost Village’ walking tour (five miles but fairly easy, €20) led by amiable Irishman John.

Holy Week

Holy Week in Malaga Spain

However progressive the post-Franco decades have been, Spain remains a country steeped in its Catholic faith, no more so than in Holy Week (Semana Santa), the days leading up to Easter. 

From cities to villages, the occasion is celebrated nationwide by costumed processions with huge floats displaying religious tableaux and penitents wearing capirotes (tall, conical masked hats). 

The events in Zamora, a 900-year-old former Roman settlement to the northwest, are attuned to tradition, eschewing the more flamboyant commemorations elsewhere.


The city of Ronda

The mountain-top Andalusian town divided by a 330ft gorge. The Puente Nuevo (New Bridge) joins the old Moorish town to the newer part.

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Cider country

Basque Country Spain

If Rioja and chilled sherries eventually lose their allure, head for the Basque Country, where cider-making is as traditional as a black beret. 

Astigarraga is the cider ‘hub’ with independently run cider houses dotted around the region. 

The drink itself – stored in and poured from vast barrels (txotx) – is flat, pungent and, if you’re not careful, heady stuff. Be sure to visit in spring before the barrels are emptied and the cider is bottled.

La Liga football teams

La Liga, Spain

Forget Real Madrid and Barcelona, try one of La Liga’s lesser lights for a ‘proper’ fútbol experience. 

There’s always an amazing atmosphere (whatever the home team’s performance) at Málaga Club de Fútbol’s La Rosaleda stadium, an ideal afternoon or evening for couples and families. 

Keep an eye out for the crazy ex-pat fans known as the Guiri Army with their giant England flag. From €20 admission for adults.

Secret beaches

Playa de Frejulfe

An hour’s drive west from Gijón (a treat in itself), Playa de Frejulfe is one of the most unspoilt beaches on a coastline renowned for them. 

It’s just over half a mile long, sweeping and wide, with a rocky headland and rock pools, all backed by a forest of eucalyptus. 

Prone to rain, but then there’s always a chiringuito (beach café) from which to watch the Atlantic waves rolling in.

The Royal Palace of Aranjuez

The Royal Palace of Aranjuez

An impressive residence of the King of Spain, located in the riverside town of Aranjuez, 45 minutes’ drive south of Madrid. It’s the Spanish equivalent of Hampton Court. 

A royal property since 1523, it’s open to the public as one of the Spanish royal sites and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

The town is majestic too with shady parks, wide streets and squares for relaxing with wine and tapas.

Heavenly caverns

Nerja caves

The series of caves known as Cuevas de Nerja, above, close to the pretty seaside town of the same name was discovered by boys bunking off school in the 1950s. 

Reaching for almost three miles, they are like giant subterranean cathedrals. Be warned, it can be steep inside. 

Back outside, the location is blessed with the best views imaginable across the shimmering sea towards Africa.

Dramatic waterfall

Cascada de Cimbarra

Just beyond the sleepy southern town of Aldeaquemada you’ll find the Cascada de Cimbarra, right, with a breathtaking 130ft drop. 

Flanked by two colossal limestone cliffs, the water plunges into a large green-blue pool. The drive to the top, in a landscape vast yet quiet, is a joy. You’re likely to encounter only deer, eagles and vultures.

Picos de Europa

Pico de la Miel

A relatively unknown national park of spectacular mountains, bridges and lakes 15 miles from the north coast. Ideal for questing walkers. 

It might be better know if it was in the warmer part of Spain so people could get their sun fix, too



The city is rich in history and off the main tourist route, so feels authentic. Don’t miss the Plaza Mayor, one of the loveliest squares in Spain.

Martín Berasategui

Squid ink and rice at Martín Berasategui in Spain

For a splurge, try puffed rice with squid ink at this restaurant in Lasarte-Oria in the Basque Country, rated by many as the best in the world. 

Sierra Nevada

Sierra Nevada

Drive along Europe’s highest road for snow, then head an hour south to sunbathe on the Costa del Sol.

La Rioja

La Rioja

A lovely region – it’s very interesting to see all those grapes growing before they’re transformed into wine. Driving from Santander, it's also the region where you first start to reach warmer and rockier Spain.

Pico de la Miel

Pico de la Miel

Towering over La Cabrera, a small town under an hour from Madrid, this mountain, whose name translates as Peak of the Honey, is interesting and impressive looking and great for walks and adventure. 

Magdalena Peninsula

Magdalena Peninsula

A lovely spot to while away some time while waiting for the ferry at Santander. 

This 62-acre peninsula has a lovely grassy park, polo pitch, palace, (free) zoo, three galleons and a couple of beaches – one with a great fun slide down on to it from up top.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.