THE 10 BEST PLACES TO SEE STARS IN SPAIN
Finding a spot where you really can appreciate the night sky and see the stars clearly is a truly special and humbling experience. But finding a pristine location where you can enjoy the cosmos is not an easy task these days. Fortunately, Spain has several such spots you can enjoy and several experts in astrophysics and astrotourism have hand-picked the best of the best. So let’s jump right in and go over the 10 best places to see stars in Spain.
Unfortunately, none of these picks are too close to any major cities, since it is practically impossible to see any stars in these areas due to the light pollution cities generate. For this reason, we propose these clear natural landscapes where you can contemplate the stars that shine in the sky in all their splendor.
The Canary Islands are not only the best place to see the stars in Spain, it is one of the premier places in the world to gaze up at the vastness of space.
This pick comes with the backing of Antonia Varela, head of the multimedia service of the Astrophysical Institute of the Canary Islands (IAC) and auditor of the Starlight Foundation who has described the Canary Islands as the best places on the planet for astronomical observation. Antonia works hard “in defense of the Night Sky and the right to observe the stars”, and stresses that the Canary Islands are “among the world’s elite places for astronomy.”
The two best places within the Canary Islands for stargazing are on the island of La Palma and the island of Tenerife.
Gredos Natural Park (Avila)
This site is high up on our list because of the quality of the views and the ideal location. Gredos Natural park is located just an hour outside of Madrid. According to Emilia Juárez, an expert in Astrotourism projects since 2003, a Starlight astronomical monitor and collaborator of the Radio San Vicente, the Sierra de Gredos is a must for anyone visiting the spain’s capital that wants to do some stargazing.
In particular, the Sierra Norte has been designated as a “‘Starlight Destination”. La sierra Norte is a deep-sky astrophotographers dream.
Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park (Huesca)
The Ordesa National park during the day is one of Spain’s most underrated National Parks. At night it becomes an enchanting setting where one can observe the night sky. Javier Armentia highlights the peaks of the Pyrenees and, specifically, Ordesa is the best location within the park: “I learned on those peaks that when you look into the depths of the night you almost feel dizzy, thinking that instead of actually going up into space we could fall into it as if It was a deep hole.”
“Lying down, the gravity that binds us to the Earth seems to disappear, and we float on those stories of so many cultures and on those places that science discovers for us.”
Foz de Arbayún Nature Reserve (Navarra)
Staying in northern Spain, near Ordesa, we find Foz de Arbayún Nature Reserve. This pick comes from Alex Dantart, who runs Observatorio.info, the official Spanish translation of the American Space Agency’s (NASA) “Astronomical Picture of the Day” (APOD) since 1995. Dantart loves Foz because of the rocky landscape of the park which in his opinion makes for some of the most spectacular shots in astrophotography.
Another pick that is very close to Madrid. Valldal is just an hour outside of the country’s capital and is a nice quiet area just far enough from the capital that one can enjoy the night sky, but close enough to come and go the same day. You can even find organized group activities regularly that take place in this hidden corner of Madrid.
The Alpujarra – Sierra Nevada (Granada)
Emilia Juárez explains that during the Moorish occupation of the Penninsula, the landscape was transformed on the southern face of the Sierra Nevada, turning the Alpujarra into a place full of beautiful nooks and cranies that will take us back to that time, which ads to the allure of stargazing in this area
The Moors also left us many stargazing traditions and legends during this time.
At the Alpujarra Astronomical Observatory, a facility aimed at educating secondary school students, you can discover how the sky tells us stories from other cultures and how traditions and nature come together in the rhythms that mark the stars.
Sierra de Albarracín and the region of Gúdar Javalambre (Teruel)
Another favorite spot in Spain of Dantart.The Sierra de Albarracín made the list “because of the maximum distance of light pollution from large cities and the ease of access.”
In the same area, you can also visit The Gúdar Javalambre region, which was Emilia Juárez’s choice for this list for offering a “diverse range of astrotourism activities in a sky recognized as ‘Reserve’ and ‘Destination’ by the Starlight Foundation.
The affiliated establishments adopt the name of the brightest stars.
Peña Trevinca (A Veiga, Ourense)
Galicia also has incredible areas to see the stars and one of them is the Peña Trevinca, an area that during the winter months usually features snowy peaks and even glaciers can form and, in summer, offers an incredible site from where you can enjoy the clear sky. Excursions are usually organized and many experts say that it is one of the best places in the country to see the stars.
Batuecas-Sierra de Francia Natural Park (Salamanca)
The Batuecas Natural Park is one of the most underrated sites on this list. Batuecas offers one of the cleanest and most pristine night skies on our list with some of the lowest levels of light pollution in all of the Penninsula. It is also very close to Guijuelo, which is a plus, as the region is well known for it’s gastronomy and Iberico ham.
Sierra de Montsec (Lleida and Huesca)
The Sierra de Montsec is another site that offers optimal conditions for observing the sky have also served to receive the qualification of “Starlight Reserve”.
Here you can also find an Astronomical Observation Center.
More information on Spain´s astronomy can be found at the ESA site