There are many types of deserts in Spain. Semi-deserts, authentic deserts: this southern European country is the benchmark for the old continent thanks to its arid, dry climate inland. Here are the 6 best deserts in Spain for your next trip in this blog post.
1. Desert Spain: Tabernas, Almeria
The Tabernas desert is the largest in Spain, but also the most authentic. This unusual, dry and arid landscape covers an area of 280 square kilometers and reminds us of the deserts of the American West.
Although it may seem inhospitable at first glance, the desert is home to a wide variety of plants and animals. You can discover this Spanish desert by 4x4, or by hiking.
What's more, no fewer than 300 Western films have been shot here, including Game of Thrones and many Clint Eastwood movies! Indeed, this Spanish desert is renowned for its 60s American Wild West atmosphere. So there's no doubt that this is Spain's most emblematic desert.
In 2014, Ridley Scott filmed his epic, Exodus, where 2,000 black-haired amateur actors were sought for scenes such as the migration of the Jews under the leadership of Moses.
It is also home to a wealth of biodiversity, including several rare birds, such as the globally endangered Iberian imperial eagle, as well as lizards, snakes, hedgehogs and even hares.
The "mini Hollywood" theme park
If you're looking for a fun day out, head to the Hollywood mini theme park, where you can discover all the historical and legendary stories of the desert. There's a Western section with shows worthy of Indiana Jones, a giant zoo section and a swimming pool section.
Visit the town of Tabernas
You can also visit the town of Tabernas. Mostly abandoned, it is nonetheless full of surprises thanks to its Moorish heritage dating back to the Moorish occupation of Andalusia.
Finally, the desert is home to several interesting rock formations, including sandstone cliffs, canyons and dunes.
2. The Gorafe desert, Andalusia
Gorafe lies in the heart of the arid lands of Andalusia, around 200km northeast of Málaga. It is one of the most incredible places in the region.
The other attraction of the Gorafe desert is, of course, its sublime landscapes, which were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2020. There are impressive canyons such as Los Coloraos. A 25km trail allows you to explore the site while enjoying the relaxing atmosphere.
The route follows the line of the canyon, in the form of a loop. Be warned: the entire circuit is very long for those tempted to explore it by hiking or trekking.
For motorists, it is advisable to use a 4x4 vehicle to master the circuit's rugged sections. You can also use a conventional vehicle, but be sure to follow the routes recommended by the guides.
An archaeological site unique in Spain and Europe
The village boasts an impressive archaeological heritage, which can be seen in the village itself, which boasts no fewer than 300 "cave houses", as well as in the Gorafe megalithic park, where you can discover remains dating back to 2500 BC.
3. Spanish desert: the Los Monegros Desert, Aragon
The Los Monegros Desert is a semi-desert located in northern Spain, in the province of Aragon, between the cities of Zaragoza and Huesca. It is characterized by an arid climate with temperatures that can reach 45 degrees, among the highest in Europe.
Los Monegros is a very vast region, covering no less than 2,700 km². So it's a real cinema set that awaits you if you choose this destination to visit a desert in Spain.
The landscape consists mainly of arid steppes dotted with a few shrubberies. The rock formations, created by erosion, are thousands of years old.
Come and enjoy the Monegros Desert Festival
The Los Monegros desert also hosts a summer music festival, the Monegros Desert Festival, or the music festival in the middle of nowhere. Over the years, the event has become one of the most popular electronic music festivals in Europe.
4. The Abanilla Desert, Murcia
The Abanilla Desert is located in the province of Murcia, in south-eastern Spain. It covers an area of around 2,500 square kilometers (100km long by 25km wide).
The climate of this Spanish desert is hot and very dry, with little rainfall and little vegetation. The average temperature is around 45.7 degrees Celsius, the highest in Spain. So it's best to plan your visit for the winter months.
The landscape of the Abanilla desert is characterized by dunes, rocky outcrops and sparse vegetation. There are a few small towns and villages located in the desert, but the majority of the area is uninhabited.
Visitors can explore the desert on foot, by quad bike or even 4x4. With its otherworldly landscapes, the Mahoya Desert is an unforgettable place not to be missed.
5. The Bardenas Reales desert, Navarre
The Bardenas Reales is a semi-desert area in Navarre, Spain. The desert is home to a wide variety of plants and animals, including many rare and endangered species such as the Egyptian vulture and the American crayfish.
There are many impressive mountain peaks, the highest of which, Loma Negra, is 646 meters high. You can discover dozens of other peaks during your visit to this Spanish desert.
Discover the different regions of the Bardenas Reales
The Bardenas Reales desert is divided into 3 distinct geographical areas:
- La Negra: containing the famous "Loma Negra".
- La Blanca: the lowest part of the desert, with numerous ravines and the "earth castle", a singular and astonishing peak shaped by erosion to resemble a real castle!
- El Plano: the most northerly region of the desert, made up mainly of valleys and crops, with a few hills thrown in for good measure.
The desert is also home to a wide variety of Mediterranean plants such as the Aleppo pine. If you're looking for a unique and beautiful place to visit, Les Bardenas Reales is well worth a visit.
6. Fuerteventura, the desert in the Canary Islands
Fuerteventura enjoys an exceptional location in Spain, as it borders the coast of Morocco. The climate is therefore arid, with extremely mild winters.
The spectacular dunes, sculpted by the wind, take on strange shapes, creating a surreal landscape that evokes a mysterious world. The rare vegetation, resilient to the arid conditions, adds a touch of life to this desert universe.
As the sun sets, the sky blazes with shades of orange and pink, while the stars begin to twinkle in the dark firmament. The magic of the desert is at work, and everyone can lose themselves in the contemplation of this spellbinding natural tableau. The most beautiful of journeys!
Bonus: Are there any deserts in France?
If you mean a desert in the original sense of the word, i.e. an arid zone characterized by sparse vegetation and sparsely populated territory such as that found in Spain, North Africa, the Middle East or even the United States, then no, there are no deserts in France.
Nevertheless, there are areas in regions such as Languedoc and the PACA region that experience conditions similar to a desert or semi-desert with lots of wind, but because they are too small, they cannot be described as desert areas.