Maybe you still did not know it so we’ll tell you: this year (2019) we will move to Spain! We could not be happier. So we open this section called Spain Road Trip because soon you will find us many times looking for that moment that allows us to stay a few days in contact with nature. We will share with you some getaway ideas from big cities because we believe it is necessary to cut with the routine, get on the car, and return to our natural roots.
On this occasion, we would like to show you a small Spain Road Trip for a long weekend around Zaragoza, more precisely to five places as wonderful as different: the Mallos de Riglos and the Loarre Castle, the Lumbier and Arbayún gorges, and the Bardenas Reales. Nature and history in three unforgettable days. Shall we start?
SPAIN ROAD TRIP: A LONG WEEKEND AMONG HISTORY AND NATURE
As we said, it’s time to propose a little getaway in this new section of SPAIN ROAD TRIP as we know that sometimes time is not enough and maybe you only have one or two days to enjoy something different. Or, as on this occasion, a long weekend to take advantage of an extra day.
We propose a circular route of less than 500 kilometers from and to Zaragoza to dazzle you with landscapes as varied as they are wonderful.
SPAIN ROAD TRIP
DAY 1: LOARRE CASTLE AND MALLOS DE RIGLOS
After picking up the car in Zaragoza, we will travel just 100 kilometers to reach, in just over an hour, a stunning historic site in the province of Huesca. We are talking about the Loarre Castle, built in the 11th century. Its excellent state of conservation allows us to enjoy one of the best examples of military and civil architecture of Romanesque in Spain.
It was named a Cultural Interest Site and National Monument in 1906, and it is trying to get its name as a World Heritage Site. The castle, surrounded by a long wall, sits on a promontory of limestone, which made it impossible to mine its walls during a siege.
It is the best preserved Romanesque fortress in Europe, so your visit is more than necessary to understand the architectural style of the time.
Its natural environment and the way in which the castle blends with the rock is so spectacular, that it was “used” as scenario for numerous films. The best known is Ridley Scott’s film “The Kingdom of Heaven,” starring Orlando Bloom, Eva Green, Liam Neeson, and Jeremy Irons, in which the entire town of Loarre played as an extra.
The visit time to the castle varies according to the season of the year but it goes from 10 in the morning to 20 in summer.
The cost of the entrance is very economical: 4.50 euros per person or 6 euros with guided tour included, something that can make the tour more interesting.
To learn more about the castle, visit its website: http://castillodeloarre.es/en/
MALLOS DE RIGLOS
Just 26 kilometers away from the Castle of Loarre, is the town of Riglos, which is characterized by being in the shadow of some very special giants: vertical walls that reach up to 300 meters high.
These beautiful natural formations originated in the Tertiary and suffered a strong erosion of the river and the wind throughout history. Its reddish color, due to iron and clays, look spectacular during the sunset.
That’s why we left this route for lunch. The Mallos de Riglos are recognized worldwide for being a vertical climbers paradise. But I’m not going to propose a very extreme activity here.
This day we will make a pleasant hike. It is a circular route that will take us from the entrance of the town of Riglos, back and forth, down and up, walking among these giants.
This 5.5 kilometer hike will take us about two and a half hours to complete (always depending on your energy, and the pace you want to put on the hike). It has a vertical gain of 470 meters and a vertical descent of 465. It is of low / moderate difficulty.
You´ll start in the village on a street that suddenly begins to ascend. You have to follow it and leave the town. Then all you have to do is let yourself be guided by the white and red marks of the GR1 to the post that marks the circular loop.
We will continue our trekking ascending among the easternmost mallos, enjoying the majestic views of Los Mallos to the left, and the viewpoint of the vultures to the right.
Through a stone path, we will reach the viewpoint of the Espinalba, to marvel at the Pisón and Fire mallos, and then begin the descent towards the impressive circus that is formed by the north face of Mallo Piso.
You will feel very small when walking through the base of the mallos. If you are lucky enough you will see some climber ascending, defying gravity, and some other griffon vulture flying through the skies.
After that beautiful walk, it will be the ideal time to rest, to end the journey, and prepare for what will come.
DAY 2: LUMBIER GORGE AND ARBAYÚN GORGE
Just 105 kilometers separate us from the Mallos de Riglos to the entrance to the Lumbier Gorge, in Navarre. We will start there a wonderful day suitable for everyone, even for the youngest children.
This Natural Reserve, the nest of huge birds of prey such as the griffon vulture or the Egyptian vulture, is a magnificent canyon carved by the passage of the Iratí River and runs along 1.3 kilometers between vertical walls of between 150 and 400 meters height.
Unlike what we saw in the Mallos, these walls are covered with vegetation and allow us a unique opportunity to appreciate the great birds of prey in their natural state.
The walk is very pleasent, suitable even for baby strollers, on a straight path, where the old electric railroad passed, crossing two dark tunnels that give us a perfect moment of shade and enjoying the sound of the emerald river passing at our feet and the birds flying over our heads.
At the end of the way, you will arrive at the Puente del Diablo (Devil´s Bridge) from where you can see a great view of the last sector of the gorge.
If you visit the Gorge during the hot months, you can take a dip in the river in one of its several descents. But I must warn you that beyond the heat outside, the river water stays cold (very cold) throughout the year.
ARBAYÚN GORGE AND ISO VIEWPOINT
As the walk in the Lumbier Gorge will not take you more than an hour, you still have plenty of time to enjoy another of the natural wonders of the region.
We are talking about the Arbayún Gorge, much less accessible than the one in Lumbier, but with a viewpoint that will leave you speechless: the Iso viewpoint. From there you will feel like a bird of prey because you will be higher than them.
You can perfectly appreciate the passage of the Salazar River between the huge vertical walls of 300 meters high and 5.6 km long, and understand how their passage has left these wonderful shapes in its path.
DAY 3: BARDENAS REALES
It is surprising that the Natural Park of the Bardenas Reales of ocher and orange colors, is not a known place even for the Spaniards themselves.
In the province of Navarre, and just 100 kilometers from the gorges of our previous day (and 100 km away of Zaragoza for the return), this semi-desert landscape of 42,500 hectares declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO extends.
Its soils of clays, plasters and sandstones, eroded by the action of rain and wind, have created, and continue to create, fantastic forms that seem to come from a desert in Utah or Arizona rather than from a Spanish province.
It can be perfectly visited by car as its roads take you along the most attractive trails and, in their different stops allow you to park and enjoy a walk.
Access is free and the park is open from 8 in the morning until an hour before dusk (in winter dusk is at 17.30).
To explore this Spanish landscape, there are cycling and walking paths, although it is not advisable to do it in the summer because of the intense heat.
The best time to visit: if you want to live a different experience, the best time is mid-September when El Paso is made, a traditional festival that has been celebrated since the Middle Ages where tens of thousands of sheep accompanied by their shepherds descend from the Pyrenean valleys of Roncal and Salazar to take advantage of the bardenero grass in the months of autumn and winter.
If you want, you can return that same day to Zaragoza since you will be only 100 kilometers away. This way you would conclude the first of the several roads through Spain that we will offer you.
As you have seen, in just 3 days you will have traveled in time to a castle of the eleventh century, you will have walked among giants, passed through tunnels listening to an emerald river, and you will have enjoyed an unexpected desert of strange shapes.
Three days may seem little, but if you plan and investigate, a Spain Road Trip can give you unforgettable moments.
Soon we will be giving you new ideas of Spain Road Trip s. I hope you can leave your opinions in a comment below and, above all, a message telling us about which place you would like to know more. Maybe we have already gone and we can share it with you!