Astronomical tourism in Spain: the best places to enjoy it

Spain is a good territory to enjoy looking at the sky. This has been certified by the Starlight Foundation, institutions endorsed by the World Tourism Organization, UNESCO and the International Astronomical Union. Not surprisingly, astronomical tourism in Spain is experiencing a boom .

From the distant Canary Islands to Gerona; From Galicia to Granada , thousands of tourists passionate about stellar tourism travel the geography to observe the sky and enjoy the unique beauty of sustainable tourism with ecological values.

Some of the best places in Spain to enjoy astrotourism

What makes a place suitable for astronomical observation? Astronomers agree that altitude is a guarantee of a good sky to see stars . Hence, many observatories and sky interpretation centers are located in areas close to the mountains.

But not always. There is the case of the Sierra de Guadarrama, where the Madrid effect limits the observation in some areas, although it has some astronomical tourism centers.

Of course , the environment must be free of physical obstacles that limit the vision of the telescopes .

In Spain, fans of star tourism have magnificent places to practice astrotourism.

Canary Islands, the largest source of astronomical tourism in Spain

Las Islas Canarias son uno de los mejores emplazamientos donde ver las estrellas

The best place in Spain to hunt stars is without a doubt La Palma. The climate, the orography and the absence of coastal populations that emit light pollution make such a special place for astronomical observation possible.

There you will find the Roque de los Muchachos International Astronomical Observatory , which is, together with Chile and Hawaii, one of the most complete in the world.

If you are looking for less overcrowding, you can go to Tenerife or Lanzarote, where the conditions are practically identical to look at the stars.

Sierra Morena, the largest Starlight reserve in the world

Although we focus on the Sierra Morena area, all of Andalusia is a privileged area to contemplate the sky. For its part, Sierra Morena concentrates the largest reserve of Starlight points or of the highest quality to observe the sky. Almost 60 municipalities in six natural parks in four provinces.

According to figures from its promoters, 60% of the nights of the year are suitable for astronomical tourism.

Galicia, a jewel for lovers of star tourism

Since the first pilgrims, the Camino de Santiago has been considered as a translation in the Land of the Milky Way. The truth is that the Galician sky, lacking large cities in its interior, has managed to preserve a bright and intense sky.

In particular, it is worth traveling to two points to observe the stars: on the one hand , the National Park of the Atlantic Islands -including the Cíes Islands-, and, on the other, the mountains of Peña Trevinca in the province of Ourense.

In both cases, there is the circumstance that being protected spaces, light pollution is not an impediment to seeing the stars and planets in the sky.

Catalonia, a place to be seduced by astrotourism

Andalucía está especialmente dotada para el turismo astronómico

Catalonia also has Starlight reserves. The most attractive for those less used to these activities is the Sierra del Montesec and the Áger valley, in the province of Lleida. Weather conditions and less light pollution make this a privileged place to contemplate the Milky Way.

The reserve has a Telescope Park and a 3D planetarium that will delight children and adults. The best thing is that admission is free for children under 5 years old.

Astronomical observatories: another way to practice stellar tourism

The starting point of astronomical tourism in Spain was the Roque de los Muchacho Observatory in La Palma de Gran Canaria. Surely the reader has seen reports and images about this enclave, since it is one of the reference centers for astronomical observation at an international level, and, of course, in Europe.

However, the largest telescope in Europe , GREGOR, is located at the Teide Observatory in Tenerife.

Various observatories, more or less professional, have been added to these magical places to gaze at the sky, imposed either by astronomers or professionals in the field. All of them claim the quality of their spaces for astronomical observation without excessive light pollution.

Aras de los Olmos Observatory and AVA Astronomical Observatory

Both located in the interior of the Valencian Community , they have spectacular views of the Mediterranean sky. Of course, in summer, despite being in the interior of the territory, the stars closest to the horizon are lost due to the accumulation of light pollution.

Borobia Observatory, in Soria

Soria exists, and in addition, in some interior tourism proposals it is a pioneer. Such is the case of this Soria town located in Moncayo , in Soria Iberica. The first telescope dedicated to astrotourism in Spain was built there. Guided sessions are organized every summer to learn to observe the sky.

Tiedra, in Valladolid

Without leaving Castilla y León, we find one of the youngest spaces dedicated to stellar tourism. It is the Tiedra Observation Center, in the province of Valladolid. Throughout the year, and as long as there is a minimum number of eight people, guided sessions can be hired to get to know the sky.

All these spaces have a specific program for schools and family tourism. In this way, from the smallest to the adults, everyone enjoys this contact with nature.

Finally, it is a type of sustainable tourism. Each area also claims the need to protect the sky for its observation , research and scientific dissemination. And all this in rural areas at risk of depopulation.