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Tourists enjoying the views in Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park in Cádiz, Andalucía

3 ideas for rural tourism in Spain, for a more peaceful kind of holiday

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Sometimes the best way to enjoy your holiday is to look for somewhere peaceful and quiet where you can totally relax. Escape from the city and stay in a little village with a delightfully rural feel.  Get ready to discover three villages in the heart of nature, in perfect harmony with their surroundings. 

1. Orbaneja del Castillo and its waterfall reaching more than 25 metres high

Considered one of the prettiest villages in the Sedano valley in Burgos, Orbaneja del Castillo has something that makes it unique – a spectacular waterfall cuts through it, gradually forming little pools of turquoise-blue water. The torrent of water flows down from on high through the little streets of the village from the Cueva del Agua, a wonderful rocky hollow where you can see a few little samples of cave art. It's no surprise that the village has been awarded the status of Property of Cultural Interest as a historical site.One of the best ways to get there and to enjoy the scenery at the same time is on foot, walking for 5 km along the banks of the Ebro river from Escalada. When you arrive, you'll find little medieval houses with wooden balconies overflowing with flowers of every colour. The waterfall has plenty of water throughout the year, and from here there are hiking routes that'll allow you to enjoy the magnificent natural landscapes. 

View of the waterfall crossing the village of Orbaneja del Castillo in Burgos

2. Alquézar and its 9th-century hilltop church

In the Somontano de Barbastro district near the city of Huesca, the spectacular village of Alquézar is tucked between the mountains of the Pyrenees and the river Vero. When you arrive, you'll discover the famous collegiate church of Santa María la Mayor, a castle built in the ninth century AD that was declared a National Monument in 1931, and a Historic-Artistic Site in 1982. This is a compulsory visit, you can stroll around the Romanesque cloister and admire the asymmetrical walls, paired columns and semicircular arches. Starting out at the main square you can wander around the magnificent old quarter with its picturesque houses. The spectacular landscape of limestone and imposing cliffs make this an ideal place for canyoning. In fact, this area is right on the edge of Sierra de Guara Natural Park, where you'll find hundreds of options for having a great time, including tours on foot, horseback, or bike. The trails are marked Sendero Turístico de Aragón and Camino Natural del Somontano de Barbastro. Add a visit to the Rio Vero Culture Park to your chosen route, where you can see prehistoric cave paintings of deer in Chimiachas. 

Aerial view of the village of Alquézar, Huesca

3. Zahara de la Sierra and its Nasrid legacy

Zahara de la Sierra is a tiny village in the province of Cádiz in Andalusia that sits at the heart of Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park between the rivers Guadalete and Bocaleones. Well known as part of the White Towns Route, you'll fall instantly in love with the stunning, colourful scenery around it.  If you walk along the Calle Ronda you'll discover Alameda de Lepanto, a square where nobody can resist snapping a photo from the viewpoint. As you look out from here, you'll see how the reservoir curls around the village, and you can follow the paths leading to the Garganta Verde, a 40 metre high canyon, with your eye. Continuing along the same street you can also reach the Plaza de San Juan, where the chapel of San Juan de Letrán and the Torre del Reloj stand. Finally, make your way slowly upwards until you come to the impressive legacy of the Nasrid dynasty at the top of the village, the castle and the famous Torre del Homenaje. 

Aerial view of Zahara de la Sierra, a village surrounded by Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park in Cádiz
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