In summer, Spain's lakes and reservoirs become an alternative coastline: far from the sea, with a very different, green environment amidst the mountains. These are alternative "beaches" where you can sunbathe, practise water sports or go for boat trips, enjoying magnificent landscapes at the same time.

The holidays arrive, and with them the question: beach or mountains? Why not both? In inland Spain this is possible. Here you will find stunning, fascinating nature areas, ideal for a multitude of outdoor activities - from hiking to climbing. Here you can also enjoy the summer as if you were by the sea. There are lakes and reservoirs with ideal leisure installations and services, whether you want to do water sports or simply have a quiet swim close to the shore.

In Spain you will discover that you don't have to be on the coast to go sailing, windsurfing and water skiing. Regions such as Castile-León, Madrid, Navarre, Aragon and Extremadura have large areas of water with piers, sailing clubs and leisure companies offering fun, refreshing activities as though you were at the beach, yet surrounded by a very different environment. Instead of saltpetre, you will feel the fresh air of the mountains; instead of palm trees and cliffs, you will see forests and mountainsides. At many of these lakes and reservoirs you can hire the equipment you need, and even sign up for beginners' or advanced courses. The tourist offices in nearby towns will advise you about which activities are available, specialised companies and associations in the area, access, organised outings…

Inland "seas"

In the mountains of the Sierra de Guadarrama (approximately one hour by car from Madrid) you will find various reservoirs such as El Atazar, Valmayor and San Juan, where you can practise sports from sailing and water skiing through to the latest trends like wakeboarding. In the Region of Castile-León, there are also many options for good times in the water. Some examples are Sanabria Lake (Zamora province), where international kayaking regattas are held every summer; Burguillo Reservoir (Ávila province) where you can explore the surrounding area by boat; the freshwater beaches of Cuerda del Pozo Reservoir (Soria province); Aguilar Reservoir (Palencia province) or the southern end of the Ebro Reservoir (Burgos province), where you can take a peaceful canoe trip or try the acrobatics of kite surfing, amongst other options.

We should also mention Extremadura, given that it is the Spanish Region with most kilometres of freshwater coast: the reservoirs of Cíjara, Orellana, la Serena and García de Sola have extensive areas prepared for bathing and water sports. Not forgetting other parts of northern Spain, such as the González Lacasa Reservoir in La Rioja, or the Yesa and Alloz reservoirs in Navarre. The habitual winds here make them ideal for windsurfing and sailing enthusiasts. There is also plenty of choice in Aragon, where you can try all kinds of activities on the Mequinenza, Barasona, El Grado and Mediano reservoirs.

These are some of the extensive areas in Spain where you can enjoy the water far from the sea. An original idea for this year's holidays. Do you fancy it?

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