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Paradores, Hotels To Travel Back In Time

Have you ever dreamt of sleeping in a castle or in a monastery?

In a place where Kings ruled, battles ensued, Monks hand wrote old books, pilgrims were looked after… If so, Paradores could be a good place to stay!

It all began in 1910, when Spain wanted to run a state-run hotel network, where travelers would have a better image of the country. A restoration of historic buildings and their conversion into hotels started. Very well-preserved palaces, castles, monasteries, hospitals and fortresses make up today a great network of Paradors:  96 in Spain and 1 in Portugal.

Paradores also include some modern properties which stand out because of their location or views.

They are usually located outside of the big cities, in captivating natural landscapes and mountains, along the pristine coastline, or in charming cobblestoned Medieval towns…Definitely, Paradores stand out as a good reason to go off the beaten path and add something special to your trip to Spain, even for one night.

One common feature to all the Paradors is that they offer exceptional local cuisine.

Here is the list of our favorite Paradores:

1. Parador de Santo Estevo, Ribeira Sacra, Galicia:

An old Benedictine Monastery first mentioned in documents in the 10th century, but believed to be founded in the 6th or 7th century, which was also declared Historic-Artistic Monument in 1923.

Located in the heart of Ribeira Sacra wine region, where the Miño and Sil rivers converge, it is surrounded by a stunning green lush environment. Some of the rooms offer amazing views of the Sil river canyons.

Several architectural styles (Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance), cohabit in this beautiful historic building and its three cloisters.

Its several terraces with views to the forests or in the inside cloister, as well as its gardens, make it the ideal place to unwind and absorb the tranquility of nature while grabbing a local glass of Ribeira Sacra wine.

2. Parador dos Reis Católicos, Santiago de Compostela, Galicia:

Said to be the oldest hotel in the world, this Parador offers 5-star deluxe accommodation.

But apart from being a historic landmark, its sublime location makes it even more special. It is set right in the main square, where the Cathedral of Santiago is located and all St. James pilgrimage routes end.

Dating back to 1499, in its origins, it was a Royal Hospital and it provided lodging and shelter to the numerous pilgrims making their way to Santiago.

This outstanding property has four beautiful cloisters, elegant lounges and luxurious bedrooms.

3. Parador Hostal de San Marcos, León, Castilla y León:

The Parador Hostal de San Marcos is one of the most extraordinary historic hotels in the Old Continent. 

It was built in the 16th century by King Ferdinand the Catholic to house the peninsula’s western headquarters for the Military Order of Saint James. 

It has witnessed many important episodes of Spain’s history: it hosted the order’s chapter meetings, served as a place of confinement for distinguished celebrities such as Francisco Quevedo, and it was used as a concentration camp during the Spanish Civil War.

A magnificent state with elegant and spacious bedrooms and spectacular cloister, chapter house and library.

4. Parador de Corias, Corias, Asturias:

This magnificent Benedictine monastery founded in 1032 was one of the richest and influential in the area. 

It suffered a couple of fires, which destroyed everything with the exception of the church, the sacristy and the library.  

It was rebuilt and today it boasts this fantastic parador hotel, whose basement still preserves its original archaeological remains. 

This Parador has spa facilities, with a heated swimming pool, a Turkish bath, a sauna, treatment rooms…The perfect place to relax in an unbeatable natural environment, which is designated a biosphere reserve by UNESCO. 

5. Parador de Olite, Olite, Navarra:

This majestic Palace-Castle of the 15th century resembles a fairy tale castle. So, if you really wish to have the feeling of sleeping in a castle, this is your place. The King of Navarra also chose this castle to spend his summers and retirement…

Thick stone walls which are home to very well preserved medieval treasures: arcades, stained glass windows…

Being accommodated in this hotel and in the charming Medieval village of Olite is definitely a travel back in time.

Furthermore, you can’t skip a visit to Oliva Monastery, where you can still see Cistercian monks dressed in white gowns strolling and praying around the cloister of the monastery.

6. Parador de Plasencia, Cáceres, Extremadura:

Staying in this parador, one of the oldest in Spain but continuously refurbished and very well preserved, means bringing Spanish history to life. 

Not only because this 15th-century monastery and its thick stone walls, vaulted ceilings and beautiful Gothic style décor are a fascinating trip to the past, but also because of its wonderful strategic location in the old quarter of the heritage town of Plasencia and along the ancient commercial and pilgrimage route known as Ruta de la Plata.  

7. Parador de Granada, Granada, Andalucía:

This luxurious parador lodged in a 14th-century Moorish palace side by side with the Alhambra Palace, is one of the most coveted and history-rich paradors in Spain. So, booking well in advance is a good advice. 

Historic traces are tangible anywhere inside the hotel. It preserves 14th-century tile-work, Moorish baths, original graves of the Catholic Monarchs…

And the main privilege: when you are accommodated at this parador, you are allowed to stroll around the Alhambra’s free-access areas once the crowds leave.

8. Parador de Alcañiz, Teruel, Aragón.

This history-book castle located on top a hill dates back to the 12th and 13th centuries and it became the seat of the Order of Calatrava in 1179.

From this lookout fortress, you will get amazing views of the city of Alcañiz and the Maestrazgo region.

It’s a boutique hotel with excellent treatment from the staff, who will make this castle become your home during your stay.

A real hidden gem with a vast heritage to be discovered off the beaten track, but strategically located between Madrid and Barcelona.

Apart from these spectacular historic landmarks, there are some other outstanding modern and “not so old” Paradores which outstand because of its location. 

To name a few: 

  • Parador of Ronda, located at the edge of the deep gorge and it provides with breathtaking views of the gorge and the surroundings.
  • Parador de Aiguablava: totally refurbished in 2020, it offers a great location and view of the beautiful Costa Brava (Wild Coast). 
  • Parador de Cangas de Onís: located in an unbeatable natural paradise: the National Park of Picos de Europa.

If you are thinking of adding a Parador in your future travel to Spain, do not hesitate to contact us. We will recommend the Parador which best suits you and your itinerary along Spain, as well as unforgettable customized travel experiences in the surroundings.


Ready for a historic stay which will make your trip to Spain a memorable one?

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