Vehicle crossing the Doñana National Park

In this article I am going to show you what to see and do in Doñana, a protected natural space located between the provinces of Huelva, Seville and Cádiz. The great extension and strategic location between the European and African continents make the Doñana Natural Area one of the most important wetlands in Europe and one of the last refuges for numerous endangered species such as the Iberian imperial eagle or the Iberian lynx. .

what to see and do in doñanawhat to see and do in doñana
Iberian Lynx

Although in this article you can find the best places to see in Doñana We encourage you to visit our guide to visiting Doñana to know when to go, how to visit it and which are the best excursions EVERYTHING UPDATED to 2024! You will also find images of one of the most popular Doñana traditions, the Take out of the Maresas well as information on how to see lynxes in Doñana easily.

Doñana You can visit it on your own or through a guided tour. If you visit it on your own it will obviously be much cheaper since you won’t have to pay anything. However, there are tourist companies that have the exclusivity to take certain tours through Doñana and logically you do have to pay. In any case, you should know that both in the free and guided visit you will be able to learn about the different ecosystems that make up Doñana and in them you will be able to observe its landscape and zoological diversity. Having said this, I indicate the best places to see in Doñana and the best excursions.

The best excursions in Doñana

These are some of the best excursions in Doñana.

Raya Real in the Coto del Rey in Doñana

The path of Raya Real (closed to motor vehicle traffic) in the King’s Coto It is for me one of the most beautiful places what to see in Doñana. Here you can walk freely among stone pines, cork oaks, wild olive trees and mastic trees. You can start the route from Ajoli Bridge (in El Rocío), one of the most emblematic places of the El Rocío pilgrimage. The bridge is located just 500 meters from the Almonteña village (see the Google maps at the end of this post).

If you take this tour, with luck you will be able to see some of the Iberian lynxes in the town of Doñana in the area known as Fat Matas. I have had it on a few occasions…

What to see in DoñanaWhat to see in Doñana
Iberian Lynx in the Raya Real, Doñana

In any case, if the purpose of your trip to Doñana is see the Iberian lynx It is more advisable to visit the Sierra de Andujar Natural Park.

José Antonio Valverde Visitor Center

Another of my favorite places in Doñana is José Antonio Valverde Visitor Centeralso know as Closed Garrido, toponym of the area. The center is reached by a path that crosses the Doñana marsh and is the excursion par excellence for lovers of ornithology. You can go on your own by motorized vehicle, but I suggest you go by 4×4 unless you don’t want to leave dozens of screws along the way.

If you don’t have much experience with birds, take a look at these Practical tips for traveling to see or observe birds. Birdwatching.

what to see and do in doñanawhat to see and do in doñana
Egret in Huelva marsh

Getting to the Visitor Center is not an easy task and you must keep in mind that once in the Guadalquivir marshes you will not find many people to ask, although there are already indications.

At the visitor center you will be able to contemplate splendid panoramic views of its sheet of water and the species that frequent and nest there: blackbirds, crabeaters, bitterns, purple and gray herons… A true spectacle of nature and life! You can go to José Antonio Valverde from the towns of Villamanrique de la Condesa, Villafranca del Guadalquivir or Puebla del Río. If you stay in El Rocío the best option is to go from Villamanrique de la Condesa.

Flamingos in DoñanaFlamingos in Doñana
Flamingos in Doñana

You can also visit Cerrado Garrido (or José Antonio Valverde) with some of the nature companies located in Dew. I know those of Doñana Tours y Doñana Reservations (the latter is the old Doñana Ecuestre). Of all the excursions offered by these two companies, I recommend that you reserve a place in advance. this 4×4 excursion through Doñana because cancellation is free (in case you can’t finally go) and because it will allow you to go directly to Cerrado Garrido from Dew crossing the Raya Real (I already mentioned that you cannot cross the Raya Real by motor vehicle on your own) and therefore you will have a chance of seeing the Iberian lynx.

Sendero Laguna del Jaral

Another good option to get to know Doñana is to enter the dune front of the Asperillo Cliff making the trail Laguna del Jaral (It’s free). It is one of my favorite routes and has a surprise ending that I prefer not to tell you about and that you discover it in person.

Map of Laguna del Jaral in DoñanaMap of Laguna del Jaral in Doñana
Laguna del Jaral trail map

The starting point of the route begins about 7 km on the A-494 Matalascañas highway towards Mazagón and access is free. The trail begins on the left side of the road. Once you finish the route you won’t want to leave there.

I leave you a map and some images of the trail. Take the sandwich and water. Do not forget.

Laguna del Jaral, DoñanaLaguna del Jaral, Doñana
Stone pines in Doñana
Laguna del Jaral, DoñanaLaguna del Jaral, Doñana
Doñana Dunes

Cuesta de Maneli, Doñana

Also on the dune front of the Asperillo Cliff you can go to the Maneli slopewhich through a free access path of a few hundred meters you will reach a virgin beach where, depending on the time of year you go, you will find it full or not of visitors.

Cuesta de Maneli, DoñanaCuesta de Maneli, Doñana
Access trail to Cuesta Maneli

The place is a spectacle of contrasts, with a whole range of ocher and reddish colors. The access is also on the A-494 (Matalascañas towards Mazagón), past the Laguna del Jaral intersection and also on the left. It has a large parking lot next to the A-494, so you will not have difficulties finding it.

We have included this place in our article the best beaches in Huelva and it is very close to the Matalascañas beach. If you are interested in the local beaches you can read our article route through the virgin beaches of Huelva and Algarve.

Arroyo de La Rocina, one of the best places to see in Doñana

A good way to get to know Doñana for free is by entering the La Rocina visitor center. The trails of the stream of «La Rocina» are located just 200-300 meters from Dew. Here you will be able to see one of the most important streams in the hydrological processes of the Doñana marsh.

Egret to see in DoñanaEgret to see in Doñana
egret in flight

La Rocina has several bird observatories and an interpretation center. It is a magnificent place for observing ducks and waders and excellent for seeing marsh harriers. I leave you a map of the area and a couple of photos taken from one of the observatories. On the map, the red dot is the entrance and the visitor center. The celestial rectangles are the observatories.

Trails of La Rocina to see in DoñanaTrails of La Rocina to see in Doñana
La Rocina Center
Common coot or chickadeeCommon coot or chickadee
Coot in the Doñana marsh

Acebron Palace

The track that leads to the Acebron Palace. To get to the palace you must park your vehicle in a free parking lot. From there you have two options. 1) go directly to the palace along the central track or 2) do the 2.1 km “Charco del Acebron” trail. which begins on the right hand side of the parking lot and enters a leafy, idyllic and beautiful riverside forest until it reaches the Charco del Acebron (created by the Las Rocinas stream).

Acebron Palace what to see in DoñanaAcebron Palace what to see in Doñana
Acebron Palace

At the end of the route you will be able to visit the interior of the Palace for free, where you can see an exhibition of utensils and customs of the ancient inhabitants of the area. Go up to the roof. From there you will have an excellent panoramic view of this magical corner of Doñana.

El Acebuche, another of the places to see in Doñana

As the last corner of Doñana, I would like to talk to you about The Acebuche, whose visit is also free. Several walking trails start from El Acebuche that lead to bird observatories. Look at the plan.

El Acebuche trail map
Trails in El Acebuche

But also, the Acebuche is the reference point for the guided tours to Doñana. The vehicles leave from the Visitor Center and make, in my opinion, the most complete visit of the entire park. A 4×4 tour of about 70 km that I highly recommend.

The visit is managed by the Marismas del Rocío Andalusian Cooperative Society. During the tour you will cross Castilla beach (named after Doñana beach, with its coal tower, one of the 11 beacon towers ordered to be built in the 16th century by Philip II between the mouth of the Guadalquivir and the Guadiana to monitor the attacks by the Barbary pirates and which is currently also a refuge for a pair of peregrine falcons), the mobile dunes, the marsh, the vera (ecotone or transition zone between the marsh and the stabilized sands or preserves), the forest and the scrub area.

Carbonero Tower in DoñanaCarbonero Tower in Doñana
Carbonero Tower on Doñana beach

The excursion makes several stops, including a visit to the town of La Plancha (located in front of the Cadiz town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda) and another in the mobile dunes of Doñana, an excellent place to test your athletic potential, especially the long jump.

Dunes in the parkDunes in the park
A group of friends (including me) jump one of the dunes of Doñana during a stop on the official visit

If you want to do the OFFICIAL VISIT DOÑANA NATIONAL PARK click on this link to reserve. If there are no places try this other 4×4 excursion also in Doñana which, as I mentioned before, usually always has places and is also somewhat cheaper.

Access to El Acebuche is at km. 12 of the A-483 between Dew and Matalascañas. Continuing approximately 2 km. A paved track leads to a large parking lot next to the Visitor Center.

Map with places to see in Doñana

I geoposition the places for you what to see in Doñana cited in this post in the following map.

Where to sleep in Doñana

To visit Doñana, I recommend staying in the village of El Rocío or on the beach of Matalascañas. A good idea is to stay in the bungalows of the camping La Aldea de El Rocío, with excellent services. There are other good options in El Rocío, such as sleeping in a typical rural house such as the Hotel La Malvasia or en La Fonda del Rocío. For cheaper options see this list of cheap hotels in Matalascanas, cheap hotels in El Rocio y cheap hotels in Almonte.


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