How do Spain’s fjords compare to Norway?

The fjords of Spain

The river Sil, Galicia. Credit: BearFotos/

Norway is famous for its spectacular fjords which are a huge draw for tourists. However, one might not have to travel quite that far as Spain offers its very own which are arguably just as stunning.

A fjord is typically a long, deep inlet surrounded by steep cliffs, carved by glaciers. Countries such as Norway, Iceland, and New Zealand are renowned for these geological wonders.

Spain’s version swaps rivers for the sea, boasting equally dramatic landscapes. Let’s travel through Spain to discover some of the county’s most breathtaking natural features.

Exploring Riaño in Leon

Riaño. Credit: Jon Chica/

In the province of Leon, the Picos de Europa National Park marks one of Spain’s oldest protected areas. Established in the early 20th century, this region later saw the addition of the Riaño reservoir to its protected status in 1994.

The area features mountainous terrains with altitudes ranging from 1,000 to 2,000 meters and river valleys that create fjord-like formations.

Gilbo Peak, reaching a height of 1,679 meters, is a favourite among hikers. The Riaño area is also home to wildlife such as the brown bear and the capercaillie, whose presence adds to the region’s natural allure.

Arribes del Duero’s natural splendour

Moving to the border of Zamora and Salamanca, the Arribes del Duero offers spectacular fjord-like views formed by the erosion of the Tormes, Duero, Huebra, Uces, and Camaces rivers.

These waters have carved through the mountains over centuries, creating deep canyons. Among them, the Uces River reveals the breathtaking Pozo de los Humos waterfall, one of the Iberian Peninsula’s most picturesque sites.

The Arribes del Duero Natural Park can be explored by boat from Miranda do Douro or Aldeadavila de la Ribera. For panoramic views, the viewpoints of Ledesma, Mirador del Fraile, Picon de Felipe, and Las Barrancas are outstanding.

The majestic Sil River Canyon

In Galicia, the Sil River carves through the landscape, creating one of Spain’s most stunning fjords in the Ribeira Sacra.

The river’s erosive power is evident in the steep, vegetation-covered cliffs that frame the waterway. The best way to experience this natural beauty is by catamaran, which tours the municipalities of Parada de Sil, Nogueira de Ramuin, A Teixeira, and Sober, with piers at Santo Estevo, Doade, and Augas.

The dramatic Hoces del Rio Duraton

Established in 1989, the Hoces del Rio Duraton Natural Park in Segovia showcases a remarkable section of the river extending from Sepulveda to the Burgomillodo dam. Here, the river’s meanders create cliffs up to 70 meters high, displaying vibrant green and ochre hues.

The natural beauty is complemented by the presence of griffon vultures, golden eagles, Egyptian vultures, and peregrine falcons soaring above, providing a stark contrast to the human perspective from scenic viewpoints or canoes.

Spain’s fjords are a testament to the country’s diverse and spectacular landscapes, rivalling those of Norway and offering a closer look at nature’s magnificent artistry.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.