The Most Beautiful Villages in Spain association has added 15 destinations to its list for 2020. From the white-washed hillsides of Andalucía to the verdant mountains in Cantabria and rustic cobbled lanes in Mallorca, these are some of the country's most charming spots, where you can find the perfect place to disconnect.
The Most Beautiful Villages in Spain association was formed in 2013 to recognise the country's most picture-perfect settlements, inspired by the Les Plus Beaux Villages de France ('most beautiful villages in France') association. It began with a group of 16 villages and over the years it has gradually added locations to reach a total of 94 villages.
The villages are scattered around the entire country - and some lie in fairly remote spots, where night skies, away from cities polluted by light, offer a dazzling display of stars and by day, you can still hear the clip-clop of a donkey's hoofs on cobblestones.
"It is our goal to promote preferably rural and small towns," the association says on its website. But it's not easy to make the final cut. Only 20% of the candidates become accepted, and they must meet criteria related to conservation, cleanliness, green areas. They also need to possess a recognised cultural heritage or certified natural value and have a population of less than 15,000 inhabitants
This year, 15 villages were added to the list. From the island of Fuerteventura to the central region of Castilla y León and the Cantabrian mountains, here's where you'll find some of the picks for 2020.
Castellar De La Frontera, Andalucía
Built in the 13th century as an Arab fortress to protect a taifa kingdom, this charming village in the Cádiz province offers spectacular views of Parque Natural Los Alcornocales and the Strait of Gibraltar. Its labyrinthine streets are filled with Moorish-style houses, restaurants, cafes and bars swell with tourists in summer.
Castrillo de los Polvazares, Astorga, Castilla y León
On the Camino de Santiago in the central region of Castilla y León, the town of Castrillo de los Polvazares is all cobbled streets, red clay and brightly-coloured windows and doors. It's also famous for its hearty cocido maragato (maragato stew).
This tourist-friendly spot in the Canary Island of Fuerteventura is home to simple, white-washed houses, winding streets and the magnificent 17th-century church and courtyard that overlooks Betancuria. It's one of the most popular destinations on the island but refuses to shake its relaxed and slow-paced vibe.
Hugging the Portuguese border, Olivenza is a sleepy, whitewashed settlement in Extremadura, famous for its Manueline Renaissance style churches and impressive castle. Portuguese influence can be felt here, especially in terms of cuisine and the beautiful blue-and-white ceramic tile street signs.
Mogrovejo is one of Spain's smallest villages with a population of just 44. Tucked away in the Cantabrian mountains against the backdrop of Picos de Europa, it's home to 16th-century stone houses, a medieval watchtower and 17th-century church.
For the full list, see here.