by Michael Madsen, your guide to the authentic


Location: El Rocío is one of the most charming places in the province of Huelva. The village of El Rocío is surrounded by swamps and marshlands and it´s the main door to the Doñana National Park.

Unique and Timeless…

It´s though you´ve stepped back in time when you stroll through the dusty sandy streets with impressively large white houses complete with verandas and wooden rails for tying up horses, where people in cowboy boots and colourful Seville style dresses line the streets, where horses have the priority over everything and music is played day and night.

For most of the year, the small hamlet of El Rocío is just about as deserted a place as you could wish to find. These beautiful houses are usually uninhabited except at the time of the pilgrimage.

Enjoy your meal at a restaurant in the sand

It is, nevertheless, not only the sand and the horses that make the village special; No one lives in El Rocio, but don´t make the mistake to think this place is abandoned… Instead, it’s a site of acts of festive pilgrimage where the devout from the region make their way to the village to visit it´s famous statue of the Virgin Mary. So there are always big groups of pilgrims accommodated in the many houses in the village – and always a festive atmosphere here.

The celebration known as ¨Romeria¨, combines religion and fiesta, and is held 50 days after Easter. The most traditional way to make the pilgrimage is on horseback, in a horse-drawn cart or on foot, wearing the traditional flamenco dress.

Why not take a walk and soak up this rather peculiar and unique atmosphere. Visit the impressive Hermitage of El Rocío, which is a cathedral and home to the Virgin of El Rocío. Across the street you´ll find “Sala de Velas”, where you can buy and light a candle. In Plaza del Acebuche we can find the “Chozo El Toruño”. These huts were built entirely from local plant materials like chestnut, and some even had mud walls. Around the church there are lots of souvenir shops selling pilgrimage-related paraphernalia.

El Rocio is located right next to Spain’s largest wetland area; the Doñana National Park. Storks, swans and flamingos strut in their natural habitat in the Doñana National Park as it houses a diverse ecosystem of regional living creatures, including the endangered Iberian lynx. Directly from the promenade in El Rocio you have views over the wetlands and see, among other things, storks, swans and flamingos in their natural habitat.

Wetlands of Doñana seen from the promenade in El Rocio



Here are three nice places to stay in El Rocio:

Studio El Rocio
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Palacio Doñana
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El Cazadero Real
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Further unique accommodation



My Story:

Ever since childhood, I have experienced artificial tourist areas. But when I tried to create holidays with authentic experiences myself, I ran into big problems… It was deeply frustrating, I couldn’t make a living from it and I was afraid of losing everything.

I was weak and vulnerable – it was a painful time. But I succeeded in the end – and it is a fantastic feeling to know the secret to having authentic holidays. You can also ensure holidays without tourist crowds – fortunately, there is still hope!

Read my full story