Firstly, if you like natural environments then allow a whole day to visit El Torcal. This review and photos are based on a visit late in the day when the light was fading and the visitor centre closed. It was still a memorable experience.
El Torcal is a high limestone plateau shaped by time, wind and weather into fantastic sculptural forms. In addition, the harsh rocks support plants clinging to life in little crevices, especially good to see in Spring when beautiful flowers appear. Even the drive up is stunning as the road rises from the plain giving ever wider views.
Birdwatchers will want to take binoculars as Griffon Vultures have been reported here along with many smaller species. There are lizards which like to bask on the rocks. Spanish Ibex live among the rocks. The one in the photo was easy to spot, in fact it seemed to be keeping an eye on the visitors from the safety of a rocky ridge.
The visitor centre is the starting point for four trails which make shorter or longer circuits through the park. It’s best to stay on these as the park is a big area and the ground is rough and rocky. Even on the trails, wear strong shoes. Remember sun protection in the high clear air.
The clear air is good for studying the night sky. The visitor centre has an astronomy unit with telescopes. This is used by school and university groups during the week but on Saturdays it is open to the public. English language information is not easy to find. Run the website astrotorcal.es through translation software to find details of events and book places. The centre will let you know if the event is cancelled due to bad weather. A bit of effort but this could be great as the area is well away from light pollution. They recommend plenty of warm clothing at any time of year due to the altitude.
The visitor centre has a shop and a cafe serving local food. A picnic among the spectacular scenery would be good too. In any case carry a bottle of water on your walk especially in summer. Spring and autumn are the best times to visit.