The Alpujarras, south of Granada, is a mountain range with a beautiful collection of villages and some of the most stunning countryside in all of Spain. An essential day trip from Granada, you could easily spend a week here, especially if you enjoy hiking, as it has some of the best trails in the country.
Those who are knowledgeable in alternative medicine will notice a number of beneficial herbs and grasses growing by the side of the road. The prickly pears and blackberries are edible, though if you aren't entirely confident of what it is, best wait until you arrive in one of the villages and buy some there. It's safer that way, too - the prickly pears will leave their thorns behind in your fingers and the blackberries will stain your clothes no matter how careful you are!
Two famous books were written on this region - Chris Stewart's Driving Over Lemons and Gerald Brennan's South from Granada.
Guided Tours of the Alpujarras
The Alpujarras region is a fragmented area of tiny villages and public transport is limited. Without a private car, you'd struggle to see more than two villages in a day. But if you take a tour, you'll visit some of the best spots in the area without the hassle of driving (and map-reading!) yourself.
Best Time to Visit
There is a vast number of festivals in the Alpujarras region, the most fun being the Fiesta de Agua, which is a giant water fight held each June 24 in Lanjarón (much like the Tomatina Tomato Fight, only cleaner!) and the New Year's Eve in August in Bérchules. In early October the citizens of Cádiar replace water in the fountains with wine and don't get themselves arrested.
Three Things to Do
- Go hiking. There are some excellent hiking trails in the region (see below).
- Sample the natural spring water - at its purest in Lanjarón and its most medicinal at the Fuente Agria near Portugos.
- Taste some of the finest jamón (Spanish ham) in the country.
How to Get to the Alpujarras From Granada
- By Car: With so many small villages to explore, a car is your only real option if you plan on seeing a lot of the Alpujarras in one day. You need to drive around the mountains along the A44 until Lanjarón is signposted. However, to explore the region, you'll need to buy a map.
- By Bus: Taking a bus is very impractical in this region; you'll only get to see two towns at the most in a day if you rely on public transport. However, if you intend on basing yourself in one town for a few days, taking the bus is certainly possible. Experiment for yourself on Movelia and see if there are buses to where you want them when you want them.
Where to Next?
You're more than halfway to the beach, so if you have a car the coast is an obvious next stop, though public transport is going to be difficult if not impossible, so you'll need to return to Granada if you are relying on buses.
Villages of the Alpujarras
These are the most important towns in the Alpujarras, though there are a number more. To visit them all would require two days. And that's without any hiking or real exploration of the countryside around these villages.
These villages are listed in the order you will pass them when coming from Granada. For pictures, see Pictures of the Alpujarras.
- Home of the water of the same name, Lanjaron has a good health spa, with five natural springs in the town.
- Orgiva is one of the larger towns in the area and has relatively good public transport links with Granada and Malaga. There is a Buddhist retreat 5km from here (open for visitors from 3 pm till 6 pm).
- Shares the Río Poqueira gorge with Bubión and Capileira, Pampaneira is one of the prettiest villages in the Alpujarras. The stream that flows through its streets is especially cute.
- Bubión is a great base if you want to go walking - it is on the GR7 hiking route.
- The highest of the three Río Poqueira towns, it is a good starting point if you intend on climbing the mountain Mulhacén.
- Not an especially exciting town, but it is home to the Fuente Agria, a natural spring with very high iron content. The water tastes of sparkling water that have gone flat and, though completely clear, leaves an orange residue where it flows.
- Trevélez is the biggest ham-producing town in one of the biggest ham producing regions in Spain. It also produces good wines.
- A small town remarkable only for its New Year's Eve in August festival.
- Village very close to Bérchules, where they fill the fountains with wine each October.