The Sierra Nevada mountains lie in Spain’s much-visited south, but the soaring peaks and sweeping valleys are a far cry from the bars and beaches more typically associated with the region. The area attracts plenty of hikers, MTB enthusiasts and nature lovers every year – and for good reason. Whether you’re a hardcore hiking enthusiast, you’re incorporating a walking holiday into a broader training regime or you just want to spend a few days in nature, you’ll find a wealth of walks to suit you.
This is an easy, three hour walk. It takes you through less than 400 metres of elevation, and the terrain remains accessible and unchallenging throughout. This walk is perfect for those looking for a less intense route, as well as those with children. Expect plenty of tranquil, pleasing views, and a chance to fill your bottle at the source of the River Darro.
The Canada Sereno walk is a good warm-up walk to start off your holiday, as well as a solid choice for those introducing children to hiking. It has enough shade and easy enough terrain to be doable at any time of year, but if you’re going in winter then be aware that it does get significant snowfall.
The 12 kilometre (7.5 mile) walk takes place in the valley to the west of Sierra de Huetor, east of Cogollos de la Vega, in the western part of the mountains.
Beas de Granada – Granada
For a slightly more challenging walk, but still one that relatively inexperienced hikers will be able to manage, try walking from the village of Beas de Granada to the city of Granada. The change in elevation is, as above, minimal at under 400 metres, but it’s somewhat longer than the Canada Sereno walk, coming in at around 16 kilometres (10 miles).
This walk takes you along a mountain ridge between the two settlements, and its views of the Sierra Nevada range are unparalleled. The historic road is easy to follow and well-maintained, so the level of exertion remains fairly low.
We’d recommend this walk in winter, because the views of the Sierra Nevada mountains dusted with snow are even more beautiful than otherwise. The route is, however, well worth walking at any other time of year, but avoid going during the hottest months, as there is no shade whatsoever. If you must attempt this walk at a warm time of year, go early in the morning (it clocks in at close to five hours so you’ll need to leave at around 7 to avoid the hottest part of the day) and remember to bring enough water, as there is nowhere to refill along the way.
A long, difficult walk just north of Otivar for those who like to push themselves, the Rio Verde walk combines athleticism, beauty and excitement. First it takes you down a steep descent into a river gorge (be ready to get your hands dirty) and then through a majestic stretch of thundering rapids, interspersed with cool, green pools of water.
You’ll have to ford the river a few times, as many of the bridges have not survived, and those with an interest in geology will be treated to all kinds of rock formations, including mineralised trees. Taking a break to swim in the pools is a real treat after the hard walk down, but don’t burn too much energy, as it’s a hard climb out of the gorge too.
Our favourite time to take this route is in summer, as a dip in those pools is a real treat at this time of year. However, bear in mind that the steep descent and ascent are difficult at the best of times (over a thousand metres of elevation), so the hottest months may be best avoided for those unused to the heat. Also, bear in mind that there is nowhere to consistently fill a water bottle, so you’ll have to bring plenty of your own water to last you through the 15.5 kilometre (9.5 mile) journey, which usually takes just shy of six hours to complete.
How to Get to Sierra Nevada
Sierra Nevada is served by Federico Garcia Lorca airport, just west of Granada. You can fly from London Heathrow with British Airways or Iberia: first you’ll fly to Madrid, then make a connecting flight to Federico Garcia Lorca.
We’d recommend organising a Granada transfer in advance: you’ll be in Sierra Nevada in less than an hour. If you’re driving yourself, take the A-395 from the airport going southeast.
There are unfortunately no public transport links between the airport and Sierra Nevada.
Where to stay
Apartamentos Kilimanjaro – These apartments are cosy, welcoming and very practical. Kilimanjaro’s competitive rates and roomy sleeping areas make them some of the best low-cost accommodations in the area.
NH Collection Victoria – In nearby Granada, you’ll have the chance to stay in this beautiful hotel. At the Victoria you can expect to find perfectly pitched contemporary décor in the heart of a stunning C18th building, and with a high quality restaurant on-site. What more could you ask for?
Vincci Seleccion Rumaykiyya – The most luxurious resort in the region, and one of Europe’s highest hotels, the Rumaykiyya incorporates elements of traditional Alpine design, but its exposed wood and Alpine furniture are expertly matched with modern fittings and tastes to give this hotel the perfect high-end ambience.