Covering an area of over 850 square kilometres, Andalusia’s Sierra Nevada natural park is the largest in Spain. It’s also home to Europe’s most southerly ski resort and some of Spain’s highest mountains. Read on for ten things to know before visiting this spectacular park.
It’s easily reachable from Granada
If you’re spending a few days in the enchanting city of Granada, a day trip to this amazing park is easily doable. Starting points for most of the best bike rides and treks are less than an hour’s drive away and there are regular buses to the town of Sierra Nevada itself. Daily buses also serve the beautiful Alpujarra region.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
It’s home to mainland Spain’s highest mountain…
The Sierra Nevada is home to the 3,478-metre Mount Mulhacén, mainland Spain’s highest peak. Trekking to the top of this beast is achievable in a day, either from Capileira or Trevélez in the Alpujarra, or from Hoya de la Mora on the mountain’s other side; but if you want to take your time, there are refuges close to the summit for overnight stays.
…and its third highest
The Sierra Nevada’s second highest peak, the 3,396-metre Veleta, is mainland Spain’s third highest mountain. From Hoya de la Mora, it’s a relatively undemanding two-hour hike to Veleta’s distinctive peak, which can be seen from many spots in Granada city centre. The Sierra Nevada’s ski resort is located on the mountain’s northern flank.
The Alpujarra region is beautiful
The spectacular Alpujarra region of the Sierra Nevada inspired Gerald Brenan to write “South from Granada”, his most famous book about Spain. It’s a cluster of tiny whitewashed villages, spread along the park’s southern extremity like snowflakes that won’t melt. They’re all ridiculously beautiful, but Capileira, Bubión, Trevélez and Pampaniera are must-visits.
Trevélez is known for its jamon
Aside from its unfair share of natural beauty, there’s another reason why you should visit Trevélez, the highest village of the Alpujarra. Such is its altitude (1,476 metres), the climate here is perfect for curing hams; no wonder, then, that it produces some of the finest jamons in Spain. Be sure to order a plate with your post-trek beer.
The Cumbres Verdes is lovely
If you fancy some chilled-out trekking, head to the lovely Cumbres Verdes area of the park, located just outside Granada, near the small town of La Zubia. There are plenty of undemanding tracks for hiking and biking here, as well as beautiful picnic spaces equipped with tables and BBQs.
It’s home to Europe’s most southerly ski resort
Such is the altitude of the Sierra Nevada’s highest peaks that Europe’s most southerly ski resort is found on the northern slopes of Veleta. More than a hundred kilometres of track is spread over 124 pistes that cater to all levels of ability. The season usually runs from November until early May.
The main resort town is worth a visit
Even if you’re not here to ski, a trip to the resort town of Sierra Nevada itself is well worth it. Located in the heart of the park, about an hour’s drive from Granada, its many bars and restaurants offer terraces with spectacular mountain views, making it a perfect lunch or dinner spot.
It’s home to a rich variety of flora…
Hiking and biking in the Sierra Nevada will give you plenty of opportunity to admire the park’s beautiful flora. Its rugged, mountainous terrain is home to around 2,100 plant species, 116 of which are categorised as endangered. Sixty of the species found here grow nowhere else on earth.
If you’re lucky, you’ll also spot some of the local fauna when out exploring. Spanish Ibex are perhaps most visible and move across ankle-snapping terrain with balletic ease. Other species that call the Sierra Nevada their garden include wild boar, badgers and wildcats and the Golden and Bonelli’s eagles.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.