There are many good bases for hiking around the Sierra Nevada. Where you should stay depends on the season, which walks you want to do, whether you prefer a big town or a small village, what other activities you want to do and, of course, prices and availability. One good option is to spend a few days in two different places – that way you can experience two towns/villages and explore different parts of the mountains.
You’ll find the larger hotel chains only in Granada and the Pradollano ski resort, but there are also lots of independently-run hotels, “hostales” (fairly basic hotels, which generally won’t serve breakfast or other meals, although some do), “pensiones” (equivalent to a guesthouse or B&B) and self-catering apartments.
Below you can find information about some of the areas that we recommend for hikers.
The historic city of Granada is the perfect gateway to the Sierra Nevada. It is also home to the Alhambra and the Albaicín – the old Moorish quarter with its maze of streets and whitewashed houses. Granada offers a wide range of hotels, guesthouses and self-catering apartments, as well as a myriad of bars and restaurants and all the other services you would expect to find in a medium-sized city. Find out more about Granada here.
With many of the hikes described on this website starting or finishing close to, or even in, Granada, it is perfectly possible to base yourself in the city for the duration of your stay. Alternatively, why not spend a night in Granada at the start or end of your visit to the Sierra Nevada? Book early if you plan to come at peak times such as Easter, New Year and the May bank holidays.
If you’re planning to self-cater in Granada, we recommend Casita del Realejo in Calle Solares. It’s a small, beautifully decorated house on three floors. It has a great location in Realejo – quiet and with nice views, but close to all of the restaurants, bars and sights, including the Alhambra.
Within a short distance of Granada, there are a number of villages nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada that make good bases for exploring the mountains. Their locations allow you to head up high into the mountains in summer and autumn, but when the higher peaks are covered in snow, there are also lots of pleasant walks at lower altitudes.
The white village of Güéjar Sierra is perched on the hill above the Canales reservoir. Window boxes overflowing with bougainvillea, geraniums and petunias decorate the narrow winding streets. Although popular with tourists, the village retains a very traditional, Spanish feel. Some of the very best hikes in the Sierra Nevada start near Güéjar, and accommodation includes hotels, self-catering apartments and a campsite.
Monachil, which shares its name with the fast-flowing river that runs through the village, has become rather overbuilt in recent years, but is remains a convenient base for trekkers and skiers. The local tourist office also has helpful leaflets with information about walks in the lush countryside surrounding the village.
It’s also possible to stay in Dílar or La Zubia, just below Fuente del Hervidero.
The white villages of the Alpujarras are a destination in their own right, and even if you decide to stay elsewhere they make a good day trip from Granada. Dotted amongst the southern foothills of the Sierra Nevada, many of these villages were until recently very isolated from modern life. As a result they developed highly distinctive styles of architecture, pottery and weaving, all of which are deeply indebted to the strong Moorish heritage. Modern-day villagers have successfully built on these traditions, and the area is now home to a variety of markets selling artisan products of varying degrees of authenticity.
Some of the most popular places to stay are the three villages of the Poquiera gorge: Pampaneira, Bubión and Capileira. Many of the apartments here have spectacular views up towards the high mountains, as well as down into the gorge below. Capileira makes the perfect base if you want to climb Mulhacén, as it is the departure point for the small bus that takes hikers up to an altitude of 2,700 metres. Both Pampaneira and Capileira also have information centres.
The other main hiking base in the Alpujarras is Trevélez, famous for its cured hams. At 1,476 metres above sea level it is the highest village in Andalucía, but even then you will need to ascend 2,000 metres if you want to attempt the demanding climb up to Mulhacén.
Between Poqueira and Trevélez, the area around Pitres and Pórtugos is quieter and less touristy, but it has some lovely landscapes and picture-postcard villages. It also has some excellent walks, including both those on our website and other ones for which maps are available in the local area.
There are many nice country houses available for holiday lets in the Órgiva area, which can be a good option if you are in a group.
The Lecrín valley is located on the opposite side of the A-44 motorway from the Alpujarras. It is a very attractive area full of citrus groves, orchards and market gardens, as well as pretty white-washed villages such as Melegís, Restábal and Cónchar. The terrain is less rugged than in the Alpujarras, so you can find a selection of easy-medium walks. It can also be used as a base for walking in the Alpujarras or North West Sierra Nevada
Accommodation in the Lecrín valley consists of small guesthouses and country houses rented out for self-catering, many of which have been beautifully refurbished.
Pradollano (Sierra Nevada Ski Station)
If you do a search for accommodation in the Sierra Nevada, you will often come up with hotels in Pradollano – the resort village for the ski station. Over the last few years, the resort has been promoted more as a summer destination, with various hiking and cycling activities being offered. From late June until early September a few ski lifts are open, making it easy to reach the high mountains. It also has a good range of hotels and restaurants for all budgets.
However, the resort is not as pretty as the more traditional villages, and the walking is limited to the barren high mountain areas. Areas such as Güejar Sierra and the Alpujarras offer more charm and a greater variety of walks.