The area south of Granada is perfect as a holiday destination as it is close enough to Malaga, the coast and Granada city to feel connected and be able to take in the sights and do some shopping if you like, but far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the big cities, to truly be away from it all.
Easygoing and everything you need for a great holiday. The area is perfect for walking, cycling, horse riding, gourmet travellers and skiiers (in the winter!), twitchers and anyone else who loves the countryside, but likes being near amenities.
Because of the rich history and the beautiful, almost impregnable location Alhama de Granada was considered one of the pearls in the crown of the Nasriden, an Islamic dynasty that ruled the area of Granada and Malaga. Alhama is situated exactly in between the cities of Malaga and Granada. The English nowadays sometimes call Alhama ‘little Ronda’, as its location is somewhat similar to that of the famous city of Ronda.
The name Alhama is derived from the Arabic word – Al-Hammam – which means ‘thermal baths’. Since Roman times the healing properties of the thermal water of Alhama have been recognized and sought after. The spa of Alhama de Granada (Balneario) is a few kilometers outside the village center.
The Sierra de Tejada is wonderful for walking, mountain biking or horse riding.
The Valle de Lecrin lies just south of Granada, it is perfect as a base from where to visit the Alhambra lies 15 km from the city of Granada, 20 km from the Costa Tropical and is the gateway to the Alpujarras. Driving time from Malaga is 1,5 hour.
An area of outstanding natural beauty
The Valle de Lecrin is located in the National and Natural Park of Sierra Nevada. It is a place where you can discover the nature and diversity of the lands south of Granada. When you spend time here you can’t help but be inspired by the beauty of the landscape and the easy pace of life. From the top of the Giralda the air drifts down heavy with mountain scents, rosemary thyme, sage and salt from the sea breeze of the Mediterranean, and the perfume of th orangeblossom. The Valle de Lecrin is full of blossom at least twice a year (April and November) for the oranges and lemons and in January the Almond blossom arrives.
Every direction you look there’s a staggering view – either of the snow caps of the Sierra Nevada to the North, The Alpujarras and windmills to the East and West, across to hills towards the coast to the south, and down through the Valle de Lecrin’s beautiful green landscape to Lake Beznar, a bright turquoise reservoir surrounded by walks, recreation areas and orchards.
Steeped in history
The Valle de Lecrin has been populated since Neanderthal times. It was a popular destination for the Romans who built baths here because of the thermal springs (there are still ruins of some in Mondujar). It then spent decads under Moorish rule. Ruined fortresses and Moorish castles pepper the landscape and the villages are still full of the same Moorish architectural influences as seen in the region’s capital, Granada.
The Valle de Lecrin has a Mediterranean climate. Generally speaking winters are cool, blue and crisp with little rain and warm days once the sun takes hold. Spring is most people’s favourite time of the year with warm temperatures, beautiful flowers everywhere and the smell of orange blossom. Summer is hot and dry, with the odd cloud burst or rumble of thunder over the hills. However it’s much more temperate than Granada city and there’s usually a breeze in the summer making the heat much more bearable. Autumn is the locals’ “second spring” when they get some much needed rain.
A large variety of landscapes and microclimates
The Mediterranean climate, modified by altitude and orientation, allows the existence of a large variety of landscapes and microclimates. The Valle de Lecrin is famous for its verdant landscape (due to the melt-water run off from the Sierra Nevada), its citrus groves, its walks, birdlife and amazing spring colours. Agriculture and farming remain the principal occupation. First of all there are Naranjas! This is one of biggest orange producing areas of Spain. They’re all over the place, pretty much all year round. Then Lemons and Limes – they’re everywhere. They’re not as obvious as the oranges, but they’re in most orchards and by roadsides. Like the pomegranates (in Spanish – granadas), figs and cactus. Higher up in the Valle de Lecrin are Almendras y Aceitunas (Almonds and Olives). The olive harvest is in the winter.
Walking, Riding and Rambling
Road, paths and shortcuts comprise the communication network of the Valle de Lecrin, where walking like Brenan used to, we can discover routes such as the GR-7 between Tarifa (Spain) and Athens (Greece), Route of Sulayr in Sierra Nevada with 300 km. trajectory. Likewise, it is possible to walk around each village and its outlying neighbours as well as by the Lagoon. On www.mancomunidadvalledelecrin.com you can find different routes around the region and information on them. Each village has immense possibilities for the walker. The Valle de Lecrin is hugely popular with on and off-road cyclists, horseriders, walkers and twitchers too.
Embalsa de Beznar
This is the main landmark of the valley. The Beznar reservoir and dam is an amazing strip of bright turquoise water surrounded by orchards and pine forest. It feeds off the springs and snow melt of the Sierra Nevada. Great for fishing and non-motorised watersports (but not swimming), the lake really is not used enough.
The pretty white villages the Valle de Lecrin are some of the loveliest in Spain. And not forgetting Alpujarra – The Lecrin Valley is on the doorstep of this amazing area of beautiful landscape and pretty mountain villages.
There’s so much going on the Valle de Lecrin if you take the time to look. Local artisans make jewellery, ceramics and rugs; there are artists and writers, photographers, musicians, actors and much much more.
The Spanish love a good fiesta. And they go all out for it with fireworks, processions, paellas, tortillas, fun fair, concerts etc etc. They can last all week and go on well into the wee hours. Fiestas in the valley run pretty much all year round. Click here for South From Granada’s comprehensive calendar of all the local fiestas.
All the larger towns and villages in the Valle de Lecrin have one or two a week, which brings together all the local producers of everything edible from the area. To find out Market Days, click here for South From Granada’s page on Weekly Markets. The biggest ones are Durcal – Wednesday and Padul – Friday. Granada has a market on Saturdays and Sundays.