Hiking In Sierra Nevada, Spain: The Best Trails

Hiking in Sierra Nevada, Spain is an experience any lover of nature should have while in Andalucia. This is one of the most touristy regions of Spain, famous for its beautiful cities such as Malaga, Granada, Seville, Cordoba and Almeria. But there’s a much less touristy side to it. Indeed, Andalucia is where the Sierra Nevada of Spain is located.

This fantastic mountain range spreads across the provinces of Granada and Almería. Most of the range is now part of a National Park, and thanks to its diversity, it has been recognized as a UNESCO biosphere reserve

The Sierra Nevada is one of the highest mountain ranges in Europe. The highest peak is the Mulhacén, which reaches 3478 meters. This and other peaks obviously mean that the Sierra Nevada is an outstanding destination for winter sports such as skiing. What’s interesting is that Andalucia remains mild and sunny throughout the winter; while at the same time the Sierra Nevada gets covered in snow.

Hiking the Sierra Nevada is incredible: there are lots of excellent hiking trails, ranging from easy walks to those that require a higher level of fitness. Most trails can be walked in just a day; some go all the way to the Mulhacén, and even among them there are various levels of difficulty: the hardest trails are those on the northern side of the mountain; whereas the southern part has the easiest ones.

Curious to discover the best hikes in the Sierra Nevada, Spain? Continue reading this post for the best trails, by level of difficulty. 

hiking Sierra Nevada
Granada is a great starting point for hiking in Sierra Nevada

The Best Hiking In Sierra Nevada

High Difficulty Hikes



Locals call Travenque “The King,” and there’s a reason for this nickname. It may not be the highest mountain, but when it comes to hiking in the Sierra Nevada, this is as good as it gets. Once at the top, there are 360° views of Veleta, the Sierra Nevada ski station, and of the mountains around it. The trail also goes through the splendid valley of Dílar river.

This hiking trail is 16 km long and walking it takes around 5 hours and 30 minutes. This is one of the most challenging hikes in Sierra Nevada – mostly because of the terrain (gravel and sand) that makes it quite hard to walk. The trail is well marked, though in parts it’s not so easy to identify it. There are no water fountains or sources (or anywhere to buy water) along the trail, so make sure to take enough.

Trevélez – Siete Lagunas 


You will love the Travélez – Siete Lagunas trail. It goes all the way to the green meadows of Siete Lagunas, which is rather lush compared to the desolate surroundings. From Siete Lagunas another trail goes all the way to Mulhacén and Alcazaba – but beware that it’s practically impossible to walk it in a day.

This is a challenging yet very rewarding hike. It’s a bit over 17 km, there’s a considerable climb and it takes more than 7 hours to walk it. It’s better not to attempt it on hot days, though keep in mind that there’s snow on the trail until the end of May. I also recommend not carrying a lot of weight: it just makes it harder to walk.

The path is properly marked and the terrain good. There’s water about half way, in La Campinuela. Just carry enough anyways: water fountains can be found in Trevélez. Camping is permitted in Siete Lagunas.

GOOD TO KNOW: The best views of the Sierra Nevada are those from the Mirador de Travélez, a two hour walk on the southern side of the Mulhacén mountain. 

hiking Sierra Nevada
Views of Veleta when hiking in Sierra Nevada

Vereda de la Estrella Loop

LENGHT – 22.5 KM

This is one of the longest hikes in Sierra Nevada. The Vereda de la Estrella Loop is 22.5 km long, and it can be walked in 7 hours. It combines the Vereda de la Estrella trail (a path built to access the Estrella copper mine, and a nice hike on its own) with a higher trail on the other side of the valley.

The trail is good in terms of terrain and how it is marked; but the 1000 meters climb make it quite challenging. Beware that there is a section between the river and the Refugio de la Cucaracha where the path is not as visible and it becomes quite rocky. Also keep in mind that there’s no water fountains along the way, so make sure to take enough.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the weather can turn quite bad all of a sudden, and snow can be an issue – so it’s better to hike it during the spring, summer or fall. I love it in the fall, when the colors are just gorgeous. The views are stunning all along, spreading to the three highest peaks of the Sierra Nevada – MulhacénVeleta and Alcazaba.

Sulayr Capileira – Trevélez


This is a rather long trail, but the bit that connects Capileira to Trevélez, which are two of the prettiest villages in the Alpujarras, on the southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada, is absolutely wonderful. The views of the mountains and villages throughout the hike is breathtaking and the waterfalls encountered along the way make it even more beautiful.

The hike is long and strenuous. In this case it is not the terrain that makes it hard, but the length: 19 km, with some hard climbing bits. The path is well marked – though it gets confusing in some parts so I recommend taking a map.

Hiking this side of the Sierra Nevada is not possible in the winter months, when there are high chances of snow on the trail. And in the summer months there’s hardly any shade to take shelter from the sun and heat. Make sure to carry enough water – though there is a spring at the highest point.

hiking Sierra Nevada
The views are stunning when hiking in Sierra Nevada

Medium Difficulty Hikes

Beas de Granada


This is one of the unmissable trails, thanks to the breathtaking views of the entire mountain range. The best time to walk the Beas de Granada is the winter, when the mountains are snow capped and the views even more beautiful.

The trail starts right in Granada, making it a great option for a day trip. The hike is 16 km long, but it is not hard. However, keep in mind that there’s no shade along the trail (a good reason to avoid it during the summer months) and that no water fountains can be found along the way.

GR-7 Trevélez – Busquístar


I am a huge fan of long distance trails. I walked the Poon Hill circuit in Nepal and had the time of my life. I know that most people won’t have enough time to walk the whole GR-7, but the good news is that the Trevélez – Busquístar is one of the nicest bits, not to mention one of the best trails in Sierra Nevada.

The walk starts in the village of Trevélez and from there it goes through a forest, past farmhouses, and a beautiful waterfall before descending to Busquístar. I recommend walking it in the spring, when the flowers are in full bloom. It takes around 4 hours to walk the 13 km trail. It is not a strenuous hike – mostly downhill though there’s a couple of uphill bits. There are no water fountains along the way.

hiking in Sierra Nevada
Alpujarras is a lovely village to visit when hiking in Sierra Nevada

GR-7 Busquístar – Capileira


Another section of the GR-7 is the one between Busquístar and Capileira. It goes all the way through the Alpujarras, the countryside has some pretty villages such as Busquístar, Pitres, Capilerilla and Capileira. The views of the Sierra Nevada are gorgeous while approaching Capilerilla.

The trail is a bit over 11 km long and it takes around 4 hours to complete.  The terrain is good, the path well marked. There are a couple of uphill sections. As it goes through several villages, there are plenty of places to stop for water along the way.



This trail if perfect for families with children as there are plenty of wild flowers, fruit trees, a river and the lavender and rosemary bushes along the way: it makes it all the more colorful, especially in the spring or in the fall, when the leaves turn gold. And there are even a gorge and hanging bridges.

It is a circular route of about 8 km that can be walked in 3 hours or less. It isn’t among the difficult hikes in Sierra Nevada, but there’s bits in which it is necessary to scramble under a rock: do not worry though as metal handles have been placed to help walking past.

Easy Hikes

Cañada Sereno


Cañada Sereno is one of the easiest hikes in Sierra Nevada, thus especially recommended to families with children. It’s about 12 km long, with benches along the way to rest, and even a meadow where it is nice to stop for a picnic. A water fountain can be found near the River Darro, one of the two rivers running through Granada. Though the trail can be accessed throughout the year, keep in mind that there may be snow in the winter.

Melegís – Reservoir


Starting in the beautiful, white village of Melegís, and going to the Béznar reservoir, this 4 km walk goes through the beautiful orange groves of the Lecrín Valley. What makes it great is the favorable micro-climate of the valley, which means that even during the winter it is much milder than in the rest of the region.

hiking in Sierra Nevada
Lots of hikes in Sierra Nevada can be done as day trips from Granada

Practical Information To Organize Your Trip To Sierra Nevada, Spain

Guided tours of Sierra Nevada, Spain

If you wish to explore the Sierra Nevada, a guided tour may be a good idea. These are the most popular tours in the region:

Several companies offer guided hikes in Sierra Nevada, varying in difficulty levels and duration.

When to go hiking in Sierra Nevada

Any season, including winter, is good for hiking the Sierra Nevada of Spain – much like Sardinia. Its position in Southern Europe is very favorable, but keep in mind that the highest peaks may not be accessible in the winter months because of snow and ice. However, the temperatures are pleasant on the foothills even in the winter, and the views from there are equally beautiful.

I wouldn’t recommend hiking Sierra Nevada in the summer, definitely not the foothills, as it may simply be too hot. The peaks may give a break from the heat. In any case, keep in mind that the weather can turn to the worst all of a sudden and it may rain even in the summer. 

GOOD TO KNOW: Hiking trails in the Sierra Nevada of Spain are hardly known to people outside of Spain, so you won’t find them crowded.

hiking in Sierra Nevada
One of the nicest and easiest hiking in Sierra Nevada is that of Cahorros

Best starting point to hike in Sierra Nevada, Spain

The beautiful Granada is the perfect starting point to go hiking in Sierra Nevada, Spain. This is one of the most famous places to visit in Andalucia and even in Spain. Granada has a small airport that is well connected to other places in Spain and Europe via budget flights, but for better options you may wan to check flights to Malaga, the best airport in Andalusia, which is at about 200 km and 3 hours drive from Sierra Nevada.

Granada is a lovely place to spend a few days. Some of the trails start directly in the city, making some of the hikes an excellent option for day trips from Granada. Here are the sights you will enjoy the most: 

ALHAMBRA – A fortress built in the 9th century and which is a wonderful testimony of the Moorish rule over Spain.

GENERALIFE – The summer equivalent of the Alhambra.

CARMEN DE LOS MARTIRES – Beautiful gardens best visited in the spring and summer. 

ALBACIN – The oldest neighborhood in Granada; an incredible maze of beautiful, narrow alleys, cobbled streets, small squares and tiny shops and cafés.

GRANADA CATHEDRAL – Built in a mixture of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles starting in 1518M; it took over 180 years to finish.

CHARLES V PALACE – The royal residence that was built in tribute to Charles V parents Ferdinand and Isabella (who freed Granada from the Moorish rule in 1492). 

SLEEP – In Granada, stay at Gar Anat Hotel Boutique: set in a gorgeous historic building, or, for something a bit cheaper, opt for Lemon Rock Hostel, perfect for backpackers.

Other useful information for hiking the Sierra Nevada

Although wild camping is supposedly permitted in the Sierra Nevada National Park, there are a lot of restrictions you need to be aware of. In any case, there are campsites in the villages and cities where tents can be pitched and they typically also have places to park camper vans. Most also have cabins, while all have basic restaurants, a pool, a bar and laundry facilities.

The most comprehensive, updated site about hiking the Sierra Nevada is Trek Sierra Nevada, which also has downloadable maps and pdf information on the various hikes.

Remember to always get a good travel insurance for your hiking trips. You can find a good one here.

Have you ever been hiking in the Sierra Nevada, Spain? What did you enjoy the most about it?

Further readings

Are you planning a trip to Spain? Make sure to read my other posts:

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Check out the best hikes in Sierra Nevada, Spain - via @clautavani

22 thoughts on “Hiking In Sierra Nevada, Spain: The Best Trails”

  1. Hi Claudia,

    Thank you for this post! Very useful. I am planning on traveling to Spain this month and we had planned to do the Trevélez – Siete Lagunas hike. Can you share some thoughts on doing this hike? Can you do the hike on your own or should we sign up for a tour? I have read about one that was 110 euros/person. ( a little bit pricy!) but is it worth it?

  2. Hi Jaime, thanks for reaching out. You can do the hike on your own, but everything depends on your level of fitness. I do not recommend going completely solo: it is a long hike, tiring, and it is better to have someone with you. I am not sure what the guided hike you mention includes, and if it is overnight… so it all depends!

  3. Love the article! I am planning on heading to the area later this month. Do you think we need winter hiking boots for the harder higher hikes or summer/spring good hiking shoes would be enough? I ask because our winter stuff is waterproof, but would be a burden to bring. Thanks for the info!!

  4. Definitely bring the winter boots! It’s been snowing up there, my friends who live in the area tell me!

  5. Great posts
    Im new to hiking but do run long distances … could you tel me is there much navigation on these trails?

  6. As a rule of thumb, I’d say to carry a compass and a GPS. There are some apps like View Ranger where you can upload the tracks and even work offline.

  7. Hello
    Your post is very helpful, but I still have some questions. My husband and I will be in Andalusia in May, and we would like to see and do a moderate to easy day hike in the Sierra Nevada, that gives us a feel for the mountains, preferably without walking through snow. I booked lodging in Capileira thinking that would get us access (by a bus) further up into the park and allow us a day hike. It appears that bus doesn’t run until summer. I’m wondering if we should stay somewhere else. Where would be the best place to stay to have access to the park in May.

  8. Hi Katie,

    I actually don’t live in the area, so I can’t help so much on this front. Your best bet would be to get in touch with the local tourism board as I am sure they will be able to help with both places to stay and transportation!

  9. Hi Claudia
    Love the article, looking to go to Spain and would love to do some hikes. Do we have to drive to the starts of these hikes you mentioned? (Sierra Nevada from Granadas)
    Or is there a taxi and/or uber?
    We will be staying at Granadas

  10. If you are planning on spending some time in the region, you are probably better off renting a car!

  11. Hi Claudia
    Thank you so much for replying 🙂
    We want to avoid driving, as we are Australian and drive on the other side of the road, might take time to adjust driving on right hand side.
    Is that mean we should do the hike with tour companies? As they can provide transport (pick up-drop off at the hotel?)
    Prefer to do the hike alone, but if we have to, then it’s okay.
    Are the start and end of hikes accessible by public transports?
    Kind Regards

  12. Cynthia, it really depends. Some are, some are not. Which one are you thinking of?

  13. Hi Claudia
    Thinking GR-7 Busquístar – Capileira and Los Cahorros 🙂
    But if you can suggest any tracks that we can get to by public transport, I will look into them 🙂
    Thank you

  14. There is a train to Busquitar and a train from Capileira that can take you back to Granada. BUT, it takes around 2 hours each way and you need to check the timetable. You may wan to spend the night in Busquitar if you intend to start early. That I am aware of, there is no public transportation to Los Cahorros. It’s around 15 km so you may get a taxi to get there – but you’ll have the same issue coming back.

  15. Ah I see… sigh.. we may have to bite the bullet and drive there from the looks of it!
    Thank you so much for all the info!

  16. I think so. If it makes you feel any better, my sister and I drove for 3 weeks in South Africa (where driving is on the other side compared to continental Europe) and had zero issues. The first 15 minutes are weird, but then you get the hang of it!

  17. Hi Claudia
    noted 🙂 we will open our mind to that possibility! Thank you again for all the advises!

  18. Hi Claudia, thanks for all the great information. I’m thinking about trekking from Valor to Lanjaron (or some version of a hike like this) in late October/early November. Do you know whether this is still a good time to hike in the region in terms of the weather and condition of the trail (not being snowy or too slippery due to mud)? Also, I see above that you don’t recommend hiking in the area solo. I suppose the trails will be rather empty, especially at this time of year?

  19. Hi Nadia, thank you for commenting on my post. I can’t tell with certainty whether you will find snow / mud on the trail during the time of your visit. It’s different every time so your best bet is to check with a good weather app before you start hiking. Re. my comment on not hiking solo – I keep it as a generic comment, for pretty much any hike, for reasons of safety (and yes, the fact that there are few to no people on a trail may be an issue!).

  20. Hi Claudia,
    great post, really helpful information here!!
    I am planning on escaping England for a few days just before Christmas. I plan to base myself in Granada and hire a car. Will there be good trails accessible without bad weather this side of the mountain at this time of year? And can you recommend a mapping app on the phone that I could download routes off?
    Thanks in advance!!

  21. You can access any side of the mountain from Granada! Re. apps: I am a fan of wikiloc 🙂

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