Take one look at the epic scenery surrounding Granada and you’ll be itching to get out there asap. For nature and adrenaline sports lovers, it’s pretty much an unbeatable location. Trust me – 5 years after living there I’m still discovering awesome things to do in Granada!
At first the only activity on my mind was snowboarding in the Sierra Nevada ski resort. I couldn’t believe that a resort so massive and developed existed within an hour’s drive of the beach. After two or three visits I stopped having to pinch myself – it really wasn’t a dream. When spring came we could ski in the morning and sunbathe on the beach in the afternoon! (a feat we affectionately named ‘From Piste to Playa’).
But when summer started (for which you will need to be very well-prepared in order to survive), I discovered that there were even more thrills to be had. Granada, the Sierra Nevada and the surrounding countryside form the perfect adventure playground.
What to do in Granada? There is too much to cram into one blog post, but here, at least, are some of the best things to do in Granada in summer:
Things to do in Granada in Summer!
Where to start? There are miles and miles of breath-taking countryside to amble your way through in the Granada province. The numerous routes vary in difficulty.
A popular and easy route is Los Cahorros in Monachil, a small town just outside of Granada capital. The trail is flat the entire way and runs alongside a rocky stream. There is a long drawbridge beside a waterfall which feeds into the stream below. In the summer it’s great to cool off here so bring your swimwear along! There is also a bit of ducking and dodging required at times, since the path flanks a rather jagged rock-face, but there are handles for you to hang on to as you clamber your way around.
For something a bit more vertical, you may want to explore beyond Monachil and climb Mount Trevenque. As one of the lesser known Granada attractions, you won’t find many tourists here. The terrain here is very rocky but not too steep until the last quarter, when you’ll need to work hard! It’s best to go with a guide as the route is quite long and high; that way you don’t have to worry about getting lost or – in the worst case scenario – stranded on the mountain for the night! I’d recommend Wayne Hurst, a native English-speaking guide who has lived in Monachil for the last several years. He knows the mountains better than anyone! A trip to Monachil is one of the most popular Granada day trips.
If you’re after the ultimate challenge, head for La Alpujarra in the Sierra Nevada and have a crack at summiting Mulhacen – mainland Spain’s highest mountain at 3478m. Generally, climbers split the hike across two days. Day one is all about getting to the isolated refuge – a 20km hike along the Camino de la Sierra unless you opt for the minivan which will drop you at the top of the hill about 5km away. Day two will leave you breathless. There are two or three ways to the summit, all marked with little rock piles. I went last year and took the steepest route, but we made it in good time. The 3-4 hour return leg down to Trevelez was the hardest on the calves and knees. My advice: walk back along the road to Capileira!
Personally, I’ve never been rock-climbing in Granada – I’ll admit, I’m too scared – but man alive have I seen some gnarly rock faces being scaled like they were mere garden fences.
Most recently, in Monachil (yes, again), during our walk through Los Cahorros we passed a few climbers beginning an ascent. I couldn’t tell how high it was from the bottom as there was an overhang. It wasn’t until we took the high road on our way back did we realise the sheer size of the rocks they were climbing. Talk about balls. These guys’ cojones were so big they had their own safety harness.
I’ve no doubt there are plenty of other rock-climbing spots near Granada, but I know Monachil is very popular. If you’d like more information, Wayne is your man.
3) Mountain Biking
Cycling is taken very seriously in Granada. Just about every day you’re bound to see a herd of skin-tight, brightly-coloured lycra-wearing dudes pedalling laboriously into the city after climbing God knows how many kilometres of dusty road. I am in awe of their fitness and will to endure such suffering.
But I know how good it feels to get to the top. Back when I had an awesome bike before it was stolen (grr), I would, occasionally, push and pedal my way 12km up to Quéntar, where a huge, turquoise-blue reservoir – mirage-like when you turn the final corner – is the perfect place for a swim. It is also the site of an enormous dam and the view from the bridge is quite simply epic. On a very rare occasion – perhaps once or twice – I resisted the temptation to cool off in the lake and carried on to Güéjar de Sierra, a Granada town 1,100m high and very close to the Sierra Nevada ski resort. From here you can see the peaks of Veleta and Mulhacen (see above) but alas, there is no swimming.
For rockier and more challenging terrain, Monachil, again, is your best bet!
If you visit Granada during summer it won’t be long until you are desperate to cool off. Lucky for you, Granada’s wild landscape is dotted with great, glass-like lakes. One that will immediately spring to mind for anyone who knows the area well is Embalse de Bermejales (Lake Bermejales). For me, the fresh water here beats any of the beaches in Andalucia – the temperature is perfect and neither your skin nor eyes are irritated by salt from the sea. You can hire kayaks and water bikes from the local campsite and spend an hour or two rowing/pedaling/drifting to your heart’s content (any more than that and you will melt to death).
You can even go kayaking in the sea, along the stretch of coastline between Nerja’s Burriana beach and Maro which features dozens of secluded caves, caverns and waterfalls. Technically, the area belongs to the Costa del Sol, rather than Granada’s Costa Tropical, but we are talking a matter of a few kilometres.
Here is a great post written by local Andalucia and Granada travel expert John Kramer who explored the route with his kids and clearly had quite the adventure!