Almost everyone has heard of it: the Sierra Nevada mountains in southern Spain. This breathtaking area is located in the largest National Park in the country, and for many the rugged nature here is more beautiful than anywhere else in Spain.
Thousands of visitors a year flock to this beautiful place to enjoy all it has to offer. Hiking in the Sierra Nevada in particular is a popular activity, which is the best here! However, it can be difficult to determine where and for how long you want to walk in such a large, versatile area. And what else do you really need to plan? To make it easier for you, here are a few tips to prepare your visit to the Sierra Nevada as best as possible!
Before you leave, think about where you want to go hiking and which hiking routes are possible in this area of the Sierra Nevada
The Sierra Nevada National Park is huge. It covers over 85,883 hectares! So it is not so easy to determine where to start. Good to know is that the Sierra Nevada is spread over two provinces, namely Granada and Almería . The first is the most visited area as it is easier to get to and has the most dramatic scenery.
In the northwest of the Sierra Nevada are super beautiful villages such as Güéjar Sierra, Monachil and Dílar, and this is one of the most beautiful and spectacular parts. Then you also have the beautiful Alpujarras area in the Almeria region. Great hikes also start from here, especially from Capileira in the Poqueira gorge, or Trevélez; the highest village in Spain.
So determine for yourself where it is wise to start in terms of location, and then compare different hiking routes in the Sierra Nevada. You can best estimate for yourself whether you can take an easy, medium or difficult route.
Check which months it is best to plan your visit
In principle, any season, even winter, is fine for hiking in the Sierra Nevada. Keep in mind that the highest peaks are not always accessible in winter due to snow and ice. The sun (almost) always shines in the south of Spain.
However, the Sierra Nevada is located in an area where the weather can change quickly, all year round! In the high season it is not wise to start your hike. It is sometimes so blistering hot that this can really get in the way of the walk. For the most predictable and pleasant weather, visit the Sierra Nevada in the spring or autumn months.
Book your accommodation(s) in the Sierra Nevada (well) in advance
Once you have finally decided in which area you want to start hiking, you also have to ask yourself where you want to spend the night. If you are going on day hikes in the Sierra Nevada, you can simply book a hotel in the village or city from which you start and return. However, if you are going to hike for several days, make sure you book accommodation well in advance (for example, look up the villages you pass and make sure you have some slack with the time).
A nice option is also to spend a few days in different places and get to know different areas that way. If you really want to go back to basics, spend the night in refugios; simple mountain huts, scattered throughout the Sierra Nevada. Often these have wooden bunk beds to sleep on. You will need your own sleeping bag and mat! Wild camping is also allowed in many places in the National Park (according to strict rules).
Think about how you want to explore the Sierra Nevada (transport)
The most flexible way to explore the Sierra Nevada is, as in many cases, by car. Most walks start from places that cannot be reached by public transport. However, there are routes that are accessible by buses (these are often the more popular, and therefore busier hikes). In some cases (one-way walks), it is even more convenient to travel to certain starting points by public transport, because then you don’t have to go through the hassle of collecting your car.
Make sure you have a good map of the area with you
Before you leave, always make sure you buy an extensive map of the area where you are going to hike (preferably of the entire National Park). Some people download the folder via their phone, which is also fine. However, in some cases the range isn’t optimal (or there isn’t any range at all), which you really don’t want when you’re walking around in the middle of nowhere! A compass can also always be useful. In addition, in the Sierra Nevada, various symbols are visible in certain places, indicating routes, directions or points of interest. It’s good to take a picture of this.
Think about whether you want to go alone or with a guide
In many cases, you can simply face the rugged mountains and dramatic landscapes of the Sierra Nevada. If you don’t like this and want to have someone with you who is more experienced, consider booking an organized tour and go hiking in the Sierra Nevada with an experienced guide. This can also be a good idea if you want to do winter hikes, or hikes to the extreme areas in the park. In addition, a local mountain guide will of course have a lot of knowledge about the local architecture, geology, fauna and flora. Also super interesting!
Make sure you have good equipment, plenty of water and snacks
Intense sun and heat can cause a lot of discomfort. Even in winter it can still feel very warm in the Sierra Nevada. So water is the key! If you want to drink from a natural water source, take a fast-flowing section of the river. Another option is to use water purification tablets, if you want to drink from a lake, for example.
In many parts of the Sierra Nevada, the ground is uneven and strewn with rocks. Before you know it, you’ll sprain an ankle. So make sure you put on good quality hiking boots when you leave, as well as a sturdy water and wind jacket and zip-off hiking pants (the weather can change quickly, especially in the high-altitude areas).
As you can see; there are plenty of opportunities to fully enjoy and walk in the breathtaking landscapes of the Sierra Nevada. Discover this beautiful piece of nature in peace, while you are as well prepared as possible!
To be able to walk in the Sierra Nevada it is best to fly from Amsterdam Schiphol to Granada (at the foot of the mountains), and from here you rent a car or take public transport or a taxi. If you are going to visit the other side of the Sierra Nevada, you can fly to Almeria city from Rotterdam Airport. From here you can drive to the National Park in about 45 minutes.