On this trip I would suggest that you start the journey with a tank full of petrol and a camera with a spare battery. It can be done in a day, but if time permits, an overnight stop at say Pampaneira, allows more time to explore this beautiful area.
We were staying in Guadix and had decided to drive out, via the A-92 direction Almeria, to view La Calahorra Castle. The castle is situated a few kilometres off the A-92 motorway along the A-337, east of Guadix. After having a look at this impressive four square fortress set against a backdrop of the snow capped Sierra Nevada, we decided to follow the A337 over the Sierra, as it appeared from the map that there was a road that would take us through to the Alpujarra and despite it being February it had turned into a delightfully sunny day with the road dry and clear of snow.
We had been to the Alpujarra several times before, but always arriving from the A-44/E-902 side via Orgiva or Lanjaron, which is the more visited side of the Alpujarra. This time we would come in from the east to have a look at the white pueblos that side and other pueblos in the central region. We followed the A-337 until we reached Laroles and then turned right to follow the A-4130. This is the highest east/west road in the Alpujarra and will lead you to numerous pueblos, with the Sierra Nevada on your right and the Alpujarra on your left. Mairena, Mecina Alfahar, Válor, Yegen and Mecina Bombarón are all small pueblos along the A-4130 which goes as far as Bérchules before continuing, but becoming the GR-421. Stay with the GR-421 for about 10 kilometres after Bérchules, at which point, follow the signs for Trevélez and the GR-421 up to this delightful pueblo. It is the highest pueblo in the Alpujarras and is renowned for its jamon serrano, the cured ham, which it produces in the ideal climatic conditions to be found at that altitude. Take the opportunity to stop and taste some. Take a walk around Trevélez and bear in mind that it is a pueblo in two parts, so, don’t forget the upper part, along and up the road by the bridge in the middle of the village.
When it is time to leave the pueblo, continue driving through it, still on the GR-421, heading for Busquistar and Pórtugos. If you need to top up your petrol for the car, then Pórtugos is one of the few pueblos that boasts a petrol station before you reach Orgiva or Lanjaron. Still following the GR-421, next comes Pitres and then Pampaneira which is another pueblo worth a visit. There is a car park right on the corner opposite the entrance to the pueblo, park here, or a bit further along the road as there are no vehicles allowed in the village; a reason that will become clear once you enter the pueblo. Narrow streets, no pavements, all sorts of nooks and crannies begging to be explored, places to eat, drink and shop. Stay over night if you wish, there is a hotel and a hostal, both situated at the entrance to the pueblo. Pampaneira and Bubion, with its peculiar style of chimneys, just a bit further along the road, could occupy you for half a day.
Onward, ever onward; past Pampaneira towards Carataunas and Orgiva, still on the GR-421. Orgiva is a town rather than a village, with much to explore, but of more interest to us is Lanjaron, a slightly faded spa town to be found along the A-338 out of Orgiva. It offers a good selection of shops to merit parking the car and taking to your feet. You will encounter architecture of a grander style dating from late 1800s to early 1900s when the copious Lanjaron spring water was determined to have all manner of beneficial qualities. To such an extent, that Spa baths were built, the water was bottled, and people traveled from far and wide to partake of them and attempt to cure a multitude of ailments. Opposite the Spa baths is a garden park area, built in the same period and which is being slowly renovated.
Continue out of Lanjaron on the A-338 until you meet the A-44 motorway, join this in the direction of Granada, follow the A-44 around Granada until it intersects with the A-92 and follow the signs for Guadix to come full circle back to Guadix. A total journey of about 270km and a mix of mountain hairpins, main road and motorway cruising.
Note: There is a lower east/west road through the Alpujarras, basically paralleling this route, but a little easier in the sense of a broader more traveled road. For this route, continue through Laroles on the A-337, through Piscena and Cherin, until the A-337 meets the A-338. Turn right and follow the A-338 to Cadiar, another nice pueblo to explore, stay with the A-338 through Torviscón and onto to Orgiva and Lanjaron as with the other route.
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