Top 11 Things To Do In Sierra Nevada, Spain - Updated 2024

things to do in sierra nevada
Anne
Anne 
Contributing Writer
Updated
| 5 min read

While the Sierra Nevada mountain range is famed for its beautiful ski resort and slopes, there are many more interesting sights to see and things to do in the area. Several beautiful white villages nestle on the surrounding hillsides, making for photo opportunities and pleasure while exploring the narrow winding streets. There are also natural parks to explore, mountains to climb, spas to enjoy and even an observatory, perched on a mountain top offering guided tours.

Enjoy the traditionally cured hams of the region while gazing at the amazing views with a glass of the best Spanish wine. Close to the exciting city of Granada and the beautiful Alhambra, the area is perfect all year round and offers both winter and summer activities. The following are just a few of the enjoyable things to do and places to see while visiting the Sierra Nevada.

Tip from tour guide

Asier

Asier
Granada (province)

You can get great views of the Sierra Nevada, also known as The Sierra Sol y Nieve, from Barranco de las Cuevas de Reverte. Sierra Nevada is the venue of world championships and the Winter Olympic Games and is also a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve with endemic species. Its highest peak, Mulhacén, (not to be confused with the Lanjarón bottles, that is Veleta) is the highest on the Peninsula, and its name originates from the Alhambra. It derives from Muley Hacén, considered the last great sultan of the Alhambra and father of Boabdil. Legend has it that when he died, he asked to be buried as close to Allah as possible. Thus, he was buried on the highest peak of the Sierra Nevada, leaving his name behind as he ascended to heaven.

1. The village of Capileira in Las Alpujarras

Capileira 2000
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Dr Graham Beards used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The village of Capileira is the highest of three white villages, located in the Barranco de Poqueira, and also the second highest village in the whole of Spain. The winding and steep streets are lined with quaint and beautiful homes, as well as the 18th-century village church and the interesting Museo Etnológico Pedro Antonio Alarcón, with its exhibits of the village’s handicrafts. Visit the Eras de Aldeire for the most amazing views across the Poqueira gorge and surroundings, all the way to the famed Veleta peak, well known for its ski resort.

The village of Capileira in Las Alpujarras

Address: Capileira, Las Alpujarras, Sierra Nevada, Granada, Spain

Website: Capileira (in Spanish)

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2. Sierra Nevada Observatory

IRAM 30m Sierra Nevada - sky
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user JuanJaén used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Enjoy a guided visit to the Sierra Nevada Observatory, located high up in the Sierra Nevada mountain range at Loma de Dílar. The observatory is maintained and operated by the Astrophysical Institute of Andalusia and has a main building with two optical telescopes and other buildings for astronomical and non-astronomical purposes.

Sierra Nevada Observatory

Address: Loma de Dílar, Sierra Nevada, Granada Province, Spain

Website: Sierra Nevada Observatory

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3. Los Cahorros In Monachil

Cahorros de Monachil (15083694282)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Por los caminos d... used under CC BY 2.0

For a fascinating hike, the Los Cahorros gorge is located a short distance from the tiny village of Monachil. While previously only known in rock climbing circles, the addition of hanging bridges has made this area popular for visitors to the area. Besides the hanging bridges, there is a pleasant walk alongside the Monachil River with gorgeous views, rock pools for swimming, waterfalls, and tunnels to explore.

Los Cahorros

Address: Monachil, Granada Province, Spain

Website: Los Cahorros (in Spanish)

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4. Music and art at La Chistera Monachil

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Staying in Monachil, those who enjoy both music and art will love La Chistera Monachil. The concert hall offers various musical events relating to the culture and art of the region, including jam sessions, jazz, flamenco dancing, art shows, concerts, and workshops. On offer are various delicious teas, along with tasty tapas, homemade pies, pizzas and sweet pastries. In winter, the olive stove keeps visitors warm, while in summer, visitors can enjoy a terrace overlooking the river.

La Chistera Monachil

Address: Plaza Baja, 3, 18193 Monachil, Granada, Spain

Website: La Chistera Monachil

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5. Camino Real de las Hoyas nature trail

Capra pyrenaica
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Javier García Diz used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Camino Real de las Hoyas is a nature path which leads through ancient oaks over a bridge dating from Roman times. The route offers beautiful landscapes of the Sierra Nevada, along with many types of vegetation and local species of animals to be seen, including the wild boar and ibex.

Camino Real de las Hoyas

Address: Las Alpujarras, Granada, Spain

Website: Camino Real de las Hoyas (in Spanish)

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6. Mirador Ahi De Cara

Pico del Veleta Sierra Nevada
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Thomas Then used under CC BY 3.0

This beautiful viewpoint is located on the mountain of the same name, offering views of the western zone of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Included in the panoramic view are the Canales Reservoir and the Genil River Valley, with the ski mountain of Veleta, together with Mulhacén and Alcazaba.

Mirador Ahi De Cara

Address: Guejar-Sierra, Granada, Spain

Website: Mirador Ahi De Cara

Tip from tour guide

Asier

Asier
Granada (province)

The Genil River is the second longest river in Andalusia, and its name brings back memories of Iliberis (an ancient name for Granada). It's in the heart of the Sierra Nevada and passes through the towns of Pinos, Vegas, Puente, Lancha, and Mira. You can visit Mirador Ahi De Cara to capture the river valley views, but you can also catch a glimpse of the river in Granada as it passes through the city. 
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7. Jardin Botanico Hoya de Pedraza

Helechos Habitus 2010-7-17 JardinBotanicoHoyadePedraza
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Javier martin used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Located in the central massif of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, this beautiful botanical garden hosts the flora and vegetation of the area and Las Alpujarras. Among the plants are various rare and endemic species, currently threatened and protected by legislation. There are four sections to the garden, the silvicultural section, the vegetation of Calcícola, the vegetation of Riberas and the garden of endangered species.

Jardin Botanico Hoya de Pedraza

Address: Ctra. Sierra Nevada Km. 27, Monachil, Granada, Spain

Website: Jardin Botanico Hoya de Pedraza (in Spanish)

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8. Trevélez village and its famed ham

Ham hanging in a shop in Trevélez 2014
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Tuxyso used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Trevélez is a charming white village, located in the beautiful river valley of the same name and is famous for its cured ham (jamón Serrano). Trevélez is the highest village in Spain offering clear mountain air, perfect for curing the ham. In the local bars, it is possible to see the hams hanging from the ceiling. In the lower section of the village, many handicraft shops, souvenir shops, restaurants, and bars can be found, while the upper areas of the village offer the traditional white homes and winding streets.

Trevélez

Address: Trevélez, Granada, Spain

Website: Trevélez (in Spanish)

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9. Sierra Nevada ski resort

Sierra Nevada Pradollano 3
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user kallerna used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Andalusia is famed for its hot and sunny weather, making the Sierra Nevada mountain range the only ski location in the province, close to Granada and the Alhambra. The ski resort is Pradollano, a popular spot with its restaurants, shops, bars, and nightlife, located close to the ski lifts up Veleta Mountain to the slopes. In winter, the area is famed for its skiing and snowboarding, while in summer it is a popular area for enjoying nature and stunning views across the countryside.

Sierra Nevada ski resort

Address: Pradollano, Granada, Spain

Website: Sierra Nevada Ski Resort

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10. Peña Escrita Natural Park

Peña Escrita, Sierra Almijara, Spain
Source: Photo by Flickr user cfrancken used under CC BY 2.0

Located in the Almuñécar area of Granada province, Peña Escrita is a natural park high up on the Sierra Almijara and is a wildlife area with beautiful views and excellent hiking facilities. The highest accessible point in the area, Peña Escrita is home to deer, mountain goats, wolves and other animals endemic to the area. There are also various animals in pens to visit, including – rather unusually – several ostriches. Visitors can choose from a variety of clearly marked walking paths and riding stables offer the opportunity to ride through the park. There is also a restaurant and bar for a meal or drink during your visit.

Peña Escrita Natural Park

Address: 18690 Almuñécar, Granada, Spain

Website: Peña Escrita Natural Park (in Spanish)

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11. Dare to hike Summit Velata

Sierra Nevada from Veleta's summit
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ismcuacor used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Some of Sierra Nevada’s best attractions are fronted by its nature and outdoors. Avid adventure seekers and travelers alike are up for a treat when in Sierra Nevada, with several mountains to hike and trek like Nevada’s beautiful Summit Velata. This summit is part of every avid hiker’s bucket list with its gorgeous yet challenging terrain. Summit Velata’s highest peak at 2,079 meters (6,821 feet) featuring a steep and rocky final ascent. For those who travel to outdoor destinations, Summit Velata in Sierra Nevada is one not to miss out on. Those who wish to step it up can also attempt to book tours with biking, skiing, and snowboarding for a more thrilling adventure in their winter vacation Spain.

Summit Veleta, Sierra Nevada

Address: Veleta, 18160, Granada, Spain

Opening hours: 24 hours, Sundays to Mondays

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12. Rejuvenate yourself at O Sel Ling in Soportújar

Contributed by Tour Guide, Asier Garmendia

Alpujarra
Source: Asier Garmendia

If you’re in the village of Soportújar in the Alpujarras, stop by O Sel Ling for a rejuvenating experience. This decades-old Buddhist retreat and meditation center is one of the most influential in the world and is tucked amidst the Sierra Nevada. It was founded in 1980 by Lama Yeshe and Lama Rinpoche, who belong to the Tibetan branch whose head is the Dalai Lama. The latter gave this fitting name to the center, which means “Place of Clear Light”.

13. Have a scenic ride on the Sierra Tram

Contributed by Tour Guide, Asier Garmendia

Sierra Tram
Source: Asier Garmendia

Visiting the Sierra Nevada during the summer? A way to escape the eternal heat of August is to hop on the Sierra Tram. The Duke of Galatino drives the tram, which links with the capital via a route that can be dangerous at times. However, it’s totally worth it if you wish to see some unique places. You have the option to begin in Güejar Sierra and end the trip at the old tram station, which has been converted into a restaurant, for a dip in the puddles.

14. Marvel at the Virgen de las Nieves monument

Contributed by Tour Guide, Asier Garmendia

Considered the highest pilgrimage in Spain, Virgen de las Nieves (Virgin of the Snows) is a must-visit in Sierra Nevada. The history surrounding this pilgrimage dates back to the 18th century. On August 5, 1717, Martín de Mérida y Arévalo, beneficiary of the Alpujarra town of Válor, together with his assistant Marín de Soto, were on their way to Granada through the Sierra. Halfway up the Veleta hill, they faced a shift of snow and got buried under it. They spent the night buried and on the verge of death. Then, according to legend, the clergyman asked for divine help, entrusting himself to the Virgin of the Snows. Their prayers were heard and they were soon out of the snow and into safety. When they looked at the white snow that was under her feet, it shone and a heavenly light surrounded her. In front of them was the Virgin of the Snows, smiling and looking at the earthly beings.

Enjoy exploring the Sierra Nevada

Sierra Nevada
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Terabass used under CC BY-SA 3.0

With so much to offer during both the summer and winter months, the Sierra Nevada mountain range is the ideal location for nature, skiing, exploring and so much more.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Anne Sewell was born in England, but has spent most of her life in Africa - Malawi, Zimbabwe and South Africa - and now resides on the beautiful Costa del Sol in southern Spain. She loves writing...Read more

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