So often, we have so little time in a city or town to really get to know it that we really wouldn’t recommend extending yourself more by traveling outside of the place you’re staying. That being said, if you will be spending ample time and/or even moving to Granada we want to ensure you don’t miss some of the gems just outside the city. That’s why in today’s post we are bringing you our ten favorite day trips from Granada!
First and foremost, let us put the term ‘day trip’ into perspective before we get questions like “What about Málaga, Sevilla, and Córdoba?” The truth of the matter is that Granada is rather well connected and you could easily travel to any other city in Andalucía (and even outside of the communidad) within one day. However, we would not RECOMMEND that you do that. Each of the three cities mentioned above deserve a proper visit of at least a few days/nights to get a feel for them. On the contrary, this list is made up of places within a 1.5 hour-drive radius of the center of Granada. The places we’ve selected are small enough that spending the day and returning for the night in Granada will feel worthwhile but not rushed.
Of course, depending on your personal interests, some of these may warrant an overnight or longer stay but planning a day trip first will either satisfy your interest in visiting or whet your appetite for a longer stay in the future. Please note that for every time we mention driving to a destination both renting a car or taking advantage of a ride-share company like Bla Bla Car would work well.
Las Alpujarras (hiking and/or villages)
This is a great option if you’re someone sporty looking to hike in the mountains OR if you’re someone more laid-back who wants to simply wander around cute villages and eat local dishes. Your interests will dictate how you should plan this trip. If you’d like to commit to a day of hiking, such as doing the ring route in Trevélez, we’d recommend having a car to get you there and back.
However, if you want to visit the villages more than hike you can either pick one and get the Alsa bus there and back or, another popular option, do a route of the ‘top three’: Capileira, Bubión, and Pampaneira. In that case, take the bus up from Granada bus station (check availability and purchase tickets here) to the highest village, Capileira, in the morning and get the bus back from the lowest village, Pampaneira, at the end of the day. This will give you a chance to walk down the mountainside and see Bubión on the way as well.
Simply note that there are both hiking options that are more natural (but sometimes more difficult to follow) as well as simply walking down the same road the bus takes. For those who do not wish to do any long walking you could also get the bus between any of them, although this will require a bit more planning as the buses are not incredibly frequent. Either way, be sure to factor in some time to try a plato alpujareño—the famous local dish which is a meat-lover’s dream.
How to get there: Depending on your interests and specific destination, choose the bus route or travel by car.
If this name sounds familiar and you don’t know why it’s likely because you’ve had Lanjarón bottled water. This company, which sells water all over Spain, does in fact bottle their water in this white village where you’ll find fresh drinking-water fountains galore. Historically, locals would make the trip to Lanjarón every Sunday to fill up their large containers of crisp water for the week and some still maintain this tradition. The town is small and you could cover the main street in about half an hour but it’s a cozy place to wander the side streets, visit the local museums, or even do some hiking routes.
How to get there: You can easily reach this village using the same bus listed above or by car.
This village, located further up than Lanjarón but not as high up as Pampaneira, is incredibly unique. It stands out to us because of the legends of witchcraft that the village has really embraced. As such, there’s a bubbling caldron fountain located on a beautiful lookout and you’re likely to find witchy themes in many of the local bars and shops as well. Perfect for a spooky escape year-round. We happened to stop by on Halloween (completely by chance!) on our way up to the Trevélez hiking route and the fall colors were breathtaking.
How to get there: As with the first two day trip destinations, the easiest way to reach Soportújar is by car but it’s also a stop on the same Alsa bus from Granada.
Los Cahorros (Monachil)
While this hiking route may not be the most challenging for a seasoned hiker, it’s a lot of fun! The first section includes crossing hanging bridges and waddling through the crevices of rocky caves. We’ve also seen people rock climbing here, so if that’s your thing and you have the right equipment, it’s a good place to visit. Basically this route is fun for the whole family and therefore really popular but worth the trip for the photos and the memories.
You can pack a lunch and spend the full day hiking—perhaps completing the full ring route indicated here—or you can plan to eat lunch after a shorter route at one of the restaurants located near the entrance to the gorge. Although we haven’t personally eaten at the restaurants, they always seem to get good reviews.
How to get there: The drive to Monachil is quick if you have a car, or you can catch the 183 bus (Monday-Saturday mornings) or 181 bus (weekends and holidays) from Paseo del Salón.
In the wintertime, this is the ideal option for winter-sport lovers as the Alsa bus up to the ski slopes leaves and returns three times a day (four on the weekends). While you may have the upper-hand (and get out on the slopes before the masses arrive) if you stay at a resort in the Sierra Nevada overnight, taking the bus for a day trip is a very economical option (currently just 9€ round trip). Alternatively, if you don’t ski or snowboard you can simply visit the Sierra Nevada mountain range for a change of pace, to take in the wintery wonderland weather, and/or go sledding.
Outside of the ski season, the Sierra Nevada can still be a beautiful place to visit, hike, and picnic in. However, be aware that outside of the ski season (which is generally November to April, but can vary) there is only one bus to and from the Sierra Nevada a day.
How to get there: You can purchase tickets in advance on the Alsa website or purchase them at the bus station (assuming you give yourself enough time to do so). We recommend buying a round-trip ticket as, at least in the winter, the buses back to Granada are always full and you don’t want to get stranded without an overnight plan.
Less than an hour away from the city center of Granada you can find the town of Gaudix which boasts some pretty interesting caves. It’s an adorable town, with a cathedral and beautiful plaza. The caves were once inhabited by the Moors that were exiled from Granada city center but today they’ve been converted into expensive homes. Some would describe it as looking like a hobbit village! One of these houses has even been converted into a museum that connects with an underground church. This lesser known destination is full of surprises!
How to get there: There is a direct bus route from Granada to Gaudix that takes either 45 minutes or one hour, depending on which one you choose. Alternatively, you can drive (or ride-share) to get there in 45 minutes.
Our friends who are from Motril might tell you it’s not worth visiting but we find this small city located approximately 40 minutes due-south of Granada to be pretty cool. Although it’s defined as a city, it definitely has a smaller-town feel while still boasting lots of good restaurants, views, and even the beach. Unlike the following recommendations, the beach of Motril is not exactly next to the city of Motril so be aware of that and plan a trip accordingly. Unless you have a car, plan on a long walk or a bus ride between the two. And, honestly, if going to the beach is your main priority you probably want to choose Salobreña or Almuñécar instead.
How to get there: Driving might be the most convenient but there are also frequent bus journeys from the Granada bus station.
This beautiful white village is located just a bit further west of Motril along the coast near Granada. It’s particularly easy to make a day trip here because the bus between Granada and Salobreña runs frequently. Although the bus will drop you off in the center of the town, you can easily follow the masses towards the beach (or enjoy getting lost in the town itself). There’s also a famous castle up on the highest hill in Salobreña but it’s quite the hike and not open at all hours so be sure to plan ahead if you want to visit it.
How to get there: Take a Bla Bla Car or the bus from Granada. Alternatively, you could pair this with stop with a visit to Motril or Almuñécar—easiest by car but possible by bus too.
Another nice option for visiting the beach and enjoying the white villages of the coastal region is just one bus stop further on the same route as Granada-Salobreña, or an hour’s car ride from Granada. This town is a bit more built-up than Salobreña and boasts slightly softer sand (the further west you get along the coast of Granada, the less pebbly the sand tends to be).
How to get there: Driving is the quickest and the most direct option as many buses between Almuñécar and Granada make multiple stops along the way. Even so, you can get from Granada down to Almuñécar in just 1 hour and 15 minutes if you choose the option that only makes one stop (in Salobreña).
Antequera (El Torcal)
One last place we would recommend visiting is Antequera and specifically El Torcal if you are a fan of hiking and the outdoors. Antequera is a quaint, inland Andalusian town and so you might enjoy just taking a wander around its winding streets and stopping for a bite to each in one of its many open-air plazas. If you’re looking for something a bit more energizing, we’d recommend tackling El Torcal in the morning and returning to the town center for a relaxing lunch. El Torcal is a protected park known for its unusual rock structures that you simply have to see in person to fully appreciate.
How to get there: Traveling by car is recommended (especially if you plan to visit El Torcal and not only the town center) as the bus route from Granada to Antequera tends to make many stops.
We hope you find these ten recommendations useful and we would love to hear what you think if you end up visiting any or all of them! Additionally, if you have a favorite day trip destination that we didn’t mention let us know what it is and why you love it. Happy travels!