THE city of Granada has so much to offer, it’s easy—and understandable—for travellers to spend their whole stay within the city.
However, just 30 minutes outside of downtown Granada lies a completely different world: the beautiful and isolated Sierra Nevada mountains. With (fairly) easily accessible trails, a hike in the hills provides good exercise, great views, and a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
In a whirlwind weekend in Granada, my friend Rose and I wanted to pack as much activity into as little time as we could. Even with a few setbacks, we managed to get ourselves on the trail, do our hike, and still be back in time for a much-deserved 2:00 lunch.
With the help of a new, very user-friendly website—treksierranevada.com—we filtered through hundreds of hikes by length, season, location and public transportation. We found one that sounded perfect for our requirements: only 30 minutes east of Granada, accessible by bus, recommended in the summer, and 14 km long. The name of the loop was Quéntar Circular. We set our sights on an early morning bus, and set our alarms for even earlier.
Due to a slight misunderstanding and an unclear bus schedule, we went to the wrong bus station and missed our bus. If you know us, you wouldn’t be surprised. But we asked around, found the real bus stop (if you are going to Quéntar, the bus stop is across the river from the Corte Inglés), and even had time for a coffee. We finally got on the 10:30 bus, a bit more caffeinated and ready to go.
The tiny, whitewashed village of Quéntar is worth a trip in itself. Less than 30 minutes away from Granada, it feels like its hundreds of miles and hundreds of years away. Following the directions from the website, we wandered through the town and almost immediately found ourselves in the mountains. And we only had to turn around once!
The hike itself was moderately challenging: steep but not impossible. Because we had arrived later than we planned—it was mid-day when we got to the trailhead—it was quite hot. Although it was definitely feasible, if you plan to go in the summer months, I would recommend going earlier in the morning.
I was amazed by how isolated we were. We saw one other person on the trail in three hours. When it’s that quiet, it’s loud: we could hear a cacophony of insects, the wind blowing through the olive groves and our feet plodding to a steady beat on the dusty trail.
In what seemed like no time at all, we found ourselves rewarded with a stunning view: we were directly overlooking Quéntar, nestled in between rolling hills covered in neat groves of olives and almonds.
Although we could have continued on, we decided that because of the heat and our desire to see more of Granada, we were happy to turn around and retrace our footsteps back to the bus. We walked back down the hill, winding our way back to the city, sweaty, dusty, and very, very happy.
Even though not everything went according to plan, and we didn’t even finish the loop, our hike in the Sierra Nevadas was absolutely unforgettable, and well worth it. It was a wonderful morning activity, quite easy to organise and execute, and a perfect complement to a big weekend in the city.