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5 of the best walks for your Andalucía holiday

Spain andalucia aracena hills approaching valdelarco

1. Alájar-Linares, Sierra de Aracena. 100km north-west of Seville is the little-known Sierra de Aracena, a place of flower-filled meadows, sunny citrus groves, open forests and some very old walking routes.

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Spain andalucia alajar linares walk copyright chris bladon 1

This easy 10.5km walk starts in the pretty village of Alájar, a place so peaceful you could hear a mouse sneeze from the next village when the church bells aren't ringing away.

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The walk largely follows timeworn cobbled pathways, lined with timeworn stone walls. Early on there's a terrific lookout over the great chestnut forests, rolling across the hills into Portugal.

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The semi-abandoned hamlet of Los Madroñeros is nowhere near as eerie as it sounds, but don't expect a welcome party. Left behind by modern society, the cats seem to be in charge now.

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Spain andalucia aracena pigs dehesa c jarcosa

Above all else, its the 'Dehesa' that defines the landscape here. Open wood pastures allow wildflower meadows and biodiversity to thrive and provide the acorns for the region's prized pata negra pigs.

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Spain andalucia linares arrieros lunch c chris bladon1

Such natural wealth makes these hills one of Spain's culinary hotspots. But imagine our delight when we found one of Andalucía's greatest restaurants tucked away in the tiny village of Linares.

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Spain andalucia linares arrieros fire chris

This is the pit stop to end all pit stops. Five courses, several glasses of red and orange wine, fresh coffee and a roaring fire later, it's often the pit stop to end this walk too. Best get a taxi back up that hill...

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Spain andalucia finca la fronda pool

Beginning and ending at the front door of your guesthouse, run by descendants of William Wordsworth, you can enjoy this walk on an Inn to Inn holiday, or as part of an Andalucia self-drive.

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Spain andalucia el torcal chris 153

2. Torcal de Antequera. El Torcal is a hilltop natural reserve dominated by otherworldly karstic limestone rocks. As hard as it is to conceive, the entire area was under water 200 million years ago.

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Time and the elements have compacted the shells and skeletons and eroded the boulders into weird and wonderful shapes, creating one of Andalucía's most surprising and photogenic landscapes.

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Even before you arrive, the rock architecture of Torcal makes its mark, beckoning you from high above as you drive on up through the more bucolic hills and farmland below.

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There are a few different trails which thread through the rocks and the longest you can do without prior arrangements tops out at just 4.5km. Even so, that's plenty of time to admire the views...

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Spain andalucia sierra subbetica copyright pura aventura thomas power torcal de antequera gryphon vulture

... and hopefully time enough to encounter some of the protected wildlife that live in this elevated, pre-historic world. Griffon vultures are a common sight, circling on the thermals.

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Spain andalucia ibex el torcal copyright chris bladon pura aventura 3

And stumbling across a family of Spanish ibex scampering nonchalantly across precipitous rocks sure does bring a smile to your face, and a barrage of photos to your SD card.

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Spain andalucia cordoba subbetica casa olea close up smoking chimney c diego

It's best to visit Torcal en route to the Sierras Subbéticas, ending the day with an exceptional homecooked dinner at Tim and Claire's beautiful farmhouse B&B, surrounded by olive groves.

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Spain andalucia cordoba subbetica zuheros panorama c diego

3. Bailón Gorge, Sierras Subbéticas. It's to the Subbética hills that we now turn, and a 15km circular hike of exceptional variety. We start at the top of a canyon, looking down over the rooftops of Zuheros.

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A dry river bed guides you through the canyon, passing orange-hued caves up ahead. Where a second canyon converges, the path turns into a holm oak wood of strange, ethereal beauty.

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Spain andalucia sheep cortijo zuheros walk copyright chris bladon pura aventura

This walk is special because of its rural architecture. The ageing farmhouses are graceful monuments to a bygone age, an active link to a shepherding way of life slowly passing into the history books.

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Spain andalucia picnic bailon gorge c chris bladon

Finding somewhere scenic to eat your picnic is easy. Follow the tinkle of the goat bells until you find somewhere good to sit down, open your sarnies and soak in the sights and sounds.

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You end back in Zuheros. In the land of white villages, this is one of the best. Linger over a post-walk coffee in the square, castle rising up ahead, locals coming and going in their own good time.

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You have a choice if you'd like to do this walk with us. It features early on in our Córdoba to Granada Inn to Inn Walk, or sits happily in any Andalucía driving trip we could tailor for you.

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4. Ruta del Gollizno, Moclín. We move south-east, crossing the central plains to the hilltop village of Moclín as the Sierra Nevada mountain range begins to rear up in the distance.

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This is a fairly easy 8km walk, edited a little by us to give you a better view towards the mountains. Like the Zuheros walk, it can be enjoyed on our Inn to Inn, or a tailored driving holiday.

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This particular view captures the emblematic scenery of central Andalucía - blue skies, olive groves, white villages, rolling hills and a deliciously profound sense of timeless tranquility.

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This route is as history-steeped as it is beautiful. Early on you will pass Neolithic caves with Bronze Age rock paintings, and remnants of installations from the Spanish Civil War.

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From here it swings out across a river, where kingfishers and bee-eaters can be spotted in spring, and where ibex can be seen clambering up the hillside whichever month the calendar shows.

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Collected on these paths, these dried up galls of the turpentine tree smell great when you burn them, hence their name 'incienso de campesino' - incense of the peasant.

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Spain granada alhambra from san nicholas chris bladon

The walk finishes back at the village, from where it's a short drive into Granada. The Alhambra is the jewel of Moorish architecture in Spain and if you haven't visited, please let us take you!

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Spain almeria cabodegata naturalpark beach c heavenusa

5. San José to Cabo de Gata lighthouse. We are now out east, down where the Mediterranean coast still feels wild and unspoilt. This is Cabo de Gata, mainland Europe's only desert landscape.

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This is an exotic place of extinct volcanoes and wild beaches, of giant cacti and palm trees, of thick-walled adobe houses and small villages seemingly plucked from North Africa.

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Spain andalucia almeria cabo de gata genoveses hiking c diego pura

We prefer a slightly different version of this more established route, starting from the cape and walking 12km back along the coast to the lighthouse, built way back in 1863.

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Spain andalucia almeria playa del monsul beach at cabo de gata in spain

The route is lined with little coves and these sorts of beautifully natural beaches, inviting you in for a cooling dip in the clear blue sea should the mood, or the sunshine, take you.

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Spain andalucia cabo de gata agua amarga lunch

There are, you'll be pleased to hear, plenty of places to stop for something fresh out the sea en route. Lunch can be taken with your feet in the sand, or up on a hill overlooking the ocean.

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Spain andalucia cabo de gata salt flats pixabay royalty free

Rather than stopping at the lighthouse, push on round the cape and you’ll get to see the tip of the salt flats. Flamingos live here year round, but their numbers swell in spring and summer.

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Spain andalucia cabo de gata lighthouse pixabay royalty free

This walk is another that is best done on an Andalucía driving trip. The example shown here is three weeks long, but we can happily tailor it to you, be it just a week, or even a month.

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Spain andalucia grazalema walking boots chris bladon

If you'd like to walk some or all of these walks - not to mention many others deserving of merit - then please take a look at our Andalucía holidays and let us know which one takes your fancy.

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Spain andalucia aracena hills approaching valdelarco
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Spain andalucia aracena pigs dehesa c jarcosa
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Spain andalucia finca la fronda pool
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Spain andalucia sierra subbetica copyright pura aventura thomas power torcal de antequera gryphon vulture
Spain andalucia ibex el torcal copyright chris bladon pura aventura 3
Spain andalucia cordoba subbetica casa olea close up smoking chimney c diego
Spain andalucia cordoba subbetica zuheros panorama c diego
Spain andalucia cordoba subbetica zuheros bailon gorge start walks days 1 2 c diego
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Spain granada alhambra from san nicholas chris bladon
Spain almeria cabodegata naturalpark beach c heavenusa
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Spain andalucia almeria cabo de gata genoveses hiking c diego pura
Spain andalucia almeria playa del monsul beach at cabo de gata in spain
Spain andalucia cabo de gata agua amarga lunch
Spain andalucia cabo de gata salt flats pixabay royalty free
Spain andalucia cabo de gata lighthouse pixabay royalty free
Spain andalucia grazalema walking boots chris bladon

Andalucía is a dream for walkers. The sheer variety of scenery is remarkable, with the quintessential olive groves, snow-capped mountains and white villages of the centre flanked by great chestnut forests out west, and the volcanic desert landscapes of the east. Our walking notes make the navigation easy, luggage transfers lighten your load when needed and all our routes are designed to be enjoyed by anyone who is 'walking fit', regardless of age or experience. And when the walking is done, beautiful guesthouses serve up delicious homecooked meals and local wine as a reward for your efforts. What more could you ask for?

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