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Located in the Lecrin Valley coming down from the Sierra Nevada mountains, lovely Lanjaron is one of the most popular day trips in Andalusia. With a famous spa, even more famous water, a nice old town area and several good restaurants, the main tourist town of the Alpujarras region is a great place to visit less than an hour from the Granada and not much farther from the beaches of Costa Tropical. Somewhat lusher than the dry foothills of the Sierra Nevada to the east, Lanjaron is also a common starting point for Alpujarran section of the GR7 long-distance hiking trail.
Fed by Rio Lanjarón, a tributary of the Rio Guadalfeo, Lanjarón has long been famous for having some of the purest spring water in Spain. This has led to the superb bottled water, Agua Lanjarón, and, of far more interest to most visitors, Balneario Lanjarón, the town’s extremely popular spa. It is believed that the restorative properties of the water has contributed to the impressive life expectancy of its population, which was once even honoured by the World Health Organization as having the highest life expectancy in the world.
Spreading the wealth, so to speak, are the free potable fountains scattered all over town where you can get a firsthand taste of the Lanjaron springs. And, like most places in the Alpujarras, Lanjaron is also known for its fabulous jamón serrano (cured ham). Even the town’s name has wet roots, believed to have originated from “lanchar”, meaning “place with abundant water”.
Lanjaron looks terrific from above approaching on the road from Granada, then once you enter the town you can enjoy the wide main street lined with tall sycamore trees. Old Barrio Hondillo is the perfect place for wandering and the ancient castle offers up superb views up to the town and down to the rolling hills of the region.
Lanjaron Alpujarras Map
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Things to do in Lanjaron
Larger than most of the white villages farther into the Alpujarras, Lanjaron also has more things to see and do.
Visit the Balneario de Lanjarón (Lanjarón Spa)
In Lanjaron, the pure water capital of Spain, it all starts with the hot springs of Balneario de Lanjarón. Featuring the highly admired Chalybeate water, high in iron salts, Lanjaron spa has been drawing guests from all over the world since the 19th century. And the water itself has been recognized for its qualities since ancient times, reaching a head three centuries ago when (allegedly) a very sick man arrived in town, drank from the hot springs (gross) and was immediately (and allegedly) completely healed.
True or not, that started Lanjaron along the path to becoming the famous restorative treatment centre it has become today. Set in a beautiful Mudejar building constructed in 1928, some sections of the spa are actually repurposed former water bottling facilities.
The Balneario de Lanjarón is open from March to December and offers 6 different mineral springs, a thermal spa and a wide range of thorough health treatments designed to improve your overall well-being. From muscle health to back pain to beauty to stress relief, there is a little something for everyone.
You can pop in for a short visit, choosing from a vast array of treatments starting as low as €18, or opt for a longer, relaxing stay in the luxurious 4-star hotel. Hotel Balnearo de Lanjarón is the spa of choice for those looking for the ultimate relax and rejuvenate vacation.
Try the Famous Lanjarón Water
Of course, this amazing Lanjaron water isn’t just for basking in or using to treat that weird rash on your leg, it also tastes great. Which is why Agua Lanjarón was established as the very first bottled water company in Spain way back in 1830. To find out more about the long, compelling history of Lanjaron water, head over to the Lanjarón Water Museum.
You can get a taste of Lanjaron water at any shop in town (in Lanjaron or around the country), have a small sample at the spa for €1 per cup or just wander around and…
Find the Fountains
For a less formal taste of Lanjaron water, there are over a dozen fountains spread throughout the village, most of which feature a quote or poem from famous Andalusian poet, Federico Garcia Lorca. Fed by the expansive underground hot springs, which are in turn fed by the fresh, clean melted snow of the Sierra Nevada National Park, Lanjaron’s fountains are both plentiful and fascinating.
The fountains in town feature chlorinated water, while some of the rural fountains still produce natural spring water.
Explore the Barrio Hondillo
The oldest section of Lanjarón, Barrio Hondillo is the usual Moorish-Spanish maze of narrow alleys filled with whitewashed buildings, interspersed with “tinaos” (covered walkways) and decorated with bright flowers.
The flat roofs are typically Moorish, as are the covered “chimney pots”. This is also where you will find many of the best fountains.
Gaze Out from the Viewpoints
Mirador de la Cañona
Right on the main road, the “cannon viewpoint” is the perfect place to look out on the Lanjaron castle. And, yes, there is an actual cannon there, dating back to the War of Independence and Napoleon.
Ermita Del Tajo de La Cruz
The best view down over the town can be found at this cute little church on top of the tall hill separating Lanjaron from Orgiva, the capital of the Alpujarras.
The relatively short and easy hike between these two popular villages is one of the best in the area (see below).
Check out the Parroquia De Nuestra Señora De La Encarnacion
This old Mudéjar church was built on the remains of an ancient mosque and is definitely worth a look. The original was eventually destroyed during the Moorish revolts but impressively rebuilt, with the main façade and tower added in the 19th century.
And, although this is the highlight church, you can also check out Ermita San Roque and Ermita San Sebastian, both conveniently located along the main road through town, and Ermita de San Isidro, just out of Lanjaron on the road to Granada.
Shop for Local Products
The entire Alpujarras region produces a variety of excellent cured meats, jams and even wines. And the area around Lanjaron is particularly good for bee farming, producing some of the best honey in Spain.
If you want to learn all the fascinating details (and are able to read a bit of Spanish), stop in at the informative Honey Museum.
Go Tapas Hopping
In true Andalusian fashion, Lanjarón is a terrific place to go from restaurant to restaurant, leisurely drinking and enjoying the variety of tasty tapas that are provided with your beverage.
Each bar has its own specialties and it often seems as though the tapas could be worth more than the drink itself.
Bar Juanmi was our favourite stop, bringing out a plate of fries covered in delicious stew that made us wonder why fries don’t always come with stew on top.
Wander through Salado Park
Across the street from the Balneario de Lanjarón is a lovely park full of trees and streams. A popular local hangout and concert venue, there are playgrounds, short walking trails and a pleasant café with a perfect people-watching terrace.
Head Out on One of the Lanjarón Walks
As with all the villages in the Alpujarras, Lanjaron has a good selection of scenic hiking trails.
13 km / 5-6 hrs / 775m elevation gain
A circular walk in the countryside that goes completely around Lanjaron and includes the Arab castle ruins, views from the Tajos de Colorao and the Camino de las Sierras.
If you would like to do this as a guided hike, trekking company Spanish Highs offers this and many other options, including mountain trekking in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Hike to Orgiva
8 km / 3 hrs / 270m
A short but occasionally steep hike, this is a fun and scenic way to travel between these two important Alpujarran towns.
We would suggest hiking in one direction, then catching a bus back the other way (possibly after a few celebratory drinks and tapas).
Hike to Soportújar
12 km / 5-6 hrs / 950m
Soportújar has a somewhat bizarre supernatural theme, including many very graphic (and very odd) sculptures and displays.
So it is worth visiting on its own, plus the walk between Lanjarón and Soportújar passes through beautiful hills and valleys. A bit of a workout, but the views are worth it.
Acequia Aceituno – Cecarta Trail
6.5 km / 2 hrs / 330m
If you’re looking for something that gives a taste of the natural surroundings without occupying your whole day, the pleasant Acequia Aceituno-Cecarta Trail follows an easy trail along irrigation canals much of the way. Starting in the old Barrio Hondillo area, there are a few steep spots where you need to take care but, overall, it is suitable for just about anyone.
Trek the GR-7
If you simply can’t get enough of hiking in the Alpujarras, you may want to try your hand at a portion of the famous GR7 long-distance route that runs all the way from Tarifa, Spain to northeastern France (3,300 km in total). The Alpujarran section passes all the way along the southern foothills of the Sierra Nevada from Lanjarón to Válor and is considered one of the most scenic sections in Spain.
With amazing scenery, easy-to-follow trails and welcoming villages, this stretch can be done in a week or less, staying in one great village after another along the way.
For an overview of the area and how to hike the Alpujarran section of the GR7, check out Hiking the GR7: The White Villages of Spain’s Sierra Nevada
Explore by Bike
If you want to cover more ground in the Alpujarras, there are biking options ranging from incredibly challenging to serene and peaceful, although all of them are scenic. Based in Lanjaron, Ride Southern Spain can arrange bike rentals and tailored group road and mountain bike holidays.
Go for a Horseback Ride at the Caballo Blanco Trekking Centre
The gentle hills and outstanding scenery around Lanjarón and Órgiva are tailor-made for enjoying from horseback. If the idea appeals to you, check out Caballo Blanco’s wide range of choices, from day rides (€35/hr) to multi-day horse treks up to 8 days long.
Or if you just want to visit, they also run a horse rescue organization giving people the opportunity to adopt or foster rescued animals (or simply donate to the cause).
Explore the Ruins of Lanjarón Castle
Completely in ruins in some parts, surprisingly well-preserved in others, the impressive ancient Moorish Castillo de Lanjarón occupies a dominant spot atop a rocky outcrop.
There are exceptional views of town and the valley surrounding the castle. Meanwhile, lovers of legend will enjoy the story of the Moorish king who flung himself from the ramparts to his death rather than surrender to his Catholic counterpart.
Find the Nasrid Bridge
If you have the means to travel a bit out of Lanjaron, head 7 km west to see the historically important Tablate Bridge, usually known today as simply the Nasrid Bridge. In ancient days, this bridge was the only access point to the Lecrin Valley and the rest of the Alpujarras, making it strategically vital. In 1569 it was the site of a major battle between the Moors and Christians.
Just across the road, you can check out the adorable little Ermita de al Virgen de las Angustias (Hermitage of the Virgin of the Sorrows).
Tour the Other White Villages of the Alpujarras
Even if you aren’t the long-distance trekking sort of person, the white villages of the Alpujarras are still a great place to visit by car (or even bus, as long as you are a patient person). Here is a brief overview of the best villages in the Alpujarras, going west to east from Lanjarón.
Down in the next valley is Órgiva, the main commercial centre of the Alpujarras region. It is bigger and less attractive than those in the mountains but has good restaurants and accommodation, plus they throw a mean festival.
Soportújar, on the other hand, is completely bizarre, having fully embraced a complicated set of myths and legends involving witches, warlocks and, apparently, some giant spiders? Memorable, I assure you.
Pampaneira is the lowest village of the Poqueira Gorge and the first place you’ll reach coming from the west. It is typically lovely, very compact and has some fascinating little alleys split by water channels.
Bubión is the next village up the gorge from Pampaneira and is exceptionally photogenic, manageably small, and has a lot of impressive flowers and some fairly weird cats.
At the top of the gorge is Capileira, a steep village somewhat inconveniently split into upper and lower sections (and with confusing trail markings). The views down the valley are incredible, though, especially at sunset.
The first town over the ridge along the GR7 from Bubión is Pitres, a friendly little place with a wonderful square and some nice bars and cafés.
Not far from there is Pórtugos which, to us, felt like the most natural and authentic of all the white villages of the Alpujarras. Kids playing, guys drinking beer, locals waiting for the grocery store to reopen after siesta.
Trevélez is the gateway to the Sierra Nevada national park and mountains and boasts a dramatic location at the very top of a scenic valley. Its maze of narrow white streets is somehow even more interesting than most and they are VERY proud of their ham.
Bérchules was the starting point for our 5-day Alpujarran trek – a delightful, quiet place full of fountains, local shops and surprising viewpoints.
Where to Stay: Lanjarón Hotels
Other than Hotel Balneario Lanjarón, the Hotel Alcadima is the best place to stay in Lanjaron and offers a relaxing vibe with both indoor and outdoor pools, sauna and extensive gardens.
Pick from rooms with balconies with views over the valley or an indoor Andalusian courtyard.
Hotel Nuevo Palas
Another good choice is Nuevo Palas with a swimming pool and terrace in a very convenient location.
Where to Eat: Lanjarón Restaurants
There are a couple of Lanjaron restaurants that are perfect for a relaxing meal.
We highly recommend this restaurant, where you have a choice of sitting inside or on the patio area outside. The tapas that come free with your drinks were some of the best that we had in the Alpujarras and Laynni was particularly impressed with her salad with goat cheese.
It’s very popular (we had to wait to get in) but it was definitely worth it.
The menu of the day is always a good choice here. They specialize in roast chicken and do great takeaway food.
Festivals and Events in Lanjarón Spain
Along with the usual big celebrations (i.e. Easter), Lanjaron Spain draws big crowds every June 23rd for the Festival of San Juan. Often simply called the Lanjarón Water Festival, starting at midnight it becomes part communal water fight, part music rave. If you’re in the area around this time you won’t want to miss it.
How to Get to Lanjarón
Unless they are hiking the GR7, most people visit the Alpujarras by car, either their own or a rental. With so many great towns and villages in the area, if you don’t have a vehicle we highly recommend renting a car for a few days to cover more ground and set your own schedule. We find Discover Cars usually have the best deals in the area.
Driving distances and times:
Granada: 45 km / 40 min
Heading east from Lanjarón, you basically follow one road through all of the following villages.
Órgiva: 10 km / 15 min
Soportújar: 18 km / 30 min
Pampaneira: 22 km / 35 min
Bubión: 26 km / 40 min
Capileira: 28 km / 45 min
Pitres: 30 km / 45 min
Pórtugos: 30 km / 45 min
Trevélez: 45 km / 1 hr
Bérchules: 55 km / 1.25 hrs
Alsa buses run at least hourly from Granada and take around 1-1.5 hours. There is also one daily bus to and from Malaga that takes 3-3.5 hrs.
Famously beautiful Granada is the closest major centre and main base for heading off into the Alpujarras. Filled with amazing historic sights, gritty neighbourhoods and outstanding viewpoints, Granada is, nonetheless, mainly known for one incredible attraction – the Alhambra.
Possibly the most impressive historic complex we’ve ever visited and, I assure you, that is saying something.
Click here for The 17 Best Things to Do in Granada
When to Visit: Lanjaron Weather in Las Alpujarras
While the rest of Andalusia gets very hot in summer, the heat in Lanjaron is usually slightly less extreme at 650 metres above sea level in the Alpujarras foothills. It still climbs into the 30’s in mid-summer but nights remain relatively cool (20-22C), making it a little more bearable.
On the bright side, Lanjaron gets almost no rain in July and August, although even in the winter it is not a particularly wet place. In general, the best time to visit Lanjaron is between May and October, with the shoulder seasons best for hiking, climbing and trekking.
Sometimes maligned as “too big” or “too popular” by people who prefer the quaint little villages higher up into the Alpujarras, Lanjarón still has plenty to offer both those passing through and those looking for a longer stay.
The Lanjaron Spa is the ultimate choice for health, relaxation and rejuvenation. It is fascinating to learn about the grand history of the town’s famous water, then throw in a typically charming old town, a Moorish castle and some great hiking trails and it is easy to see why Lanjarón is considered one of the region’s top destinations.
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