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Guide to Pampaneira: Gateway to the Poqueira Gorge

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The lowest of three villages in the spectacular Barranco de Poqueira (Poqueira Gorge) in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, quiet little Pampaneira is a delightful place to visit, stay and enjoy some fantastic hiking.

Part of an official Conjunto Historico Artistico, Pampaneira is one of many outstanding pueblos blancos (white villages) in the Alpujarras region of Andalusia. The Poqueira River splits the gorge in two, providing many terrific hiking trails and viewpoints. In fact, the entire area offers views up amazing vistas of not only the incredibly scenic Poqueira Gorge, but also up toward the two highest peaks in mainland Spain, Mulhacén (3,482 metres) and Veleta (3,394 metres).

Tables in street for Pampaneira restaurant

Pampaneira itself sits at just over 1,000 metres above sea level, which means it is slightly cooler in summer (but actually gets a little bit of snow in winter). And within easy walking distance farther up the gorge, you’ll find the similarly intriguing villages of Bubión and Capileira.

Person looking at village from above
Bubion and Capileira from the trail above Pampaneira

Between their isolation and easily defensible hillside locations, the ancient Moorish villages of the Poqueira Gorge held out longer against the Christian reconquest than most of their Andalusian counterparts. Even though the Spanish retook most of Andalusia by 1492, it took nearly a century longer to get the last of the Moorsout of La Alpujarra. Which is why the villages in this area still retain a slightly more Arabic feel than those closer to Granada.

Tables on street

Located conveniently close to Granada and on located directly on the main GR7 long-distance European hiking path, Pampaneira is popular with both trekkers and nature lovers.

Pampaneira Map

This Pampaneira map has all the best things to do and see.

Click the star to save this map to your Google Maps – then find it under Saved/Maps (mobile) or Your Places/Maps (desktop)

Things to do in Pampaneira, Spain

Whether you arrive in Pampaneira fresh from the GR7 trail or are making a special trip to enjoy the superb Poqueira Gorge, there are plenty of things to do in Pampaneira to keep you busy.

Stroll the Streets

Before setting a bunch of specific goals, all visitors to Pampaneira should take some time to wander the lovely little streets and alleys of this charming white village.

Narrow street

The Moorish origins of the town are obvious in its wonderful little plazas, narrow alleys and traditional whitewashed houses with classic Alpujarras architecture.

Narrow street

The square, flat-roofed homes feature round chimneys with small stone hoods and many of the houses are connected by a stone steps, creating a series of covered walkways. Plus, the many colourful flowers stand out starkly against the white walls and Pampaneira is the kind of place where getting lost (which feels inevitable) is the best way to find your favourite corners and surprise highlights.

flowers on Pampaneira streets

Relax on the Plaza de la Libertad

The main square of is lined with attractive Pampaneira restaurants and bars and offers plenty of shade under the atmospheric trees.

Tables at Pampaneira restaurants

While the Plaza de la Libertad is the beating heart of the village and the main social gathering point, crowded is still not a word that comes to mind. This is the perfect place to relax, have a bite or drink, people-watch and gear up for your next Poqueira Gorge hike.

Peek in the Santa Cruz Church

Once you’re on the square, you can’t miss the main church of Pampaneira, the 16th century Iglesia de Santa Cruz. Can’t miss as in definitely should explore and can’t miss as in it is by far the most imposing building on the plaza.

Church on main square

The fascinating Mudéjar design is intriguing enough on its own but those who know churches (or have just been in Spain long enough to have seen a few hundred good ones) will also be interested in the single nave, coffered wooden ceiling and several nice, gilded altarpieces.

Try the Fuente de San Antonio

Near the church you’ll find this classic old water fountain, also called La Chumpaneira, that spits out an endless stream of cold, clean potable water.

Old fountain

Whether you fill up your water bottle, slurp a bit out of your hands or are satisfied with just a photo, the backstory of Fuente de San Antonio is quite compelling.

Local lore claims that any single person partaking of the legendary waters of St. Anthony Fountain will soon find a partner. So if you’re single and looking, be sure to save some room for some magical Pampaneira love water. Married folks, tread lightly.

Find the Captivating Verónica Street

Be sure to head down tiny Calle Verónica, just off the square toward Barrio Bajo. It is pretty small (miniscule, really) but very picturesque, full of flowers and split by a correspondingly small irrigation channel.

Street with canal in middle

Soak Up the History of Lavadero de Pampaneira

This communal washing spot is a great example of historic daily life in Pampaneira. These photogenic basins also sit just above an ancient Arabic wash house with an unusual rectangle shape and evocative arches. And, oddly enough, the Lavadero de Pampaneira was used in the filming of the popular Spanish movie, Yerma.

Try Some Local Chocolates and Ice Cream

The Alpujarras region is known for many specialty foods, mostly cheeses and cured meats, but not so much for its chocolate and ice cream. Which is exactly why you should stop in at Abuela ili Chocolate to try out their fantastic ice cream and huge variety of chocolates, all of which are made fresh on-site.

Tables outside a Pampaneira Spain shops

The selection is almost overwhelming but they will usually let you sample before you decide. It may even be possible to witness the chocolate-making process.

Shop for Local Products

For a small place, Pampaneira is a surprisingly good place to shop for carpets, ceramics, textiles, leather goods and traditional clothing. You can also find local cured meats, cheeses and other specialties from the region.

Sign for a shop
Shop with local meats and honey

Many of the alleys leading away from the main square feature rug shops where you can watch them using antique looms to make their classic “jarapas”. These thick, multi-coloured carpets are a Poqueira specialty, plus you can also find a variety of blankets, tablecloths and curtains.

Carpets for sale at a Pampaneira Spain shops

Explore the Poqueira Gorge

Once you feel you’ve sufficiently explored the town (which, realistically, won’t take all that long), it is time to head out onto the excellent trails and myriad viewpoints of the famous Poqueira Gorge. Featuring a nice mix of easy and hard trails – all surrounded by traditional farms, cute waterfalls and classic bridges – the Barranco de Poqueira is one of the top destinations in the Alpujarras.

Canyon from above

The immense snowmelt from Mulhacén and Veleta rushes down the Barranco de Poqueira in spring, ensuring the valley remains green and lush. It also creates ideal growing conditions for a wide variety of produce, including apples, berries, figs and pomegranates, just to name a few.

Bubion and Pampaneira from above
Bubion in front and Pampaneira below in the gorge

If you are feeling energetic and want to see it all, you can tackle the Poqueira Gorge Loop, a roughly 3-hour route which passes through all three villages on the east side (Pampaneira, Bubión and Capileira) before returning down (or up) through the quiet farmland on the west side of the gorge. The views back across to the villages are magnificent.

Hiking trail to Pampaneira Spain
Hiking the trail from Capileira to Pampaneira

See the View from the O Sel Ling Monastery

Just across the gorge from Pampaneira – a reasonable up-and-down 2 km walk – is the Buddhist monastery of O Sel Ling (meaning “clear light”). Founded by a Tibetan monk in 1982, it is devoted to Buddhism through seclusion, meditation and self-reflection.

Even if you’re not immediately in search of enlightenment, though, you can still enjoy fabulous views back across the valley to the Poqueira villages, up to the peaks of the Sierra Nevada and on a clear day even down past Órgiva and Lanjarón all the way to the Mediterranean.

Hike the GR7

While the entire GR7 long-distance treks runs for an overwhelming 3,300 kilometres all the way from Tarifa, Spain to the Alsace region of eastern France, it is entirely possible (and completely acceptable) to hike just a small portion of the trail through the Alpujarras.

Hiker looking over a white village in Sierra Nevada spain

Considered one of the most scenic sections of the GR7 in Spain, the southern Sierra Nevada variant features tremendous mountain scenery, well-defined trails and a bevy of exceptional white villages. While all of the villages share some similarities in their mix of Moorish and Spanish architecture, each one also has its own unique flavour and character.

Hiker on a trail in the Sierra Nevada mountains spain

Hiking in either direction between Lanjarón and Válor involves just over 100 kilometres and can be easily done in 5-7 days, hitting all the best Alpujarran villages along the way.

For an overview of the area and how to hike the Alpujarras section of the GR7, check out Hiking the GR7: The White Villages of Spain’s Sierra Nevada

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, assuming you are a patient person). Here is a brief overview of the best villages in the alpujarras (in our opinion), going west to east coming from Granada.

Lanjarón is the first place you’ll reach coming out of Granada and is famous for its delicious, clean spring water and spa. Lanjarón is the origin of the famous Spanish bottled water of the same name. It is bigger than most of the other villages but still has plenty of Moorish charm.

Guide to Lanjaron: Spa Town of the Alpujarras

Lanjaron from the viewpoint above

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.

Orgiva Spain: The Crossroads of the Alpujarras

Main street in Orgiva in the Sierra Nevada mountains spain

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.

Guide to Soportujar – Where My Witches At?

Person posing with spider on the GR7 in the Sierra Nevada Spain

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.

Guide to Bubion: Little Known Gem of the Poqueira Gorge

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.

Capileira: Our Favourite Poqueira Gorge Village

man taking picture of sunset on the GR7 Sierra Nevada mountains Spain

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.

Trevelez: A Guide to the Ham Capital of Spain

Bérchules was the starting point for our 5-day Alpujarran trek – a delightful, quiet place full of fountains, local shops and surprising viewpoints.

If you are wondering what to do in the Alpujarras, visiting the villages is one of the most popular choices.

Where to Stay: Best Pampaneira Hotels

Estrella de las Nieves

The Estrella de las Nieves hotel is on the edge of Pampaneira with a beautiful view of the Barranco de Poqueira. You’ll enjoy cooling off in the pool on hot days, the views from your private balcony and the tasty breakfast. If you are there in the colder months, their heated rooms are a nice touch.

Click here for Estrella de las Nieves prices

Hostal Pampaneira

If you are looking for a budget option, Hostal Pampaneira is a great choice. They have double or triple rooms with private bathrooms and a great location in the centre of the village.

Click here for Hostal Pampaneira prices

Also, if you are looking for an even more authentically Alpujarran experience, you can ask around in town for directions to a classic Casa Rural Pampaneira.

How to Get to Pampaneira in the Alpujarras

Most people visit the Alpujarras by car, either their own or a rental. With so many great towns and villages in the area we highly recommend renting a car for at least a few days to cover more ground and set your own schedule. We find Discover Cars usually have the best deals in the area.

Coming from Granada and turning off the main highway near Lanjarón, you basically follow one road through all of the villages listed here. There is also plenty of parking at the bottom of Pampaneira as long as you don’t mind walking up.

If you don’t have a car, 3 Alsa buses run this route daily to and from Granada (2 hrs).

Driving distances and times:

Granada to Pampaneira: 70 km / 75 min

Lanjarón to Pampaneira: 20 km / 35 min

Orgíva to Pampaneira: 15 km / 25 min

Soportújar to Pampaneira: 8 km / 15 min

Bubión to Pampaneira: 4 km / 5 min

Capileira to Pampaneira: 6 km / 10 min

Pitres to Pampaneira: 7 km / 10 min

Pórtugos to Pampaneira: 9 km / 15 min

Trevélez to Pampaneira: 20 km / 30 min

Bérchules to Pampaneira: 40 km / 1 hr

Visiting From Granada

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.

Alhambra reflections

Possibly the most impressive historic complex we’ve ever visited and, I assure you, that is saying something.

Ornate arches in Granada cathedral

Click here for The 17 Best Things to Do in Granada

Pampaneira Spain History

When the Moors took Andalusia, the Berber clans flocked to the Alpujarras, founding dozens of white villages built around the silk industry. After centuries of conflict, the Christians eventually defeated the Moors in 1492 but the villages of the Sierra Nevada still weren’t convinced, many holding out for nearly another century.

Person walking down Pampaneira streets
Walking into Pampaneira

When these “Moriscos” were eventually expelled, though, the overall population of the region plummeted. Many of the villages remained nearly abandoned throughout the Spanish Civil War, only seeing a resurgence in the latter stages of the 20th century when tourists and expats began arriving in the area.

When to Visit: Pampaneira Weather

Unlike the lowland areas of Andalusia, the weather in the Alpujarras varies significantly throughout the year (not to mention the day). With most of the villages at a bit of altitude, they tend to be cooler in summer – the perfect place to escape the oppressive coastal heat.

White buildings
Warm days and blue skies in the fall

Of course, the winters (and even shoulder seasons) can be quite cold. There is a fair bit of rain and snow in Pampaneira in the winter, although it rarely settles in and the weather tends to change quickly.

Temperatures in Pampaneira Spain vary from 19/31C (low/high) in July to 3/12C in January.

Pampaneira Summary

A simply adorable little village perched precariously on the side of the beautiful Poqueira Gorge, Pampaneira is a phenomenal stop on any trek or road trip through the incomparable Las Alpujarras of southern Spain. With cute alleys, whitewashed Moorish buildings and some terrific hiking, it is one of the highlights of the Sierra Nevada region.

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