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Trevelez: A Guide to the Ham Capital of Spain

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Trevélez is the second highest village in Spain at 1,476 metres and the gateway to the mountains of the Sierra Nevada National Park. With a population of just 800 and a dramatic clifftop location at the very top of a scenic valley, Trevelez is a wonderful village to explore and enjoy the views whether or not you plan to head higher into the mountains.

And, yes, Trevelez ham is definitely a big thing in these parts. Something to do with the clear, dry mountain air in Trevelez seems conducive to producing the best jamón serrano (cured ham) in the country. Even if you happen to forget this odd fact, you will soon be reminded by the huge hams hanging in every second window throughout the village. And it isn’t just Trevelez ham, they also produce a wide variety of cured meats including some fantastic salami (some of which we carried on our hike and ate for lunch for several days).

Trevelez Spain from hills above

Trevelez is divided into three sections, with most of the tourist facilities found in the lower part of town (Barrio Bajo) but the town gets progressively more interesting and scenic as you go higher into Barrio Medio and Barrio Alto. The Rio Trevelez runs past the east side of the village, offering an atmospheric place to hang out and cool off in summer.

Person walking up Trevelez Spain street

Located high up in the Barranco de Trevelez (Trevelez Gorge), the area is very barren and treeless compared with some of the lower valleys of the Alpujarras but the views up to the peaks of Mulhacén, Veleta and Alcazaba and down to coast are incredible.

The origins of the name, Trevelez, aren’t completely clear, but most theories have it as an Arab or Latin name meaning “three valleys” or “three districts”.

Trevélez Alpujarras Map

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Things to do in Trevélez

Ham, even great Trevelez ham, can only occupy so much of your time. Luckily, if you are wondering what to do in Trevelez, there are many more options even once you’re finished lunch. Having said that, we’re still going to start with the ham…

Go Trevelez Ham Shopping

Yes, the jamón serrano of Trevelez is justly famous and, as a result, there are dozens of shops around town where you can pick up a sample or stock up for the road ahead. There are even ham tours of curing factories where you can learn more about what makes Trevelez ham so special.

Rows of cured Trevelez ham

The Secadero Museum of Jamones Vallejo features one of the oldest drying rooms in Spain and in 2018 the Ministry of Agriculture awarded confirmed they had “the best ham in Spain”. So it’s official, not just locals talking it up. In fact, Trevelez has even been designated as a “Protected Geographical Indication” for its jamon serrano and the village attracts curious ham curing specialists from all over the world.

Monument to Trevelez ham

Whether or not you are interested enough for a full tour, be sure to try at least a sample of the local meat (unless you are vegetarian, in which case you should probably have skipped this whole section) and browse other local specialties such as their jam, wine and honey.

Relax on the Main Plaza

While it isn’t as quaint as some of the other main squares in the Alpujarras (there is a working street running through it, after all), there are still many nice restaurants, bars and shops in the focal point of Trevelez.

Shop on the Trevelez square
Shop on the main plaza

This is also where you’ll find the tourist office and the square can be a good place to pass the time, settling in at one of the cafés and watching the tourist buses load and unload.

Follow the Ruta de los Tres Barrios

Now that you’re full of ham, you can try walking it off by venturing up into the pretty alleys of upper Trevelez. You can follow signs throughout the village for the “Ruta de Los Tres Barrios” (Three Neighborhoods Route).

Person walking on Trevelez Spain streets

While wandering aimlessly is also an option (and one of our main occupations), sticking to the route at least once ensures you won’t miss any of the best houses, fountains or “tinaos” (covered archways) of Barrio Medio.

Explore Barrio Alto

A full 200 metres higher than the Rio Trevelez, the climb shouldn’t be underestimated. Regardless, you can take your time getting there, enjoying the scenic little streets and local cafés and shops in the Barrio Medio on the way up.

Flower pots on Trevelez Spain

The upper section of Trevelez is an old maze of narrow alleys, classic buildings and beautiful viewpoints. This is where you will find the best tinaos and whitewashed houses with typical flat Berber roofs and unique chimney pots.

Green door

See the Views from the Mirador Era el Fuerte

Arguably the best of several excellent viewpoints in Trevelez, the Mirador de la Era Fuerte offers fabulous views of the (often) snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountains and the entire Trevelez valley down to the Alpujarran foothills.

Person at Trevelez mirador

Find the Hermitage of San Antonio

This 17th century Mudejar church is located in the heart of the Barrio Medio and is known for its impressive effigies of San Antonio and the Virgen de las Nieves.

Hermitage in Trevelez

Stop by the Parish Church of San Benito

Another 17th century Mudejar church, this one on the Plaza de la Iglesia was built on the remains of an ancient mosque dating back to the Nasrid dynasty.

Outside of Trevelez church

The original church was destroyed in the Spanish Civil War but later rebuilt in very similar fashion.

Enjoy the Rio Trevélez

Running through the eastern part of town and all the way down the Trevelez valley, the Rio Trevélez is a wonderful place to cool off after a long, hot hike (for example) or just as a spot to lounge around on a hot summer day.

Hiker with feet in river

There are a pair of picturesque bridges to check out and fishermen will be delighted to learn it is full of lively trout, a delicacy that falls only behind the famous Trevelez ham on menus around town.

Trevelez river
View from the bridge

Stop for a Drink and Tapas

You can stop for a drink basically anywhere in Trevelez and it will be served with tapas involving some version of Trevelez ham.

Tapas with Trevelez Ham

Having arrived outside the rather rigid Spanish meal hours, we opted for a Trevelez pub crawl, filling ourselves with cold beer and delicious local tapas.

Climb Mulhacén

Oh, you thought we were only going to suggest different things to eat and drink? Think again. The highest mountain on mainland Spain (and second in all of Spain behind only Mount Teide in Tenerife), Mulhacén is one of the most popular peaks in Europe. Named after Muley Hacen, the last Moorish king of Granada in the 15th century, the summit can be reached on foot from either Trevélez, Capileira (Poqueira Gorge), or Hoya de la Mora (north side).

It is possible to complete the Siete Lagunas hike all the way up Mulhacen and back in one long, 10-12hr day, but most people do it as a 2-day, 1-night trek, spending the night in Refugio Poqueira (2,500m). There are no permits, licenses or guides required to do this trek, although most people still prefer to go with a guided tour that can lead the way and provide all the necessary gear.

Click here for prices and availability

Head out on a Hike

Now, if summiting a mountain sounds a bit daunting, don’t worry, there are several less exhausting hikes that will still get you out into the fascinating scenery of Trevelez but don’t require a cold night at altitude.

Hiker above Trevelez Spain

Of course, just wandering the village from bottom to top is an undertaking in itself, plus you can continue up to the Era el Fuente viewpoint or stroll across the Chico River from Barrio Medio. But if you want to venture further afield, try one of these beautiful trails:

Trevélez to Las Siete Lagunas

17 km / 6-8 hrs / 1,350m elevation gain (return)

Even if you don’t continue up to the summit it is worth hiking to the Seven Lakes. The trail goes through rather dry, barren landscape but the lush greenery around the Siete Lagunas is like a Spanish oasis. The views of Mulhacen along the way are stunning as well.

Trevélez to Busquístar

15 km / 5-6 hrs / 685m (one-way)

This is part of the famous GR7 long-distance hiking trail that runs all the way from Tarifa, Spain to northeastern France (3,300 km in total) the trail from Trevelez to Busquistar is one of the best legs of the Alpujarran section.

Hiker above Trevelez Sierra Nevada

Leading through gorgeous forest past a pretty waterfall and many old farms, the trail is mostly downhill to the charming village of Busquístar. From there you can catch the bus back or hire a taxi for the short journey.

Trevélez to Capileira

18 km / 6-7 hrs / 875m (one-way)

Following the Sulayr Route, also referred to as the GR240, this trail takes you up and over the photogenic ridge dividing the Trevelez Valley from the amazing Poqueira Gorge.

Hiker in the Sierra Nevada

Featuring a nice mix of terrain from open farmland to forest trails to rocky viewpoints, this can serve as a great day hike (once again returning by bus or taxi) or a fun way to get to your next destination.

Person looking at village from above
Trail to Capileira

The GR7

If you enjoyed the beautiful walk down to Busquístar and decide you want to enjoy more of this epic long-distance route, it is possible to walk the entire length of the Alpujarras from Lanjarón to Válor (or vice versa) in about a week.

Woman on rock on GR7 trail in Sierra Nevada Spain

Considered one of the best sections of the GR7 in Spain, it features amazing scenery, easy-to-follow trails and welcoming villages, spending each night in a different white village.

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

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 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

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.

Main Orgiva street and church
Orgiva on festival day

Orgiva Spain: The Crossroads of the Alpujarras

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

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.

Street with canal in middle

Guide to Pampaneira: Gateway to the Poqueira Gorge

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.

Streets of Bubion

Guide to Bubión: 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.

Sunset view over Capileira

Capileira: Our Favourite Poqueira Gorge Village

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.

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

Festivals and Events in Trevelez Sierra Nevada

As with most Spanish villages, Trevelez loves its fiestas.

On June 13th and 14th they celebrate the Feast of San Antonio with an impressive recreation of a big historic battle between the Moors and Christians. And, rather obviously, the fiesta includes a very large feast.

In early August, Trevelez honours the Virgen de las Nieves (Virgin of the Snows) with a pilgrimage to Mulhacén. The virgin is carried up to Siete Lagunas on horseback and accompanied by many locals on foot. They spend the night by the lakes before continuing on to the summit for sunrise, where they perform mass in the belief that this will protect travellers in the Sierra Nevada throughout the next year.

In mid-July, the Fiesta de San Benito features a variety of religious ceremonies and is capped off with a feast of “papas de matanza” (a local roasted potato specialty).

The Feria de Ganado (Cattle Fair) occurs the third weekend of October and, although cattle are obviously a key component, these days it also involves many other celebrations, music and markets.

Like many of the villages in the Alpujarras, Trevelez celebrates the Chestnut Festival (Fiesta de la Mauraca) every year on November 1st. Chestnuts are roasted over an open fire, there is dancing and traditional Alpujarran songs and the roasted chestnuts are later enjoyed with a warm anise-flavored liquor.

Narrow Trevelez Spain streets
Narrow streets in Trevelez

Where to Eat in Trevelez Spain

Not surprisingly, most local specialties involve Trevelez ham, including habas con jamon (broad beans and ham) and trucha con jamon (trout with ham).

Restaurante Haraicel

We enjoyed relaxing on their small terrace, picking favourites from their varied menu that focuses on traditional Spanish dishes. The pork knuckle is particularly popular. Even if you don’t want a meal it’s a great choice for a drink.

Trevelez restaurant

Piedra Ventana

The very popular Piedra Ventana is located right at the entrance to the village next to the Rio Trevelez, just a short walk from the village centre. They manage to work the local jamón into a surprising number of their dishes and, maybe more surprisingly, also have some great options for vegetarians.

People eating at Trevelez restaurant

Where to Stay: Best Trevelez Hotels

La Fragua II

La Fragua I is in a typical Andalusian townhouse nearby but if you are looking for a pool with beautiful views over the mountains, La Fragua II is the better choice. The rooms all have private balconies with exceptional views of the mountains. The hotel is located high up in the village but there are places to park only a 2-minute walk away.

Click here for La Fragua II prices

Hostal Mulhacen

We stayed at Hotal Mulhacen in a comfortable room with a balcony overlooking the river and a great view of the sunrise. It is also handily close to the recommended Piedra Ventana restaurant.

View from Trevelez hotel

Click here for Hostal Mulhacen prices

Camping Trevelez

Camping Trevelez is set on a nice terrace hillside one kilometre south of town. It is family-run and offers budget cabins, bungalows, tenting sites, a restaurant/bar, pool and general store.

Click here for Camping Trevelez prices

How to Get to Trevelez

By Car

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.

Man driving
Our car rental for exploring Spain’s Pueblo Blancos

As you drive into Trevélez, head down toward Barrio Bajo and after you cross the bridge into town you’ll reach a reasonably large parking area in the main plaza. If you are only visiting on a day trip, this is where you will find most of the restaurants, shops and the tourist office.

Coming from Granada and turning off the main highway near Lanjarón, you basically follow one road through all the villages listed here.

Driving distances and times:

Granada to Trevélez: 100 km / 1.75 hrs

Lanjarón to Trevélez: 45 km / 1 hr

Orgiva to Trevélez: 35 km / 1 hr

Soportújar to Trevélez: 30 km / 45 min

Pampaneira to Trevélez: 20 km / 30 min

Bubión to Trevélez: 20 km / 30 min

Capileira to Trevélez: 25 km / 35 min

Pitres to Trevélez: 15 km / 25 min

Pórtugos to Trevélez: 12 km / 20 min

Bérchules to Trevélez: 20 km / 30 min

By Bus

If you want to visit without a car, there are three daily Alsa buses from Granada that pass through all the villages. They take about 2.5-3 hours to Trevélez and continue on to Bérchules and the villages farther east.

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.

Click here for The 17 Best Things to Do in Granada

When to Visit: Trevélez Weather

At 1,476 metres above sea level, Trevelez is known for clear skies, low humidity and comfortable temperatures in summer (although it can still reach 30C+ in July/Aug). However, winters in Trevelez are cold and there is a fair bit of rain and snow (especially November), although it rarely settles in and the weather tends to change quickly.

Person walking up Trevelez streets
Blue skies and shorts weather in October

Temperatures in Trevelez Spain vary from 16/29C (low/high) in July to 1/10C in January. In general, the best times to visit Trevelez are in the shoulder seasons (May-June and September-October) when it is still warm but not hot and there are fewer people around. May and June are particularly good times for hiking because the flowers (yellow scotch broom and red poppies) are in bloom, lighting up the valley. Keep in mind, though, it will still get chilly at night anytime outside the summer months.

Trevelez Summary

With outstanding scenery, a fascinating Moorish old town and more amazing Trevelez ham than you can shake a pork knuckle at, Trevelez is a tremendous place to get away from the heat and chaos of the Costa del Sol. There is fabulous hiking all through the valley and energetic walkers can even use Trevelez as a base to summit famous Mulhacén.

Trevelez from above

So, whether you can’t wait to explore all the outdoor wonders of the Trevelez valley or are content to explore the wonders of Trevelez ham (maybe with a side of local wine and trout), the second-highest village in Spain definitely deserves spot on your Andalusia bucket list.

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