Alhama de Granada
Alhama de Granada is an old spa village in Granada Province.
Bus from Torre del Mar or Vélez-Málaga - both easily reached from Málaga. Car hire from Malaga Airport and train station is also a good, cost effective option, the drive takes around 90 minutes. Car hire from Granada airport is also inexpensive, this drive takes around 40 minutes.
There is also a bus from Granada to Alhama that runs 4 times a day, check the times on the alsa website, last one is around 6.30 pm. Once in the town, everything you need is in walking distance: fresh fruit and vegetable shops, butchers, supermarkets, fresh fish shops, bars and restaurants.
Windsurfing, horse riding, hiking, quad biking, go karting, mountain biking, cycling, kayaking.
Swimming in Lake Bermajales (10 km away) - the lake is surrounded by sandy beaches.
Swimming pools - there is an open air public pool in town with grassy areas for laying out and one at Pato Loco 3 km steady walk up the gorge. It costs a few euros to use either pool, both are only open in the summer months.
Winter sports - November to April, the slopes are 90 minutes drive away.
To get prices / arrange Windsurfing, hiking, quad biking, go karting, mountain biking, cycling, kayaking, abseiling or skiing contact Terry at Alhambra Rambler
Beaches - The Costa Tropical is a little over an hours drive away, Nerja and it's amazing caves is an hour and 10 minutes away.
There are two spas in the town, both have hotels attached with all the facilities you'd expect. One is at the bottom of the town Balneario de Alhama de Granada near the Roman bridge (20 minute / 3km easy walk, or 2 minutes in the car) and one is at the top - El Ventorro (30 minute / 4km steady walk up the gorge or 4 minutes in the car).
Balneario dates back to Roman times (1st century), the thermal waters are 47 degrees C, there is a hotel with a full range of treatments see or you can simply walk down to the river and sit in one of the warm pools for free, there is a small parking fee if you take the car.
Recommended reading list - before, during or after your trip
Ornament of the World - How Muslims, Jews and Christians created a culture of tolerance in medieval Spain - Rosa Menocal
Driving Over Lemons - Chris Stewart
The Parrot in the Pepper Tree - Chris Stewart
South from Granada - Gerald Brenan
Guerra - Jason Webster
Al-Andalus - Jason Webster
Duende - Jason Webster
Ghosts of Spain - Giles Tremlett
The New Spaniards - John Hooper
Spain by the Horns: A Journey to the Heart of a Culture - Tim Elliott
It's Not About the Tapas - Polly Evans
The Almond Blossom Appreciation Society - Chris Stewart
Muslim Spain and Portugal: Political History of Al-Andalus - Hugh Kennedy
Casa Moro: The Second Cookbook - Sam Clark and Sam Clark
Moro East - Samantha Clark
Spanish Lessons: How One Family Found Their Place in the Sun - Derek Lambert
The City of Granada - 45 mins drive
Granada is in the heart of Andalusia. One of a three key Moorish towns in Southern Spain, the others being Cordoba and Seville. It is situated at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, at the confluence of three rivers, Beiro, Darro and Genil.
Of course Granada is world famous for the Alhambra Palace. It is one of the most renowned historical sites in the world. A trip to this part of Spain would not be complete without visiting the Palace. It is advisable to book tickets online to avoid disappointment it costs 12 euros for the day, there are a number of different ticket options available.
The town itself is well worth spending some time in. The Albaicin is the old Arabic quarter, a maze of winding alleyways and streets, with cafes and Arabic teterias (teahouses) with their cool, dark fragrant interiors they beckon visitors out of the bright sunlight, a place where you can treat yourself to sweet pastries and drink aromatic teas around traditional, three-legged sinya tables. There are fantastic shops selling rugs, lamps, mirrors, furniture, jewelry and clothes. As you climb the winding streets you are offered glimpses of the fabulous Alhambra on the opposite side of the valley. The locals say that, to understand it, you need to spend time in "el Corazon de su Corazon" - at the heart of its heart. Finding that heart, through it's maze of cobbled, winding streets, is not so easy. A great place to take photos of the Alhambra is in the plaza at the top of the hill (Mirador de San Nicolas Church) many people gather here every evening as the sun is setting, as it is such a good view and there is great soft orange light on the Alhambra.
Church of Santa Ana and Plaza San Nicolas. Half way up this hilly district is the 16th-centrury church of Santa Ana whose bell tower is a converted minaret. Nearby is an original, working Baños Arabes, beautifully restored with brick-vaulted ceilings, star-shaped skylights and wall mosaics. Narrow streets run between whitewashed houses called carmenes. These were homes built by wealthy Arabs between the 12th and 15th centuries who hid their prosperity behind high walls, but the gates and grilles reveal some wonderful secret gardens, geometrically-designed with Moorish patios, fountains and a profusion of fruit trees, plants and flowers.
Sacromonte the gypsies and flamenco guitarists Quarter. The Albaicin morphs into Sacromonte via a barely noticeable fountain, but the atmosphere subtly changes. This is the home of an ancient and still considerable gitano population from whose clans many of Spain's best flamenco guitarists, singers and dancers have emerged. The gypsies originally lived in caves carved out of the hillside – some still do, although the majority have been converted into attractive tourist apartments, restaurants and night clubs. The area still has an anarchic energy, fed by late-night flamenco zambras. Although there are a few bona fide flamenco clubs, sadly most of these once-spontaneous gypsy festivities have become blatantly contrived for tourists, with entrance priced at anything the gitaro hosts feel like charging in exchange for a quick show and a small sherry. But this is still a barrio well worth experiencing. During Semana Santa, when religious statues are paraded through the streets, the mix of incense, candles and singing creates a highly-charged atmosphere.
There is a bustling market on a Friday morning, selling fresh local produce, plants, clothes and household stuff.
Fabulous locally produced olive oil, honey, almonds and wine is available to buy in many of the local shops and bars. Ventorro (at the top of the gorge) has a particularly good selection.
a small selection of local arts, crafts and post cards is available at the small tabac on the corner of Plaza Constitution.
Bars & Restaurants
Top Square (Plaza de la Constitution)
There are around 38 bars in Alhama de Granada, pretty much all serve food, hot and cold drinks, Some of our personal favourites include:
Ochoa: classic Spanish rural bar, serving great rustic plates of food, local wine and draft beer. Run by Josephina and Paco. This place has very friendly service and in the colder months they place trays of hot olive wood coals (Braseros) under your table to keep you warm. Fantastic! Try a media plate of the Setas (fleshy mushrooms) and the calamari plancha (grilled squid) - both fantastic with a cold beer or drop of tinto verano (red wine and lemonade cooler).
Le Seguriya: proper sit down restaurant, run by Paco and Lola. Great food and relaxed atmosphere. There is a fantastic terrace overlooking the gorge and there are rooms available since it is also a "Hotel Rural".
Meson Diego: Great for 'menu del dia' served every weekday lunchtime - around 8 euros for 2 / 3 courses. The terrace is a suntrap, which is great for most of the year, but it can be a bit hot in summer, there is an air conditioned restaurant inside.
Bar Andalus: Also do a great 'menu del dia' served every weekday lunchtime - around 8 euros for 2 / 3 courses. Again catches the Sun.
Bar Gallega: modern bar, serving great and interesting tapas.
La Boega: Great, down to earth bar, with good breakfasts. Really good, generous tapas.
El Encutentro: Young modern bar that stays open until late.
El Tigre: Is the small bar in the corner of Calle Fuerte and Alta De Mesones. By the top corner of Constitution. In the summer season, they have control of a big space at the top of the square. Antonio the owner has a real flair for classic tapas with a twist.
Al Dente: A very good home made Italian pizza place.
La Crème: This is an ice cream and coffee shop. Also one of the best places in town to get a fresh loaf of bread.
Near the Lower Square
Churreria De Ascencion: Right on the main (Granada) roundabout - the sign over the door says 'Hamburguesa'. Specialize in churros, a sweet Spanish delicacy for breakfast, served in a big spiral of doughnut type thing - cooked fresh whilst you wait. You dip your hot chorros in an amazing, thick, real chocolate drink. An experience you must do at least once, be warned you may have to put the diet on hold for the day. Friendly staff and very clean bathrooms. You can also get a beer here later in the day. Hamburgers look pretty good too.
Bar Rincon: Is next to the childrens' play area in the bottom square, so is an ideal place to have a drink whilst the keeping an eye on the kids playing a few metres away. Rincon serves all the usual coffee, beer, wine food etc. and is very good.
Tasca Casa Marin: in a little street just behind the 2nd (Loja) roundabout. A little gem of a place specialising in fantastic Iberico ham and mature cheeses - a real foodie paradise.
Cafe 25: Our nineteen year old 'city wise' daughter loves this place. Quite loud music and I’m told the ice cream is great!
Rafa bar: Is the place where all the teenage kids hang out, table football and pool. Usually doesn't get going until 10.30 apparently.
Internet café: on Carretera Loja right hand side walking out of town, around 50 metres from the second roundabout.
Restaurants up the gorge by the small lake
El Ventorro: They serve very very good food in this restaurant it is 25 minutes walk from town up the gorge, or a 5 minute drive. There is a biggish menu, we had the menu del dia, which was excellent. They have recently opened a spa facility here, which is great. 15 euros for a couple of hours of steam, pool, jacuzzi etc... or treat yourself with a massage for an extra 15 euros. There is a half price day on Tuesdays. You will usually need to book ahead here as space is limited.
Pato Loco: Huge restaurant with a huge swimming pool, food is good.
There is a good selection of rental properties on the owners direct website. Local hotels are relatively small but all adequate. There is one hotel with spectacular gorge views called Le Seguiriya. Just outside town there is a good hotel and spa with excellent restaurant called El Ventorro.