Low Alpujarras: Orgiva and Lanjaron

Everything you need to plan the perfect holiday in Orgiva: how to get there, the best places to stay, the best times of year to go, and an unbeatable selection of hand-picked holiday villas and cottages.

Find your Holiday home in Orgiva

Brought into the limelight by the book “Driving over Lemons,” the warm, fertile valley of the Guadalfeo river is a perfect area for holidays.

Chris Stewart's whimsical tale of settling in the Alpujarra mountains has been a stimulus for many to come and sample the unhurried lifestyle that characterizes the local Andalusian culture.

Quite a number of people have since moved to the area, often after spending a week or two's holiday at one of the private country villas dotted around the folds of the mountain, or secluded in the broad valley among olive, oranges and lemons.

Down in valley of the Low Alpujarra, the two small towns of Orgiva and Lanjarón sit in rural zones of long, warm summers and mild winters. Swimming pools are usually open in May and October, a full two months longer than in the High Alpujarra, where the corresponding season is June to September.

From Orgiva, the longer you drive up to the mountain road to the High Alpujarras (Bubion, Capileira & La Tahá), the more quaint and smaller the villages become and more traditional, and the climate cools noticeably.

Orgiva (population 5,700) is the natural capital of Las Alpujarras. It's set in the Guadalfeo river valley, from where roads lead to Granada and the coast. Its small town atmosphere make it an easy place to shop, or have breakfast on a terrace at one of the several bar-cafés. It may not be as irrepressibly pretty as the high mountain villages, but a leisurely wander round town may bring a waft of jasmine your way – and it's got everything you need by way of facilities.

Sample the unhurried lifestyle that characterises the local Andalusian culture. 

Orgiva market on Thursday mornings is a good opportunity to see the spectrum of peoples who populate the area, from conservative local citizens and retired ex-pats to alternative travellers.

The interesting places to stay are just outside the town, where delightful semi-tropical gardens often surround the country villas. These are ideal places to rest, relax and enjoy Andalusia at its laid-back best.

Lanjarón, "Gateway to Las Alpujarras," lies on the same high valley road that goes to Orgiva from Granada. It's a quiet town whose main activity centres around the spa baths, where people come to be pleasantly pampered, and the bottling of water for distribution all over the country. The name of Lanjarón is synonymous in Spain for mineral water. Like Orgiva, Lanjaron is well-communicated with Granada, the coast, and villages of the High Alpujarra.

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Summary

Brought into the limelight by the book “Driving over Lemons,” the warm, fertile valley of the Guadalfeo river is a perfect area for holidays.

Chris Stewart's whimsical tale of settling in the Alpujarra mountains has been a stimulus for many to come and sample the unhurried lifestyle that characterizes the local Andalusian culture.

Quite a number of people have since moved to the area, often after spending a week or two's holiday at one of the private country villas dotted around the folds of the mountain, or secluded in the broad valley among olive, oranges and lemons.

Down in valley of the Low Alpujarra, the two small towns of Orgiva and Lanjarón sit in rural zones of long, warm summers and mild winters. Swimming pools are usually open in May and October, a full two months longer than in the High Alpujarra, where the corresponding season is June to September.

From Orgiva, the longer you drive up to the mountain road to the High Alpujarras (Bubion, Capileira & La Tahá), the more quaint and smaller the villages become and more traditional, and the climate cools noticeably.

Orgiva (population 5,700) is the natural capital of Las Alpujarras. It's set in the Guadalfeo river valley, from where roads lead to Granada and the coast. Its small town atmosphere make it an easy place to shop, or have breakfast on a terrace at one of the several bar-cafés. It may not be as irrepressibly pretty as the high mountain villages, but a leisurely wander round town may bring a waft of jasmine your way – and it's got everything you need by way of facilities.

Sample the unhurried lifestyle that characterises the local Andalusian culture. 

Orgiva market on Thursday mornings is a good opportunity to see the spectrum of peoples who populate the area, from conservative local citizens and retired ex-pats to alternative travellers.

The interesting places to stay are just outside the town, where delightful semi-tropical gardens often surround the country villas. These are ideal places to rest, relax and enjoy Andalusia at its laid-back best.

Lanjarón, "Gateway to Las Alpujarras," lies on the same high valley road that goes to Orgiva from Granada. It's a quiet town whose main activity centres around the spa baths, where people come to be pleasantly pampered, and the bottling of water for distribution all over the country. The name of Lanjarón is synonymous in Spain for mineral water. Like Orgiva, Lanjaron is well-communicated with Granada, the coast, and villages of the High Alpujarra.

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Overview

ORGIVA

The focal for the Low Alpujarra is set in the broad river valley of the River Gualdalfeo, where it enjoys a semi-tropical climate. You'll see orange and lemon trees, palm trees, avocado. Holiday villas are mostly located close to town, which has all the shopping and practical facilities you may need.

Although the privacy and peace-and-quiet of your holiday villa may be the main attraction, the town has a character all of its own and can surprise the causal stroller with scents of jasmine and honeysuckle, and colourful splashes of bougainvillea.

Orgiva has small supermarkets and a variety of shops, chemists and banks with ATMs.Orgiva high street is situated off the main road running though the town. Here you'll find the church, banks, tobacconist (estanco, which also sells stamps), camera shop, pharmacy and café-bars with terraces where you can sit out. A covered market continues the shops and cafés. The main health centre (centro de salud) for Las Alpujarras is near Orgiva town centre.

Thursday is market day, when the town swells with market sellers, local housewives and a mixed bag of foreign residents, from relocated stockbrokers to unconventional travellers: there's a place for everybody here.

 

LANJARÓN

The spa town is the first place you come to when after leaving the highway that runs between Granada and the Mediterranean coast. Lanjarón water is well-known internationally. Water is everywhere in Lanjarón and everyone has their favourite fountain. Some claim the water gives health and long life: whether or not the water is responsible or just the quiet life people lead here, a World Health Organization survey found that Lanjarón inhabitants enjoy one of highest life expectancies in Europe.

The town is built on the lower slope of the mountains, where holiday homes enjoy good views out over the Guadalfeo valley. The high street of the town is quiet thanks to a mini-bypass for traffic continuing to Orgiva. In the market area, on one typically Andalusian street the local women sell produce from the market gardens on their doorsteps.

Just outside Lanjarón, you will see the impressive ruins of a Moorish fortress on a promontory: a rare reminder of the special history of the Alpujarras.
Roads lead off in four interesting directions from Orgiva: to Granada and the Alhambra, to Costa Tropical beaches; up the valley, where a good country hotel restaurant is one of our favourites; and up the mountains to the villages and hiking paths of the High Alpujarra.

 

GRANADA

One of Spain's greatest historic small cities and the site of the magnificent Alhambra Palaces is around 40 minutes drive from the Low Alpujarra. The superlative Alhambra Palaces are reason enough on their own to visit the historic city. It's easy to drive directly to the Alhambra, taking the appropriate exit from the motorway and leaving the car in the car park. From there, you can also walk down to the Plaza Nueva and the city centre to visit the cathedral and explore the old Albaycín quarter on foot. Advance booking is advised for the Alhambra as the number of visitors per time slot is limited. You can print your tickets off at the 24-hour ATM of La Caixa bank in Orgiva.

There are also buses between Orgiva and Granada, although the service is limited (check buses from Orgiva to Granada at: Alsa.es). Main sites in Granada are in a compact area, making it easy to visit the Alhambra and wander the squares and the old neighbouthood of the Albaicin.

 

BEACHES

Granada's Costa Tropical is 40 minutes from the Low Alpujarra. Don't expect golden sands, but do enjoy fried fish on the beach and a great climate. In our Local Guide for Rustical Travel holidaymakers, we direct you to one of the more hidden-away coves near Calahonda, with clear water and a good chiringuito beach restaurant.

Salobreña, a small whitewashed town 3 km west of Motril with pebble beaches, is popular in August, so get down there fairly early. You can buy barbecued sardines on the beach itself and a number of restaurants, cafés, bars, ice cream kiosks, even a Chinese restaurant (quite good and air-conditioned) along the seafront.

Further along the Mediterranean coast towards Malaga, in the Maro area, there are natural beaches where access is more restricted. You may need to park at the top and walk down to the beach. You will find more than one beach between La Herradura and Nerja. We recommend Cantarriján beach (part naturist, part not).

 

VILLAGES OF THE HIGH ALPUJARRA

In half an hour you can be in another world altogether. The old mountain villages of Bubion, Capileira & La Tahá enjoy beautiful and dramatic settings below Sierra Nevada National Park.
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High Alpujarra walksMake the most of a day out in the High Alpujarra with at least a short walk. The hiking is superb. The healthy mountain air can work up an appetite that will then be amply catered to by well-priced village restaurants.

The most ambitious hike is up Mulhacén (3,482 m), the Iberian Peninsula's highest mountain. Although no rock climbing is involved, the ascent is often impassable in winter as snow can lie deep.

 

BEST OF THE REST

Puerto Juviley

Interesting as a village whose charm stems from its unchanging nature. Tall reeds and grasses grow up along the riverbank. The atmosphere is almost Mexican. It's about ten minutes from Órgiva, and reached along the road from Órgiva to Torvizcón.

 

Sierra Nevada National Park

Above the Low Alpujarra rise Sierra Lújar to the south and the great range of Sierra Nevada to the north. The Sierra Nevada National Park offers an utterly different aspect to the same geographic area, with a high altitude climate and terrain, and snow atop Mulhacén mountain.

 

Fiestas

On the eve of San Juan, 24th June, when the rest of Spain celebrates the saint with fire rituals, the people of Lanjarón cool off the hot night with a no-holds-barred water fight in which getting drenched is compulsory. Locals from other Alpujarra villages know better than to attempt to drive through Lanjarón that night!

Orgiva's main fiesta, the feria grande, is held the last week in September. It involves activities such as floats and photographic contests, costumes, bingo and games for children, and bands that keep people dancing all night.
Earlier in the year, a fortnight before Easter is Orgiva's fiesta of the Santísimo Cristo de la Expiración, a religious feast day and excuse for letting off a barrage of fireworks.

 

FOOD AND DRINK

Orgiva has two supermarkets on the road running through the town and others in the town centre. An English-run health food shop called Camac stocks items you won't find elsewhere.

On Thursday market day you can buy all manner of fruit and vegetables, as well as fresh herbs and spices from a wholefood stall. A van selling whole roast chickens always does a good trade. The indoor market has a stall selling fresh fish.

Local cuisine in the Low Alpujarra includes goat, almonds and figs in season. Migas is a filling dish based on fried crumbs. Otherwise, standard fare is varied by restaurants catering to the tastes of international residents and visitors.

Wines from the Low Alpujarra, especially the Sierra de la Contraviesa, have been improving over the years to acquire a definite respectability.

The free tapas often served at bars are often a generous substitute for a light meal.

• Café-Restaurante La Baraka - Your place for falafel, shwarma kebabs, Indian chai tea and ice creams. Healthy Moroccan food includes many tasty vegetarian options, dishes made with organic products. As this is a Muslim establishment, no beer or wine is offered. It's located right by Orgiva outdoor market and takes Friday off after a busy Thursday.

• Galindos café - Just up from the church is a good breakfast spot with excellent tostadas (toast) and coffee, also a variety of bread and pastries.

• El Molino - Is an attractive venue with its courtyard and good tapas.

• Almazara - Restaurant that offers Andalusian cuisine and pizzas in a traditional and relaxing setting. In summer, meals are also served in the restaurant's orange garden. Some evenings they play jazz and having dinner here is very pleasant and intimate despite being in the centre of town.

Standard fare is varied by restaurants catering to the tastes of international residents and visitors."

• La Flor del Limonero - Our top recommendation, at the countryside setting of Hotel Taray. Its lunchtime set meal (menú) varies and it's an excellent choice for a special meal out. Drive out of Orgiva towards Motril and it's on the left just before the Camping.

• Restaurante El Camping - At the campsite, it offers regular meals including good salads and a lunchtime menú indoors or out on its terrace. It's popular with families. Diners can ask to use the campsite swimming pool. On the left of the road out of town on the way to Motril, not far from the bridge.

• Venta El Puente - Simple and very authentic bar-restaurant, further down from the Camping, right by Orgiva bridge on the way to Motril. Meats are often grilled over burning embers and the atmosphere feels a couple of decades behind the busier centre of town.

Another half an hour along the same road will bring you to Cádiar and the Alquería de Morayma, a good hotel which we recommend for its excellent cuisine, lovely old dining hall and hospitality. Possibly the best place to eat in La Alpujarra.

• Venta María (Las Barreras) - Just a couple of minutes out of Orgiva on the road to Lanjarón, you drive through a little village called Las Barreras, which has a couple of shops selling ceramics. On the right is a small, unpretentious bar-restaurant called Venta María, which serves genuine home-cooked Spanish dishes.

• Restaurante El Frenazo - In Lanjarón, this restaurant is a rustic wooden restaurant specialising in grilled meats and good wines. On the left of the main road, before the eucalyptus park as you come in to Lanjarón from Granada.

The Low Alpujarra's proximity to the Mediterranean coast means that excellent fish and seafood are a short drive away in Motril, where the best restaurant options are in the port.

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Photos

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Climate

The Alpujarras enjoy a predominantly Mediterranean climate.

In contrast to the higher Alpujarras, where the mountain topology conditions the weather with a distinct alpine influence, the lower Alpujarras receive a correspondingly subtropical influence.

The situation of the Low Alpujarras between the mountain summits of the High Alpujarras and the Mediterranean Sea, brings the twin benefits of mountain breezes and coastal mildness.

Swimming pools are typically usable from May to October.

Spring in the Low Alpujarras comes earlier than in the Higher Alpujarras, being at its best from early April to early May, when it is generally sunny and green. From early May onwards, the blossoming of spring is seen at progressively higher levels, and simply driving a few minutes up the mountain road from the Low Alpujarras will allow you to discover a different climate.

Summers are long with reliable, hot, sunny weather for practically the entire period from May until the end of September. Some years the sunny weather starts earlier than this and finishes later.

Night temperatures do not drop in the same way as they do higher up, and swimming pools are typically usable from May to October.

Although temperatures are clement most of the year, winter temperatures are perceptibly colder than at the coast, but warmer than in the higher Alpujarras.

Rainfall is heavy in some years, lighter in others, but typically seasonal, concentrated in the months from November to April. There is less precipitation here than higher up the mountain.

Can we expect sun and good weather in months such as April or October?

April is often be a beautiful spring month, with considerable daytime warmth, but compared to other non-peak months, it can be unreliable. Historically apart from peak July and August, the good months for mild, sunny weather are: May, June, September and October.

 

LOW ALPUJARRA CLIMATE SUMMARY

The Low Alpujarras climate is Mediterranean with a subtropical influence. Temperatures are mild for most of the year. Hot summers are pleasant by night. Frosts are rare in winter; winters tend to be short and the occasion for irregular rainy periods.

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Maps

Getting there

AIRPORTS IN THE LOW ALPUJARRAS

The usual route from abroad to holiday villas in the Low Alpujarra is from Malaga Airport (AGP). The drive takes 1 hr 30 min along the coast and then inland towards Granada. Malaga is a major international airport and has the largest offer of flights.

Granada Airport (GRX) is closer at 1 hr, but note that at present only one airline flies there: BA from London City Airport.

Other alternative is Almeria Airport (LEI) at 2 hrs 15 mins.

 

CAR HIRE

Holiday villas in the Low Alpujarra tend to be in outlying areas which are not served by buses and car hire is often essential.

We recommend a car for getting to your rural holiday villa in Orgiva or Lanjarón. It's practical, convenient and needn't be expensive. It often works out cheaper than taking a taxi and is then invaluable for shopping, eating out, visiting places of interest, days out at the beach or in Granada, and making an easy return trip at the end of your stay.

The road network in Andalucia is good and rural roads have little traffic.

Driving times from the airports above are shown on the villa's individual property page. You will receive a map with detailed directions for your holiday villa as one of your holiday documents from Rustical Travel.

Rustical Travel doesn't have a professional arrangement with any particular car hire company and we suggest you shop around for car hire using a broker such as rentalcars.com or similar.

It's easy to compare prices of rentals with companies that operate at the airport you fly into, and all the reputable agencies have online payment for advance booking these days.

You don't have to use the broker. If you prefer, you can check the car hire companies own websites, compare prices, and book direct.

If your villa in the Low Alpujarra is reached via a track, be sure to rent a vehicle with good clearance. This means most normal cars: simply don't be tempted by a low-slung sporty model.

Parking is free of charge in the towns and villages of the Low Alpujarra.

 

PUBLIC TRANSPORT

For a day trip to Granada, several buses run between Orgiva / Lanjarón and Granada bus station on the edge of the city, with another stop towards Granada city centre.

For a visit to the Alhambra in central Granada, you can take a bus up from the Plaza Nueva, or walk up the hill.

There is just one morning bus to the coast at Motril (with one afternoon bus back), which doesn't leave you anywhere near beaches.

There is no rail link to the Alpujarras.

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