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Rural Life in the Alpujarras

Traditions and tranquillity in Las Alpujarras
Gain unique insights into Spanish rural life through this self-guided, single-centre walking holiday, with hire car. Savour delicious regional gastronomy and feel part of the community as it lives through the seasons, in this timeless area of outstanding natural beauty.
Rural Life in the Alpujarras. 3 nights
Rural Life in the Alpujarras. 3 nights

Holiday information


Culture & walking in Las Alpujarras

To the south-east of the Moorish city of Granada, the almond-coated hills of Las Alpujarras flank the southern slopes of the dramatic Sierra Nevada, the highest mountains in mainland Spain. This is an area of outstanding natural beauty, where characteristic whitewashed villages tumble down terraced valleys, and the ancient Moorish irrigation systems are a testament to the area’s long and colourful past. Here, you will find a hardy people who have worked these landscapes for centuries; theirs is a traditional way of life that seems untouched by the passage of time.
Mairena, the base for your holiday, is one such timeless Alpujarran village whose hard-working inhabitants adhere to a simple way of life, based upon a sound knowledge of the terrain and climate. Autumn heralds the fig, medlar and pomegranate harvest, after which the traditional farming cycle continues with preparations for the December olive harvest. By January, this is in full swing and the hillsides are dotted with families, armed with sticks to dislodge this stubborn, yet highly prized, fruit. February sees an explosion of colour as the almond trees burst into flower beneath impossibly blue skies; and so, into March, when the intoxicating scent of sweet, young oranges wafts down the valleys and the grapes in local vineyards begin to grow under the warming sun.

Here, with the help of your knowledgeable hosts, Emma and David Illsley, you have the opportunity to become much more than just a spectator, immersing yourself in the gentle rhythms of the south. Follow David on a guided tour through the fruit trees of their organic farm (finca); join in the olive harvest (December to January); meet Adolfo, the local olive-oil producer who has sent his renowned produce to a top London restaurant; and marvel as the hotel cook, Soledad, lovingly recreates authentic Alpujarran dishes. Combine these unique experiences with scenic, varied walks along ancient paths linking other traditional villages, and you will gain a real insight into this alluring corner of southern Spain.

Walking & more

The key to Inntravel holidays is flexibility. You can start on the day of your choice, and are free to add extra nights. There’s no fixed itinerary, so take your pick of our suggested walking routes as the mood takes you.
  • The average maximum daytime temperatures and monthly rainfall relate to the nearest weather station and are intended as a guide only.
    Average temperatures and rainfall
      Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
    °C 11 12 15 17 22 27 32 32 28 21 15 11
    mm 53 55 47 52 37 26 10 7 20 51 64 61
  • Learn about life in Las Alpujarras
    This holiday combines unique insights into local ways of life with some superb walks so as to give you a real feel for Las Alpujarras.

    Your enthusiastic hosts, Emma and David Illsley, will be only too happy to share their knowledge of their adopted village and its traditional practices with you, and to introduce you to some of their neighbours. To get your bearings, David will take you on an introductory tour of their small finca and the village, explaining the intricacies of the complex Moorish irrigation system which still waters the terraces as you make your way to the local olive mill. Here, Adolfo, who has supplied a renowned restaurant kitchen in London, will explain the processes involved in extracting the oil from this prized fruit. In December and January, you can join in with the harvest if you so wish, enjoying the buzz that animates the immaculate groves as you knock the branches with a sturdy stick to dislodge the stubborn fruit. Another insight into village customs comes in the form of local cook Sole. Her family has lived in Las Alpujarras for generations, and she lovingly recreates age-old local recipes with a delicious modern twist.

    For anyone with an interest in wine, David and Emma can arrange a tour of the award-winning Buena Vista bodega in Ugíjar, complete with a wine-tasting.

    Sustainable tourism at the finca

    David and Emma care deeply about the long-term sustainability of the Alpujarras region and a week with them will give you a real insight into some of their ongoing projects on their organic finca. From its inception, the finca was always going to be a place where traditional farming methods would be used to enhance and improve the land, creating a restful haven where the fruits of the fields could be harvested for the hotel and restaurant. Central to this idea – and still as important today – has been learning from the locals and working in tune with nature and the seasons. With this uppermost in their minds, David and Emma have always been quick to seek – and accept – help and advice from local farmers who showed them how to irrigate, plough, prune and tend the land in the age-old traditions of the village.


    Organic farming

    The finca has been granted official ‘organic’ status by the Soil Association, based on farming methods and a complete absence of herbicides and pesticides, thus recognising that all their produce is as fresh, good and natural as nature intended. A welcome by-product of these methods has been the deliberate setting aside of areas of uncultivated land – as all weeds, hedgerows and grasses now have to be controlled the old fashioned way, by hand – leading to an extraordinary variety of flowers and an abundance of insects and bird-life which flourishes in this magical place.

    Gathering olives
    Traditional cooking
  • Choice of routes: 3km to 6km
    We provide notes for four easy walks. The first three start in Mairena, while the last one is a little further afield.

    A stroll in the Mairena Valley (grade 1): 3km, 1hr; ascent/descent 150m
    Taking in David and Emma’s finca, this is a great introductory circuit around the terraced slopes south of the village. It’s a walk that David and Emma often accompany you on, showing you the tended gardens of the villagers and passing the rocky outcrop known as the Peñón de Alfaguara, from where there are spectacular views of the landscape and of the village.

    Down to Ugíjar (grade 1): 6km, 1.5hrs; ascent 60m/descent 545m
    A great way to visit the market town of Ugíjar, perhaps in time to visit the local market and linger over a leisurely lunch. The way weaves down along the river valley, through some of the oldest olive groves in the area, passing alongside the steeply eroded, coloured marls and clays and into the well-watered almond terraces that fill the pretty valley just before Ugíjar. Return by taxi (pay locally).

    A short circuit above Mairena via Júbar (grade 1): 6km, 2.5hrs; ascent/descent 355m
    This walk starts with a steepish climb but soon descends to the small village of Júbar, following one of the many water channels built to irrigate the lower slopes of the Alpujarras. It then follows a pretty path back to Mairena.

    The walk of the Fountain of Health (grade 1): 4.5km, 2hrs; ascent/descent 240m
    A very pleasant short walk into the hills on the northern side of Yegen, to the west of Mairena, following an ancient cobbled track past some springs, hence its name.
    En route to Ugíjar
    A stroll in the Mairena Valley: 3km
    Down to Ugíjar: 6km
    A short circuit above Mairena via Júbar: 6km
    The walk of the Fountain of Health: 4.5km
  • Choice of routes: 4.5km to 11km
    These easy-to-moderate walks both start a short distance away from Mairena.

    A circuit from Laroles (grade 1-2): 9km, 3.5hrs; ascent/descent 565m
    Starting and ending in Laroles, you head upstream across the western side of the valley, passing a thousand-year-old chestnut tree before returning to Laroles on a high path across the eastern flank of the valley.

    The Gerald Brenan circuit (grade 1-2): 4.5km, 2hrs; ascent/descent 350m
    This walk on the southern slopes of Yegen, to the west of Mairena, heads down into the bad-lands, a multi-coloured lunar landscape of strangely shaped, eroded rocks. At the base of the valley sits the isolated cubic rock known as Peñon el Fuerte, the site of a now vanished Moorish castle. It is said that Gerald Brenan walked this route every afternoon.
    West of Mairena
    A circuit from Laroles: 9km
    The Gerald Brenan circuit: 4.5km
  • Choice of routes: 9.5km to 15.5km
    All three of these moderate walks start from Mairena.

    Longer circuit above Mairena (grade 2): 9.5km, 4hrs; ascent/descent 530m
    David and Emma refer to this as the ‘On Top of the World Walk’ as it climbs up high on the northern slopes above the village, passing ancient, abandoned water cisterns and threshing floors. With views of Laroles on the other side of a valley, you wind down through chestnut groves to the hamlet of Júbar before a stroll back to Mairena.

    The old silk village of Válor (grade 2): 12.5km, 4hrs; ascent/descent 655m
    This is a delightful out-and-back walk which leads to the old silk weaving town of Válor, passing through terraced slopes, and then descending to the Rio Nechite, crossing the river by stepping stones, before finally reaching Válor where there are several restaurants for lunch.

    A circuit from Mairena via Laroles (grade 2): 15km, 5.5hrs; ascent/descent 820m
    This lovely circuit joins the two villages of Júbar and Laroles, taking you up the Laroles river valley on the western side and down on the eastern. On the way, you use an attractive path alongside a water channel, pass a thousand-year-old chestnut tree and drop down to the stream on an old mule path.
    The old silk village of Válor
    Longer circuit above Mairena: 9.5km
    The old silk village of Válor: 12.5km
    A circuit from Mairena via Laroles: 15km
  • Visit the Alhambra
    Given the area’s rich Moorish heritage, you will probably wish to visit Granada's world-famous Alhambra*, a two-hour drive away. This is the epitome of Moorish architecture and design, showcasing the astonishingly intricate décor of the royal palace and its colourful gardens. Across the river, the atmospheric Albaicín district is Spain's most characteristic Moorish quarter and is wonderfully intriguing, its steep, cobbled streets leading past whitewashed houses. We include notes for a superb self-guided walking tour taking in the city's main attractions.

    *You must pre-book tickets online (or by phone) as far as possible in advance. It is open every day except 25 December and 1 January.
    The Alhambra, Granada


Your base is Mairena, a typical Alpujarran village where mules still outnumber cars by two to one at harvest time!
Casa las Chimeneas
  • rural hotel



Extend your stay

Prices & travel options
All prices are in £ sterling (GBP). If you'd like to see what they equate to in your currency, use the converter. For general information on pricing, see the 'your holiday price explained' page.
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  • 3 nights: 01 February 2022 - 30 June 2022 & 01 September 2022 - 12 November 2022

    Start any day | End by latest date(s) shown above

    Starting Price Single room
    1 - 28 Feb 2022 £345 £130
    1 - 31 Mar 2022 £365 £135
    1 Apr - 27 Jun 2022 £380 £130
    1 Sep - 14 Oct 2022 £410 £145
    15 - 31 Oct 2022 £395 £140
    1 - 9 Nov 2022 £380 £130
    3rd & 4th person discount -£30
    Single traveller supplement £30

    Includes accommodation, meals and services integral to the holiday as described, plus walking notes and maps, but no travel from the UK, nor any connecting travel from the airport unless stated below.

    Price includes: 3 days' category B car hire (eg VW Polo or similar with manual transmission)

    Driving time between airport and hotel: Almeria 1h45, Granada 2h, Malaga 3h
    Please note the Avis depot at Almeria Airport closes at 2030 on a Saturday.

    Book your flights through us and we'll find the best route and times to suit you. Please contact us to find out more about our flight booking service. We can also book connecting travel - see below.

  • Extra nights (£ per person per night) in a double or single room

    Prices include additional day's car hire
    Casa las Chimeneas, Mairena (with dinner) Double room Single room
    01 Feb - 31 Mar 2022 £105 £142
    01 Apr - 30 Jun 2022 £110 £148
    01 Sep - 12 Nov 2022 £115 £158
    Almería, Granada or Málaga
    As an alternative to flying, we can arrange rail travel from London

    Travelling from the UK

    Travelling from outside the UK

    If you are flying from outside Europe,  we recommend Málaga. To discuss onward connecting travel to the start of your holiday, please contact us.

    Outward route Airline
    Aberdeen - Malaga Ryanair 
    Outward route Airline
    Belfast Intl. - Malaga Aer Lingus,  easyJet,  jet2,  Ryanair,  TUI 
    Outward route Airline
    Birmingham - Malaga jet2,  Ryanair,  TUI,  Vueling 
    Outward route Airline
    Bournemouth - Malaga Ryanair 
    Outward route Airline
    Bristol - Almeria TUI 
    Bristol - Malaga easyJet,  Ryanair,  TUI 
    Outward route Airline
    Cardiff - Malaga TUI,  Vueling 
    Outward route Airline
    Doncaster Sheffield - Malaga TUI 
    Outward route Airline
    Nottingham East Midlands - Malaga jet2,  Ryanair,  TUI 
    Outward route Airline
    Edinburgh - Malaga jet2,  Ryanair 
    Outward route Airline
    Glasgow - Almeria jet2 
    Glasgow - Malaga easyJet,  jet2,  TUI 
    Outward route Airline
    Glasgow Prestwick - Malaga Ryanair 
    Outward route Airline
    Leeds Bradford - Almeria jet2 
    Leeds Bradford - Malaga jet2,  Ryanair,  TUI 
    Outward route Airline
    Liverpool - Malaga easyJet 
    Outward route Airline
    London City - Granada British Airways 
    London City - Malaga British Airways 
    Outward route Airline
    Gatwick - Almeria British Airways,  easyJet,  TUI,  Vueling 
    Gatwick - Almeria (via Madrid) Iberia 
    Gatwick - Granada Vueling 
    Gatwick - Malaga British Airways,  easyJet,  TUI 
    Outward route Airline
    Heathrow - Almeria British Airways 
    Heathrow - Almeria (via Madrid) Iberia 
    Heathrow - Granada (via Madrid) Iberia 
    Heathrow - Malaga British Airways 
    Outward route Airline
    Luton - Malaga easyJet,  Ryanair,  TUI 
    Outward route Airline
    London Southend - Malaga easyJet 
    Outward route Airline
    Stansted - Almeria Ryanair 
    Stansted - Malaga British Airways,  easyJet,  jet2,  Ryanair 
    Outward route Airline
    Manchester - Almeria jet2,  Ryanair,  TUI 
    Manchester - Almeria (via Madrid) Iberia 
    Manchester - Malaga easyJet,  jet2,  Ryanair,  TUI 
    Outward route Airline
    Newcastle - Almeria jet2 
    Newcastle - Malaga easyJet,  jet2,  Ryanair,  TUI 
    Travelling from outside the UK

    If you are flying from outside Europe,  we recommend Málaga. To discuss onward connecting travel to the start of your holiday, please contact us.

    This list of flight options should be used as a guide only, and you should check each airline’s website for current routes, frequency and schedules. Not all flights operate daily, and may not run for the entire season. You should also heed the latest flight arrival time and earliest flight departure time stated in the connecting travel section, as it may not be possible to arrange connecting travel outside these times. Please do not book your flights until we have confirmed your accommodation to you. Alternatively, our expert reservations team will be happy to offer advice and to make flight bookings for you for any of the options listed above except those operated by Ryanair. We charge £35 per person for our flight booking service. Your flights are then covered by our package-booking conditions, which give you greater protection in the event of delay or cancellation, as well as providing ATOL cover.

What is included
  • 3 nights
  • 3 dinners
    1 picnic
    3 breakfasts
  • 3 days' category B car hire
  • route notes and maps

If you've experienced this holiday first hand, why not write a review?

We are keen for as many customers as possible to review their holiday. To make it easier to do so, we include a specific review section on our post-holiday questionnaire, and this is what we publish here, unedited. Read our full review policy >



If you have any questions relating to this or any other Inntravel holiday, our friendly travel experts will be happy to help. You might also find our General FAQs section helpful.
  • If your holiday plans go awry because of Coronavirus, rest assured that we’ll do right by you. Since the start of the pandemic, our flexible booking policy and prompt issuing of refunds to customers who prefer not to defer their holiday have earned us high praise in the national press.
  • We sincerely hope that your holiday experience will be as enjoyable as it would have been before the pandemic – walking holidays are ideal in these times of social distancing, and we’re not operating holidays if the key highlights can no longer be delivered – but, naturally, there will be some changes to ensure your and other people’s safety, not least proving your vaccination status or taking a test in order to travel.
    Your holiday experience: what to expect >
    Safety measures being taken by hoteliers & others >
    Entry requirements for non-UK destinations & for re-entering the UK >
  • We’ll send you route notes and maps 2-3 weeks before your holiday. The route notes not only contain directions to get from A to B, but also include practical information about places of interest and eateries along each route, plus cultural information about the area. If/when you are moving between hotels, you leave your luggage in reception as you leave, and it will be transferred ahead to your next accommodation, meaning that all you need to take with you are a camera, sun cream, drinks, food and waterproofs.

    For more detailed information, see our walking holidays in Europe page.
  • We can book a wide range of routes from the UK with a variety of airlines (but not, currently, with Ryanair). As well as being more convenient for you to book all elements of your holiday together, it also means that we’ll accept liability for your travel arrangements, so if things go wrong, such as the airline going bust, we’ll make suitable alternative arrangements for you. The fee for this service is £35 per person (£15 for children aged 2-11). More information on flights >
  • We can’t book flights that originate outside the UK, but if you wanted to book your own flights to London (or elsewhere in the UK), we can make all onward travel arrangements (including flights) from there. Alternatively, if you are booking your own flights to an airport in continental Europe that’s appropriate for your holiday, we can book onward rail travel and/or taxis. More information about how we can tailor holidays for customers outside the UK >
  • Since our holidays are self-guided, we recommend calling us for a chat about your plans before making a booking, especially if it’s the first time you’ve booked with us.
    The price panel shows the supplement for a single room and also the single traveller charge (this covers (luggage) transfers and other costs which are usually shared between two people).
  • Once you’ve decided on your exact itinerary (our travel experts will be happy to offer advice), you need to provide us with your party’s details, either by phone or via our booking form. At this point we also ask you to pay a deposit so that we can secure a room for you immediately on confirming availability with the hotel(s). If it turns out that we can’t secure the accommodation for the holiday you’ve requested, or offer an acceptable alternative, we’ll refund your deposit promptly and in full. After booking your accommodation and other key elements, we'll then book your travel (or you can do so if you’re making your own arrangements) and send you a Booking Confirmation and Invoice.

    More information about the booking process >
    Information about accommodation, general practicalities and more >
    Booking conditions >
  • Yes, it’s something we insist on, even for holidays in the UK. The vast majority of holidays go smoothly, but when things go wrong, it can be expensive to put them right. Buying a new pair of walking boots after your suitcase is stolen mightn’t seem so bad, but the bill for being airlifted down from a mountain with a broken leg or flown home while still recovering from an illness or accident can cost tens of thousands of pounds.

    You don’t have to take out a policy with our recommended provider (if you live outside the UK you’ll definitely need to make your own arrangements, as the policy is only for UK residents), but you do need to make sure that you’re covered for medical emergencies – including falling ill with Covid-19 while on holiday – and repatriation. We also recommend that you are covered for other eventualities, such as cancellation and loss of luggage and passports.

    We'll ask you for the details of your policy (insurer, policy number and medical emergency phone number) so that we can help out if the worst happens while you are on holiday. It's up to you, though, to check that your policy covers the activities you'll be doing on holiday and that it is adequate for your own individual needs; we don't check alternative policies.
  • It is your responsibility to ensure you are in possession of the correct travel documents, with the correct validity. If you’re a UK citizen, you need a full British passport to travel to Spain, but not a visa. If you are a citizen of another country, you’ll need to check requirements with the national embassy or your own consulate.

    Current information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice for UK citizens can be found through the Travel Health Pro website. You must make sure you have adequate insurance cover for illness, accidents and repatriation (see the insurance question). You should also apply for a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) if your EHIC has expired (if you have a still-valid EHIC, you can use this until it expires).
  • (Castilian) Spanish is one of several official languages; Catalan, Basque and Gallego have equal status in Catalonia, the Basque Country and Galicia, respectively. The currency is the Euro. Spanish time is GMT/UTC + 1. It uses Daylight Saving Time, so in summer is on BST + 1.
  • For information on the practicalities of travel now that the UK is no longer part of the European Union, visit

    At Inntravel we work in close partnership with our hoteliers, taxi drivers and other local suppliers to provide our self-guided holidays directly to you. We are entirely confident that you will continue to receive the usual warm welcome from them, regardless of what is happening in the European political sphere.
  • The UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides up-to-date, country-by-country travel advice, as well as information on security, local laws, passports and visas for UK citizens.

    If you live outside the UK, see our essential travel information page for a list of relevant websites.
  • You are the best judge of your child’s/children’s capabilities. We are happy to take bookings for families of older children/teenagers if they walk regularly, love the outdoors and are comfortable with the distances and ascent/descent involved. Please note that the bedrooms at most of the accommodation we use will normally only sleep a maximum of 3 people, and sometimes only 2.
Last fetch time is : 5/26/2022 6:48:14 AM