Walking vacation in Grazalema, Andalucia

Walking in Grazalema , in the far south of Spain, immerses you in a region still relatively under-explored in comparison with other destinations such as the Spanish Pyrenees, or indeed the magnificent Picos de Europa. It’s the kind of place where you’ll find it easy to get away from it all on vacation, and hard to resist going back again the following year. The silence can be deafening, broken only by a birdcall, or the furtive shuffle of a deer, ibex or wild mountain goat disturbed in the undergrowth.

The village of Grazalema, situated between two peaks, is the gateway to the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park, which is comprised of several mountain ranges and offers walkers a rugged landscape of limestone cliffs and plunging gorges that has been accorded the status of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Grazalema itself is a pleasantly relaxed pueblo blanco. Whitewashed houses and shops that sell wool products and meaty pastries line steep cobbled roads, down which you’ll often see people trotting along on donkeys wearing colourful harnesses. It makes an excellent base for center-based guided walking vacations in Grazalema, with only short transfers needed to the trailhead each day.
While there are self-guided walking vacations available here too, using the services of a knowledgeable local guide enables you to learn more about this lesser-known region’s cultural and natural features – from identifying plants and animals to explaining the Moorish civilisation that shaped Andalucía for centuries and resulted in this part of Spain becoming so distinctive. They’ll also ensure that daily routes offer every member of the group the right amount of challenge.
You might roam limestone caverns with wall paintings that date back some 25,000 years, and trails that lead you along verdant river valleys or over windswept mountain peaks. Others pass through patches of beautiful orchids and natural rock gardens, dense forests of Spanish fir and cork oak, and vast gorges such as the impressive Garganta Verde, where rocky walls soar up for 400m and shelter Europe’s largest colony of griffon vultures. They share the skies with peregrine falcons and golden eagles.


Our guided walking vacations in Grazalema are week-long, small group trips that offer plenty of companionship and motivation. Solo travelers will find likeminded walkers and, handily, no single supplements. You’ll stay in a hotel in the village, dining on local cuisine every evening in local restaurants – which means low food mileage as well. Expect menus that are fairly meat-heavy, with lots of game dishes. Specialties include several renowned sheep and goat cheeses, gazpacho soup topped with ham, and eggs flavoured with thistle.
The easiest way to get to Grazalema is via Ronda, or Malaga further to the east. There’s no need to fly, if you’re traveling from the UK. Ronda is just 24 hours by train from London and you can either take a night train from Paris, or break the journey up with a night somewhere such as Madrid or Barcelona. Ronda is a lovely, historic city that makes for an interesting spot to visit if your itinerary includes a rest-day.
Walking in Grazalema is best-suited to walkers that are used to medium and steeper gradients. This is hilly terrain and you can expect some tough ascents and descents. Adequate footwear is vital and you will likely appreciate bringing a set of poles as well. One of the most sought-after day routes in the park is the Pinaspar route, which takes you through an ancient Spanish fir forest. A permit is necessary, as a limited number of walkers is allowed on the trail at a time; joining an organised tour means this will be arranged on your behalf.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Andalucia or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

Best time to go on a walking vacation in Grazalema

The old saying has it that the rain in Spain stays mainly on the plain, but actually the Sierra de Grazalema is reckoned to be the wettest part of the country. However, most rainfall is concentrated in the winter months, so we recommend walking in the late spring, around April, or autumn, around September. In the summer months temperatures can reach around 23°C and you’re pretty exposed to the sun up in the mountains, while some areas of the park may be closed off due to a heightened risk of fire. It goes without saying that if you’re walking anywhere you need to be careful not to carelessly discard cigarettes or matches, or to leave any waste, particularly glass bottles, that could start or spread a forest fire.

Advice from our travelers

We have selected some of the most useful Grazalema walking tips that our travelers have provided to help you make the very most of your vacation.
“The walks gave different perspectives on this marvellous part of Spain and helped me to understand the diversity and the sensitivity of this region so much better...This is a wonderful introduction to Grazalema and the surrounding sierra. Be prepared for all types of weather and some steep inclines... I enjoyed this break hugely, I learnt a lot about this wonderful, fragile environment.” – Bronwyn Stafford on a guided walking vacation in Grazalema
“The guides were just superb! Their knowledge of the wildlife; plants and animals/birds was outstanding. Their knowledge of the areas we were walking was just 'out of this world'...I would highly recommend this vacation! The walks were just stunning, the company excellent, the food was wonderful. All in all, fabulous! I will be returning!!” – Jayne Griffith on a guided walking vacation in Grazalema
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: Sean Pavone] [Hiker: Abel Maestro Gracia] [Grazamela town: Graeme Churchard] [Mountain goats: Abel Maestro Garcia]