Frequently Asked Questions
Why do people go to La Alpujarra?
For the walking, for a romantic holiday, for a week or two away from the city in a historic area of great natural beauty. It's unlike anywhere else, an old Andalucia in the mountains. A mere twenty years ago, La Alpujarra was virtually unknown outside of Spain and familiar to few within the country, who would speak of the former mountain kingdom between the Granada and the sea with a certain wistfulness.
Once poor and struggling, it has now risen from neglect and offers decent facilities for visitors, while remaining unsophisticated and real. It has become popular in recent years to people looking for peace and quiet, the sun-and-siesta lifestyle, pure mountain air and water, the splendid walking and majestic Sierra Nevada, or the atmosphere of history in the unspoiled once-Moorish villages. The longer you stay, the more tempting it is to stay.
What's Capileira like?
Visitors are generally entralled by the place. It’s pretty, peaceful, easy-going and has an architecture dating back centuries to the times of occupation by the Moors. Its population of 570 people live in a maze of narrow streets that tumble down the slope of the gorge. There are good amenities and it becomes quite lively in the summer. The approach by road up the grand Poqueira River valley is simply beautiful. As you look up, the three white villages of Pampaneira, Bubión and Capileira end in a backdrop of mountain peaks, clad in snow in from winter to spring.
What's the weather like?
Facing south from beneath the Sierra Nevada, Capileira enjoys a Mediterranean climate and is as sunny as anywhere in Southern Spain. It's generally warm and dry, always cooling at night because of the altitude. Some rain is expected in the winter, essential for pasture and arable land, while the snowline rests some way above the village.
See: Average month-by-month temperatures for Capileira.
Alpujarra or Alpujarras?
The entire, south-facing and largely habitable area of the Sierra Nevada mountains in Spain is known collectively as "La Alpujarra" in the singular. This is used more or less interchangeably with "Las Alpujarras", while the plural form also differentiates between the two distinct areas of the high Alpujarra (Poqueira Gorge, La Tahá, Trevélez, Mulhacén) and the low Alpujarra (Orgiva, Lanjarón).
What's more, La Alpujarra also falls across two Andalucian provinces, so that "Las Alpujarras" may refer to the westerly (Granada) Alpujarra in conjunction with the easterly (Almeria) Alpujarra.
When's the best time of year to come?
January to March: simply great for walks when the sun shines (and there can be surprisingly warm, sunny days or weeks). Otherwise, it’s beautifully peaceful but chilly. If snow falls in the village, it soon melts as the snowline is higher up. Log fires burn after nightfall when temperatures fall. Almond and cherry are in blossom.
April & May: spring puts on a show of poppies and countless other colourful wild flowers in the countryside. This is just about the most popular season for hikers. There may be a shower or two, but otherwise the weather is excellent.
June to August: sunny and always warm. Capileira provides an escape from the intense heat of the cities and coast. At the height of summer, daytimes are hot, but thanks to the altitude summer nights are just deliciously warm. Pitres campsite (3 km away) opens its large open-air swimming pool to non-campers. Daytrips to beaches are popular.
September & October are gorgeous, relaxing months that tend to be the choice of couples who prefer to avoid the August excitement. Days of warm sun last through into...
November & even December, when the autumn leaves change to reds, oranges and yellows, walnuts, chestnuts and almonds ripen, and sunsets are fabulous.
What's the altitude?
1,435 metres. Capileira is the second highest village in Spain (after Trevélez, also in La Alpujarra).
What nature and wildlife will we see?
Above Capileira is National Parkland (in summer there’s a guided bus that goes all the way up into the Park) and Mulhacén, the highest mountain on the Iberian Peninsula at 3,481 metres. You will see hawks, kestrels – and golden eagles are not uncommon; depending on the season there are swallows, bee-eaters and golden orioles. There are twenty types of butterfly. Las Alpujarras lie on the southern slopes of Sierra Nevada, where there is less snow and much more sun and rich countryside. Grapevines, fig, cherry, almond and chestnut abound. The rare combination of altitude and sun means that a host of endemic plant and flower species have developed here. Walks will bring you close to ibex, foxes, even wild boar.
What's Capileira village's main attraction?
Some say the hiking: it’s terrific. We who live here say it’s the village atmosphere. It's very friendly and peaceul and well provided for with inexpensive places to eat and drink.
Does the house have WiFi?
Yes, there's free WiFi which works very well inside and out for all normal browsing.
Are gas, electricity and hot water included in the rental price?
Can we bring a child?
Yes. The house can accommodate a child making use of the comfortable sofa bed in the front room. Extra bedding and towels are supplied. A supplement applies: 40 euros per week, or 10 euros per night for short stays.
Can you drink the water?
Yes. The best water in Las Alpujarras spouts from village fountains originating in mountain springs, but tap water is perfectly fine (chlorinated by law).
What heating is there?
A gas heater and an electric radiator are provided and the house is well insulated. There’s also an efficient wood-burning stove, but please note that firewood is not provided (it's available for sale locally).
Is there an oven?
Yes (both cooker and oven are gas).
Is there an iron and board?
Is there a bank in Capileira?
Yes: just off the main square You can change money and it has a cash point/ATM.
What about health care?
The doctor’s surgery is next to the Ayuntamiento (town hall) on the main road. It opens Mon – Fri, 9.00 - 10.30 am. In Pitres, 15 minutes away by car, there is a 24-hour emergency clinic on the main square.
The pharmacy in Capileira is run by a very nice, helpful family.
How far is it from Granada Airport?
1 hour 25 minutes
Easyjet now offer flights to Granada from Gatwick and Manchester.
BA also operate flights here from London City Airport.
A choice of car hire is available and bookable online before you travel.
And from Malaga Airport?
2 hours exactly
Low cost air fares to Malaga plus hire car followed by the "Black Cat" makes for a great, inexpensive Alpujarras holiday. This route is even more popular than flying to Granada. It's a straightforward drive along the coastal motorway and then up into the mountains.
And Almeria Airport?
2 hours 10 minutes
The new motorway links now make Almeria Airportinterestingly accessible. It has flights from the UK, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium & Luxembourg.
Are there buses to Capileira?
There are and quite a few people opt for the bus, but note that the service is limited to just three a day to/from Granada, so make sure the connections work for you. Buses from Malaga to Granada: a few go directly from the Airport (leaving opposite Arrivals as you come out) and more from Malaga bus station (estación de autobuses).
Coming by car makes life a good deal easier and allows you to explore much more of Las Alpujarras, as well as making day trips to Granada and the coast that much more feasible.
Here are the latest local bus times. Bus company: www.alsa.es
Where's the nearest beach?
A drive of 1 hr 15 mins brings you to 3 different beaches on the Costa Tropical.
Playa Granada in Motril has coarse sand and facilities are limited.
Salobreña tends to be busier but has good beachside restaurants and shaded recliners you can rent cheaply.
Lesser known and more hidden away is Playa La Rijana, 5.5 km past Calahonda in the direction of Almería. It has pebbles, not sand, but the water is often clean and clear and a chiringuito serves drinks & meals all summer.
Download a map with directions to Playa La Rijana:
At 1 hr 30 mins, Playa Cantarriján, just past La Herradura, has a naturist beach and good quality beach restaurants.
In summer months, you can also go swimming at the Pitres campsite pool just 3 km away, cool off in the river or at a waterfall above Capileira.
Do we need to reserve tickets for the Alhambra?
Advance booking is advisable as there is a quota system that permits a limited number of visitors each day. The official Alhambra site for information is here. It links to an online booking page, current price 14 euros for adults (there may be a small booking charge). But a decent number of tickets are also sold on site early in the morning if you prefer to try your luck.
What time can we arrive at the house?
Between 2 pm and 10 pm*.
What time do we need to leave on the last day?
By 10 am*
*We try to be flexible about these times, but we do need time to prepare the accommodation properly.
Where can we park?
The village has three car parking areas, all of them near the house. The directions we email with your booking direct you to the nearest parking for the house. On arrival you can also stop temporarily in the semi-pedestrianized main square, very close to the house, to unload luggage. Parking in La Alpujarra is free.
How much traffic goes by the house?
None: it's a no-through road with steps down from the Square. Village dumper drivers can manoeuvre as far as the house from the other end of the street, but it's too narrow for cars.
Do we need to bring towels?
Bath and hand towels are provided. But please bring your own towels if you plan to go to the beach, river or a swimming pool.
Anything else we need to take?
A good book, a laptop or tablet for the WiFi, your favourite DVDs, personal items: the house is otherwise well-equipped.
Can we bring our dog?
Possibly, but only by prior arrangement and on payment of a supplement of 15 euros. This simply covers the extra cost of special cleaning when you go, because we prepare the house for people who may be allergic to animals.
What shops are there?
Two village supermarkets; two bakeries, including a wood-fired bread oven, a chemist’s, butcher’s, leather goods store, shops for rugs, crafts and gift shops; local ham, wine and cheese sellers; tobacconist’s (also sells souvenirs and stamps); home-made chocolate shop; and a number of restaurants and bars.
Is there internet in Capileira?
El Gato Negro Cottage has free WiFi and the nearest café-bars, El Tilo and La Tapa, both less than a minute's walk from "El Gato Negro", have free WiFi also.
Are there any other holiday cottages in the area you'd recommend?
If the "Black Cat" is not right or available for you, we don't mind recommending other quality accommodation. Don't be shy, just ask!
When are the fiestas?
Los Reyes Magos: Procession of the Three Wise Men: 5th January
Los Chiscos (San Antón): 16th January
Fiestas Patronales: last weekend in April. Procession of the guardian of the village, La Virgen de la Cabeza.
Romería (pilgrimage to Mulhacén): nearest Sunday to 5th August
Main summer fiestas: second weekend in August
La Mauraca (anis, chestnuts & bonfires): 1st November
Got another question not answered here?
Ask the Cat!