Mulhacen, Las Alpujarras, Southern Spain


This is a walk that we completed 2 years ago, but thought it so lovely that we returned to walk it again. We had driven here from where we had been staying in Malaga and checked into Hostel Rural Las Terrazas de la Alpujarra in the small village of Bubion for 4 nights. Las Alpujarras is an area situated in the Sierra Nevada in Andalucía between Granada and the Mediterranean sea. It is very popular with walkers, has beautiful scenery, good value accommodation and food. It can be reached by car, or by public bus from Nerja, or Granada.

Mulhacen, is Spain's highest mainland mountain at 3479m. From the village of Capileira various options are available to reach it, firstly by walking from Capileira staying overnight in a refuge, and continuing the walk to the top the next day. Secondly catching a small bus from the village of Capileira, which we would recommend to book in advance from the information office in Capileira, this is a comparatively shorter day and one which we have done previously. Thirdly the route we took driving from Capileira village up an unmade road for about 30 minutes, then parking in the car park at a barrier which marks the entrance to the park. Private vehicles are not allowed in the park, but the bus is allowed through this barrier making that route a shorter day.

We left our hotel in Bubion early at 7.30am before breakfast, thinking we would pick up something on route. We stopped at the only cafe open in Capileira-Restaurant Moraima-which served coffee but no toast till after 8am as the bread delivery had not arrived. Fortunately we had made sandwiches the night before to take with us. After driving up the unmade road for 30 minutes whilst watching the sunrise, we arrived in the car park by the barrier. Surprisingly there were 5 cars already there, we have since concluded maybe the owners had stayed overnight in the refuge, as it was at least 3 hours before we saw anyone.

We looked at the notice board and left the car at 8.30am, following the well-marked path, climbing steadily up through the trees, whilst listening to cow bells. Dawn had now broken and the sun streamed through the trees. It was still cold even with our warm coats, hats, gloves and walking trousers on. After 30 minutes the trees cleared, we turned right uphill through a fire-break reaching the road at 9.15am. We were now in bathed in bright sunshine, not needing our hats or coats any more. We followed the road to Mirador de Molinos. As on many of our walks we had sublime views, this time over the Alpujarras to the Mediterranean sea in the distance, to the south east can be seen the many greenhouses of Almeria. On a clearer day Africa would have been visible.

We spent the next hour or so either on the road or taking cairned short cuts. At 10.45am we reached the path on the right which says 3 hours to Trevelez - an alternative for another day. At 11am we arrived where the road continues to the left to Refugio la Caldera.  Taking the path to the right the real walk now begins. This is where the bus normally drops walkers off. So essentially it had taken us 2.5 hours to reach this point.

The path is straightforward and just climbs steadily, with some cairns.  We stopped for a quick sandwich,  the slope now seemed interminable. We remembered that Mulhacen is fabled for its false top as a white post came into view. Arriving here at 1.30pm we could see the real top in the distance. Here the walk gets tough, with thin air due to the altitude, and a very cold wind arrived from nowhere. So far we had met about 4 people, then a group of about 12 were descending together, we assumed they had caught the early morning bus.

We arrived at the top at 2pm with fantastic views back down to the coast and north to Granada. There are a couple of shrines on the top, it was a fantastic feeling to be on the highest  point of the Iberian peninsula. It had been a long climb, but well worth it. Unlike Snowdon no-one was on the top when we arrived, before being joined by 3 walkers. Obviously this is not a popular place to be mid-week in October.

We left the top at 2.30pm, it was so much easier walking down, we reached the false summit  at 2.45pm, then back at a sign for Mulhacen at 4.20pm, and a sign to Trevelez at 4.30pm. On reaching the bus terminal there is a choice:- follow road or take the path over the hill to the right, we followed road down, as it was easier to keep up a pace of walking. At Mirador de Molinos we went back along the fire break, then down through the forest. We arrived back at the car at 6.10pm, with many cars now parked up. It had been a long day of nearly ten hours, and 15 miles, but a fantastic achievement and very worthwhile.

We drove back down the road with the beautiful golden sunset. We stopped in Capileira to look for a restaurant, but they were all closed as it was a Tuesday or because they don't open till 8pm. We did not want to wait so drove back to Bubion where we were staying and felt fortunate that Restaurant La Artesa was open. The food was nothing fancy, but large portions, good value for money and quick to arrive. It was just what we needed.

Distance  14.5 miles (23.3km)

Duration of Walk 9 Hours 40 mins

Average Pace  Min/Mile 40

Steps  51891

Elevation Gained  4361 feet  (1329m)


As usual wear boots, take a phone, sun hats, sun tan lotion, and plenty of food and water as after leaving the start nothing is available. It can also be very cold on the top, especially if it's windy or the clouds roll in, so take a wind proof jacket and warm hat and gloves.

Check the weather forecast before setting off, as it would be a shame to walk all this way and have no view. We have been to the top once before, again with fantastic views. The week after we had been the mountain was covered in snow, which would have made it very difficult.

The walk we did took us ten hours from parking near the barrier, so leave early and ensure that you have checked what time sunset is at. Take a head torch, just in case.

We would recommend staying at the Hostel Las Terrazas in Bubion, having stayed here previously. The hotel has a lovely Spanish feel, the owners are very friendly Spanish speakers, a nice breakfast is served,(which can be paid for separately)  lots of walking routes have been printed out and the owners will copy these for you, as well as being good value for money. Bubion is a beautiful village, typical of the area, with a couple of restaurants and very small Coviran shop.

This area of Southern Spain is accessible from England either by driving through France and Spain, or flying to Malaga  then hiring a car or catching the reliable, cheap public transport or the route that we took driving from our home in Manchester then catching the 24 hour relaxing ferry from Plymouth to Santander, then touring through Spain.

Resources Used

This walk is not in any of our books, details can be found on-line or maybe from the information office in Capileira

Websites used where we stayed restaurant where we ate information centre breakfast bus