Alhama de Granada is an old spa village of about 6,000 people (2018) in Granada Province about 50 km from the city of Granada. The name is derived from its thermal baths, which are called الـحَـمّـة al-hammah in Arabic. Alhama de Granada looks out over spectacular scenery; the view to the Sierra Nevada is uninterrupted. The Sierras of Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama Natural Park is a few kilometers to the south.
Alhama sits not far from Arenas del Rey (about 14 km away), which is on the edge of the vast Bermajales lake. The lake is surrounded by woods of poplars and Mediterranean black pines. Constructed between 1947 and 1954 this reservoir with a hydro-electric plant at one end provides sandy beaches, safe swimming and plenty of non-motorised water sports. There are also a couple of cafes at the edge of the lake. Many people spend evenings and weekends barbecuing at the water's edge.
Suggested reading list:
- Ornament of the World - How Muslims, Jews and Christians created a culture of tolerance in medieval Spain - Rosa Menocal
- Driving Over Lemons - Chris Stewart
- The Parrot in the Pepper Tree - Chris Stewart
- South from Granada - Gerald Brenan
- Guerra - Jason Webster
- Al-Andalus - Jason Webster
- Duende - Jason Webster
- Ghosts of Spain - Giles Tremlett
- The New Spaniards - John Hooper
- Spain by the Horns: A Journey to the Heart of a Culture - Tim Elliott
- It's Not About the Tapas - Polly Evans
- The Almond Blossom Appreciation Society - Chris Stewart
- Muslim Spain and Portugal: Political History of Al-Andalus - Hugh Kennedy
- Casa Moro: The Second Cookbook - Sam Clark and Sam Clark
- Moro East - Samantha Clark
- Spanish Lessons: How One Family Found Their Place in the Sun - Derek Lambert
Bus from Torre del Mar or Vélez-Málaga - both easily reached from Málaga. Car hire from Malaga Airport and train station is also a good, cost effective option, the drive takes around 90 minutes. Car hire from Granada airport is also inexpensive; this drive takes around 40 minutes.
There is a bus from Granada to Alhama that runs 4 times a day, check the times on the alsa website, last one is around 18:30. Once in the town, everything you need is in walking distance: fresh fruit and vegetable shops, butchers, supermarkets, fresh fish shops, bars and restaurants.
- The Balneario - drop to the bridge over the river Alhama and turn left.
- The Alhama Gorge - stunning views down from the village over an almost sheer slope.
- The monumental area - the monuments are only open in the morning out of season.
- The Roman Bridge - just off the side of the road on the way to the Balneario. Dates from 1st century.
- 1 Cycling Country Bike Tours, Calle Salmerones 18 (On the corner of Calle Encisco and Humilladero), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 10:00-17:00. Guided bike tours of the area and throughout Andalucía. Quality carbon road bike and hybrid bike hire available. Self guided cycling routes and tours also available.
- Windsurfing, horse riding, hiking, quad biking, go karting, mountain biking, cycling, kayaking.
- Swimming in Lake Bermajales (10 km away) - the lake is surrounded by sandy beaches.
- Hatha Yoga is readily available in Alhama contact Sami at Asura Yoga for prices, classes and venues.
- Swimming pools - there is an open air public pool in town with grassy areas for laying out and one at Pato Loco 3 km steady walk up the gorge. It costs a few euros to use either pool, which are only open in the summer months.
- Winter sports - November to April, the slopes are 90 minutes drive away.
- Beaches - the Costa Tropical is a little over an hours drive away, Nerja and it's amazing caves is an hour and 10 minutes away.
- Spas: there are two spas in the town, both have hotels attached with all the facilities you'd expect. One is at the bottom of the town Balneario de Alhama de Granada near the Roman bridge (20 minute, 3 km easy walk, or 2 minutes in the car) and one is at the top - El Ventorro (30 minute, 4 km steady walk up the gorge or 4 minutes in the car). Balneario dates back to Roman times (1st century), the thermal waters are 47 °C, there is a hotel with a full range of treatments see or you can walk down to the river and sit in one of the warm pools for free, there is a small parking fee if you take the car.
- Massage: there are many professional masseurs in the town, English and Spanish - some of whom will visit your hotel or rental home. Sports Massage and physiotherapy are also available, so if you pick up an injury while walking or horse riding, cycling or running you can find the perfect treatment.
- Trail Run Spain, Casa de la Inquisition (Located in historic quarter). Varies. Running and training ‘holidays’ based in the Comarca de Alhama and Poniente Granadino regions of Granada Province, Andalucia. These ‘holidays’ can be as easy or as hard as you wish. They can be used to prepare you for marathons, half marathons, ultras, stage races, races in high temperatures, deserts or altitude. See website.
There is a bustling market on a Friday morning, selling fresh local produce, plants, clothes and household stuff.
Fabulous locally produced olive oil, honey, almonds and wine is available to buy in many of the local shops and bars. Ventorro (at the top of the gorge) has a particularly good selection.
a small selection of local arts, crafts and post cards is available at the small tabac on the corner of Plaza Constitution.
Eat & drink
There are a few bars in Alhama which serve coffees and "tostadas" in the morning, lunch in the late afternoon, and tapas in the evening. Casa Ochoa Tertulia Bar and Cafe Bar El Tigre are local favourites. For nightlife, El Encuentro plays more contemporary pop and reggae music, while Por Amor Al Arte has live flamenco on the weekends.
Top Square (Plaza de la Constitution)
There are around 38 bars in Alhama de Granada, pretty much all serve food, hot and cold drinks, Some of favourites include:
- Ochoa: classic Spanish rural bar, serving great rustic plates of food, local wine and draft beer. Run by Josephina and Paco. This place has very friendly service and in the colder months they place trays of hot olive wood coals (Braseros) under your table to keep you warm. Fantastic! Try a media plate of the Setas (fleshy mushrooms) and the calamari plancha (grilled squid) - both fantastic with a cold beer or drop of tinto verano (red wine and lemonade cooler).
- Le Seguriya: proper sit down restaurant, run by Paco and Lola. Great food and relaxed atmosphere. There is a fantastic terrace overlooking the gorge and there are rooms available since it is also a "Hotel Rural".
- Meson Diego: Great for 'menu del dia' served every weekday lunchtime - around €8 for 2-3 courses. The terrace is a suntrap, which is great for most of the year, but it can be a bit hot in summer, there is an air conditioned restaurant inside.
- Bar Andalus: Also do a great 'menu del dia' served every weekday lunchtime - around €8 for 2-3 courses. Again catches the sun.
- Bar Gallega: modern bar, serving great and interesting tapas.
- La Boega: Great, down to earth bar, with good breakfasts. Really good, generous tapas.
- El Encutentro: Young modern bar that stays open until late.
- El Tigre: the small bar in the corner of Calle Fuerte and Alta De Mesones. By the top corner of Constitution. In the summer season, they have control of a big space at the top of the square. Antonio the owner has a real flair for classic tapas with a twist.
- Al Dente: A very good homemade Italian pizza place.
- La Crème: This is an ice cream and coffee shop. Also one of the best places in town to get a fresh loaf of bread.
Near the Lower Square
- Churreria De Ascencion: Right on the main (Granada) roundabout - the sign over the door says 'Hamburguesa'. Specialize in churros, a sweet Spanish delicacy for breakfast, served in a big spiral of doughnut type thing - cooked fresh whilst you wait. You dip your hot chorros in an amazing, thick, real chocolate drink. An experience you must do at least once, be warned you may have to put the diet on hold for the day. Friendly staff and very clean bathrooms. You can also get a beer here later in the day. Hamburgers look pretty good too.
- Bar Rincon: next to the children's play area in the bottom square, so is an ideal place to have a drink whilst the keeping an eye on the kids playing a few metres away. Rincon serves all the usual coffee, beer, wine, food, and is very good.
- Tasca Casa Marin: in a little street just behind the 2nd (Loja) roundabout. A little gem of a place specialising in fantastic Iberico ham and mature cheeses - a real foodie paradise.
- Cafe 25: Quite loud music and the ice cream is great.
- Rafa bar: the place where all the teenage kids hang out, table football and pool. Usually doesn't get going until 22:30.
- Internet café: on Carretera Loja right hand side walking out of town, around 50 metres from the second roundabout.
Restaurants up the gorge by the small lake
- El Ventorro: They serve very, very good food in this restaurant it is 25 minutes walk from town up the gorge, or a 5 minute drive. There is a biggish menu, we had the menu del dia, which was excellent. They have a spa facility, which is great: €15 for a couple of hours of steam, pool, jacuzzi, or treat yourself with a massage for an extra €15. There is a half-price day on Tuesdays. You will usually need to book ahead here as space is limited.
- Pato Loco: Huge restaurant with a huge swimming pool, food is good.
There is a good selection of rental properties on the owners direct website. Local hotels are relatively small but all adequate. There is one hotel with spectacular gorge views called Le Seguiriya. Just outside town there is a good hotel and spa with excellent restaurant called El Ventorro.
- Granada is famous for Alhambra and other historical buildings. 40 min away by car or 90 min on the bus.