To the north west of Seville and close to Spain’s border with Portugal, lies the Sierra de Aracena. There are many gentle routes you can walk during this self-guided holiday.
The area has a rich Moorish heritage with imposing hilltop castles seen above several villages. Together with splendid scenery, a unique cuisine and charming villages, the Sierra de Aracena is an ideal destination for those who appreciate walking in traditional, out of the way areas.
This self-guided walking holiday takes you to pretty, wooded hillsides with an incredible profusion of wildflowers in springtime. In this part of Spain there are several tiny whitewashed villages with rural economies still reliant on the production of quality cured hams, chestnuts and cork.
In summer people take to the village’s streets in exuberant fiestas, while in autumn the chestnut trees are ablaze with colour, the orchards laden with fruit, while the forests provide a rich harvest of delicious, wild mushrooms.
During this walking holiday, you stay the first few nights in the Posado del Castano guesthouse, followed by a night each in beautiful villages along the trail. All walks are self-guided, but your luggage is transported to your next accommodation.
Accommodation in the Sierra de Aracena
The first three nights, you stay in the highest village of the Sierra, Castano del Robledo. It is situated at the centre of an impressive network of cobbled paths and ancient mule tracks that criss-cross the Natural Park. With its fresh, sunny climate, the area is perfect for enjoyable country walks, and with so few foreign visitors the opportunities for appreciating the more authentic aspects of rural Andalucian life are boundless.
The guesthouse has 8 double rooms of which 6 have en-suite bathrooms. There are 2 other bathrooms for the other 2 rooms. All rooms are different but each has its own character. The rooms are accessed from the courtyard, the terrace or the upstairs lounge. The covered terrace enjoys a sunny southern aspect and overlooks the cobbled courtyard and garden. You can have breakfast here from spring through summer and it’s the ideal place to while away a sunny afternoon amidst the potted plants and the burbling sound of the fountain below.
The other accommodations along the trail you walk are also very comfortable, centrally located hotels and guesthouses. Each room has en-suite facilities, telephone and TV.
There is a single supplement of €50 if you want a single room throughout your walking holiday.
Walking in the Sierra de Aracena
The routes you walk during this self-guided walking holiday include some of the most scenic trails in the Sierra de Aracena. You’ll also go to some of the area’s prettier and more interesting villages. As part of your carefully planned village to village walking itinerary you’ll receive full route descriptions, diagrams and topographic maps.
In this part of Spain you’re almost never walking on the flat. But the rolling nature of the Sierra de Aracena is such that steep climbs and descents are few. Castano del Robledo is the highest village you’ll be walking to. The villages of Almonaster, and particularly Linares, are significantly lower, so your walks are mostly downhill. One major exception is the peak of the ‘Cerro San Cristobal’ en route to Almonaster. There is a steep ascent of around 500 metres along a dirt track which you’ll be walking here. However, even this section is optional as your route notes also offer an alternative walking route around the hill.
During this holiday you’ll mostly be walking on broad dirt tracks, old cobbled mule trails or narrower footpaths. Dirt tracks make for easy walking and involve little effort in placing your feet. The cobbled trails vary in their state of repair from level stone flags with well defined steps, to uneven jumbles of large boulders. Footpaths can be rocky and have loose stones underfoot but are generally easy to follow and have firm footing.
In general this self-guided walking holiday itinerary is well within the capability of anyone who takes reasonably regular walks in rural countryside.
Sierra de Aracena walking holiday itinerary
Day 1 – On arrival in Seville in Spain, you’re taken directly to the mountains and to your walking base in the tiny village of Castano del Robledo. The Sierra de Aracena lies just 1.5 hrs northwest of Seville but might easily be in a country different from Spain.
After settling in to Posada’s charming surroundings, you can get to know a little of Castano del Robledo – perhaps with the help of Craig or Sasha – and once back in the Posada you’ll sit down to a 3-course dinner – a delicious first foray into the region’s culinary delights. You stay overnight in Castano del Robledo.
Day 2 – After breakfast there is more time to get to know Castano del Robledo and later you can start out on your first self-guided walk. You’ll head out over hills with excellent views across to nearby Jabugo, then descend through groves of chestnut trees to the quaint village of Galaroza. This village is known for its many of carpentry workshops – some manufacturing doors and windows from chestnut wood, and yet others making and hand painting the colourful chairs and tables so typical of this part of Spain.
For lunch you can stop at one of the village bars round the quiet plaza for drinks and tapas before continuing the half hour walk to Jabugo. This village is renowned throughout Spain as producing the best Jamon Serrano (cured ham) in the country. Much of the main street here is given over to bars and various other sales outlets for this delicious and highly popular delicacy.
Later, your walking route follows the ancient trail through the valley of the Rio Jabugo. You’ll be climbing the last 2 kilometres steadily back to ‘El Castano’ where you can watch the sun go down from the terrace of the Posada, or from one of the two tiny bars on the plaza. Again, you stay overnight in Castano del Robledo.
Day 3 – Today, after breakfast in the Posada, there’s a short 4km taxi ride to neighbouring Fuenteheridos where you’ll begin today’s walk. At first the route heads northwards through the undulating landscape of Valdelama. You’ll be walking past small farms and cork groves. This part of Spain provides a diversity of fruit, vegetables and other produce. There are many delightful rural scenes to see as you walk through the many tracks and trails towards Navahermosa. You follow the path and stream through the narrow Talenque valley, home to numerous hawfinches and warblers, after which you’ll emerge into a landscape of steep gorges and wide valleys home to the pretty village of Valdelarco.
Time for lunch, and, after wandering the time-worn cobbled streets to the bottom of the village you’ll find two welcoming little tapas bars from which to choose – each with a delightful internal patio to enjoy the sunshine and local delicacies of fish or pork. From Valdelarco the landscape changes again. You’ll be walking down rocky paths across hillsides of cork trees to Galaroza.
From here it’s just an hour’s walk back to Castano del Robledo where you’ll be ready to relax and enjoy your last evening at the Posada. Another night in Castano del Robledo.
Day 4 – Today’s self-guided walk is a delightful route crossing hills to the historic village of Almonaster La Real. At first you’ll climb out of the bowl of hills which surround Castano del Robledo, then walk a long ridge with distant views westwards to the villages of Jabugo and Cortegana with its 13th century Moorish castle outlined against the horizon. Slightly to the south of this is the high peak of the Sierra’s 2nd highest mountain – Cerro San Cristobal. The walking route leads over this peak so you’ll have spectacular views back to Castano and several other villages around the Sierra. Along the way you’ll see stone walled enclosures full of the prized Iberian black pigs whose delicious cured hams are famous throughout all of Spain.
Once on the top you’ll descend (partly on ancient Roman cobbles) to the picturesque village of Almonaster. All the while you can enjoy marvellous views over the village with its dramatic 9th century hilltop mosque set against a backdrop of yet more peaks and valleys stretching to the distance. Once in Almonaster, you’ll head straight to your hotel in the centre of the village where you’ll find your bags awaiting you in your room.
In the afternoon a visit to the mezquita is a ‘must’. Although tiny, this architectural gem exudes a peaceful aura of contemplative calm with its delicate double horse-shoe arches and burbling fountain. You spend the night in Almonaster.
Day 5 – This is a beautiful and fairly gentle walking day following the southern flank of the Sierra’s main range. You’ll set out walking old trails through wooded valleys of Cork and Holm Oak. You walk through two tiny hamlets before arriving in Santa Ana – a large sleepy village where you can stop for lunch or a drink.
From there your walking route continues through the valley of the Alajar River, a wondrously fertile area where you’re sure to meet locals on the trail heading to tend their precious allotments of potatoes, beans, peppers or tomatoes. Walking along the riverside you’ll see several interesting old mills which, in their day, ground wheat for bread.
At the end of today’s walk you arrive in the charming white village of Alajar set neatly in the bottom of a steep sided valley. The imposing shrine of Arias Montano towers dramatically above here. You stay overnight in Alajar.
Day 6 – The last walk of your walking holiday is slightly shorter than most. So you have plenty of time in the afternoon to explore Aracena’s many wonderful attractions.
Heading out from Alajar the trail climbs though cork groves and pastures of Iberian black pigs to the abandoned hamlet of Los Madroneros. From here you walk across a low pass amidst marvellous scenery before you descend to the picturesque village of Linares. Approaching the village you’ll pass through orchards of orange, quince and pomegranate, before crossing a small stone bridge over the Linares river and into the streets of the village itself. The twist and turn of every tiny street is picture postcard stuff and you’ll want to rest a moment or two within earshot of one of the many peaceful fountains or, maybe have a drink at the little bar inside the village bullring.
A final two hours walking brings you to the region’s main market town of Aracena where, after checking into your centrally located hotel, you’ll have time to visit the ‘Caves of the Marvels’ – one of the largest cave systems in Spain at over 2km long. Its 12 caverns include 6 underground lakes and an attractive display of stalactites, stalagmites and columns together with many other limestone deposition features. The castle hill is also well worth a visit with its magnificent 13th century Knights Templar church and ruined castle. It also has magnificent views over the town and surrounding countryside. Overnight in Aracena.
Day 7 – After breakfast a short drive brings you to the neighbouring village of Fuenteheridos where you’ll board a comfortable air-conditioned coach to Seville. As there are two buses per day you can choose to arrive in Seville at 09.05 or 17.35 (Sun; 12.05 or 19.35).
Your walking holiday ends at the bus station in Seville where luggage lockers are available. Here you can enjoy the city’s marvelous atmosphere and many historic attractions before you travel on.
If you wish to add a night in Seville at the beginning or the end of your itinerary your hosts will be happy to make a hotel reservation on your behalf.
Dates and Availability
This self-guided walking holiday in Spain is suitable for individuals, couples or small groups of friends who enjoy walking in traditional, out of the way areas. You can book for any date (subject to availability) and individuals, couples or groups of up to 16 people can be accommodated. Group discounts apply for 5 or more people – the bigger the group the bigger the discount. Please contact the holiday provider, through the contact form below, for more information.