Multi activity holidays in Andalucia

A tableau of 2,000m-high mountains, rare Mediterranean fir tree forest, and both the deepest gorge and the most complex cave system in Andalucia – this is Sierra de las Nieves, the third and newest national park in Andalucia.

President Pedro Sánchez ceremonially cut the ribbon in January 2022, when he declared the new park a chance to conserve both biodiversity and people’s livelihoods in a region where it’s long been a choice between one or the other.

Sierra de las Nieves is in good company. This southern corner of Spain is also home to Doñana and Sierra Nevada national parks. The diversity of landscapes in this region makes it a playground for our Andalucia multi activity holidays.

Hold onto your hard hat as you raft through rapids overlooked by snow-dipped mountains along the River Genil. Scramble between sun-warmed rocks while canyoning. Hike through gnarled almond orchards spritzed with pink blossom in spring. Freewheel along mountain roads in the Sierra Nevada, where pro cyclists train.
Multi activity holidays in Andalucia make things hard – hard to scrape the grin off your face after rocketing down rapids, hard to prise yourself out of bottle-green lakes, and hard to look away from the starry sky.
All sounding a bit full on? Our holidays also explore areas of Andalucia where the pace of life is on snooze. Think lazy brunches on the sunny terrace before white water rafting. A siesta before late-night stargazing in unpolluted skies with the best chance of catching the galaxy-like Sagittarius nebulas. A day’s cycling or hiking with a long lunch in a mill town or a swim in a mountain lake. Cheese and ham tasting, plus wine tasting, recharge depleted batteries.

“People tend to relax and de-stress quickly here,” says Ilaria Grieco, co-owner and host at El Geco Verde, who runs our most popular activity holiday in Andalucia. “We’re in a very peaceful location with spectacular views you can enjoy while eating on the terrace. Young children can roam around freely in perfect safety, with no need for parents to watch them the whole time.”

Rural Andalucia appreciation society

“As amazing as it seems,” says Ilaria, “this wonderful area is not used to foreign tourism.”

Spend two minutes in cities like Seville and Granada or along the jam-packed Costa del Sol, and it’s hard to imagine that Andalucia is emptying out. But by swapping the cities and coast for the Andalucian countryside, you’ll be something of an anomaly.

Like many regions in Spain, the countryside is suffering from a steady stream of departing people. In August 2021, a group of Andalucian mayors announced a depopulation strategy.

There are lots of reasons why people are leaving the region, ranging from a lack of basic amenities like banks and doctor’s surgeries to unvaried work opportunities. Many people have learned to live off-grid so that they don’t have to rely on the sometimes patchy electricity supply. Ilaria and her family are one of them, harnessing solar energy and a biomass boiler that burns discarded olive pits to power their small hotel and family home.

The harder it becomes to live, work and visit rural Andalucia, the fewer people stay. And as people go, so does the attention – and funding – of the government.

However, Andalucia is far from empty; it’s more that residents sometimes feel forgotten. There are still many like Ilaria rooted here, passionately running almond farms, activity centres, clifftop bars and farm guest houses. There are still plenty of people who would love to stick it out in rural Andalucia if they could.
With the creation of a new national park, the future is looking more promising. Promoting tourism in rural Andalucia is Plan A of the government’s depopulation strategy. Doing it well is the challenge, making sure that – like our multi activity holidays in Andalucia – tourism is fuelled by (and fuels) local guides and accommodation owners who are passionate about the activities you can do in Andalucia, whether that’s instructing you how to safely leap down a waterfall or to tap your toes to flamenco.

“We work in collaboration with several local activity companies, all of which are Spanish,” says Ilaria. “Some of the companies are very small; they don’t often have foreign tourists so not all the staff will speak English. For example, we work with a local flamenco dancing teacher. She doesn’t speak much English but she has learned a few words that are relevant to the class. It’s not a problem and makes for a much more immersive experience for the students who are on holiday. It’s always possible to pick up a few words and phrases in Spanish if you’re staying here as only a few people speak English.”

You can see how cheese and bread is made on farms, see a glass blowing demo or try out Sevillanas folk dancing. Hiking trails cover Andalucia from the coast to the heaped white villages to the mountain forests – with plenty of opportunities for a picnic or meal.

“A lot of people will come here purely for the various activities nearby, but others come because they just want a slice of real Spain,” says Ilaria. “We’re off the beaten track and this area, the Altiplano de Granada, sees fewer visitors than elsewhere. It’s a much more authentic vibe.”

Actively protecting the biodiversity of Andalucia

With all of that leaping into lakes and clambering up mountains, there’s a danger that multi activity holidays can be hard-hitting on Andalucia’s unusually biodiverse countryside.

It’s good to be protective – after all, the new Sierra de las Nieves National Park alone hosts 1,500 plants and is a rare stronghold of the Mediterranean fir tree, as well as holm oak, pine, chestnut and cornicabara olive trees. Around 120 species of birds flicker between the forests and meadows, while flocks of honey buzzards wheel overhead and mountain goats teeter on rocky pedestals. Mainland Europe’s largest spider hangs out here too – a jet-black tarantula called the Andalusian funnel-web spider.

Our activity holidays make sure they’re hard-hitting in the right ways. They’re led by local people who love and value their environment, teaching you how to tread carefully and safely through delicate terrain and sharing stories about the ups and downs of conservation in their region. These are people who have long lived in harmony with the Andalucian countryside, and can teach you how to too.

“We only use activity companies and instructors who adhere to the safest and best quality practices,” says Ilaria. “This isn’t always the case in other parts of Spain. We ensure that we only use companies which follow all rules and regulations and get permission before going canyoning or rock climbing, for instance. There is a local company that offers 4x4 off-road driving but we don’t use them as we think it is bad for the dry environment and destroys the natural peace and quiet.”
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Spain multi activity or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

What are multi activity holidays in Andalucia like?

A huge choice of activities

Activities are seasonal, so it’s always worth checking what’s available when. For instance, winter rains might make rivers too fast for rafting, while summer, conversely, could dry up stream beds completely, making canyoning less of a splash. A packing list usually comes as standard; our partners know exactly what you need in your suitcase.

Multi activity holidays are the ideal time to try something new. Activities can include:

    Kayaking White water rafting Canyoning Climbing Horse riding Hiking Cycling and mountain biking Cooking classes Stargazing Dancing lessons Food and wine tastings

Small group tours vs. tailor made trips

Small group holidays are escorted tours with a fixed itinerary and dates. You’ll travel with a guide and a small group of up to 10-12 people – and often fewer – so that you fit into rather than overwhelm village restaurants and rural hotels. Check the itinerary carefully if you’re travelling as family to make sure it’s suitable for all ages.

Tailor made holidays are designed for your party’s abilities, budget and timings. You can pick and choose which activities suit you best and go at your own pace, finding a mix of activities and relaxation that’s right for you.

Whichever type of holiday you choose, accommodation and most meals are included in the price.


Multi activity holidays in Andalucia are great for families. “Activity holidays are the ideal way to spend quality time with your family and create lasting memories,” says Ilaria. “You’ll find that there are activities suitable for all age groups.”

When to go

July and August are popular with families on their summer break. It’s a great time to visit Andalucia in full sunshine. The climate is cooler in the mountainous and forested interior compared with the scorching Costa del Sol, reaching a happy 25°C in the daytime. If that’s still too hot to handle, make for the cooler months of May, June and October. This is when more active land activities like mountain biking and hiking are most comfortable.

“The second weekend of October is always a good time to visit,” adds Ilaria. “This is when Castril holds its annual fiesta, many people return from the cities for it, and there is a real party atmosphere.”
Photo credits: [Page banner: Sergei Gussev] [Intro: Juan Pablo Olmo] [Rural Andalucia appreciation society: Matt Kern] [A huge choice of activities: sam.romilly]