Alhama de Granada is a small spa town around 50 or so kilometres from Granada city, in the south of Spain. Easiest way to get there is by car from Granada airport, however with a combination of my aversion to driving and my desire to keep the costs down, I opted to get a bus (there are three a day on weekdays).
Once there, the only public transport options are to go back to Granada. There is also one bus a day going the other way, to Torre del Mar on the coast near Nerja, but no bus back from there until the next day.
Alhama isn’t Party Central, if that’s what you’re looking for. It’s just a small Spanish pueblo with a nearby gorge offering lots of walks and spectacular scenery looking over olive groves and almond trees. There are a couple of swimming pools plus the spa/hot springs a couple of kilometres out of town.
The town centre has a selection of historically significant buildings and monuments; the tourist office has maps and you can easily walk around them in a couple of hours.
There is a little collection of bars and restaurants in the town. Drinks in Granada Provence normally come with a little plate of (free) tapas, so if you are not spectacularly hungry in the evening you can skip dinner and just have a couple of drinks whilst you watch the sun go down.
Other options include cooking for yourself. There are a few supermarkets in town (really just corner shops) with a minimum of foods and other ‘essentials’. On Friday morning there is a market. The market is good for fruit and vegetables, plus there are some cheap clothes and household products.
The most famous thing about Alhama de Granada is the nearby hot springs. The name Alhama comes from the Arabic word for thermal baths: al hammah.
The baths are around 3 kilometres out of town. You can walk it, though best not to pick a time when it is too hot, since there is little shade on the road down. The easiest way I found to walk was to head off on the track from the big car park, which runs kind of parallel to the road.
When you get to the Roman bridge (which may actually be Arabic but, whatever) you stop to take a photo.
Then you continue along the left fork in the road, which is clearly marked.
The baths are situated inside a three-star hotel, called hotel Balneario. Before you get to the hotel entrance there are some small hot pools on your left hand side. These aren’t part of the hotel and are free (although you pay for car parking if you come by car). They are generally very busy, although I managed to get the pool to myself by going at 2.30, when everyone else was eating lunch.
I spent a month in Alhama. It was an ideal opportunity for me to simply stop for a while, since I had been feeling completely travelled-out. It meant I got caught up with the avalanche of emails that had been relaxing unread in my inbox..
My Airbnb host seemed to find it strange that anyone would want to spend a whole month in Alhama, and left me in no doubt that he considered me a little weird. However I’m not a typical traveller.
In an ideal world I wouldn’t come here in August; it was simply too hot. In the afternoons, when the heat was at its most oppressive, I either went to one of the swimming pools or I stayed indoors in the cool, catching up with work.
However I didn’t want to travel too far from London, unless my presence was suddenly required, meaning Asia or the Americas were out. I wasn’t against staying in UK for August, but without access to my house it would have ended up costing me more money and so didn’t make sense.
It’s a no-brainer really. Do I want to spend £700 to rent a room in Tooting, South London (this was about the best option I found on Airbnb for August), sharing a bathroom, no kitchen, battling through the drizzle to get anywhere, or do I want to spend £700 to get my own one-bedroom apartment in Spain, moaning about the heat as I make my way to the pool for a quick dip before siesta time?