Via Verde de la Sierra: how to cycle the Sierra Greenway
This post is about cycling the Via Verde de la Sierra or the Sierra greenway in Andalucia Spain. The Via Verde de la Sierra follows the old railway track that runs for 36 kilometers from the white village of Olvera to Puerto Serrano in the Cadiz province of Southern Spain.
I was looking for scenic trails in Andalucia when I found out about the Via verde de la Sierra. The route takes you through some of the most beautiful landscapes in Andalusia, with stunning views of the mountains, valleys, and forests.
Why cycle the Via Verde de la Sierra
Cycling the Via Verde de la Sierra is a great way to experience the natural beauty of the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park, which is home to rugged mountains, lush forests, and crystal-clear rivers. The area is home to wildlife including griffon vultures, ibex and wild boar.
The Via Verde de la Sierra is the perfect combination of nature and culture. Along the way, you’ll also pass through charming villages and towns that offer a glimpse into traditional Andalusian life. The restaurants also offer an opportunity to taste some of the traditional dishes of the Andalusia region of Spain.
Cycling the Via Verde de la Sierra sounds like a challenge, but opposed to what you might think, the trail is flat. It follows an old railway track that used to run between Jerez and Almargen to transport the locally produced olive oil to the bigger cities.
Construction of this railway started at the beginning of the 20th century including the necessary tunnels, bridges and stations. Due to the Spanish Civil War the railway line was never used. Was all the hard work for nothing?
Years later people saw a new opportunity in the disused railway tracks. The railway ran through an area of natural beauty and carved out a straight path right through the mountains of Sierra de Grazalema. This allows for easy hiking and cycling with incredible scenery around you.
The absolute highlight on the Via Verde de la Sierra is the Peñón de Zaframagon Nature reserve. Within the reserve there is a large rock that is home to the largest colony of nesting griffon vultures in Spain. From the trail you can easily spot the rock and the griffons flying right over you. Over the years tourism developed along the route. The old stations turned into hotels and restaurants and it is easy to rent a bicycle.
Hiking or cycling
The via verde de la Sierra is not the only greenway in Spain. There are other greenways on old railway tracks through the beautiful landscape of Andalucia. Due to the flat terrain they are perfect for both hiking and cycling.
I also did the Via Verde del Aceite ( Olive oil greenway ) near the picturesque village of Zuheros in the Subbetica mountains. I was in doubt whether to hike or to cycle. In the end I am glad I chose to cycle in both cases. Although the greenways are still relatively unknown, there were enough other cyclists on this route that would disturb me if I had hiked.
The distance you can cover is also greater on a bicycle. When hiking you would need more than one day to hike from Olvera to Puerto Serrano. When cycling it is possible to cycle the whole track in a single day.
Things to see on the Via Verde de la Sierra
I started the ‘Via Verde de la Sierra’ in the charming town of Olvera, but you can just as well start in Puerto Serrano. In both towns you can easily rent bicycles. The advantage of starting in Olvera is that you gradually cycle downhill towards Puerto Serrano
Olvera is a very beautiful town and one of the famous pueblos blancos of Andalucia. Even after hiking the Alpujarras with its white villages I never got tired of them. Olvera was another white beauty.
Definitely make some time to explore Olvera and visit the castle for spectacular views. You can see the railway trail winding through the hills and olive groves. On a very clear day you can also see the rock of the Zaframagon nature reserve.
Peñón de Zaframagon Nature reserve
The Via verde de la Sierra starts with a nice cycle through the olive groves and lots of beautiful views. After 14 kilometers you arrive at the Zaframagon viaduct offering beautiful views over the El Estrechon ravine and the Zaframagon rock. This is one of the best places to watch the griffon vultures flying in the sky above.
Zaframagon interpretation centre
A bit further on is the Zaframagon interpretation center where you can learn more about the griffon vultures. You are now midway between Olvera and Puerto Serrano.
Coripe railway station
The next town that you pass through is Coripe. The cycling path is not actually going through the town, but below the city. If you want to visit Coripe you can make a small detour. I had a packed lunch with me and took a small break next to the trail.
After Coripe it is a long stretch through the olive groves and hills to Puerto Serrano. A small town. Although not as beautiful as Olvera it is a very pleasant place with few other tourists.
Via Verde de la Sierra travel tips
Accomodation on the Via Verde de la Sierra
There is accommodation in both Puerto Serrano as well as Olvera. I stayed in Olvera at the Estacion via verde. This hotel is in the ancient station building right at the start of the Via verde de la Sierra.
It’s a convenient place if you plan to cycle the trail as it offers all the facilities you need including cycle rental. The only disadvantage is that it is downhill at the outskirts of Olvera.
Food on the via verde de la Sierra
Olvera is a convenient place to start the Sierra Greenway. The town has several good restaurants in the center as well as a large supermarket. The hotel Estacion via verde at the start of the trail also serves breakfast and dinner.
Olvera has a rich culinary tradition. Its cuisine is typical of the Andalusian region and features a variety of traditional dishes such as Salmorejo, Gazpacho, Migas en Flamenquin. The town is also located in the heart of the Andalusian olive oil region, so you can try some of the locally produced olive oil, which is renowned for its quality and flavor.
Do take into account the Spanish opening times. In Spain, restaurants typically open for lunch between 1 and 3 pm and for dinner from 8 pm to 11 pm. You will find many restaurants are closed in between.
Once you are on the Sierra Greenway there are no restaurants directly next to the path. Coripe is about midway, but the path does not go through the center and you will have to make a detour. There are only a few restaurants.
I suggest you buy some food in the supermarket for a picknick lunch on the way. Spain is famous for its hams and a sandwich with jamon or queso makes a delicious and filling lunch.
You can rent bicycles at the Estacion via verde in Olvera. This is a convenient place to start the trail. It will be a long day, but you can cycle from Olvera to Puerto Serrano and back in one day or choose to deliver your cycle in Puerto Serrano.
How to get to Olvera
There are several bus services that operate between Olvera and nearby cities, such as Seville, Malaga, and Ronda. The bus journey from Seville takes approximately two hours.
Olvera is also easily to reach by car via the A-384 highway. The town is located approximately 130 km from Seville, 100 km from Malaga, and 30 km from Ronda.
From Puerto Serrano: To travel back from Puerto Serrano there is only one bus a day from the company Comes that departs at 15:20 (only from monday till friday). I therefore recommend to start your cycle journey early to make sure you catch this bus. Otherwise you can always take a taxi back to Olvera.
When to visit
Cycling the Via Verde de la Sierra is possible throughout the year and every season has its own advantages and disdavantages.
Spring (March to May) is a great time to cycle the Sierra greenway. The temperatures are mild, and the landscape is lush and green with wildflowers in bloom. This is also the best time to see the migratory birds passing through the area.
Autumn (October to November) is another great time to go. The temperatures are mild and the landscape is colorful with the changing of the leaves.
Winter (December to February) can be cool and sometimes wet, but the trail is still open and can be a great time to visit if you’re looking for a quieter and less crowded experience.
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