Salobreña is a beautifully classic, white-washed village that sits atop a giant rock, capped with an ancient Moorish castle and surrounded by a blanket of lush farmland. It is one of the most attractive towns on the entire Spanish Mediterranean coast.
With a population of just over 12,000, Salobreña is much smaller than the neighboring towns of Almuñécar and Motril but far prettier and is fast becoming one of the more popular destinations in Southern Spain.
** Trains from Malaga to Madrid or Seville are around 2-hours. --- Malaga is 45 min from Almuñécar.
The Salobreña Travel Guide
What to see and do...
The old, historic Moorish area of town is built high on the mountain underneath the castle while the newer developments spread out in the valley below.
**View of Salobreña and the Sierra del Chaparral Mountains from a distance
From the old town you will enjoy spectacular views of the Sierra del Chaparral mountain range to the north and the Mediterranean coastline to the south, east, and west.
There is also an 18-hole golf course located only 5 kilometers to the east of Salobreña, which adds to its growing popularity.
Where is Salobreña?
Sitting right at the center of the Costa Tropical in the Province of Granada, Salobreña is located less than an hour south of the city of Granada, 15 minutes to the east of Almuñécar, and just over an hour east of the Malaga airport.
- The Moorish Castle - Situated at the top of the town and built in the 10th century.
- The Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Rosario - A 16th century Mudejar church built on the remains of an old mosque near the top of the town.
- The Town Museum - Housed in the former town hall in the old town and containing important relics dating back to Neolithic times.
- El Peñon - The large rock jutting out to sea that served as a prison in the 1st and 2nd centuries and then later as a Christian burial site.
- The Sugar Factory - The last working sugar factory in Europe lies just to the west of Salobreña, in the small neighboring village of La Caleta.
10 Awesome Things to do in Salobreña
1. Follow our self-guided tour through the Old TownThis is a must do while in Salobreña! The most interesting and historic sites are in the old town but there are also great restaurants, miradors with breathtaking views and beautiful flower-laden streets that you will only see in an Andalusian village.
Start the Salobreña Old Town Tour.
**Salobreña Old Town
2. Visit the small village of La CaletaJust to the west of the Salobreña old town is a small village called La Caleta. It is a small area that grew up around the old sugarcane factory, that at one time was the pride of Salobreña. The factory has since closed its doors, but the little town is still a great place to visit.
**La Caleta, a small village near Salobreña
Take a walk through its winding streets and grab a cold drink and tapa at one of the cafes. Make your way to Lavadero Square where you will find a pretty stone pathway that takes you around the cliffs to a small cove and beach, the views of Salobreña and the Peñon are amazing!
3. Spend the day at one of the Salobreña beaches
Salobreña is known for its long, wide sandy beaches. There are at least 6 beaches running the length of Salobreña, and other smaller coves and bays to explore along the coast between the cliffs.
For more information about the Salobreña beaches, read our guide.
**The Peñon Beach / Cove in Salobreña
4. Go on a walk through the countryside or tropical valleySalobreña is surrounded by farmland and fruit plantations. You will find several interesting walks that will take you through these areas where you can learn more about the tropical fruits and other products that are grown here.
5. Rent bikes and cycle down the Salobreña promenade
In recent years, Salobreña has done a lot in terms of modernizing and updating its beachfront promenades and bike paths. A completely new promenade has been added to the western end of the beach while new bike paths have been installed around the main Salobreña crag that connect to the existing paths along the beachfront. Because the area around the town is so flat, it's the perfect way to explore the area.
There are several companies that specialize in bike rentals.
6. Enjoy some tapas and drinks at one of the great seaside chiringuitos
In Salobreña, like in most of the Costa Tropical towns, chiringuitos line the beach in all directions. There are abundant options for a mid-day snack or a long leisurely lunch with friends.
One of the best and most festive areas to enjoy a meal is right by the Peñon, where you will find three great chiringuitos; Sunem Playa, La Bahía and El Peñon (that sits just on top of the great rock).
7. Visit the Cueva del Capitan outside of LobresIf you are a history buff, you might enjoy seeing the cave where the first human remains were discovered dating to over 6000 years ago. It lies just behind the small town of Lobres, to the west of Salobreña.
For more information on the cave and the town of Lobres, read our guide.
**Village of Lobres, 5-minute drive from Salobreña
8. Stroll through one of the Salobreña markets
Everyone loves a market! Markets have always been a big part of life in Andalucía. Even though the larger grocery chains are gaining in favor, the locals still prefer to do their shopping in the specialty markets each morning, where the produce is fresh, and the faces are familiar.
While in Salobreña, take a stroll through one of its many markets, from the daily farmers market to the monthly craft and specialty markets. You will find a schedule of all the Salobreña Markets here.
9. Get Sporty!
Kayaking and parapente are just two of the sports that are popular in the Costa Tropical. Salobreña, like the other nearby towns, has its fair share of companies that will cater to all of your sporting needs.
**Kayaking near Salobreña
10. Visit the neighboring villages of Almuñécar and La Herradura
Just 5-minutes to the west of Salobreña are the towns of Almuñécar and La Herradura. They both have beautiful beaches, traditional Andalusian restaurants and plenty of other interesting sites to see. Enjoy a drive down the coastal road, if you have the time, and visit these two charming villages.
A Self-Guided Tour of Old Town Salobreña
The Old Town of Salobreña is a maze of bourgainvilla laden streets and alleys that steadily weave upwards towards the old Moorish castle. It can be quite a climb, but once at the top you will be rewarded with incredible views...
Imagine the Sierra del Chaparral mountain range behind you, blanketed in snow, the lush farmland surrounding the village fanning out to meet the sea and the small town of La Caleta gently rising out of the sugarcane fields, winding upwards around the neighboring hillside. It is a sight not to be missed!
So, let's go!
**Salobreña Old Town
Follow our guide below to the most important sights in the Salobreña Old Town...But before you begin:
- You can print this guide and take it with you;
- Download the map of Salobreña;
- Make your way to the Paseo de las Flores, where the tour begins.
1. Paseo de las Flores
This beautiful terrace was once home to Salobreña's earliest settlers. We know this because many important artifacts have been found in this area that date back to 3000 - 2000 BC.
The patio is adorned with a colorful garden of flowers and shrubs, tall exploding palms and even a small sanctuary where candles are lit each morning.
Today, you can take a stroll around the super-sized patio and enjoy incredible views in all directions, even of the impressive castle that towers above you.
** View of houses upon the Salobreña Crag from the Paseo de las Flores
2. Mirador "El Postigo"
From the Paseo de las Flores, go back out to the main road and walk across to the other side. Just in front of you, you will see the "Mirador El Postigo" with a plaque denoting its location on the wall to the left.
Where today you will find a mirador or observation deck with incredible views of the Sierra del Chaparral mountains behind Salobreña, during the middle ages this would have been a secondary gate to the village.
At that time, it was called "Postigo del Mar", which meant "Door to the Sea". It was given this name because the gate led from the village center to the port and beaches.
** View from El Mirador Postigo
3. Stop for a quick drink
From the Mirador "El Postigo", make your way down the street away from the Paseo de las Flores. As you round the corner there will be quant little cafe on your right, which is a great place to stop and have a cool drink. The area around the cafe is beautiful.
**Salobreña Old Town
4. Salobreña Castle
Once you've cooled off, keep heading down the same street in the same direction. Take your first right, just after the cafe and walk up the hill. You will come to a gorgeous little street on your right, bursting with pink Bougainvillea. There is a gallery on the left and signs pointing towards the Arabic Castle. Climb to the top of this street / stairway and you will find the entrance to the castle.
The Salobreña castle was built by the Moorish people who inhabited this area back in the 10th century. It was later reformed by the Christians who took back the city. The castle has been used as a prison, a military defense structure and as a palace for Muslim nobility.
Read the Salobreña Castle Guide for more information.
** View of the Salobreña castle from the Paseo de las Flores
5. Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Rosario
When you are done visiting the castle, come back down the same steps you went up. At the bottom, take a right. You will come across the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Rosario on your left.
The church was built on what was once the town's mosque in the Mudéjar style (Mudéjar style refers to a style of ornamentation and decoration in post-Islamic Christian Spain that was strongly influenced by Moorish taste and workmanship).
The square in front of the church was used as a cemetery until 1789. In 1821, much of the church's roof was destroyed in a fire but was later rebuilt.
Walk around the church and enjoy the beautiful views from the terrace towards the sea. From there, walk along the side of the church and down the steps, take a right and you will find the next site on our tour, "La Boveda".
** Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Rosario in Salobreña
6. La Boveda / The Vault
The tunnel vault, "La Boveda", was built in the 16th century using the existing fortified wall of the town. It is thought, that the vault was built to create more space for the church and its atrium above. It was built at the time that the Rosary Church was constructed on top of the existing Muslim mosque.
La Boveda was once a passageway that connected the Muslim living area or "Albaicín" to the commercial area of town or "Medina". The doorway on the left-hand side would have been the only secondary entrance into the fortified area of town. This is where supplies would have been brought in.
Explore this area and then head back to the beginning of the tunnel, take a right and you will find yourself in the old town square. This is a good place to stop for a bite to eat.
** La Boveda
7. The History Museum in the Plaza del Antiguo Ayutamiento
Now that you have found the old town hall plaza, you can do a quick tour of the History Museum located in the building in front of you (the former town hall or ayutamiento).
The History Museum houses a diverse collection of artifacts that have been found all over Salobreña, dating from Neolithic times. Here you will see the oldest human remains found in the Cueva del Capitan, ceramic urns, ancient coins and more.
There are also miniature models of the castle, church and its tower.
Under the building, you will tour the old town jail that was built in the 16th century.
** Plaza del Antiguo Ayutamiento
This is where our tour ends, but there is still much more to see. Continue reading below about the other important sites in Salobreña and where to find them.
Other Sites (further out) to see in Salobreña
1. Mirador "Enrique Morente"
The Mirador "Enrique Morente" can be found just below the Paseo de las Flores. From the top, climb down the steps at the far end of the terrace.
The Mirador is 98 meters above sea level and offers spectacular views of the surrounding area. A monument to one of the 20th centuries most important Spanish musicians "Enrique Morente" is a focal point.
** Mirador "Enrique Morente"
2. Calle Mas Estrecha / Narrowest Street
Another fun little site to see in the old town is the "narrowest street" in Salobreña. At 60 cm wide, you have just enough room to squeeze your shoulders through this tight little alley.
This narrow street connects the "La Fuente" neighborhood with the rest of the old town.
** La Calle Mas Estrecha
3. La Casa Roja
The Casa Roja was once the exquisite home to the wealthy owner of the sugarcane factory in La Caleta. It was built in 1905 and the interior has been carefully maintained in the original style.
Today the building houses a foundation honoring a famous Spanish playwright and author that was born and lived in the town of Salobreña.
4. Parque "La Fuente"
Just at the bottom of the Salobreña crag, you will find this quaint little park. It lies on both sides of the main road that connects the town with its beaches.
The park has at its center, and derives its name from, a beautiful fountain that resembles the lion head fountain found in the nearby Alhambra Castle in Granada. There is also a small children's park, refreshment stand and a small pond with interesting wildlife.
** Fountain in Parque La Fuente in Salobreña
5. El Peñon
The giant rock that juts out into the sea and divides the main Salobreña beaches is called El Peñon. At one time in history this rock was completely surrounded by water and was known as the "Island of the Rock".
Over the years, it has been used for fishing, as a cemetery and as a sanctuary to the goddess Tanit.
Today, one of the best chiringuitos is built on top of the Peñon and you will find many holiday goers jumping from its rocks, feeding the fish within its coves and enjoying the spectacular views of the castle from the top.
**El Peñon in Salobreña
Salobreña Village Information
|# of inhabitants:||~ 11,750|
|Distance to Granada:||68 km|
Getting to Salobreña
I’ve always been so taken by the view coming around the last bend on the old coastal road, revealing this ancient town in all its glory. Its majestic old castle towering above the old town that delicately trails behind it.
The best way to arrive in Salobreña is on the old N-340 coastal road from Almuñécar going east. This is truly a site to be seen.
You can also more quickly access Salobreña from the larger towns of Malaga, Granada and Motril on the new A7 highway that runs along the coast. Get off at the Salobreña exit, past Motril and follow the signs to town.
For the best and lowest cost choices for car rentals in the Costa Tropical we recommend: CarRentals.com
Getting to Salobreña by Train & Bus:
Granada and Malaga both have great train stations and are accessible from anywhere within Spain.
In general, the railway system in Spain is great and runs very smoothly. You can travel all over the country easily and quickly and usually at a low cost to you.
The best site for finding the lowest fares and booking trains is OMIO: I love how you can compare prices between trains, buses or flights!
Look for rates and times for trains in Spain.
From each of the train stations (Malaga & Granada) you can get a bus to Salobreña.
The History of Salobreña
The history of Salobreña, like most of the towns in the Costa Tropical, dates back to Neolithic times when this area was populated with semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers. Remains of these people and their culture have been found in the nearby cave, La Cueva del Capitan, in Lobres. If you are interested, you can still visit this cave today.
The oldest human remains that have been found in the area, date back 6000 years.
Since that time the area has been inhabited and influenced by the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and Moors. They have all left their special mark on the town of Salobreña and as a result it is a fascinating place to visit.
Salobreña, A Major Geographical Transformation
Geographically, Salobreña has transformed over the years as well...
- From Neolithic times and well into the Roman era, the area around Salobreña was a bay.
- The Peñon, the rock that today divides the main Salobreña beaches, was at that time an island. A giant rock jutting out from the sea.
- The rocky promontory, where the castle and town currently reside, was also surrounded by water. There was only a tiny sliver of land connecting it to the mainland. It was essentially a peninsula, looking out towards the Peñon or “Island of the Rock”, as they called it.
- Over thousands of years, the Guadalfeo River, that runs south from Granada, deposited sand and silt into the Salobreña basin. This buildup gradually created a large area of flat land, that was perfectly suited for agriculture.
- This process continued well into Roman times and beyond, where only in more modern times was the process complete. Today Salobreña sits atop a fertile plain of sugar cane plantations and groves of sub-tropical fruit trees.
The Phoenicians created small settlements in Salobreña, dating back to the 8th century BC. Remains of their existence have been found in the ancient necropolis, which was located on what is now the great Salobreña rock. At that time, Salobreña was known as Selambina.
Salobreña joined the Roman Empire in 206 BC. During the Roman period, El Peñon (which was an island at that time) was used for fishing, as a cemetery and as a sanctuary. A temple was built on the rock to honor the goddess Tanit (a Punic and Phoenician goddess that was later worshipped by the Romans).
The first written records of Muslim presence in Salobreña date to the 10th century. It is the Moors, who are believed, to have built the Salobreña Castle. They also introduced the cultivation of sugarcane, which became a very important part of the local economy and made Salobreña very important to the Kingdom of Granada. In 1489, Salobreña (and the rest of coastal Granada) came under the rule of the Christians, after the Moors were defeated in a battle in Almeria.
The Christian population in Salobreña lived in the old quarter where the current town hall is located and around the area of the church of Our Lady of the Rosary. The cultivation of sugarcane in the sixteenth century continued to be an important part of the local economy.
Modern Day Salobreña
In the second half of the nineteenth century, the final remains of the old town’s walls were destroyed. The town was experiencing a boom in sugar cane production and as a result needed to expand.
It wasn’t until the 70’s and 80’s that the town expanded into the plain below, where today you will see many modern buildings, parks, hotels and restaurants by the sea.