Visiting places like Montefrío, Granada, for most travellers, takes research and planning. First, you need to Google phrases like “hidden gems in Spain” or “small Andalucían villages” before a mysterious locale with a hilltop church and miles of idyllic white houses and olive groves catches your eye. You instantly decide it’s gorgeous and simply must travel there ASAP. Then, you need to figure out how to get there, where to stay and all the best things to do once you’re there.
I stumbled across Montefrío like a houseguest looking for the bathroom and accidentally opening the door to Munchkin Land. It took almost zero effort on my part and I was rewarded handsomely. I was doing a workaway exchange at a yoga retreat nearby and the chef lived there and offered a lift on my day off. Like I said, zero effort.
But that’s how it goes. Sometimes you have to seek out the really awesome, little known places. And sometimes they find you. But the upside to planning is that you can make sure you don’t miss anything. So this travel guide has everything you need to know about Montefrío, Granada if you want to visit this beautiful village on an Andalucían road trip. And also why you should visit, if the photos aren’t enough.
Montefrío, Granada Travel Guide
Things to do in Montefrío, Granada
1. Check out the Mirador National Geographic Vista
I’m not the only one who has noticed Montefrío’s unique charms. Who else? Only the bloody Spanish National Geographic magazine, that’s who. In 2015, they included Montefrío on their top 10 list of the best village views. And you have to admit, they had a point. It’s a cracking vista.
There’s now a little plaque at the Montefrío National Geographic viewpoint, also known as Mirador del Paseo. So you know exactly which viewpoint is the award-winning one. It’s just on the road outside of the village (I’ve pinned the location on the above map) and there is some space to drive up and a platform to take photos from. Since it’s a viewpoint, it’s obviously open 24/7 and is completely free. The view at night is also stunning as the castle and church are all lit up!
2. Climb 111 Steps to the Iglesia de la Villa & Castillo de Montefrío Ruins
Here’s a little bit of a history lesson. Montefrío is based in the Granada province in southern Spain which, before the Moorish Wars in the 15th Century, was a primarily Muslim region constantly under threat from Catholic Monarchs. There were many Nasrid castles all over the region (notably the Alhambra Palace) including one in Montefrío. This tiny village is nestled in a valley between Sierra de Priego and Sierra Parapanda and with its imposing cliff-like hill, it was the perfect setting to build a fortress in order to defend the area.
You can still visit some of the ruins of Castillo de Montefrío (which are totally open and free) but the Iglesia de la Villa church is the main structure on the hilltop. The steps are a little steep, but you can stop to rest and gaze out across the town as often as you need to. There is a small exhibition inside the church on the Catholic conquest and religious ideology. I’d normally say don’t bother going inside as it’s nowhere near as impressive and the view from the tower is heavily obscured by black safety wire. But it’s not expensive and I think, if you have the money, it’s nice to contribute to the local economy in small places like this wherever you can.
Opening times: 11:00-14:00 Sunday – Friday plus 16:30-18:30 on Saturdays Entrance fee: €2 for adults
3. Belt a Tune Inside the Iglesia de la Encarnacion Church
Can you believe that Spain’s only rounded church is the Iglesia de la Encarnacion church in Montefrío?! Well, believe it, baby. In the 18th century, the architect Domingo Lois de Monteagudo decided to model this church, of all the churches he designed, after the Pantheon in Rome. It’s a whopping 30 metres wide and 15 metres tall and it has a wonderful domed roof which offers fantastic acoustics if you fancy having a sing-song while you’re there.
It’s not as lavish or impressive inside as other churches are, but it’s free to enter so you may as well. Opening times vary depending on the season but if it’s closed when you visit, try popping by a few hours later and you might be lucky.
Opening times: 10:00-14:00 Wednesday – Saturday, 12:00-13:00 Sundays Entrance fee: Free!
4. Shop for Local Products at Monteftur Productos Tipicos y Souvenir
I spent a tiny fortune in this shop buying local craft beer, handmade ramekin dishes in Andalucían designs and a canvas tote bag with Montefrío’s logo on the front. This is possibly Montefrío’s only tourist-focused gift shop and it’s also a deli where you can buy local meats and cheeses.
I absolutely recommend you pop in during your trip to Montefrío, Granada. Again, it’s good to support local places like this and the souvenirs they sold were largely handmade local products. As well as the usual tourist tat like Montefrío branded cigarette lighters. Which, if you ask me, is still pretty unique. Plus the dude working there was also super nice and friendly!
5. Head up to Convento De San Antonio (for yet another amazing view)
With all the shops and attractions closing for the afternoon, I needed to find somewhere to eat the picnic lunch I brought with me. If you’re on a budget or just don’t fancy any of the restaurants in Montefrío, I totally recommend bringing a picnic to Convento De San Antonio. There are tonnes of benches and public bins here, so it’s perfect. I’ve pinned some supermarkets on the map at the start of this post if you need to buy lunch supplies while you’re in Montefrío, Granada.
And the view from this part of town is also incredible. It’s almost annoying how many stupidly epic vistas there are in one small town. They’re definitely going over their quota, whatever that is.
I don’t think visitors can actually go inside Convento De San Antonio, not usually anyway. It’s still a beautiful church from the outside but it’s got seriously stiff competition in Montefrío’s other churches.
6. Venture out to the Las Peñas De Los Gitanos Neolithic Site
This is a site just 5km outside of Montefrío, Granada. Since I didn’t drive myself to Montefrío, I didn’t visit here. But I’ve heard it’s one of the top things to do in Montefrío so it makes the list.
Las Peñas De Los Gitanos is one of the most intact and valuable historic Neolithic sites in Andalucía. There are five cave shelters and necropoleis that you can visit via guided tour if you’re interested in ancient history.
7. Celebrate Christmas in July at the Museo de Navidad
There are two museums in Montefrío, the Museo de Navidad (Christmas museum) and the Museo del Olivo (Olive Tree museum), and they’re both located in the same building. Not really too surprising considering Spain is a Catholic country and therefore celebrates Christmas and there are one or two olive fields knocking about the area.
The Christmas Museum is something of a glorified hoarder’s living room. It’s a sizeable display of antique Christmas ornaments from 1890-1960 and therefore many of the dolls are terrifying. The Olive Tree Museum is a bit more educational and details the history of olive oil in the area. Again, I can’t comment on whether or not it’s worth it to visit the museums. But if you’re into small, quirky museums then you might enjoy them.
Opening times: 10:00-14:00, Tuesday-Sunday Entrance fee: Not sure, sorry!
8. Indulge in Ice Cream at Plaza de España
There are two ice cream shops in Montefrío (Montehelado and Heladeria Choque) if you want to find some respite from the scorching Southern Spanish sun. And I love how they’re both located next door to each other. They must have a healthy rivalry. Unfortunately, I didn’t realise they closed for a siesta so early, which meant I missed out on sampling both.
Montehelado is open daily 8:00-12:30, 15:30-22:00 and I can’t find any information online about Heladeria Choque, but I’m sure their opening times are similar. You can also get coffee and other sweet treats at Montehelado, too, so I’m inclined to recommend them more than Heladeria Choque.
9. Where to Eat & Drink in Montefrío (on any budget)
If you’re looking for where to eat in Montefrío, there are a few Montefrío restaurants in and around the town. A nice budget option could be Restaurante Pizzería Jomay which is also a takeout and has some vegan and vegetarian options. But since it’s a pizzeria, you might not find much local food there.
If you have more to spend and want a nice sitdown dinner, have a look at Restaurante La Fonda where they have a highly-rated local Mediterranean menu. Bar Pregonero, in the main plaza, is a really convenient option for diners who either want a few nibbles with their drinks or a more laid back meal.
How to get to Montefrío, Granada: Driving in Andalucía
Despite Montefrío’s remoteness, it’s surprisingly straightforward to travel to the Granadan village. Montefrío is roughly 100km Northeast of Málaga and driving takes approximately 90 minutes. You can drive along the A-92 main highway and turn left at Huétor-Tájar to reach Montefrío. The same applies if you’re travelling to Montefrío from Seville, basically.
Montefrío is only 50km Northwest of Granada (about one hour’s drive) and you take the N-432 main road until you need to turn left at Puerto Lope and continue down the GR-3410.
You can also get the bus from Granada to Montefrío from the equivalent of around £6 if you’d rather take public transport via Spain’s main bus company ALSA. Check out the bus timetable and book your tickets here.
Where to Stay in Montefrío, Granada: Hotels and Holiday Lets
Though there aren’t any hostels in the area, there are a selection of cute Montefrío hotels, B&Bs and holiday apartments in and around the village if you want to spend a few nights in the countryside.
Hotel La Enrea – A 2-star budget accommodation option just outside of the village, La Enrea Hotel is still a typical Spanish-style villa offering loads of amenities like free onsite parking, free Wifi and a gorgeous courtyard. The rooms might feel a little dated but there’s plenty to make up for the decor.
B&B Lasnavillasmm – Also a few minutes’ drive outside of Montefrío itself, this B&B is a mid-range choice that has an authentic Andalucían design. The best part is the huge outside social space and pool with panoramic views of olive groves.
Monteftur Apartahotel – If you’d prefer the privacy of an apartment as opposed to a hotel and want to stay in the village of Montefrío itself, this Apartahotel is an ideal option. You’ll be able to live like a local (even for just a few nights) in an apartment with a gorgeous terrace.
Casa del Arrabal – Another option if you want to stay in a village apartment or holiday let, Casa del Arrabal offers guests a plunge pool with a view. The decor is also a great mix of modern and classic Spanish style with white interiors, mosaic tile and exposed wooden beams. Personally, this would be my pick!
And that’s my travel guide and all the top things to do in Montefrío, Granada! Have you visited Montefrío or any other small villages besides Montefrío in Granada? Let me know in the comments below!