|Via verde of the Sierra Subbetica|
Spain´s Vías Verdes (railway paths) are one of Andalucia´s lesser known rural attractions and a great way to discover the countryside off the sometimes well-beaten track.
In the 1960s the Spanish government drastically reduced its regional railway routes and closed down many train lines. Since the early 1990s, the government has been transforming these former railway lines into over 100 routes nationwide (with 23 located in Andalucia), that can be used by cyclists, walkers, horse riders and wheelchair users.
The routes are usually clearly marked with posts marking the distance in kilometres and there are viewpoints and picnic areas along most vía verdes. Some railway stations have been converted into restaurants and bars or museums. Along these railway paths you can also appreciate the many engineering feats used to create the relatively flat surface through an often rugged landscape. Many vías verdes have tunnels, viaducts, cuttings and embankments.
Each vía verde has its own particular and often fascinating history, reflecting broader political, economic and social changes of the time. You can find out more about the background of many routes in museums and visitors' centres along the way, as well as on the information boards that line the vías verdes (although most of this is available in Spanish only).
In Spain the 'Via Verde' is translated into English as 'Greenway'. This makes little sense to a tourist, we prefer to use the phrase 'Railway path' which is occasionally used in the UK (eg. Deerness Valley, County Durham) although these paths in the UK are generally named locally ( eg. Wirral Way, Cheshire).
This 12km route runs along what used to be the Guadix-Almedricos railway line. More >
This 49km long route links the appealing border town of Ayamonte, and Gibraleón. More >
This 91km route crosses the countryside between Valchillón, just southwest of Cordoba, and Marchena in Seville province. More >
The Guadalimar greenway is 20km long and runs between Linares-Baeza station and the old Begíjar station. More >
The Guadiana greenway is in Huelva province and is 17 kilometres long. More >
Starting in Alcalá de Guadaíra 14km south of Seville, this vía verde covers 28km and ends in Carmona. More >
This 18km vía verde follows the Huéznar river and the course of an old mining railway. More >
Explore the Roman archaeological site of Itálica and continue northwest to Gerena. More >
This route is 11km long and runs between the town of Linares and Los Salidos de Linares mine. More >
The Linares greenway is 6km long and runs between Linares and the Linares-Baeza station. More >
The Lucainena de las Torres greenway runs for 5.5km, from the Punete del Saltador at the Rambla Honda to Lucainena de las Torres. More >
This 17km vía verde follows the former Buitrón mining railway line that once linked Mina Concepción and Zalamea la Real. More >
This vía verde covers 55km between Jaen and the Guadajoz river, where it joins the Vía Verde of the Subbética. More >
This is a tarmac greenway which runs for just over a kilometre and a half to the town of Olula del Río. More >
Possibly the most beautiful vía verde in Andalucia is between Puerto Serrano, west of Algodonales and the former bandit haven Olvera. More >
Starting from the Valverde railway station is this 35km-long route to Riotinto, a historically important mining centre. More >
On the edge of the Sierra Nevada is a 6km-long vía verde that follows an old railway line between Güéjar-Sierra and the Barranco de San Juan to the east. More >
Links a series of beautiful villages, such as Zuheros, Luque and Cabra, crossing several magnificent viaducts and passing through a tunnel. More >
This route starts at San Juan del Puerto northeast of Huelva city and ends 36km further north in Valverde del Camino. More >