We’re fans of both Órgiva and Lanjarón and, while based in the former, a trip to our nearby spa town is always something we enjoy. They’re neighbouring towns in La Alpujarra competing for your affection – so just what is the difference between the two places?
How dare you call me an egg-seller!
Lanjarón may not care much for Órgiva, and vice versa. Indeed, there’s always been a healthy rivalry between the towns with Órgiva dubbing its neighbours ‘Los Cañoneros‘ (‘The Cannoneers’). Legend has it that when Isabella II visited in 1860 she was greeted by earsplitting canons being fired at the entrance to the town which could be heard for miles around, including in Órgiva. The name stuck and three cannons can be seen around the town, one in the plaza next to the town hall. (Another story is that during the Peninsula War (1807–1814) the town held out against the French using a locally-made cannon.)
In return, Órgiva’s inhabitants (orgiveños) gained the nickname ‘Los Heuveros/Güeveros‘ (‘The Egg Sellers’) because that’s what the town’s folk – or to be precise, just women – did many moons ago. It also had the reputation for painting egg-shells in bright colours to adorn the streets when anyone famous, like a passing monarch, visited.
Out with the old, in with the…old
We’ve always joke that Lanjarón is the place ‘where people go to die‘ as it’s full of old people. But let’s not be unkind; many are here to receive treatment at the famous Balneario. But the place does have a crusty feel about it with some hotels looking like they should be in a 1950s film.
While a popular place on coach party tours – and for city-dwellers enjoying a day out – it does become a little dull outside of the main holiday season. Most hotels shut and it becomes a ghost town (perhaps full of its ex-inhabitants).
Órgiva seems younger with a more eclectic mix of people with a real sense of community – not your typical Spanish town, perhaps. Some like this, others don’t.
Who will buy…
While Órgiva is a ‘working town’ – and less pretty for it – it does have a shop for most things. Plus there are loads of them – and supermarkets – including our favourite, Supermercado Alpujarra, where you can get stuff like fresh coriander, decent soy sauce, tahini and harissa – even water chestnuts! Organic and health food places abound so it’s easy to buy almond milk, vegan products and so on. In short, much more choice.
Lanjarón, being more of a tourist town, is full of jamón and cheese shops – and there are only so many one can visit. Plus there’s only a Día and small Coviran if you want a supermarket. If you want ceramic plates, trinkets, rugs and so on, we suggest heading for somewhere like Pampaneira. There are, however, some charming places including a cute art gallery, and textile workshop.
Lanjarón’s immediate appeal is the main thoroughfare with its cute patios and doorways full of flowers. But get away from this and its backstreets are the same as Órgiva’s.
Both towns boast about their history: the Moorish past, the architecture, the people – and celebrate them in various ways. Lanjarón has its water and honey museums, castle and fabulous walks – plus a charming tourist office. Órgiva a visitor centre highlighting its mining past and a new (2019) bread museum plus the church and town hall building.
Both towns have magnificent views of the mountains that surround them.
Bars and restuarants
Both towns have some great places to eat including, in Lanjarón, Asador Parque and more traditional places like Hotel España, Bodega Gonzalez and La Casita de Papel. A few new bars have popped up in recent times suggesting that things look on the up. But we can’t help feeling that the town’s culinary offering is just a bit…limited. Having said that, December’s Ruta de la Tapa is fun.
Órgiva has a much wider variety of bars and restaurants. There’s Venta Maria (Italian), La Almazara (both modern and traditional takes on food) and the much-loved Baraka (North African) plus other notable places like Pizza ‘n Love and Hotel Nazari (great steaks).
Both towns have good bakeries (Gerardo’s is a favourite) and have similar indoor markets – including fishmongers. Both have weekly markets (Órgiva on a Thursday, Lanjarón on Friday).
It’s interesting to note that a famous chocolate place (Abuela ili) – with shops/factory in Pampaneira and Capileira – closed the branch in Lanjarón after just a year, presumably because of poor sales. They should have opened in Órgiva where the population, year round, is larger with many more families, especially in summer. Have they seen the town on a market day in the summer?!
Lanjarón’s main attraction is the central street that runs right through the town (imagine the shape of a plump anchovy) with myriad taps dispensing drinking water 24/7. Hundreds of homes then fan out into the slopes above and below the town.
It seems that most people who live in and around Órgiva are relatively close to amenities – perhaps a 10/15 minute walk whereas, once off the main street in town, many inhabitants of Lanjarón need to make an effort to get to its shops and bars (probably in a four-by-four).
More than a feeling
Órgiva seems a younger place with a wider mix of ages, including a handful of women we’ve known for the last five years or so, now having babies. Unlike Lanjarón, the town is fairly buzzy most of the year. Both have their share of loud fiestas with Lanjarón’s festival of water – San Juan, celebrated in June – perhaps the most famous and fun.
In a nutshell
Lanjarón and environs: traditional, charming, lovely patios with flowers, touristy, less choice of things to buy (outside jamón/cheese) and – outside its water and music festivals – an ‘older’ place.
Órgiva and environs: more of a ‘working’ town and fewer charming houses, vibrant, artistic/hip, younger, wider choice of places to eat and buy stuff, eclectic.
Having been here for several years we like to think we have some knowledge of the two towns, but it is just our view.
Let us know what YOU think about each town and why you like them (or not).
© con jamón spain