Granada is one of Andalusia’s prettiest cities. The city is situated at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains where four rivers come together. The city is midway between snow and beaches. Up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains is the Nevada Ski Station where international championship is held. And only one hour away from the city is the Mediterranean coast called the Costa Tropical.
Granada is the result of an interesting blend of cultures and historic epochs. Granada used to be the seat of Arabic kings and princes, and this majestic influence is still seen in its architecture. The Palacio de Generalife was the summer palace of the Nasrid Emirs, the governors of the Granada Emirate. Granada is home to one of Spain’s most famous and elegant palaces from the Moorish period. This is the Alhambra palace. Both the Palacio de Generalife and the Alhambra palace are now on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Originally a fortress the Alhambra later became a palace for the Arabic kings in Granada. The beauty of this palace was renown throughout the Islamic empire. The palace was built to be a paradise on earth. This is reflected in the interior design. Fountains, arcades and beautiful Arabic inscriptions and decoration turned the palace into an oasis. The gardens that surround the palace are open for walks. There the air is filled with sounds of running water and nightingales. When you walk around the city of Granada you will find that the city guards many more beautiful buildings. Granada is like an open air museum, it is impossible not to be touched by its history and beauty. Albayzín is the old Muslim quarter of Granada. This quarter is typically mediaeval with narrow streets and small squares. Strolling through this neighbourhood you will still find Arabic influences in the streetscape. This area is also nice to have tapas or a beer on one of the small terraces. A nice spot to sit down is the Las Cuevas bar.
Things to do in Granada
Take a relaxing bath
After walking around the Arab quarter take a relaxing bath in one of the Hammam’s, the Arab baths and spas. Nowadays there are traditional and modern bath. The traditional baths are called Bañuelos; you will find them in the Carera del Darro area. The moment you walk into these historic buildings you will find yourself in a thousand-and-one tale.
Do some shopping in Alcaiceria
The Alcaiceria neighbourhood is where you will find numerous souvenirs shops. This part of the city used to be one of the largest Arab marketplaces. The Realejo neighbourhood used to be the Jewish quarter. It has now turned into one of the most popular areas with a vibrant nightlife. Here you will also find palaces and churches from the post-Moorish period after the catholic kings defeated the moors in the late 15th century and driven them and the Jews out of Spain.
Explore local heritage and traditions!
Like anywhere else in Andalusia not only the Moors and the Christians left an important stamp on local culture, but so did the gypsies. Gypsies settled in the whole region of Andalusia. Gypsies maintained a lot of their culture and separate identity and brought with them Hindi style music and dance. Their music merged with the already existing oriental musical influences and resulted into Flamenco dance and music. Flamenco music has now become representative of Spanish culture around the world. In the 18th century the gypsies settled in the caves of Sacromonte. The caves are formed around ravines and were used as houses. Today many of them have been turned into venues for Flamenco music and dance. Here you can also enjoy live Flamenco performances. It is possible to spend the night in one of the caves. Apart from gypsy influences you will also find many artists he; together giving the area a bohemian feeling. To get to Scaromonte take bus number 35.
Visit the Plaza Nueva
At the centre of Granada you will find the Plaza Nueva, this part of the city stems from the Christian era. On this square tournaments and bull fights used to be held. Also from the Christian era is the Carmen of the Martyrs Gardens and Palace. These gardens are often used for weddings and it is a beautiful spot for an afternoon picnic. One of the most impressive buildings constructed by the Christian monarchs is the monastery of San Jeronimo. Another one worth visiting is the Granada Cathedral.
In Granada there are many colourful festivals some of the best are: Corpus Christi in June, Semana Santa (Holy Week) in April, and San Cecilio in February. During these festivals you will come across flamenco performances, processions, bullfights, and wine and food stalls. While you’re in Granada also pay a visit to the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This mountain range is one of the most famous of Spain and popular as a ski resort. Its highest point at 3,478 metres is the highest point of continental Spain.
Best time to visit
Tourists visit Granada from May to October
Getting there and around
If you want to get to Granada by plane you can fly directly to Granada Airport. Flights leave from all major cities in Spain. There are international flights from London to Granada. From other European cities you can fly to Málaga Airport and continue by car, bus, or train to Granada. It is also possible to fly to Madrid and take a bus from there to Granada. This option will take more time. Get around by bus or foot or get on an organised tour.