In the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, Granada combines ancient Moorish culture with modern Mediterranean living.
Granada’s always had an air of mystery about it: this is a city where labyrinthine narrow streets lead to quiet reflecting pools, Renaissance and Baroque buildings seem to stand on every corner, and Islamic-style gardens and palaces sit alongside Catholic chapels.
This Andalucian city is best known as home to the Alhambra –the “city of palaces”. Perched on a plateau above the Sierra Nevada mountains, this Arabian palace, fort and former military stronghold is a striking examples of Moorish architecture.
The different cultural influences in Granada are so strong that a stay in the city is a bit like a holiday in Spain, Morocco, and the Middle East - all in one. Every quarter is different, from the steep, narrow streets of the Albayzín, to the trimmed gardens and white-washed houses in residential Realejo.
The city’s historic area is centred around Gran Via de Colon and Calle Reyes Catolicos, where squares are dotted with cafes and cobblestone streets lead to popular shops and restaurants. Central Granada’s perfect for exploring on foot, its winding alleyways often leading visitors to unique street art, or impromptu flamenco performances.
Design buffs should head to the Albayzín neighbourhood, which is packed with examples of Moorish architecture and art from the region’s rich and varied history.
Granada’s a great place for a spa trip, too. Public Arabic bathhouses, or hammams, are common in the city, with different architectural styles and treatments to suit every type of traveller.
The local cuisine is an intriguing mix of Spanish and Arabic influences. The area around Plaza Bib-Rambla is home to tiny bars serving tapas, and there are some good Spanish sandwich shops, too – a favourite with the local university students who are enrolled at the five different campuses across the city.
There’s plenty to see and do in Granada, whether it’s visiting major cultural sites, admiring local art, hiking the foothills or simply spending a few days living like a local.