Granada is a jewel in the Andalusian crown. Dating back to prehistoric times, when native tribes called it home, there’s plenty of history to uncover. With such a tumultuous past, it’s no surprise both the city and surrounding regions are bursting with mosques, Arab fortresses and gothic churches. And yet, despite the story told by its architecture – or perhaps aided by it – Granada’s heart is definitely Andalusian. If images of flamenco dancers tapping their feet away to the tune of Spanish guitars, horses trotting across cobbled streets lined with whitewashed buildings and sun-drenched beaches lapped by the Mediterranean come to mind when you think of Spain, Granada brings them to life. With the dramatic Sierra Nevada mountains just a stone’s throw from the vibrant capital, and the sun-drenched Costa Tropical offering a great selection of beach resorts, Granada offers a great getaway, whatever your tastes.
Culture vultures and urbanites will want to visit Granada city and spend a couple of days getting to know its beautiful secrets. Families and couples will especially enjoy Almunecar, a bustling resort with a long stretch of beach, and Salobrena, a quieter coastal town home to two pretty beaches. Party animals need not despair, as all three spots will satisfy all your nightlife needs.
The region’s capital is a melting pot of cultures. Uncover the remnants of the Moore empire in the shape of the famous Alhambra, a network of Arab palaces nestled at the foot of Sierra Nevada. Get a good look at this stunning architectural view from the mirador de San Nicolas, a viewpoint with unbeatable vistas of the cityscape cut against the mountains. The city also has lots to offer by way of food and drink, with plenty of traditional bodegas offering respite, as well as delicious fare and wine, after a busy day’s sightseeing.
Almunecar’s history is just as rich as Granada city’s, with the added bonus of being the heart of the Costa Tropical. A popular holiday destination with locals, Brits have only recently discovered its potential. Almunecar’s main feature is its wealth of beaches, big enough that families and couples can find a spot for fun without disturbing each other. It’s also close to La Herradura bay, a beautiful secluded area worth a visit for stunning Mediterranean views and delicious restaurants.
Located only a 45-minute drive from Granada city centre, Salobrena perfectly embodies the charm of Andalusia’s white villages. The pretty beach resort is quieter than Almunecar, perfect if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life and reconnect with your loved ones. Surrounded by sugar plantations – once the region’s most famous product – and overlooked by a Moorish castle, the heart of Salobrena’s village is a maze of steep hills. But climbing them is definitely worth it, with plenty of sightseeing opportunities waiting at the top.
Malaga has long been a much loved tourist destination, and it’s little wonder when you really delve down into what it has to offer. Although the town centre has been restored, it has been done in a sympathetic way, with no glaring modernism. That’s not to say that it’s all traditional; there are plenty of modern buildings in the narrow, twisting streets – but they look as though they belong there. One of the top things to see in Malaga is the Catedral de Malaga. Situated on the site of a former mosque, this cathedral began life in the 16th century, and is a beautiful building inside and out. The Museo Ruso de Malaga is dedicated to Russian art, and is a thought-provoking place to spend a few hours.
Found about 50 kilometres from Malaga, Nerja is a less well-known but just as lovely part of Spain. There are three spectacular beaches – Burriana, Carabeillo, and Carabeo – and these are just perfect for enjoying some downtime, away from the rest of the world for a little while. Burriana has the added advantage of being a watersports centre, where sea kayaking and scuba diving are extremely popular. The Caves of Nerja stretch for five kilometres. Apart from being one of the area’s main tourist attractions in their own right, there are regular music concerts that take place there, and the atmosphere is incredible. Other attractions include the church of El Salvador, the aqueduct, and the Balcony of Europe (a former fortress).
Almeria is really rather special. With over 100 kilometres of stunning coastline and a landscape that is one of the most beautiful to be found in this part of Spain, visitors have been astounded by this town for many years now. In fact it’s so pretty, many films are made here, and so it’s not impossible that you’ll spot some famous faces when you visit. There are, of course, many beaches here. Some are naturist beaches, so beware if that’s not your thing, but many more are for those who prefer to wear at least a little something when paddling. Don’t miss out on seeing the magnificent fortress, the Alcabaza – it’s an impressive piece of architecture. You can also visit the air raid shelters built for Spain’s civil war, and which were also used during World War II.
Soak up the sun
With a name like Costa Tropical, it’s no surprise Granada has a wide range of beaches to work on your tan, enjoy some water sports or simply watch the sunset disappear into the sea with a cocktail in hand. Playa de San Cristobal, in Almunecar, is probably the most popular and caters for families and thrill seekers alike. Salobrena’s two main beaches, Playa de la Guardiola and Playa de la Charca, are a little quieter but still have enough chiringuitos to satiate your thirst. There are also many little coves lining the coast.
Delve into Granada’s cultural side
Granada has plenty to offer when it comes to historic landmarks, with both Arab and Christian monuments lining its cobbled streets. A trip to Granada isn’t complete without a visit to the Alhambra, the 13th century complex of Arab palaces – including the stunning summer palace Generalife. Other awe-inspiring buildings include the Royal Chapel of Granada and the San Jeronimo Monastery.
Trek Sierra Nevada
Nature lovers are spoilt for choice in Granada. Hiking trails up rugged Sierra Nevada are as popular in summer as skiing during the winter season. Whether you’re an experienced trekker or an eager novice, there’s a trail to suit every level.
Watch a flamenco show
The beautiful district of Sacromonte, home to traditional gipsy caves, is the perfect spot to catch a flamenco show. Whether you head to a show after dinner or eat while you watch the dancers at work, it will be an unforgettable experience.
Mediterranean cuisine is all about fresh ingredients cooked in simple ways – washed down with a glass of wine or two, of course. Granada is no different. Spanish classics like tapas and paella feature in every menu, but it is well worth trying dishes native to the region for a deliciously mind-blowing experience. You can’t go wrong with a plate of habas con jamon or some squid cooked in its own ink.
Granada’s restaurant scene will satisfy even the fussiest of eaters. Tapas bars are a great way to sample some delicious Spanish food, while a traditional bodega is great for a taste of Andalusia. There are also plenty international eateries for when you fancy something different.
Visit Granada and experience Andalusian hospitality at its finest. The beach resorts lining the Costa Tropical are perfect for a family holiday, while the city is a great spot for a romantic getaway.
Booking your holiday to Granada with easyJet holidays is a sure way to get to this beautiful region hassle free. Best of all, you can save on your holiday when you book your flight and hotel with easyJet holidays.
If Granada doesn’t catch your eye, have a look at more Spain destinations for further inspiration.