Alhambra – on the Calle Real de la Alhambra is one of Europe’s greatest attractions the Calat Alhambra (Red Castle). It is a Medieval complex within which are palaces, a carved Moorish throne room, glorious courtyards, and delightful fountains. You will need a whole day to explore the rich ornamented rooms, see the courtyards, exclaim at the fountains and discover the many palaces within its walls. There is the Palacios Nazaríes (Nasrid Palaces) with the Patio de los Leones (Court of the Lions), and Court of the Myrtles lined with rare tiles and the Salón de Embajadores (Hall of Ambassadors) and its throne room built in 1334. Don’t miss the Hall of the Two Sisters (Sala de las Dos Hermanas) with its truly stunning dome. Before you get to Emperor Carlos Vs palace look for the Royal Baths so full of colour and decoration. The Palace of Emperor Carlos V is pure Renaissance. The oldest part of this immense complex is the Alcazaba, a rugged fortress of the 9th Century.
Generalife to the south of the Alhambra are the exquisite gardens of the summer palace. Where the sultans of the time took time away from their duties and their harems. This retreat is set in 30 hectares (74 acres) of the most beautiful pathways, patios, pools, fountains, and greenery as well the most colourful display of flowers. The emirs’summer palace is at the north end of the gardens. The palace is noted for its graceful courtyards. This glorious spot is a fitting end to a full spent in the Alhambra.
Carrera del Darro
Carrera del Darro beginning just off the Plaza Nueva and ending at Paseo de Los Tristes (Avenue of the Sad Ones), is the most scenic and historic street in Granada, once one of the thoroughfares of the city dating back to the 17th century. The street has many shops, bars and tapas restaurants along its cobble-stoned route. It was also once a provided many favoured scenes for the etchings of 19th century artists and you might even be lucky enough to find one or two in some of the rather intriguing antique shops. An evening stroll down this delightful and romantic street is popular, as at night the illumination of the grand Alhambra is a truly wondrous sight.
The Tapas Bars of Granada
Andalucía is famous for tapas and most especially Granada where tapas bars abound. It is not possible to be here and not sample tapas or in fact, spend an evening going from tapas bar to tapas bar for a full experience of the delights of tapas. Tapas bars are informal and often have cold meats hanging behind the counters from which fresh offerings are sliced. Tapas can include anything and don’t necessarily have to be cold. There is no fixed ingredient and each tapas bar has its own specialities. There are tapas guided tours on offer which ensure that you go to the right tapas spots and have all the assistance you need in choosing not only the tapas but also the best wine to accompany your bites. But if you don’t want the formality of a tour look out for bars filled with locals, as the locals will only go where the tapas are really good.
Mirador de San Nicolas
Mirador de San Nicolas is the city’s popular lookout point. A casual stroll up the cobbled path will bring you to the small square in front of the San Nicolás Church. As well as affording you a grand view of the city centre you will have a glorious view of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Rio Darro canyon, but most of an incredible view of the Alhambra. The plaza is a lively place during the day with flamenco dancers and stalls but seeing the palace in all its glory at sunset is a glorious way to set you up for an evening of tapas in nearby Elvira street.
Royal Chapel of Granada (Capilla Real de Granada)
The Cathedral de Granada, or Santa Iglesia Catedral Metropolitana de la Encarnación de Granada was constructed between 1523 and 1704, its design is known as ‘Isabel’ which is a conglomeration of Renaissance and Baroque. Inside it has immense Corinthian columns, high soaring ceilings and the most beautiful stained-glass windows. There is a Gothic portal connecting the Cathedral to the Royal Chapel, and the chapel is filled with religious figures and biblical events as well as the historic coats of arms of all those who are buried here, most notable of which are Ferdinand and Isabel who lie in simple lead coffins in the crypt under their marble monuments. Here also is the crypt of their unfortunate daughter Juana the Mad and her husband, Philip of Flanders. In the cathedral’s tiny museum is Ferdinand’s sword and Isabella’s sceptre, silver crown and personal art collection of mostly Flemish artists, although Botticelli is also favoured.
Plaza de Toros
Plaza de Toros is one of Granada’s landmarks in the most delightful area of the city. Its characteristic arches and pseudo-Moorish style make it a significant part of Granada’s notable architecture. An audio-guided tour will tell you all about the tradition of Fiesta Brava and about the famous bullfighter El Fandi. On your designated route you visit Cuadrillas Gate and the Triumph Gate as well as the chapel and infirmary. You may even see bulls in the corrals but this is not guaranteed.
Hammam Al Andalus
Hammam Al Andalus. To the Moors hygiene and cleanliness was a high priority and whilst the very rich had their own private baths in their homes, the man in the street used the hammam. In the shadow of the magnificent Alhambra, you can explore the authentic ancient bathhouses of the Moors as you walk through the numerous rooms. But if you want to live the experience of a Moorish bathhouse, then a visit to Hammam Al Andalus is a must. It is a faithful recreation of the real thing and offers all the treatments of the ancient Moorish tradition.
Albayzin is the old Moorish Quarter of Granada and covers an area between the hill of the Alhambra and the hill of San Cristobal. It was once the Moorish citadel which stretched from the Colegiata del Salvador to the Plaza San Miguel Bajo but sadly only the fortress wall still exists. This area with its network of narrow lanes and well-maintained carmens (private Moorish houses with walled gardens) is full of charm, architectural wonders and most of all it is famous for its dramatic views over the Alhambra palace. There is much to see and with its many charming places to stop for refreshment, it is top of the list for any visitor to Granada.
Sacromonte is populated by Granada’s thriving Roma or gipsy community who practice the age old tradition of flamenco. One main street runs through the heart of the hillside area with many intriguing lanes running above and below it. If you want to know more about the areas geology, caves and Roma crafts, food and musical traditions then make your way to the Centro de Interpretación del Sacromonte, a kind of open air-folk museum. Don’t be surprised if come across a few hippies in some of the higher, abandoned caves.
Science Park (Parque de las Ciencias)
Science Park (Parque de las Ciencias) a short way from the centre of Granada is the Science Park with its popular interactive museum and planetarium plus extensive green open areas where you will find the tropical butterfly house, observatory and a 50m high tower worth the effort of getting to the top to enjoy the spectacular views. The interactive museum is divided into sections of interest, so it easy for you to select only those which interest you. ‘The journey of the human body’ is particularly popular as it includes the origins of mankind as well as an introduction to the workings of the human body: a fascinating interactive experience.
The ski resort in Pradalano is only 90 minutes away and fully accessible by car or coach. There are 6 main skiing areas within this 94.8km long skiing paradise and 103 slopes, 16 green, 35 blue, 43 red and 9 black with the longest run of 6 km (almost 4 miles). Head for the main square as here you will find everything you need from hire shops to accommodation and restaurants as well as the ski-lift offices.
Hiking: the Sierra Nevada has something for every level of a hiker but best head for Manhacén or Veleta, a little higher than the foothills but cooler in summer. There are literally thousands of walking trails in the Sierra Nevada so if you are planning a hiking trip check all the information at treksierranevada.com