Nestled in the foothills of the snow-capped Sierra Nevada Mountains, Granada is best known for holding one of the wonders of the world.

The Alhambra Palace (now a UNESCO World Heritage Site) perches above the city, a breathtaking example of Moorish architecture and a living reminder of Spain’s Islamic heritage. Spanish Muslims (Moors) were driven out of most of Spain during the 11th and 12th centuries, yet Granada survived for another 300 years as an autonomous Muslim city-state. The Sultan rulers built the gracious Alhambra Palace and gardens in attempt to create a piece of heaven on earth; today, the 6000 or so visitors who flock there each day are a testament to their success.

Granada has far more to offer than just the Alhambra, however. The fine renaissance and baroque architecture of the Old Town sits side-by-side with a vibrant Islamic quarter, cave-dwelling gypsies, lively tapas bars, an ancient but thriving university, and more festivals than you could shake a stick at. Sandwiched between mountains and the Tropical Coast, Granada's rich culture and geographical location make for a varied and exciting trip.


Going to Granada without visiting the Alhambra would be like going to Venice but missing the canals. Allow the best part of a day for exploring the network of palace buildings and gardens, or alternatively go at night for a more tranquil experience (it is open from 8.30am – 8pm and again from 10pm until 11.30pm).

The city itself is dominated by Christian architecture and institutions built following the Moors' expulsion from Granada in the 16th century. Most notable of these buildings are the baroque Royal Hospital, the Carthusian Monastery in the north of the city, and the gothic 16th century Capilla Real Church which holds the tombs of King Fernando and Queen Isabella, who together 'liberated' Granada from the Muslims.

Despite Fernando and Isabella's efforts, a thriving Moorish quarter does remain to this day. The labyrinth of streets and bazaars that forms the Albaicin area is well worth a visit if you want to soak up some genuine Moorish culture as an alternative to Spain's fairly homogenous white Catholicism (this area is also part of the World Heritage Site).

Granada is also home to an ancient gypsy community that lives in the Sacromonte area, many in the traditional cave dwellings that pepper the side of the mountain. Here you can watch live flamenco performances in intimate cave settings, as well as check out the spectacular views across Granada.

The area's geography, as well as its people, provides many attractions: you can ski further up the Sierra Nevada mountains in the winter, ramble across the flowery foothills in spring, and in the summer the nearby Tropical Coast's 26 beaches offer water-sports or simple relaxation.


In addition to the usual tourist gift shops around the Plaza Nueva, look at the hand-painted ceramics in the Plaza Trinidad in the west of the city, the traditional silk market Alcaiceria and the spectacular flower market in the Plaza Bib-Rambla. Peruse the rug-selling bazaars that line the Calderia Nueva to experience a little taste of Morocco.

Nightlife and Eating Out

Granada has more bars per person than anywhere else in Spain. The central Plaza Nueva has an abundance of bars and restaurants, many of which offer a free tapa with a drink. Tapas are small snacks, though many Spaniards will order a whole platter to form a meal. Typical tapas on offer in Granada include adobos de cazón (dogfish marinated in paprika and olive oil), carne en salsa (chunks of pork in tomato sauce), berenjenas rebozadas (breaded and fried aubergines) and boquerones en vinagre (anchovies marinated in vinegar). Whilst there are upmarket restaurants, most places are very affordable because the cost of living in southern Spain is fairly low.

For something a bit different, the Moorish quarter Albaicin has a cluster of Moroccan restaurants, as well as a number of teterias – exotic tea-rooms where you can enjoy flavoured teas or Arabic coffee whilst relaxing against silk cushions.

Granada is a university city with 60,000 students, so during term-term there is a lively nightlife scene. Students congregate around the trendy bars and clubs of the Pedro Alarcon area. If you fancy trying a nightclub with a twist, head back to the gypsy Sacromonte area - some of the caves become discos at night.

In addition to these year-round fixtures, Granada hosts a number of festivals at various times which bring hundreds of plays, concerts and gigs to venues across the city. The most famous of these is the Festival Internacional de Música y Danza in June and July. The Festival Internacional de Teatro, the Festival Internacional de Tango and the Festival Internacional de Jazz are a few more. If you are lucky enough to be in Granada during one of these festivals, head to the tourist information office to pick up a programme of events.

Tourist Information

Calle Santa Ana, 4, Bajo – 18009 Granada (Granada)Tel: +34 958225990 Fax: +34 958223927otgranada@andalucia.orgPlaza de Mariana Pineda, 10 - 18009Granada (Granada) Tel: +34 958247146Fax: +34


Granada has its own airport. You can fly to it from Gatwick with Monarch, or from Stansted or Liverpool with Ryanair. A bus from the airport into the city centre runs nine times a day. It takes half an hour and costs 3 Euros. Alternatively you can fly to Malaga from most UK airports – from here the bus journey to Granada takes about 2 hours.

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