A guide to Granada, Spain
Beautiful but subversive, affordable but stylish; prepare to fall hopelessly in love with Andalusia's most seductive city
Leafy, luminous and languorously draped over the Sierra Nevada foothills like a snoozing cat, Granada is memorably scenic. But it also boasts free tapas, that constant Andalusian sun and one of Spain's great cultural sites. Thank goodness then, for easyJet's new flights from Gatwick, which launched on 4 February.
What to see
The Alhambra merits a day on its own. This mighty hilltop fortress was the Moors' final European stronghold, and it's easy to see why they clung on so long – such are the arched courtyards, intricate tiles, reddish ramparts and fountain-filled gardens. Be sure to book tickets ahead.
Take some time out
British expat Josh Taylor, who blogs about Granada and wider Andalusia at Spain For Pleasure, advises exploring further afield. 'In April,' he says, 'the Sierra Nevada ski resort still has snow but nearby, beach temperatures have risen into the 20s. You can do both in the same day'.
What and where to eat
Want to hear something wonderful? In nearly all Granada's bars, ordering a drink also means receiving free tapas. The classic venue is bustling Los Diamantes on Calle Navas, known for its fried fish, while Tapas Reina Monica rewards budget-conscious boozers with two free small plates alongside each €2 beer.
What and where to drink
Granada excels at flamenco, but finding authenticity can be tough. Le Chien Andalou, cavernously positioned beside the Darro river, is a reliable bet. Also popular are the teterias (tea houses) around Calle Caldereria Nueva, where youths puff on shisha pipes and perma-tanned hippies toast former local Joe Strummer.
The showpiece quarter is handsome Albaicin, a cobbled, charming maze that slowly climbs uphill. Bordering it is the more residential Realejo, its wonderful gardens visible behind alabaster walls. But most beguiling of all is the gypsy barrio of Sacromonte: here, locals still ride donkeys and reside in cave-houses.
The best place to stay
Casa 1800 is a three-storey former private mansion oozing Spanish charm near the gothic cathedral. Original features accompany state-of-the-art room technology, and highlights include a rooftop pool and terrace. The top-floor rooms have private terraces and outdoor Jacuzzis.