The city of Granada in the southern Spanish province of Andalusia easily snowed in the larger cities in Spain with more Fame. But that certainly doesn't mean Granada is less worth it to visit! Besides being a very atmospheric city, here is also the world-famous Alhambra palace complex – more about this later – and is the one of the Spanish cities where you can still eat tapas as it should: if (free!) snack on your drink.
Let's start practically: how do you get there? Unfortunately, no direct flights are going to Granada from the Netherlands. That's why it's a good idea to combine this city break with another Spanish destination you can fly to. Málaga and Seville are the best options, with travel time from Málaga, and about 3 hours from Seville. There are both bus and train connections, for both it is wise to book your ticket in advance (online), then you are a lot cheaper! If you don't want to capture your travel days and times in advance, Blablacar can be a good option for last-minute travel. Through this site you can book a place with someone in the car who drives the desired route. On many routes, rides are still available for fine prices to this day.
As soon as you arrive in Granada you immediately notice that the city is located in hilly area. Walking around means stairs on some places, stairs down. This is especially noticeable in the historic Albaícin district, a traditionally Arab quarter located on a hill. It is a maze of narrow, steep but all the more picturesque streets with white houses and here and there a square and church. You have a variety of restaurants, teahouses, shisha lounges and shops with oriental items downstairs where you almost forget that you are still in Europe. This is the busier part of the district, but above all go down an alley and turn off randomly a few times, and before you know it you're lost in the tangle of cute streets and you hardly meet another tourist anymore. It's worth walking up a lot anyway, because in the district you have several points from where you have nice views of the Alhambra and the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada. Locals also know how to find these 'miradores', especially the Mirador de San Miguel Alto (the highest), to chill with each other in the evening, have a beer and make music. So also for a cozy atmosphere the climb is worth it!
If you've seen El Albaícin and enjoyed the view, you can descend again. If you walk down in the direction of the Alhambra, you will automatically end up on the Carrera del Darro. This road runs along a rippling river with picturesque bridges and trees, old buildings and churches and if you look up you can see how close the Alhambra really is. It's a nice picture and fun to stroll along, but the flip side is that it can also be quite busy. Don't be tempted by one of the many terraces here, you really eat here for tourist prices and not necessarily at best. It is highly recommended to visit one of the beautiful bath houses of the city for the necessary relaxation. This is another fine Arab remnant that makes Granada special. I myself went to the small-scale Aljibe de San Miguel, but there are several 'baños árabes' each with their own charm.
Once you've seen the Alhambra from different sides from the outside, you might have become curious what's behind those old walls. Time for a visit, so. I think the Alhambra is the indisputable pinnacle of a Granada city break. It is also the busiest attraction in Spain for a reason! Because so many people want to visit it and the cultural heritage also needs to be protected, only a limited number of visitors can enter each day. It is therefore best to order your ticket (well) online in advance, otherwise you have a chance that you will not get in at all. When booking your ticket, you must choose a time slot for your visit to the Nasrid Palace (see picture above). I liked planning this in the morning as the first part of my visit, because the Alhambra is very big and then you have time to explore the rest. Make sure you're in time for your time slot, because they're very strict on this. Too late = bad luck. There is also an option to go to the Nasrid Palace in the evening and this also seems to be magical, but I don't know this from my own experience.
The Alhambra is a large complex located on a hill and consists of different buildings from different periods, connected and surrounded by beautiful gardens. The oldest part is the fort Alcazaba, from the Moorish period dates back to the richly decorated Nasrid Palaces and the Christian Charles V palace was built in the 16th century. Generalife is the 'garden of gardens' which is at least as beautiful as the impressive buildings alhambra complex. All in all, there is so much beauty to see that my main tip is: take the time! I myself spent a whole day here through and I would find it absolutely no punishment to go again. Do you want to are that you don't miss anything important (the size makes it quite a maze..) and also some learning, then a guide or audio tour is definitely advisable.
With the Alhambra as its highlight, Granada has my heart in At least stolen and I'm sure I'll come back again. So If you go to Spain, you can't do this Andalusian gem at all Skip!