Advantages Enchanting mix of cultures, historic streets, Alhambra Palace
Disadvantages Lots of hills!
|Value for Money|
|Ease of getting around|
Many Brits heading for Spain go straight for the well-established tourist spots of Barcelona and further south, the resorts of the Costa Del Sol.But just an hour's drive from the popular resorts of Malaga and Torremolinos, there is a unique city which offers thousands of years of history and a laid-back atmosphere.
Granada is a million miles away from the Brit-infested karaoke bars and heaving beaches Spain is often associated with.I visited in October 2006 with few expectations, as I was just passing through for a few days, but found myself falling in love with its unique ambience and fresh air.
The city is situated at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains and is one of the most culturally mixed places in Spain. It is also well known for its lively nightlife and is an ideal city for a weekend break with a difference.The highlight of a trip to Granada is undoubtedly a day at the Islamic palace of Alhambra, which looms over the whole city on a hilltop.
I went first thing in the morning to miss the crowds and wandered through the magnificent gardens, courtyards and rooms alone, as the sun came up.The old Arab quarter of the city, Albayzin has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and its cobbled alleyways appear to have been unchanged for centuries.
Albayzin is well known for its remains of medieval houses, mosques and bath houses. Sometimes you feel as though you are in an Arabic medina rather than mainland Spain. Stalls selling Moroccan and Andalucian crafts line the narrow lanes, with numerous cafes complete with tapas and shishas for smoking flavoured tobacco.Each morning, a woman walks the steep steps, selling delicious freshly baked bread from a basket in a tradition going back centuries.
I stayed at the Makuto Hostel in Albayzin, a recently restored traditional Andalucian house. The hostel, which also has private rooms verlooking the Alhambra, included a large garden with chillout areas complete with hammocks and a Moroccan-style tent for tea drinking and chatting.Granada is a city with a feel all of its own and I for one cannot wait to go back and uncover more of its hidden delights. I was there alone but would love to return with a friend or loved one to explore its many tapas bars and legendary nightlife.
I enjoyed browsing the many shops, with their unique jewellery and clothing. Granada is remarkably tack-free, compared with the resorts of the Costas.One of the main things that has stayed in my memory from my trip to Granada is the city's numeous tree lined squares. A chorus of starling's singing, at sunfall, brings the streets to life and is enchanting in the middle of a city.
There are several budget airlines that fly to Granada, including Ryanair and Monarch.
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