Just a small selection of the Alhambra’s wonders.
What: Andalusia’s charming and excitingly Arabic city – much more than just a host to the Alhambra.
Where: The Andalusia region, southern Spain.
Currency: Euro (EUR).
Highlights: The Alhambra and Generalife (a must-see for any visitor), the Islamic Albayzin district (and its very serene soukh), beer and tapas (together, of course), Puerta de Elvira, the leafy city centre, Granada Cathedral, the Royal Chapel, and the nearby Sierra Nevada mountain range.
Snapshot: Known by many as home to the Alhambra complex, Granada surprises its visitors by being host to so much more. Its central streets are charming, adorned by leafy trees and tapas bars which, at 2 euro for a drink and a tapas, are not to be sniffed at. The historical contrast between Spanish Catholicism and Granada’s Islamic heritage runs through the city: while the cathedral and its royal chapel are architectural high points, the Albayzin district offers a teasing glimpse of Moroccan-Arabic culture. Although the Alhambra – with its dazzling gardens, spectacular views and its history laid bare before you – steals the show, Granada provides a very pleasing backdrop.
- Buy Alhambra tickets on the door (if you dare!). Despite travelling to Granada for the Alhambra, my partner and I had failed to book in advance. We were in for a shock when, on the night of our arrival, our host informed us of the huge queues and three-month-in-advance bookings for the complex. The only way, he said, was to get up early and queue, as a small number of tickets are sold on the door each day. Early the next morning we obliged and, despite the tension and bleary eyes, got our hands on a pair of tickets at the cheapest price going.
- Go out for food, but just order beer. Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? That’s certainly how we felt when, after twelve hours travelling and six without food, we stumbled into the first tapas bar with a table free. Seconds later, we ordered a drink and were told that a complimentary tapas plate was the custom – one with each drink. Three drinks later and our hunger was cured.
Did you know? Granada is the only area where the tradition of serving complimentary tapas with a drink remains.