Granada: 24 hours in Spain's most surprising city
A Perfect Day
Pól Ó Conghaile maps out 24 hours of food, culture and stunning views in Spain's most surprising city.
10am: Into the Albaicín
Bored with Barcelona? Done Malaga and Madrid?
Granada is Spain's southern belle, a deliciously hilly city where Moorish and Spanish cultures remain in slow-mo collision. Start as you mean to go on with a mosey through the Albaicín, the city's tumbledown Arabic quarter. Grab coffee and a brownie on the cobbled steps outside Cafe 4 Gatos, and feel the smile inside.
How: cafe4gatos.com; Placeta Cruz Verda, 6.
2pm: Amazing Alhambra
Trickling fountains, chirping nightingales, chunky, sandstone fortresses and breathtaking Moorish palaces. Granada's Alhambra is one of the great UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and demands at least a half-day of your time.
Book online before you arrive (more people visit than the Prado), prepare for crowds, and float your way through its exquisite galaxy of gardens, museums and architecture. "How unworthy is my scribbling of the place?" wrote a gobsmacked Washington Irving in 1832. Touché.
How: alhambradegranada.org; €14, under 12s free.
5pm: Tapas time
You could visit Lorca's summer home, the Huerta de San Vincente. You could see the charcoal-black coffins of Ferdinand and Isabella at the Capilla Real. After walking the Alhambra, however, you'll likely be craving a frothy beer and some finger food. Granada is one of the few Spanish cities where bars still offer free tapas with a drink - stop by the old-school Bodegas Espadafor to avail of their unfussy hospitality. Why can't all cities be this civilised?
How: Gran Via de Colon, 59.
8pm: Make for the Mirador
There are views, and then there are views of the Alhambra.
Follow the snaking, cobblestoned pathways through the Albaicín to the Mirador de San Nicolás. You'll have to share the sunset with canoodling couples, hustling flamenco dancers and tripod-toting photographers, but boy is it worth it. The palace-fortress is lit up like a chandelier over the city.
How: See en.granadatur.com for more.
Ryanair and Aer Lingus fly to Malaga, a 1.5 hour drive from Granada. For more, see spain.info and lovegranada.com.