7 reasons to love Granada

#1 The gorgeous Alhambra

The extravagant architecture of the Nasrid Palaces, lovely vistas from the Alcazaba and the verdant gardens of Generalife, kept us enthralled for hours. Spain’s most famous monument – a sprawling palace and fortress complex built over 600 years by Muslim, Renaissance and Romantic cultures, is reason enough to make a trip to Granada.

But there were several other aspects that made us fall in love with it…

#2 It smells like olives

As soon as we stepped out of the plane and on to the tarmac, a rich aroma penetrated our nostrils. We were finally able to put our fingers on it – Olives! The Andalucian region contributes 75% of Spain’s olive oil production, and Jaen, a province to the north of Granada, alone produces more olive oil than all of Greece. Half-day olive-oil tasting tours from Granada, make for an interesting activity.

 

#3 Festive streets

In the evenings, the streets around Plaza Nueva are full of merry-making vacationers, creating a lively and festive atmosphere. We spotted 5 separate groups of bar-hopping bachelor and bachelorette parties. As the evening progressed and the different groups bumped into each other, the ensuing hilarity was entertaining for sure. And by the next afternoon, they were at it again!

#4 Free food!

Order a drink in Granada, and you’ll be rewarded with a complimentary tapa. The city is one of the last-standing upholders of this tradition. And I’m not talking about crisps and peanuts. More like a platter of frittata, veggies and bread or a mouth-watering concoction of assorted seafood. Three rounds of drinks at Bodegas Castaneda were accompanied by enough tapas to make for a satisfying light dinner – all for 11 euros between 2 people. Not a bad night out, eh?

#5 Picturesque Albayzin district

The narrow, winding streets of the Albayzin district, a reminder of the city’s Moorish history, were alluring to navigate – with their medieval architecture and shops displaying coolourful collections of lamps, sheeshas, throws, rugs and other knick-knacks. All made in India or China, I’m sure, but it does add to the “feel”. And then you reach Mirador de San Nicolas for a jaw-dropping sight of the Alhambra.

#6 A chance to experience Moorish culture

The Moorish past, lives on not just in the architecture and tourist-trap-souvenir shops, but also in the restaurants, teterias and hammams. Since I have sworn off public bathing, the Hammams de Al Andalus offered no attraction for me. However, the refreshing mint lemonade and mouth-watering hummus, tajine kefta, pollo briouat and sweet mint tea at Restaurant Arayannes, made for a fabulous meal.

#7 Ski and sunbathe on the same day

We’d read that from Granada, it is possible to ski in the morning and swim in the sea in the afternoon (particularly in April and May). Europe’s southern-most ski resort is located just 32 km from the city-centre. Beaches in Salobrena, Nerja, Motril, etc. on the Mediterranean coast are within an hour’s drive. The snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the distance, beckoned to us in the sweltering afternoon sun. However, the city was beguiling enough, that we didn’t feel the need to leave. Yet, it was good to know, we had options 🙂