Serving as the city’s brooding backdrop, the Sierra Nevada is the answer to the question, “what to do in Granada?” Come snow or shine, the gentle slopes of this mountain range, which extends 75 kilometers east to west, offers up a whole heap of outdoorsy fun. From July to September the higher mountains of the Sierra Nevada are a hikers paradise with a ton of trails and tracks that cater to long multi-day hikes or shorter day hikes. The Alpujarras, a little lower down, are suitable for walking from May. If skiing is more your thing, these peaks are the real deal. In colder months the Sierra is a great, affordable alternative to the pricier Alpine resorts that will satisfy the needs of skiers of all levels. What’s more, the center of Granada and the coast are only a 30 minute and one hour drive away, respectively.
Of all the places to visit in Granada, the Alhambra takes the top spot. It is the centerpiece of the city and Spain’s most visited attraction. In short, you haven’t done any sightseeing in Granada until you’ve been to the Alhambra. Perched atop Sabika Hill, the Red Castle appears all the more striking with the rugged, brooding peaks of the Sierra Nevada as it’s backdrop. What began life as a citadel, with the arrival of the Moors was transformed into a fortified palace complex and is now one of the finest Islamic buildings in all of Europe. Inside exists a world that demonstrates the glamour, wealth, and sophistication of the Nasrid dynasty. Roam around the Palaces with their ornately carved stucco walls and decorative mosaics and lose yourself in all their splendor. Then, head to the Generalife for a calming walk down pathways and through patios, past pools, and fountains.
If you’re in Granada and feeling a little bit peckish, when you pull up to tapas bar don’t make the mistake of asking for a menu, you’ll stick out like a sore thumb. You see, Granada is still one of the few places in Spain that adheres to the original practice of tapas. This is to say they come free with the booze. That’s right, forget about what to see in Granada, its tapas time. Leave the Granada travel guidebook at home and spend an afternoon unwinding after a trip to the Alhambra sitting in a plaza and enjoying Spain’s best tradition, small plates. With each glass of wine you order, a fresh plate of something delicious will be brought to you. Often, as the Copas de vino stack up, the tapas get more substantial. You could see yourself enjoying everything from manchego, tortilla and anchovies, to calamari and fried dogfish.
That being said, much of what defines the city’s unique culture and tradition survived to this day.
Its location in the south of Spain at the base of the Sierra Nevada means you are unlikely to suffer from boredom. It is one of Spain's most scenic cities. Even in the winter months, Granada wins you over you as a snow-capped paradise that skirts the costs of the more expensive Alps. When the snow melts, the mountains transform and you can swap your skis for hiking boots and trek up and down the mountain trails.
But, it is for the Alhambra fortress that people flock to Granada. It is Spain’s most visited attraction and rightly so. Sitting atop Sabika hill with the peaks of the Sierra Nevada looming in its wake, the battlement lined stone walls that enclose the palaces and gardens within feel ripped from the days of old. Inside tells the story of the glamour, wealth and sophistication of the Moorish Empire. The Nasrid Palaces, with their ornately carved stucco walls and the intricate, decorative mosaics are a marvel and a must if you’re wondering what to see in Granada.
For more things to do in Granada, head north of the Alhambra to Albaicin which makes for a beautiful walk with its whitewashed stone houses and tangled streets. If you’re feeling peckish, take note that Granada is one of the few Spanish cities that still serve tapas free with alcohol. So, you can pull up at a bar and with each "Copa de vino" or "caña de Cerveza" you order, receive small plates of Spanish tapas with the city’s distinct flavor. Afterward, you can slouch off to a Hammam and then head for a late-night flamenco performance, the dance that epitomizes Spain’s rich cultural diversity.