Europe Travel News

Have it both ways in Granada

As a Mediterranean nation, Spain and its cityscapes are most commonly associated with warmer climes and sandy, Moorish facades. Yet, travelers torn between a warmer escape and winter reveries need not rule out Andalucía, the southern region of the country.

There, a diverse landscape that ranges from temperate to Alpine provides a perfect wintry alternative to the busier resort destinations of more northerly countries. Perhaps most appealing is the fact that some of Spain's busiest tourist spots in the summer are all but emptied in the off-season. For travelers who want to experience a little bit of everything that the off-season has to offer, they should head to Granada, one of Spain's best destinations. While still enjoying the relatively mild weather of a Spanish city, its location at the base of the Sierra Nevada makes it a perfect jumping point into mountainous pursuits. 

Castles and bar crawls
Granada is a beautiful city during the day and a lively one in the evening. It is a city constructed of old and exotic architecture, and populated by students of the local university, teeming in its restaurants and bars after sun down. People-watching is an enjoyable pastime in the city's plazas, but come sunset it's time to dance at flamenco hotspots. Travelers can also partake in the famed Spanish tradition of a tapas crawl, snacking on chorizo and ham or falafel and kebabs at the more Middle Eastern-influenced Muslim quarter of Albaicín, according to Frommer's. 

The Albaicín, with its white walls and narrow alleys, warrants a second look during the day. Yet, the quarter is only a precursor to Granada's main attraction, Calat Alhambra, which means the red castle. The structure is the pinnacle of Muslim architecture in Spain, with a stunning degree of ornamentation throughout its many chambers. As Frommer's has noted, a guide is unnecessary to enjoy the arches and mosaics of fine patterns that seem to repeat into infinity. The gardens of the summer palace, Generalife, is a lush retreat where it can be easy to idle away an afternoon. 

Take to the mountain
Granada sits at the foot of the Sierra Nevada, and an afternoon or weekend spent skiing is an easy feat from the city. In the summer, the peaks are a great place for rousing hikes, but come winter, the snowcapped mountains are used for other recreational purposes. Numerous ski resorts carve out sections of the mountains, including Solynieve and Pradollano, the largest ski resort in the region despite its relatively little snow compared to other traditional ski destinations. 

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