With the strong winds and heavy rain battering the UK recently you may find yourself dreaming of sunnier climes.
Of course, the weather is not the only thing hitting the headlines right now. While news of the spread of the Coronavirus is hitting the front pages there is bound to be concern about travel to Europe and beyond, and you should make your travel decisions based on your personal health circumstances, common sense and current travel advice. At the time of writing, there are no confirmed cases of the virus in Granada.
If you’ve made the decision to travel, Granada is one of Europe’s best-weather destinations for a spring city break, offering some welcome sunshine, culture, gastronomic delights and of course plenty of Spanish hospitality and charm.
You’ll want to leave the British weather right at home! There aren’t too many places you can get to in under three hours where you can bask in warm spring sunshine and where the scene is set for panoramic views to the snowy peaks.
Welcome to Granada, where you can sit outside a sunny café with a cold beer (and free tapas!) while admiring the Sierra Nevada and its bobble hat of white snow. From now until after Easter – an amazing spectacle – is one of the best times to visit this area of Andalusia in southern Spain, when the crowds are light, the hordes of summer visitors are just planning their trips, and the weather is a welcome warm red number on the thermometer.
View of the city and Alhambra from Sacromonte | Victoriano Izquierdo
What to see
Springtime in Granada is perfect for strolling through this very walkable city and seeing the sights.
You’ll want to explore the Alhambra Palace of course – it’s on everyone’s list – but leave time to explore the gardens too. The Generalife Gardens are superb at this time of year, with blooms unfurling and all of the scented herbs coming into flower. With fewer crowds, you can stroll through at your own pace, Lavender and Rosemary mix with the beds of Roses, accompanied by the ever-present sound of water, the ubiquitous element of a Moorish garden. Muhammed II was the second Sultan of the dynasty who planned and gave orders for the design and construction of these gardens, and you’ll feel as though you have stepped back in time to the Garden of Eden.
Besides the Alhambra Palace and the Generalife gardens, there are many art museums and churches to explore. If you’re feeling fairly fit, walk up to Sacromonte and take the guided tour. Perched high above the colourful and clustered Albaycín, it’s an ancient Abbey built over catacombs where the Lead Books were first discovered. The tour is well worth it and starts at 11 am. If you like, catch the C2 bus up and stroll back down, it’s much easier! On the way down, you’ll be entranced by the little white houses of the Albaycín and the brightly coloured flower pots. Essentially a gypsy stronghold, it’s also where the best Flamenco can be heard, look closely for telltale signs of hanging castanets, and sounds of lightly strummed guitars.
As well as seeing the sights, there’s always shopping and of course, the shops are open later than in the UK after siesta hours. The Spring Sales here are on and there are plenty of bargains to be had right now.
Strolling around the Generalife | Nikolaiy
What to eat
All of the wandering around will leave you starving and Granada guarantees a good plate of food to rectify that! What is it about eating outside that is just so much nicer? Choose a place to sit with a view – not difficult in Granada! – and pull up a chair at one of the hundreds of restaurants, cafés and bars in the city.
In Granada you’ll be pleasantly surprised by two things; free tapas with every beer or wine – often a substantial plate as Granada is a student city and students are ravenous creatures! The other is the price. Go for a set menu del dia during the week at lunchtime and you’ll be hard-pushed to pay over 12€ for three courses plus bread and a drink of your choice.
If you’re looking for restaurants with a view in Granada I would have to recommend Carmen de Aben Humeya in the Albayzín which offers a contemporary menu and its own gardens as well as superb views across to the Alhambra. Also, B-Heaven above Hotel Barceló Carmen Granada on Calle Acera del Darro.
Enjoy some tapas | Raphael Maksian
Top tip – pack your sensible shoes
One top tip for a spring break in Granada is to bring sensible footwear. Sure, pack some heels for a night on the tiles when you explore the clubs and nightlife, but remember that Granada is ancient and most of the paths and streets are cobbled, so it can be hard going in the wrong shoes.
Is it safe to travel to Granada?
Whether or not you choose to travel to Spain at this time is a serious question that only you can answer based on your own circumstances. Here’s a really useful article on the subject from Granada resident Molly Piccavey, an expert on food, culture and travel in Spain.
Here’s another article from the Guardian answering some more general questions about travel and travel insurance in the light of the current outbreak.
And some much needed common sense amongst all the media hype from Paul Nuki, The Telegraph Global Heath Security Editor.