By Tina Nielsen
This story originally appeared in the November/December 2016 issue of Elite Traveler.
After a weekend in the city, little prepares visitors for the beauty and size of La Alhambra, central to any visit to the city of Granada. The old Moorish castle, dating back to the 9th century, is among the most visited tourist attractions in Europe and it’s easy to see why. It is stunning. It is also huge and bears many repeat visits, if time allows, to cover all the grounds, enjoy the architecture and the lush gardens. For a different perspective, visit at night when the city is lit up. Escape the crowds during the day and organize a personal after-hours tour of the grounds.
It is even possible to stay within the grounds of La Alhambra. The chain of state-owned hotels, called paradores, have a gem of a property – Parador de Granada – within the compound. The rooms have gorgeous views of the grounds and the hotel terrace is the perfect place to enjoy dinner while watching the sunset over the Generalife gardens. Other options outside the Alhambra include Hospes Palacio de los Patos, where the Presidential Suite offers ample space in a 19th century palace.
Once you have covered the grounds of La Alhambra, continue on the trail of the Moors as you stroll around El Albayzìn, the old Moorish quarter of Granada. Muslims, Romans and Jews have all left their mark on the city. This was the last Muslim city to fall to the Christians in 1492 and the Islamic heritage remains visible everywhere.
Alongside Granada, Cordoba and Seville are key points on a well-trodden path in Andalucía, packed with historic and cultural treasures that make them unmissable destinations. If time allows, it is well worth making the detour to Cordoba en route from Granada to Seville.
The smallest of these cities, Cordoba’s ancient center is dominated by the impressively vast Grand Mosque.Wander in wonder there for a while, then stop for lunch at Choco, the city’s only restaurant recognized by the Michelin Guide with one star.
Head on towards Seville, where you’d be well advised to set aside a few days. There is much to see, among the main sights is the impressive Plaza de España and the Royal Palace. The cathedral is one of the big draws of the city; many come to see the tomb of the explorer Christopher Columbus. Climb the Giralda spire to enjoy magnificent views of the city and, from June to August, you can also admire the beautiful patio with its orange trees.
Check in to the five-star Hotel Alfonso XIII, a Luxury Collection Hotel, an ornate building dating back to 1929, before heading out to take in the city. Enjoy lunch at the modern Abantal restaurant, while dinner is best taken on a leisurely tour of the many tapas bars in the old town. It’s hard to go wrong in the city that claims to have invented tapas. El Rinconcillo is the oldest tapas bar in Spain and a perennial favorite with visitors. Immerse yourself in the local culture at the museum of flamenco and experience the spectacle live in the evening, at a late night show at Casa de la Memoria or La Casa del Flamenco.