Alhambra complex in Granada

Generalife gardens in Alhambra

Generalife gardens in Alhambra

Must see before you die

‘He who has not seen Granada, has not seen anything’ says an old Spanish proverb. Another common saying in Spain puts it quite bluntly: ‘It is a great pity to be blind in Granada.’ Alhambra, which means ‘red castle’ in the Arabic, is a vast palace and castle complex of the Moorish monarchs of Granada.Covering nearly 105,000 square meters, it is beautifully situated on a rocky hill overseeing Granada.

Alhambra comprises of Generalife Gardens and Palace (summer place of the Nasrid Emirs), The Carlos V Palace (Renaissance building constructed in 1527), The Nasrid Palaces, the centrepiece of the Alhambra (complex of palaces from the 13th century renowned for detailed ornamental plasterwork), The Alcazaba (9th century fortress) and a few smaller areas.

Inside the Nasrid Palaces

Inside the Nasrid Palaces

Plan in advance and other tips

As the most busy tourist site in Spain, Alhambra requires that you buy tickets well in advance, usually at least a month before a planned visit is needed. Remember to take with you the debit or credit card that you have used to pay for the tickets. You will need it to collect the entrances when you arrive at the site. Before booking, bear in mind that the morning visit is recommended if you want to avoid the crowds.

Getting to Alhambra is fairly easy as you don’t have to enter the city centre. From the Autopista A-44/E-902, Granada’s ring road, take exit ‘Alhambra/Sierra Nevada’. Follow the signs. When you see the road going into the tunnel, get into the left lane which goes to Alhambra (otherwise you will end up on the road to Sierra Nevada). Then, on the big roundabout take the second turn (the one which goes uphill). This road will lead you directly to Alhambra’s parking.

A visit to Alhambra takes at least 3 hours, but inside you won’t find any restaurants or bars, only several vending machines serving coffee, tea, snacks and sandwiches. Remember to take some proper food with you.

Alhama de Granada

The sleepy town of Alhama de Granada, located only 60 kms south-west of Granada, is beautifully located on the edge of a limestone gorge – that’s why the town is sometimes called ‘Little Ronda! From the remaining sides the ancient village offers great views of wheat and olive fields and far off views of stunningmountain ranges.

Alhama de Granada is famous for the Balneario – ancient hot Arab baths in the spa-hotel located in the vicinity of the village.  The thermal springs are especially recommended for rheumatic diseases and problems with respiratory tract. Also worth seeing in the village is the 1st century Roman Bridge, several churches including Parish or Mayor Church of Santa Maria de la Encarnacion and Conventual Church of Carmen. Have stroll around the town to discover more historic buildings. One of the recommended walking routes is a hike through the gorge. In the Los Tajos gorge, you can find some free thermal pools.
If you are travelling from Malaga to Granada short detour to Alhama is a must. If healing properties of the spa waters is what interests you, a weekend visit or longer is recommended. Try to avoid coming in July and August when the heat can be a problem.
A 15 min drive away from Alhama de Granada, you will find the beautiful vast Bermejales reservoir with sandy beaches, great water quality and amazing conditions for swimming or kayaking – much recommended as well for a summer family day!

Setenil de las Bodegas

Setenil de las Bodegas village view

View of Setenil de las Bodegas

Setenil de Bodegas is a small Spanish ‘cave town’ located in the heart of Andalucia, near Ronda. This sleepy pueblo blanco is located deep in a river gorge and it’s famous for unique houses which are built into the rock.

It’s worth to walk all around this white village, up and down, as different viewing points allow to see the curious dwellings and rock formations in a different way and then to take most incredible photos.

This small forgotten village is also famous for chorizo sausage. There are a couple of nice restaurants and bars in the village and the inhabitants are very friendly and helpful.

We do not recommend driving to the very centre of Setenil de Bodegas as the streets might be too narrow for your car to turn, and reversing on those narrow steep streets often turns into a real nightmare! Setenil is recommended for half day trip – well-worth a detour when visiting Ronda.

Setenil de las Bodegas dwellings

Setenil de las Bodegas dwellings

Columbus’ Boats & Museum in Huelva

Muelle de las Carabelas

Muelle de las Carabelas

Columbus Ships and Museum

Located not far from Huelva, there is a museum dedicated to Cristopher Columbus and the discovery of America. Whether you are interested in history or not, you will surely enjoy the visit in this atmospheric place.

The museum is full of costumes, paintings and other items that vividly illustrate the atmosphere of the 15th century Spain. Of course, there are also 15th century travel documents, maps, navigation instruments, ship weapons and some insightful anecdotes that allow visitors to understand the ship-board life during Columbus’s voyages.

Columbus at work

Columbus at work

The museum lies directly next to a small lagoon which is home to the exact full-size replicas of the 3 ships which Columbus used to his voyage to Americas in 1492. The place is called Muelle de las Carabelas. It is possible to get on board and explore the three caravelles in detail: the smallest Nina, the middle size Pinta and the biggest one, Columbus’ flagship the Santa Maria. The walk aboard can be quite exciting as tourists are allowed to wander wherever they like.

Visiting Columbus Caravel Dock Museum is a great idea for a fun family day. It’s likely that small kids will be bored in the museum, but they should love the three vessels. Remember the museum and the ships dock are always closed on Mondays. Also if it’s rainy, the ships might be closed for safety reasons as the decks can be very slippery.

Columbus ship

Columbus ship

Columbus Monastery

In the vicinity of Columbus museum lies the La Rabida, the Franciscan monastery where Columbus took refuge between 1491-92 waiting for his first voyage west, to Indies, which turned into the discovery of the New World.

It is possible to visit the place which consists of several rooms with artefacts and documents that relate to Columbus and his journey. The place has remained unchanged for more than 500 years – it’s very well preserved. The museum is surrounded by beautiful gardens.

Entrance to La Rabida monastery

Entrance to La Rabida monastery

Medina Sidonia

Medina-sidonia_630x400

Medina Sidonia is picturesquely located on Cerro del Castillo, the highest elevation of the region which generally tends to be flat in that part of the province. The town is conveniently located half an hour’s drive from Cadiz and Jerez de la Frontera, however, it still remains unspoilt by tourism even in high season.

Rich history of Medina Sidonia

As one of the oldest cities in Europe, Medina Sidonia was founded between 1300 and 700 BC and was later occupied by Phoenician settlers. In the 15th century Medina Sidonia belonged to the family of Guzmans. It was one of the most prominent and affluent of the noble families in the medieval Spain. Under the Guzmans, Medina Siodnia reached its greatest splendour.Medina3_400x630 The seventh Duke of Medina Sidonia is remembered in the history books as the man who led to defeat the Spanish Armada of 1588. Medina Sidonia was also the Andalusian capital of sweets, especially known for the Alfajores, cakes made of almonds, hazelnuts, honey and spices.

From the Middle Ages, Medina Sidonia remained important ducal seat. Today it’s the official seat of Luisa Isabel Alvarez de Toledo, the 20th Duchess of Medina Sidonia.

Tourist attractions

Medina_630x400The most popular attractions in medina Sidonia include the 13th century Castle, Church of Saint Mary the Crowned, Arab Castle of Torrestrella, impressive Ducal Stables, 17th century Town Hall as well as beautiful Plaza de España. It is also worth visit local restaurants offering great tapas and traditional Spanish dishes.

Antequera

City with ancient heritage

Antequera is a fairly inconspicuous city north of Malaga. Because of it’s central position in Andalucia, between Seville, Granada, and Cordoba, it is often called “the heart of Andalucía”. Antequera boasts many interesting places to see, however, it remains unspoilt by massive tourism.

The fortress of Alcazaba stands out as a dominating feature over Antequera. You can visit Alcazaba’s walls and the main tower and enjoy spectacular panoramic views from the top. It is also worth to visit the churches in the centre: Iglesia de San Sebastian and Iglesia de Sanitago.

Those interested in the prehistory should visit the Dolmen of Menga at the city outskirts. It’s an access corridor and an oval-shaped burial chamber from 3000 BC. The tomb most probably served as a grave for the ruling families. Hundreds of people were buried there. If you stand just inside the entrance to this ancient site, you will clearly see Pena de los Enamorados (The Lovers Rock) also known as Montana del Indio (Indian Mountain), because the 880 metre mountain looks like a head of a sleeping Indian.

Another interesting megalithic construction located just outside the city is Dolmen del Romeral. Lastly, there is a megalithic sepulchre of Tholos de El Romeral located 3 kms north of the city. Access to all three archaeological sites is free.

Nature and adventure around Antequera

We also recommend exploring the Antequera region. Whether you are interested in wild animals, climbing, canyoning or hiking, you will surely find something for your liking near Antequera.

Central Andalucia, including the Antequera region, is a real paradise for climbers. The small towns of Villanueva del Rosario, El Chorro, Archidona as well as small villages of Valle de Adaliajis or Pinares de San Anton are very popular climbing destinations. Ten kms south of Antequera there is a Wolf Park (Lobo Park) for those who would like to learn more a about wolves and observe wolves  in an environment that is very close to real nature.

El Torcal Natural Park, located just a couple of kilometers south of Antequera, is a definite must-see. It is famous for weird and bizarre rock formations which are wonderful to look at. Each of these intriguing rocks resembles something different and has some affectionate name, e.g. camel or canary.

El_Torcal_Antequera_630x400

Bird lovers or hikers should not miss Fuente de Piedra lagoon. This beautiful park is located 20 kms north-west of Antequera. It boasts second largest colony of flamingos in Europe.

Iznajar, located around 60 kms north of Antequera, is another interesting place to visit. It’s a classic white village perched on a hill, beside the largest lake in Andalucia. Iznajar boasts spectacular views of the extensive lake and olive hills that surround it from all sides.  The views from Iznajar castle stretch as far as the snow-capped Sierra Nevada.

Wall Murals in Estepona

Recently, beautiful Estepona got some good publicity when it started opening incredible wall arts, one after another, in different parts of the city. Those gigantic wall murals are scattered around different barrios, from bullring to northern parts of the city. At the time of writing there are more than 20 murales artisiticos. It takes about 2 hours walk to see all of the murals. You can download and print a small map online by clicking here, or visit Oficina de Turismo in Estepona to get a bigger map. Have a look below at some examples of the incredible street art in Estepona!

Ruta de Murales Artisticos in Estepona

   1. ANGEL EL BUCEADOR (Bda. Tres Banderas)

ANGEL EL BUCEADOR_400x630

   2. LA CASA DE LA BUENA GENTE (C/Colon)

LA CASA DE LA BUENA GENTE_400x630

   3. SIGLO XXI (Plaza ABC)

SIGLO XXI_630x400

   4. LA PODA DE LA BUGANVILLA (Avda. San Lorezno)

LA PODA DE LA BUGANVILLA_630x4000

   5. FUNDACION ANTONIA GUERRERO (C/Nuestra Senora de los Remedios)

FUNDACION ANTONIA GUERRERO_630x400

   6. REGANDO EL JARDIN (Avda. Andalucia)

REGANDO EL JARDIN_630x400

   7. ALMAS DEL MAR (Prolongacion Avda. San Lorenzo)

ALMAS DEL MAR_400x630

   8. ALMAS DE MUSICA (Plaza San Frenando)

ALMAS DE MUSICA_400x630

   9. LA HUERTA DE IRENE  (Avda. Andalucia)

LA HUERTA DE IRENE_630x400

   10. TIEMPOS DE CLARIDAD (Avda. Andalucia)

TIEMPOS DE CLARIDAD_400x630

   11. PASEN Y VEAN (C/Goya)

PASEN Y VEAN_400x630

   12. MADRE AMOROSA Y LA MIRADA DE UN NINO (C/Terraza)

MADRE AMOROSA Y LA MIRADA DE UN NINO_514x600

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSC01948_400x630

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   13. DIA DE PESCA (C/Terraza)

DIA DE PESCA_630x400

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   14. KEEP ON TRUCKING (C/Mantilla)

KEEP ON TRUCKING_400x630

   15. LA VENUS (C/Terraza)

LA VENUS_400x630

 

   Other examples of street art in Estepona

DSCF2443_400c630

DSCF2442_400x630

DSCF2362_630x400

Granada

 

Granada Cathedral

Granada Cathedral

When you think Granada, the Alhambra complex of palaces comes first to mind. The pinnacle of Moorish art is the pride not only of Granada, but of the whole Spain. The wonderful Alhambra has inspired travellers for centuries. Poetry was the inspiration when designing the complex which was intended to be a paradise. And it’s as close to an earthly paradise, as it gets.

Granada itself and the nearby small white villages are perched on a series of hills, one of which is crowned by the mighty Alhambra. Those green hills gradually climb to the snow-topped Sierra Nevada Mountains, one of the most popular ski resorts in Spain.

There is a lot more to Granada than Alhambra. There is the Generalife, situated next to Alhambra, which is a small palace colmplex with beautiful gardens. Highly rated among the vistors, Science Park (Parque de las Ciencias), offersa great science experience. If your kids didn’t appreciate the beauties of Alhrambra, take them to the Science Park and they are going to love it! There is plenty of stuff to do for youngters and excitement lurks around every corner of the Park.

View of Granada from Alhambra

View of Granada from Alhambra

Another noteworthy place is a street Calle De La Caldereria Nueva, also known as “Little Morocco“. There are Moorish shops, teahouses and buildings there. So if you fancy buying some North African products, a visit to “Little Marocco” is mot recommended.

If a cultural feast with a family is what you are looking for, hestitate no more and book a trip to Granada with bestandalucia.com.

Granada – nearest destinations: Sierra Nevada, Nerja

Granada Holidays in Spain

Find all the practical information, helpful tips and opinions on holidays in Granada, Spain. Check out Granada’s top attractions, recommended places to stay and best things to do. Read about the best restaurants in Granada, Andalucia. Plan and book your vacations today with Best Andalucia guide. Granada can be a perfect place for cultural holidays.

Best Granada Hotels

Find and book top hotels in Granada, Spain. Check hotels in Granada in Andalucia offering good value for money. Pick the hotel that best suits you and your budget.

Granada Holiday Rental

Find and rent apartments, houses and villas for summer holidays in Granada, Spain. Choose from the best variety of properties. Luxury holiday homes with private pools, sports facilities and more. Enjoy spectacular holidays in Granada, Andalusia.

Castellar de la Frontera

Just 25 kilometres from Gibraltar lies the wonderful Castellar with an atmospheric medieval castle perched on the peak of the hill. Within the walls of the old fortress lies the old village full of colourful flowers and trees. Read More…

Cadiz

 

Cadiz, one of the oldest cities not only in Spain but also in Europe, is first of all a perfect choice for anyone seeking cultural pleasures. You would surprised to know the history written in the walls of Cadiz. It was from this ancient Atlantic port that Cristopher Colmbus set sail on his second voyage! Read More…