Moorish Quarters: Granada, Spain

Most visitors flock to the city of Granada for the Alhambra, but there is plenty more to see and do in the city and the surrounding area.

We stayed in Albaicin, the Moorish quarter which formed the residential part of the medieval city, located on the hillside opposite the Alhambra. The winding cobbled streets are narrow and steep; buildings are white-washed with flowers spilling over from balconies. It's a charming area to explore on foot, and even more so if you are out early in the morning before the crowds of visitors appear.

Further along from Albaicin, away from the city centre, is the Sacromonte neighbourhood - home to the gypsy community who historically lived in cave dwellings, built by carving out the soft earth of the hillside. Many of these have been modernised and rented out or converted into intimate flamenco tablaos, where you can experience flamenco performances in an atmospheric setting.

The city centre is a mix of Islamic, renaissance, baroque architecture and modern buildings. Here you will find plenty of small tapas bars dotted around - our favourites being the ones tucked away down quiet streets, packed with locals. Many of these bars still provide free tapas with each drink, a tradition which seems to have largely died out in Southern Spain.

For a day away from the city, it's worth hiring a car and heading towards the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The mountain peaks are high enough to be snow-capped for most of the year (with a popular ski resort) but at lower altitudes it is hot and dry. Our hiking route took us through a variety of landscapes; from olive-tree groves, along cascading rivers and across a hanging footbridge, to dramatic rocky gorges, before returning back through a valley lush with cherry and pomegranate trees, from where we could see Granada in the distance.

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