Only 15 kilometres away from sa mayma is La Alpujarra, a high mountain region located on Sierra Nevada’s southern slope. It is impressive to see how residents adapted to the harsh conditions imposed by geography to create a unique landscape of villages clinging to the mountains, irrigation canals that maximise every last drop of water that comes from the snow-capped peaks and a magnificently cultivated terraced landscape that converts the hillsides into authentic orchards. The main hallmark of the region is its popular architecture directly inherited from the Berber settlements that populated the area after the Muslim conquest of the Iberian Peninsula in the 8th century. The door to the Alpujarra is the village of Lanjarón, famous for its medicinal waters and thermal spa. Pampaneira is the first of the distinct villages of La Alpujarra encountered by travellers. Capileira is only six kilometres away by road from Pampaneira, with Bubión in the middle.
Granada’s Tropical Coast offers dozens of beaches and small coves of crystalline waters, 320 sunny days a year, and an average annual temperature of 20 °C. This is the identity of the Tropical Coast, the 73 kilometres of Granada Province coastline. It is called such due to the exceptional year-round mildness of the climate, which, over the last two centuries, has allowed this region to become the only place in Europe where tropical fruits such as mangos, custard apples and avocados are grown. Such fruits evoke exotic tastes and places but are typical of one of the most exceptional parts of Andalusia, the Tropical Coast.
Nineteen towns compose the Tropical Coast. Founded by the Phoenicians about a thousand years before Christ as a colony named “Sexi”, Almuñécar is a place full of history that still preserves the remains of a Roman salt-cured fish factory, five sections of an aqueduct and an Arabic castle. In summer, this tourist destination hosts a superb jazz music festival.
Motril is the largest town in the province after Granada. Among its monuments, the “Iglesia Mayor de la Encarnación” and the “Santuario de Nuestra Señora de la Cabeza” stand out, the latter of which was built above the former recreational palace of Queen Aixa, mother of Boabdil, the last monarch of the Nasrid dynasty.
Salobreña appears in the visitor’s imagination to be a big pile of sugar cubes. Its small white cube-shaped houses gather in front of the sea and round a hill topped by a monumental Arabic castle. From the top, magnificent panoramic views of the Sierra Nevada mountains, Mediterranean Sea and fertile crop fields can be admired at a single glance.
Near these beach towns there are small and quiet coves, which are located in Albuñol, Castell de Ferro-Gualchos and Mamola-Polopos. In close proximity, we find the towns of Albondón, Ítrabo, Jete, Lentejí, Los Guájares, Lújar, Molvízar, Murtas, Otívar, Rubite, Sorvilán, Turón and Vélez de Benaudalla, surrounded by a lush environment.
In addition to sea and culture, the Tropical Coast offers endless possibilities, such as golf, paragliding, hiking in inland villages, scuba diving in the rich depths of Cerro Gordo, and nautical sports, with centres located in the marina harbour “Marina del Este” (Almuñécar) and in Motril’s Yatch Club.
Tropical fruits can be enjoyed in salads or desserts, as part of a meal which shouldn’t be without rockfish, such as the red porgy and the white seabream, and seafood such as the soldier striped shrimp. And with coffee, a cane rum, which is also produced in the Tropical Coast.
At the foot of its towering Alhambra, the city of Granada offers travellers a place full of life, art and culture. The former Nasrid capital constitutes an attractive tourist destination due to its monuments and proximity to the Sierra Nevada Ski Resort, La Alpujarra’s valleys and cliffs, and the popular Tropical Coast. But the famous “enchantment” that Granada possesses is in its neighbourhoods, its plazas, its people, its cuisine. This metropolis is a travel destination in which, especially in the winter, “we have to delve into and explore our own intimacy and secret”, as Federico García Lorca poeticised.
Granada in the winter
The Sierra Nevada mountains define Granada’s climate, transforming its winter into a season of frequent frosts. But instead of turning it into a “cold” city, it covers it with the warmth of its white coat endowing it with a unique light. In this setting, Granada employs us to wander all over the city, to get lost, to look up towards the Mountain of the Sun admiring the snow’s reflection, to fall in love with its walkways, alleys and cobbled streets. This article reveals hidden nooks and establishments in which to enjoy the Granada winter.
In the centre
Right in the centre is “Plaza Nueva”, which – in spite of its name (“New Plaza”) – is the oldest plaza in Granada. It is perhaps one the most popular starting points for touristic routes. It is located between the modern city centre and the Carrera del Darro. Plaza Nueva marks the beginning of the ascent to the Albaicín, either from the iconic street identified above or from the small streets which lead to the Calderería and its many tearooms. At one end of the plaza, facing the inception of the Carrera del Darro, is a restaurant that has existed for more than thirty years: Café Lisboa. It is a reference point for locals and tourists, where warming up while savouring in-house roasted coffee accompanied by a “pionono” (small traditional cake from Granada) becomes a memorable moment of the day. This place offers a varied yet simple menu with fresh products, and due to its location, service and schedule, it is highly recommended to anyone visiting the Nasrid city.
La Carrera del Darro
Walking along Carrera del Darro in the Granada winter is a must, as at this time of the year the murmur of the river is even more audible as it is at greater capacity. This street is considered one of the most beautiful in the world, from which the Alhambra’s majestic structure can be admired. At address number 5 is a well-preserved, interesting 17th-century Renaissance palace of great beauty – whose interior houses a museum and shop – known as Patio de los Perfumes (Perfume Courtyard). Entering it takes you on a fragrant journey where the secrets of perfume manufacturing are shared and artisan craftsmanship of such products can be learned. It could be said that these artisans managed to put the essence of Granada in a bottle, as they have developed a line of scents that evoke quintessential parts of the city. In the shop of Patio de los Perfumes, one can purchase fragrances containing the nuances that make Granada unique.
Granada’s modern city centre
One of the features of the modern city centre is that it has typically bourgeois-style architecture, with significant influence of nineteenth-century architecture embodied in numerous Renaissance and Baroque buildings. Down its main street, Reyes Católicos, one finds a cosmopolitan Granada, and among the shops and businesses there is a not-to-be-missed little gastronomic gem: La Fábula. The restaurant is housed inside a hotel located in an oldtown mansion. The entire building was restored following the architectural standards of old Andalusian palaces. Thus, it possesses a traditional garden with fountains and aromatic plants. Cuisine comes alive in this place under the direction of chef Ismael Delgado, who was awarded a Michelin star in 2008. His signature cuisine is smooth and serene in a unique and exceptional environment, transforming the act of eating into an awakening of the five senses.
A reflection of the enchanted past
Without leaving the heart of Granada, several streets reflecting the enchantment of the past and the current architectural harmony of the city lead to the popular Plaza de Gracia. In it, the establishment Puesto 43 embodies Granada’s tradition and its relationship with seafood. For more than one hundred years, this family business has been selecting the best seafood and, in 2012, finally opened a restaurant in which “to sit at a table” is to encounter Granada’s culinary culture. Recommended for four consecutive years by the Michelin Guide, Puesto 43’s chef, Blanca Sánchez, delights patrons by surprising them with the tastes of the sea, and through it, thrilling them.
«To get to know Granada well…»
Just as the poet wrote and is highlighted at the beginning of this text, “To get to know Granada well, we have to delve into and explore our own intimacy and secret”. In doing so, we allow ourselves to be carried away not by great monuments, but by scenes of intangible and indescribable beauty such as Paseo de los Tristes, the Realejo neighbourhood, the Sacromonte neighbourhood, the Cármenes (magnificent old mansions) in the Albaicín neighbourhood, the Lavadero de la Puerta del Sol (old outdoor laundry area), the San Miguel Alto and the San Nicolás vistas…, to discover that the Nasrid city, like ourselves, pulses and feels.
The Lecrin Valley is an exceptional place where one can experience all climates – Subtropical climate to the south, near the Tropical Coast; mild climate in the centre, where orange and lemon trees are cultivated; Mediterranean climate in the north; humid climate near La Laguna; cold and Nordic climate on the southern region of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Its climate, and the abundance of water and sun, make this area an ideal place to live or enjoy a few days of relaxation. There are numerous places to visit: waterfalls, gorges, small lakes, reservoirs, iconic bridges, rivers, forests, meadows, ancient irrigation canals, snow-capped peaks, and much more. Discover the many routes that the Valley has to offer and enjoy a great diversity of birds, flowers, trees and many other types of plants. The Valley offers varied cuisine, which is influenced by its Mozarabic history and is especially exquisite in this area due to the richness of its agriculture.
A Granada village in the Lecrin Valley region, Nigüelas is also known as “the Valley’s balcony”. The village, at 931m of altitude, is situated on the right bank of the Torrente River at the foot of El Zahor mountain. It is 3 kms from Dúrcal, 28 kms from Granada and 15 kms from La Alpujarra. It is located halfway between the capital city and the coast of Granada. From this village and its surroundings, one can enjoy a great variety of beautiful landscapes such as the village’s central area with the Sierra Nevada as its backdrop, as viewed from the old country road. La Razuela, a small terrace at the foot of El Zahor overlooking the village, provides a magnificent viewpoint of the entire region. Los Cahorros, a Torrente River gorge, lies 1 km from the centre of the village. The streets and patios remind us of the village’s Moorish origins. The Sierra Nevada mountains are accessible via trails that start in the village.
This area has much to offer travellers and visitors: excellent hiking trails, local artisan shops, tapas bars. Locals are friendly and open. There are many places of interest such as Arabic baths, castle ruins, old oil mills and interesting churches.
The primary source of income for its 1,200 inhabitants is agriculture: olive trees, almond trees, citrus fruit trees, cereals, legumes, vineyards and potatoes. Nigüelas also has a strong theatrical and musical tradition.