As someone who had the honor of soaking up all that Granada has to offer during a summer abroad, I could talk for days about why Granada is the coolest place in the entire world. A charming town in southern Spain that will steal your heart, Granada has the ability to remind visitors of an ancient world that will inspire them for the future. Check out the top five reasons why you should (without a doubt!) study abroad in Granada:
1. Vivid History.
Walking around Granada can take you back into the days of Moorish Spain, where the North African Muslim influence mixed with the Christian European culture. La Alhambra was the last Moorish stronghold in all of Europe before the palace was seized by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabelle.
This architectural marvel is easily viewed today from almost any point in the city. The intricate details of its Moorish design and tiling are impeccable, and have been kept up as if a sultan still lived within its walls. The most beautiful aspect of the entire fortress, however, might be the site’s expansive and colorful gardens. La Alhambra is a sort of Spanish Versailles, and walking through it is a tour through history.
The Albayzín neighborhood is known as the traditional Moorish quarter of the city. Its cobblestoned, hilly streets are the best glimpse into the Granadino lifestyle today. The neighborhood was first built to house the architects and artists who built La Alhambra. Tucked into one of the neighborhood’s highest points is the Plaza of Saint Nicholas, a great place to enjoy tapas and a stunning view of La Alhambra.
2. Tapas Por Gratis.
When is the last time you went out for a drink with friends and got a free snack to go along with it? My answer was “Ummm … never” — until I went to Granada. Tapas are appetizer-sized plates of food, and every time a new round of drinks is ordered, a new plate of tapas is brought out. Tapas can range from traditional national dishes, such as olives, calamari, or croquetas, or they can be more of a culinary experiment.
Granada is famous for its tapas, partially because they’re delicious, and partially because they’re free, which is not the case for most areas of Spain. Sangria and a free tortilla Española? Don’t mind if I do!
3. Outdoor Adventures.
Beach or mountains? In Granada, you don’t have to choose. Located in the heart of Andalucia, Granada is at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and only a short bus ride away from the Mediterranean coast. The city attracts all types of outdoor adventurers. If mountain climbing or hiking is your thing, Granada’s got you covered. If you’re more of a lie-on-the-beach-all-day type of person, you’re set. You can easily manage both in one day.
Looking for a little more action? Try your hand at paragliding over the Sierra Nevada Mountains or taking in a local bullfight. Granada has a variety of spacious green parks, which are great for jogging, studying, or a quick siesta. Of note is the Federico García Lorca Park, which is located in the city’s center and was named after the famed poet and writer, a native of Granada. The climate is nothing less than is expected of an Andalucian town: warm and sunny, with rarely a cloud in the sky.
4. Cultural Explosion.
Granada has an impressive cultural resume. Its roots come from ancient Moorish, Jewish, and Christian societies, and aspects of each can be found in every corner of the city. Certain areas feel like a traditional European landscape, but a quick walk can get you into the heart of ancient Islamic eras. Granada is famed for its live Flamenco shows, particularly in the Sacromonte neighborhood, where much of the Gitano population lives in inhabited caves.
For a look into the future, check out Granada’s Science Park, an impressive museum with exhibits that touch on every area of the sciences. The city hosts a variety of events, such as traditional Spanish parades during Semana Santa (Holy Week leading up to Easter), or international film and art festivals. Granada also has its own fútbol team and stadium, as well as a large arena to view one of the country’s traditional pastimes, bullfighting.
5. The People Of Graná.
Granada’s ties to Andalucia are seen all over the city: in the accents, in the food and culture, in the laid-back ways people walk and talk and react. Andalucians are known for their welcoming attitudes and friendliness, and Granada showcases this.
Sitting down to talk to a Granadino on a park bench or striking up a conversation over tapas is not uncommon. They have pride in their city and boast true appreciation for its storied past. The best way to find the city’s best spots is to chat up a native about their beloved Graná, a topic they’ll never tire of talking.