As if its setting at the foot of the snow-covered Sierra Nevada mountains, its cathedral buildings and its characterful gypsy quarters were not enough to warrant a visit, Granada also happens to boast the most exquisite monument in all Andalucia: the Moorish palace and gardens of the Alhambra. Spend a day wandering through its ornate salons, water-cooled patios and tranquil gardens, and you will wish you could do it all again the following day. Perhaps you should schedule some extra time here just in case. Even without its monuments, Granada’s strongly Arab atmosphere (it was the last city to be ‘liberated’ from the Moors), its colourful shops and restaurants, and its arty vibes, make it a lively place to hang out.
Within an hour’s drive of the city, you can be walking between the white-washed, hippified villages of the Alpujarras or high among the peaks of the Sierra Nevada. In winter there's a modest ski centre which lives up to its name of Sol y Nieve (sun and snow); in summer a minibus winds up Europe's highest road to the lunar landscapes of the Tres Mil (3000-metre peaks). You could be on a different planet from Granada, but you're only a couple of hours away.