What should we do in Andalucía?
November 22, 2005 7:15 AM   Subscribe

We're about to make a trip to southern Spain--we plan to fly into and out of Granada, and drive up to Cordoba in between, stopping in one or two little towns along the way. My questions are: 1. What places/activities/restaurants/etc would you recommend in Granada and Cordoba? (We've already booked our tickets for the Alhambra). 2. What little towns should we see along the way?
posted by yankeefog to Travel & Transportation around Spain (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
As for places to stay, if you haven't booked those already, check out Secret Places.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:29 AM on November 22, 2005

I had a fantastic time in Ronda. But it is probably a little bit out of your way if you want to do a straight shot from Granada to Cordoba.

How long do you have to travel? The Alhambra is great, btw - expect to spend all day there.
posted by gaspode at 7:54 AM on November 22, 2005

You will have a wonderful time if you do nothing but stay in those two centres. The Cathedral in Granada is understandably in the shadow of the Alhambra but worth a visit for it's amazing monumental fantasies in gilded wood and stone. Granada also has the most wonderful picturesque streets that climb above the valley in a lush, photogenic huddle.

Cordoba is famous for the Mosque, truly one of the great sights of the world, the more so for having a full Spanish Cathedral seemingly dropped into the middle. Even without the mosque, Cordoba is a wonderfully atmospheric town in which it's very pleasant to idle the day away. There are fast trains to Seville and Madrid (you might consider a day trip to Seville by train - it would save you a dull drive and an expensive hotel - Cordoba makes a great base).

The journey between the two may surprise you. It's a pleasant and easy drive on a good road. What is suprising if you don't know central Spain is the strange, empty, pararie-like nature of the countryside, with immense fields of grain broken up by the occasional town. No villages, no farms, nothing - a strange and sometimes desolate landscape that is unlike anywhere else in Europe.

Make sure you take some accessible history, particularly on Moorish Spain. The spectacle of the two great monuments of this magnificent and forgotten civilisation will pique your curiosity. Channel 4 screened an excellent documentary recently on the subject - it is a fascinating story.

If you do want to get into some countryside, the real treasure is south of Granada, not far, just over the Pass of the 'Moor's sigh', the area of the Southern Sierra Nevada called the Alpujarras. The A348 from Lanjaron to Cadiar winds through the most deliciously picturesque countryside with wonderful villages and rural sights, much more fun than the rather arid countryside around Cordoba. It's a worthwhile day-trip from Granada.
posted by grahamwell at 8:24 AM on November 22, 2005

In Granada, I would recommend staying at a place near the Plaza Nueva, as it is a very central location, within walking distance to both the Alhambra and Albaicin neighborhood (the old part of town). I would also highly recommend In watching the sunset from the plaza near the top of the Albaicin - it is very beautiful as it has a view of the sun setting directly behind the Alhambra and the Sierra Nevadas. The plaza is called the Mirador de San Nicolas, I believe.

I would also recommend visiting the Sacromonte neighborhood, which is one of the few places in Spain where the people are largely ethnic gypsies. A lot of the houses are actually caves built into the side of the hill. Some of the cave houses have been turned into interesting looking bed and breakfast type places.

In Cordoba, after visiting the famous Moorish Mezquita, it might be a nice to visit a Turkish Hamman to round out the experience, especially if your're there in winter. I believe there is one in Granada as well.
posted by Staggering Jack at 8:46 AM on November 22, 2005

Sorry, I screwed up the link to the cave b&B above. Here's the correct link.
posted by Staggering Jack at 8:47 AM on November 22, 2005

Ah man, it's one of those mornings. Sorry for all the typos/bad spelling in my above post as well. Finally, I see my Hammam link actually goes to the one in Granada. Here's the one for Cordoba.
posted by Staggering Jack at 8:56 AM on November 22, 2005

Um, Jack, Banos Arabes is an Arab Hammam, maybe not a huge difference in the activities that go on, but I wouldn't mix up an Arab and a Turk to their face.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:10 AM on November 22, 2005

Man, it really is one of those mornings. Thanks Pollomacho, you're right. I won't post before drinking lots of coffee again.
posted by Staggering Jack at 9:18 AM on November 22, 2005

Wandering around Granada can be a great time... however, one odd thing that I noticed, when I visited in the summer of 1998, was that the entire place smelled like fertilizer. The WHOLE CITY. I'm sure this was a seasonal thing, but I was amazed at the level of the smell and the extent to which the natives didn't seem to notice. Must just be something they're used to at certain times of the year.
posted by gurple at 10:22 AM on November 22, 2005

Sevilla is about 1.5 hours away from Cordoba, and is really worth visiting.
posted by Sharcho at 1:25 PM on November 22, 2005

Response by poster: We just got back from our trip, and muchas gracis a todo por la ayuda! I'm not marking a best answer because they were all great.

Just in case anybody else comes across this thread looking for an answer to a similar question, here are a few additional things we learned on our trip:

• You can buy tickets for the Alhambra online in advance. It's probably a good idea to do so, since tickets can sell out during the peak seasons. The ticket will include a specific entry time, but that entry time is just for the Nasrid Palace, which is one particular set of buildings on the grounds. You can (and should) get into the grounds and see other things while you're waiting for your entry time to the palace.

Bodega Castaneda in Granada has fantastic tapas, and is absolutely packed with locals. Apparently, there is a much inferior restaurant nearby, called either just "Bodega" or just "Castaneda"; do not be fooled.

• We stayed at the Tryp Albaizin, which was a comfortable, spotlessly clean, and reasonably well-located hotel. We got a fantastic deal by booking via the hotel's official website. Our only complaint was that the walls were a little thin, so it wasn't the quietest room in the world. But it was still an excellent value for money.

• Our usual M.O. is to visit a local bookstore when we arrive in town and buy our local guidebook there. This is always a bit of a crapshoot; sometimes you stumble on a great guide book you probably wouldn't find at home, sometimes you don't. In Granada, it paid off; we found a great book called Granada: City of my Dreams, by Lorenzo Bohme, which we bought from the book section of Granada's Corte Ingles (a Spanish chain of department stores.) The book is kind of like getting a walking tour of the city led by a very knowledgeable, if slightly eccentric, local resident. (The author admits up front that he has no interest in baroque architecture, for example, and makes it clear he's only going to talk about it when he has to. Fortunately, we agree with him that the Moorish and mudejar stuff is much more interesting.) All the walks in the book are well worth doing, and it took us to a number of beautiful corners of the city we would never have found on our own.

• In Cordoba, we were never able to find a really good guidebook. I therefore recommend buying one in advance.

• In Cordoba, we had heard great things about a restaurant called Tres Califas, but we were never able to find it. However, we had a superb meal at El Churrasco.

• In Cordoba, we stayed at the Hotel Maimonides, which was lovely, and literally across the street from the Mesquite.
posted by yankeefog at 2:37 AM on November 28, 2005

« Older Where To Find Live Tracks?   |   How to pinpoint software culprit? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.