The Carrera del Darro is Granada’s prettiest thoroughfare at any time of year, but in spring it is truly beautiful. Beginning from Plaza Nueva and winding down towards Albaicín alongside the Darro River, this lovely old cobbled street features on most of the postcards on sale in Granada. It is lined with centuries-old buildings rising up from the riverbank, their worn facades covered in spring by lush creepers and trees with colourful blossom. Peer over the ancient stone wall to see the Darro River gently flowing between verdant banks; here, the Darro passes under two of the oldest bridges in Granada, and remnants of a few more that used to connect Albaicín with the Alhambra. Walking down the Carrera del Darro in early evening, as the sun disappears over the rooftops of Albaicín, will be one of the most unforgettable experiences of your visit.
Climbing to the top of Albaicín, Granada’s beautiful old Arabic quarter, is still just about possible in spring. This barrio of crunched-together, whitewashed houses and pretty cobbled squares occupies the hillside on the opposite side of the valley from the Alhambra, and is the best place in the city to wander aimlessly if the temperature permits. Popular with both tourists and locals is Plaza San Nicolas, which offers unforgettable views of the Alhambra and the Sierra Nevada mountain range in the background. Given its central location, you can’t help but find your way to San Nicolas eventually, affording the opportunity to become happily lost in Albaicin’s maze-like streets on your way; these are particularly beautiful in spring, when their scruffy white walls are overhung by colourful, aromatic Jasmine flowers and geraniums.
If you’re up in Albaicín to check out the views from San Nicolas, you can head over to the Gypsy neighbourhood of Sacromonte via the rugged, cacti-studded countryside that separates these two other-worldly barrios. This lovely walk is best enjoyed in spring, when the temperatures won’t leave you doubled up and panting for breath, and when the countryside is at its most attractive. Head up the steps to the Ermita San Miguel Alto (another incredible viewpoint in its own right) and follow the main path around the hermitage and out into the open countryside high above the city. The track takes you over the hill, down into a mini-valley and back up into Sacromonte, where Granada’s Gypsies live in caves carved into the hillside. The countryside up here is also a great place to stop for a picnic, or from which to watch the sun set over the rooftops of Albaicín.
Known as the ‘Donkey Square’ by granadinos on account of the statue of a donkey in one corner, this is one of central Granada’s most attractive spaces. Its many outside seating areas can be too hot during the summer, as they are directly in the line of fire of the searing midday sun; but in spring it is a perfect place to people-watch and enjoy some tapas. Service at the bars that line its east side is always friendly, and the tapas dishes are more inventive and pan-Mediterranean than those served in the city’s traditional bars and restaurants. Donkey Square also offers a striking contrast between modern and classic architecture: the slanting, white panels of the Federico Garcia Lorca Centre are right next door to stately apartment buildings in the traditional Andalusian style, and towering over them all is the lone tower of Granada’s mighty cathedral.