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Granada

Along the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range in the Spanish province of Granada lies one of the country's most captivating ancient cities. The City of Granada has a recorded history dating back to the Umayyad conquest of the Iberian Peninsula. Subsequent Muslim dynasties and eventual absorption into the Kingdom of Castile have left an indelible mark on the city's physical and cultural make-up. Let CityXplora point out top landmarks and offer up the best things to do in Granada, from explorations of the Alhambra to a lively flamenco night.

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A Christmas visit to Granada

If you're the sort of person who likes to travel in and around the Christmas season then CityXplora is here to offer a hand in deciding where to go. Given the worldwide scale of this holiday it can be a particularly difficult one to base a trip around. So many places offer a unique and enjoyable experience that your final decision is likely going to revolve (amongst other things) around the cultural flavour on offer.

This Christmas we're paying special attention to the ancient Spanish city of Granada in Andalusia. We explored the various locations in which we currently offer city tours and this historical centre of religious multiculturalism really caught our eye. We all know about Granada's famous Alhambra Palace and its eclectic streets with their Moorish and Renaissance design influences, but did you know that the city is an ideal place to experience both modern and traditional aspects of the holiday?

Within the central square of Bib-Rambla you'll find the main Christmas Market. The stalls here feature all the artisan crafts, clothing and food products you'd expect with little Spanish twists. Warm up with a hot drink and a freshly fried, chocolate-coated churro. The backdrop for the market is the iconic Granada Cathedral, which serves as the city's central point of worship and is especially active this time year. Whether you're religious or not the activities of the city's religious institutions set a fantastic atmosphere.

As you wander through the streets keep an eye out for the annual nativity displays that adorn most shop fronts and public spaces. Known in Spanish as 'Ruta de Beleres', the effort put into these model scenes reflects the competitive nature of this traditional event, with winners looking at monetary prizes of up to 5000 Euros. For sightseeing purposes, a couple of the main ones will be located at Granada Town Hall, Vecinos del Sagrario and Plaza de los Girones.

Another significant occasion during the Granada Christmas season is the Kings Parade, held on January 5th. During this event the Three Wise Men and a colourful entourage travel through the streets of the city to greet awaiting parents and their children. They come with heaps of sweets and other treats which they throw to the cheering crowds. If you find yourself amidst the celebrations be sure to fill your pockets with as many goodies as possible. The parade tends to begin at San Juan de Dios around 17:30 before winding its way along the entire length of the Grand Via. The spectacle reaches its pinnacle at the Town Hall building, where it concludes with a magnificent fireworks display.

During your festive stay in Granada we'd strongly recommend taking a trip on the city train tour. This hop-on hop-off service provides unlimited 24-hour transport around all of Granada's most important landmarks and districts, including Plaza Nueva, Plaza San Miguel Bajo, the Alhambra, and Granada Cathedral. It's the perfect way to see Granada whilst uncovering its history any day of the year, and is especially great during the Christmas season given the spectacular decorations that feature throughout the streets.

You may also want to consider a guided tour of the Alhambra Palace and its grounds, or maybe even a Flamenco night in the medieval Albayzín district. Both include a 24-hour city tour rider ticket.