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What are the best day trips around Granada, Spain?

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Spain's Andalucía is composed of eight provinces, stretching from the southeast to the southwest of the country. This is a land of culture, history, fiestas, natural parks and excellent food. Certainly the most unique feature of this enchanting region are the remnants of its Moorish past, who crossed into Spain from North Africa by the Straits of Gibraltar and occupied the peninsula for more than seven centuries.

And probably the best way to discover Andalucía is by renting a car and go exploring the hills by yourself. One option would be to base yourself in the Sierra Subbetica, or possibly Granada, and explore the area with day trips. Better yet, take a week or two and discover more at a slower (more Andalucian!) pace…

Here we introduce you to some of our favourite corners of Andalucía:

Seville | History

For many travellers, Andalucía means one thing: Seville! At 250 km from Granada, this historical masterpiece of a city is steeped in beauty and its impressive Moorish architecture make the city an attractive historical centre for Spain. To be honest you'll never get to see everything Seville has to offer in a day, so it’s best to factor in a couple of nights here. For an overview of the city, your tour must include stops at the Reales Alcázares, the Cathedral of Saint Mary, the old "gitanos" quarter, the Museum of Fine Arts, Arabic Alcazar (Royal Palace) and the labyrinthine medieval Jewish quarter. From the top of the Giralda you'll be also able to enjoy the best views of the city. Head out early to avoid the crowds and make the most of your day!

Cordoba | History

Home to what was once the biggest mosque in the world. Some 165km northwest of Granada, Córdoba wears its illustrious history with grace. As you wander its flower-filled alleys, impressive squares and whitewashed courtyards, you'll come across timeless beauties like its lavish mosque La Mezquita, and the remarkable cathedral built within after the Christians conquered the city in the 13th century. With nearly one thousand pillars, the original Gothic style is combined with Baroque and Renaissance elements. Then lose yourself in the evocative and ancient Jewish quarter, going back to the time of the Romans and Goths.

Sierra Nevada | Mountains

Escape Granada and head just over 30km south to the Sierra Nevada massif, home to one of the most valuable ecosystems in the whole of Europe, not to mention jaw-dropping views. This extensive mountain range features some of Spain's tallest peaks, (Mulhacén 3,482m and Veleta 3,392m) and the southern-most ski resort in Europe! This is not only a paradise for hikers and climbers but also for wildlife lovers. The massif includes more than twenty species of butterflies, a large number of birds of prey and different mammals, including the mountain goat that grazes on the high mountain.

The town of Monachil should be a good option from which to explore the National Park. In this area there are small paths that make it easy to walk around and enjoy the nature. It also offers lots of wonderful waterfalls which can be seen from great bridges connecting the mountain sides.

Alpujarras | Culture

With less dramatic mountains, but equally captivating, is the Alpujarras mountain range, which stretches south from the Sierra Nevada mountains about 70km from Granada. This is certainly one of our favourite unspoiled natural beauties of Andalucía, where you can breathe in the clean, fresh air as you admire its tree-clad slopes and impossibly photogenic villages. The beautiful gorges, lush vegetation and natural springs that can be enjoyed in a day, would actually need a month to explore fully. And while the Western side of the Alpujarras including, Lanjaron, Orgiva, Capileira, Pitres, Portugos and Trevelez, is probably most known, we prefer the more easterly picturesque villages of Laroles, Ugijar, Mairena and Yegen! By the way, if you choose the Eastern side, you can also stop at Gaudix and Calahorra, en route.

Nerja | Beach

With 320 days of sunshine a year, the Costa Tropical offers the best of both worlds: fascinating history and beautiful scenery. At about 65km south of Granada, Nerja boasts 16 km of dreamy beaches, along with its spectacular caves and archaeological remains (over 20,000 years old). Scuba diving lovers should also head to Motril, while aspiring shutterbugs will flip for Salobreña, a white-washed, hill-top village with an impressive Moorish castle and sweeping panoramic views of the surrounding fertile plain and beaches. The other option would be to spend some time in Almuñecar, a town founded by the Phoenicians around 1,000 BC, where you can enjoy a walk in the Majuelo Park and a visit to the San Miguel Castle.

Cabo de Gata | Desert

About 175km southeast of Granada are the long extinct volcanoes of Cabo de Gata which drop down to the coast. As this is the only desert environment in mainland Europe, the landscapes and flora are unique. This stretch of coastline is also the only part of Spain where the natural park extends into the ocean.  While there are many fantastic walks from 4km strolls to 18km hikes, you might also like to visit the botanical gardens at Rodalquilar.

Antequera | Heritage

Ancient Dolmens, bizarre rocks formations and a lovely town puts also Antequera on our best day trip list. Antequera's dolmens are the largest remains in Europe and an almost unique occasion to visit an amazing burial mound dating around 3,000 BC. Aside, El Torcal Natural Reserve, home of a large number of Spanish Ibex that can easily be spotted on the rocks, offers three excellent walking routes (1.5km, 2.5km and 4.5km), marked by different coloured wooden sticks and rocks.

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The Pothole is Pura Aventura's popular monthly email. We share what we love, what interests us and what we find challenging. And we don't Photoshop out the bits everyone else does. We like to think our considered opinions provide food for thought, and will sometimes put a smile on your face. They've even been known to make people cry. You can click here to subscribe and, naturally, unsubscribe at any time.

The Pothole is Pura Aventura's popular monthly email. We share what we love, what interests us and what we find challenging. And we don't Photoshop out the bits everyone else does. We like to think our considered opinions provide food for thought, and will sometimes put a smile on your face. They've even been known to make people cry. You can click here to subscribe and, naturally, unsubscribe at any time.

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