By Plane -- Iberia flies to Granada from Barcelona and Madrid, and several times a week from Palma de Majorca. Three planes a day land from Barcelona (trip time: 1 hr. and 20 min.); five planes fly in from Madrid, taking 1 hour. Granada's Federico García Lorca Granada-Jaén Airport is 16km (10 miles) west of the center of town on Carretera Málaga; call tel. 90-240-47-04 for information. Other than a minor tourist information booth and an ATM, there are few services. A convenient Iberia ticketing office is 2 blocks east of the cathedral at Plaza Isabel Católica 2 (tel. 90-240-05-00). A bus departs several times daily connecting this office with the airport, costing 5€ ($8) one-way. The bus runs Monday to Saturday at 8:15 and 9:15am, and 5:30pm; Sunday at 5:30 and 7pm. Trip time is 45 minutes. Taxis line up outside the terminals at the airport and charge about 17€ ($27) to the city's center.
By Train -- The train station is Estación de RENFE de Granada, Av. Andaluces s/n (tel. 90-243-23-43; www.renfe.es).
Granada is well linked with the most important Spanish cities, especially those of Andalusia. Four trains per day arrive from Seville, taking 4 to 5 hours, depending on the train, and costing 22€ ($35) for a one-way ticket. From Madrid, two daily trains arrive in Granada, taking 5 to 6 hours and costing 59€ ($94) per one-way ticket. From Barcelona, there is a daily train, taking 12 to 13 hours and costing 55€ ($88) one-way.
By Bus -- Granada is served by many more buses than trains. It has links to virtually all the major towns and cities in Andalusia, even to Madrid. The main bus terminal is Estación de Autobuses de Granada, Carretera de Jaén s/n (tel. 95-818-54-80). One of the most heavily used bus routes is the one between Seville and Granada. Ten buses run per day, costing 18€ ($29) for a one-way ticket. The trip takes 3 hours. You can also reach Granada in 3 hours on a bus from Córdoba, which costs 12€ ($19) for a one-way ticket. There is also a fleet of 10 buses per day. If you're on the Costa del Sol, the run is just 2 hours, costing 9.20€ ($15) per one-way ticket. This is a very popular routing with 19 buses going back and forth between Granada and the coast per day. For bus information, call Alsina Graells at tel. 95-818-54-80; www.alsinagraells.es.
By Car -- Granada is connected by superhighway to Madrid, Málaga, and Seville. Many sightseers prefer to make the drive from Madrid to Granada in 2 days rather than 1. If that is your plan, Jaén makes a perfect stopover.
From Seville in the west, head east along N-334, which becomes N-342 on its final run into Granada. Many visitors head to Granada from Málaga, capital of the Costa del Sol. Take N-331 north from Málaga, cutting northeast onto N-321 and hooking into the N-342 for its final run into Granada. From Madrid, head south on N-IV (also called E-5) until you reach the town of Bailén. Once here, continue south onto N-323 toward Jaén. After leaving Jaén, the road becomes E-902 for its tortuous, mountainous descent south into Granada.
The city of Granada is 415km (258 miles) south of Madrid, 122km (76 miles) northeast of Málaga, 261km (162 miles) east of Córdoba, and 250km (155 miles) east of Seville.
The Patronato Provincial de Turismo de Granada, Plaza de Marian Pineda 10 bajo (tel. 95-824-71-46; www.turgranada.es), is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 8pm, Saturday from 10am to 7pm, and Sunday from 10am to 3pm. The Tourist Information Office of Junta de Andalucia, Calle de Santa Ana 4 (tel. 95-857-52-02 or 822-59-90; www.andalucia.org), is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 8pm, Saturday from 10am to 7pm, and Sunday and holidays from 10am to 2pm.
One of the best maps of Granada, for those who plan to explore the city in some depth, is available for 2.85€ ($4.60) at El Corte Inglés, Calle del Genil 20-22 (tel. 95-822-32-40). It's open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 10pm.
Essentially Granada is divided into upper and lower towns. Crowning the city is the Alhambra district, dominated by -- you guessed it -- the fortress palace of the Alhambra. The upper city is composed of two hills facing each other across the narrow gorge of the Río Darro. On the southern hill stands the Alhambra itself and the nearby summer palace of the Generalife, also once the gardens of the Nasrid kings.
The old Arab quarter occupies the second or northern hill, the Albaicín, a former ghetto that's now a rapidly gentrifying district with many fashionable restaurants and boutique hotels. Expect tiny alleyways, otherwise known as streets, and whitewashed houses. Ancient Arab baths and the remains of the old Moorish walls can still be seen.
Another satellite hill leads off from the Albaicín, wandering into the Sacromonte district, long a haven for Granada's famous Gypsies. A warren of little whitewashed homes trails out to a rocky mountainside riddled with caves.
Cuesta de Gomérez is one of the most important streets in the lower town, often called the Cathedral district. This is centro Granada, or "downtown," as Americans say. Congested and compact, it is relatively easy to navigate. This is Granada's business center, home to most of its restaurants, shops, and hotels. It climbs uphill from the Plaza Nueva, the center of the modern city, to the Alhambra. At the Plaza Nueva the east-west artery, Calle de los Reyes Católicos, goes to the heart of the 19th-century city and the towers of the cathedral. Granada's principal north-south artery is the Gran Vía de Colón.
Calle de los Reyes Católicos and the Gran Vía de Colón meet at the circular Plaza de Isabel la Católica, graced by a bronze statue of the queen offering Columbus the Santa Fe agreement, which granted the rights to the epochal voyage to the New World. Going west, Calle de los Reyes Católicos passes near the cathedral and other major sights in the downtown section of Granada. The street runs to Puerta Real, Granada's commercial hub, with many stores, hotels, cafes, and restaurants.