Narrow-streeted Granada is not a motorist-friendly city and certain areas are closed to all vehicles other than taxis and buses. If you do come by road, find a secure car park to stash your vehicle.
British Airways and Iberia fly via Madrid to Granada-Jaén airport, just 17 kilometres outside the city, near the small town of Santa Fe. Internal flights to and from Barcelona also operate regularly. Malaga airport, an hour or so from the city, carries many more international flights.
There are no high speed lines connecting Granada's central station with other Spanish cities - it can take over five hours to get to Madrid.
+34 for Spain; 958 for Granada.
Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving is a collection of short stories by the 19th-century star of the American literary scene. Salman Rushdie'sThe Moor's Last Sighmay be set mainly in Mumbai, but takes its title from the story of Granada's last sultan and frequently refers to Alhambra. For a lively look at Andalucian history, try Jason Webster's Andalus: Unlocking the Secrets of Moorish Spain.
Do go / Don't Go
Spring and autumn are the best seasons to visit as the climate and crowds are less intense. During July and August temperatures can reach 40˚C and it has been known to snow in the city during the winter.
Granada's location between the mountains and the Mediterranean is reflected in its cuisine, with classic Andalucian dishes combining fresh seafood and upland specialities such as sausages or ham. The city's Moorish past can still be tasted in an assortment of spiced and honeyed creations, and the culinary influence of Moroccan immigrants has made mint tea and sweet pistachio pastries tea-time staples. Look out for jamon de Trevelez, a snow-cured ham from a Sierra Nevadan mountain village and the 'challenging' local speciality tortilla Sacromonte - an omelette made with brain and testicles.
Although cabs are flaggable in the street, it can be tricky to pin one down in the evening, so try one of the ranks close to Granada's big-name attractions, such as Alhambra, or call Teleradio Taxi Granada on +34 958 280654.
10 per cent is the norm in bars and restaurants; hotel staff and taxi drives will appreciate a few discretionary coins.
Bikinis and swimming shorts - although you're a couple of hours from the coast, you shouldn't go home without a visit to a hammam baths.
One of the finest examples of mediaeval Moorish architecture in southern Spain, it's easy to lose a day marvelling at Alhambra (www.alhambra.org). The richly decorated throne rooms with intricate plasterwork, courtyards filled with fountains and pools and secluded gardens and towers overlooking the city form an architectural masterpiece that have lost none of their power to charm after 700 years. Even if you're unable to secure tickets for the Nasrid palaces (visitor slots get booked up weeks in advance), it's still worth a visit to explore the magnificent grounds and the summer palace.
The alley-riddled Arab and Jewish quarters of Alcaicería - the former site of the city's silk bazaar is the place to go for traditional Andalucian jewellery and ceramics. Reez (+34 958 220642), on Placeta Albaida in Albayzín, is a tiny designer-jeweller nook that's worth a peep. Tauriq (+34 958 291057) on San Jerónimo houses a collection of arts and antiquities from Spain, Morocco, Ethiopia and China. Another antiqueish place, Antiguedades Arte Reyes (+34 958 293487) on Calle Elvira sells an assortment of local pieces, including glassware, architectural salvage and furniture.
As evening approaches, head to the the Mirador de San Nicolas, a small square in Albayzín, where you can watch the walls of Alhambra grow pink as the sun sets and enjoy magical panoramas of the city and the Sierra Nevada. Musical accompaniment is provided by gypsy guitarists singing traditional songs, and there's always a convivial fiesta atmosphere.
Stop to listen to the buskers and performers on Oficios outside the Capilla Real near the cathedral. Be warned: the women handing out rosemary sprigs aren't doing so out of the kindness of their hearts - a polite 'no quiero' should save you from having your (increasingly expensive) fortune told.
2 January Street parades and cultural events mark the anniversary of the Catholic conquest of Granada in 1492. February Carnival comes to Granada. May The Rocket Festival - head to the village of Alahama de Granada for four days of music and DJs in the Andalucian sunshine (www.rocketfestival.com). September The last Sunday of the month is devoted to Granada's patron, the Virgen de las Angustias and the festival brings processions, floral offerings, bullfights and dancing to the city.