Sierra Nevada National Park#3 in Best Things To Do in Granada
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Though Granada's storied history should be absorbed as much as possible, the nearby Sierra Nevada Mountains are worth just as much exploration. The Sierra Nevada Mountains are part of Sierra Nevada National Park, the largest national park in Spain. The park stretches 320 square miles from Granada to the edge of Almeria and features one of Europe's tallest mountains. Along with the 11,000-foot-tall Mulhacen, there are more than 20 mountains to explore in addition to multiple lakes, rivers and forest areas.
The nearby Sierra Nevada Ski Resort, Europe's southernmost ski resort, offers more than 62 miles of slopes with chairlifts and gondolas throughout. During the summer, lifts transport visitors to some of the park's highest peaks, including Veleta (the tallest after Mulhacen) and their subsequent scenic trails.
Aside from the trails accessible within and near the Sierra Nevada Ski Resort, another popular hike is one along the Los Cahorros gorge, accessible from the village of Monachil. This unique 6-mile trail takes visitors through the sprawling hills of the Monachil Valley and into the Los Cahorros gorge. Keep in mind that as you go deeper into the gorge and hit the river, you will come across parts of the trail that require you to use the jagged cliffs as support. If you don't want to venture too far from Granada, seek out the Dehesa del Generalife. This 1,000-plus-acre park is a protected wildlife area near the Alhambra and features modest trails leading to ruins and vistas of both Granada and the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
The Sierra Nevada Ski Resort is located about 20 miles southeast of Granada. The best way to reach it is by car. Buses are available, however, may be difficult to navigate if you don't have a slight knowledge of Spanish. You can access trails for hiking from the Sierra Nevada Ski Resort for free, but to get to the top of the peaks, lift fees apply. For more information, visit the Sierra Nevada Ski Resort's website.
More Best Things To Do in Granada
#1 The Alhambra
The Alhambra is the crown jewel of Granada. Perched high atop a hill in the center of the city, this UNESCO World Heritage site dominates the skyline. The Alhambra is not only Granada and Andalusia's biggest tourist attraction, it's one of the most-visited spots in all of Spain. It draws about 2 million visitors per year, with some traveling to Granada just to see the Alhambra. And for good reason – it boasts a rich history, magnificent architecture, gorgeous gardens and stellar views.
Aesthetics aside, to really appreciate the Alhambra is to understand its history. The palace was primarily built between the 13th and 14th centuries by the Moorish Nasrid Dynasty (though small parts of it were initially constructed in the ninth century by the previous dynasty), acting as a residence for royals as well as fortress. After the Conquest of Granada, Spanish rulers made the Alhambra more their own – transforming interiors, replacing the on-site mosque with a church and adding other Renaissance-style structures, including an extra palace for Charles V. Many of what visitors see today is centuries of rebuilding and restoration.
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