Granada, Spain

Once you’ve ticked off the Al­ham­bra, this sunny city has an edgier, lo­cal bar­rio cul­ture, with al­ter­na­tive and tra­di­tional bars, great food and street art

The Guardian - Travel - - Front Page - By Erica Bar­low, res­i­dent

Be­neath the south side of the Al­ham­bra is the lively, old Jewish quar­ter of Bar­rio Realejo. Wan­der­ing its streets and leafy plazas will re­veal lay­ers of his­tory, but not just through its Arab and ro­manesque build­ings – a newer ad­di­tion is its street art. The colour­ful mu­rals by El Niño de las Pin­turas (pic­tured) con­tinue the over­lap of old and new, grac­ing crum­bling brick­work with im­ages of youth and, in his por­trait of the Clash’s Joe Strum­mer, re­bel­lion. Stick around un­til evening and head to the bustling Calle San-Matías/Calle Varela area where lo­cal favourite ta­pas joint Rosario Varela, with its charm­ing retro in­te­rior, is one not to miss. Have a beer, glass of wine (both from around €2.50) or cock­tail (€4.50-10) ac­com­pa­nied by in­cred­i­ble ta­pas, in­clud­ing mini burg­ers and pork buns.

For au­then­tic fla­menco, skip any venue giv­ing out tourist leaflets, even those in the fa­mous Sacromonte Caves. The Peña la Platería (on Face­book), which is east­wards down the hill to­ward Al­baicín Bajo, show­cases the fla­menco that dancers go to see; pub­lic per­for­mances are on Thurs­day evenings only, from 10pm. It’s €10 for a ticket plus drink on ar­rival, and it’s a good idea to phone ahead and book; and ar­rive early to se­cure a good spot. Bet­ter still, don’t just watch; try lessons with Al­baicín-born Chúa Alba. Hav­ing per­formed and taught fla­menco all over the world, Chúa now holds classes in her stu­dio on Calle Elvira (just be­hind Gran Via). And fret not: what­ever your level of Span­ish or danc­ing, this is truly im­mer­sive and you’ll find your­self pick­ing up the steps in no time.

• es­cue­lafla­men­cachuaalba.com, €10 for drop-ins

3 Craft beer bar

El Fer­men­ta­dor (on Face­book) brings fresh de­vel­op­ment to the bare-bones Plaza de Toros/San Lázaro area. Owner Luis quit a ca­reer in fi­nance to pur­sue his pas­sion for craft beer and bring some­thing dif­fer­ent to his beloved bar­rio. The eight taps serve an ev­er­chang­ing va­ri­ety of trendy beers priced around €2.60, plus their own easy­drink­ing brew. Glasses of wine cost from €2. Ta­pas are a wel­come fu­sion of lo­cal dishes along­side my favourite: brie deep-fried with a for­est-fruit re­duc­tion. If you make it past the ta­pas, don’t miss the house spe­cial IPA burger made with Ir­ish An­gus beef with chunky hand-cut chips (€12) and, if you’ve still got space, the home­made cheese­cake.

4 Botanic Gar­dens

For a qui­eter ex­pe­ri­ence in the same area, the leafy, 19th-cen­tury Jardín Botánico forms a shady, city-cen­tre oa­sis

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