36 Hours in Granada, Spain

Join the locals for a breakfast of thick Spanish hot chocolate ideal for dipping crisply fried dough called churros (5 euros) at Café Fútbol. Opened in 1903, the cafe has a spacious outdoor seating area that stays busy all day long, so circle back for some house-made ice cream. Bernabeu, the friendly gentleman who makes it, recommends a scoop of the dense almond-rich turrón flavor (1 euro).

Now for the daytime Alhambra visit. Taken as a whole, the complex is perhaps the most emblematic vestige of the highly refined and astonishingly luxurious lifestyle achieved by the Moorish rulers in medieval Spain. Tickets range from 7 to 21 euros. If you want to include the Nasrid palaces, note that visitors are given a specific time for entry.

Granada is one of the last cities in Spain where tapas are served free with alcohol. So belly up to the bar — or better yet, find a table on the terrace — at Cunini, the city’s gold standard for seafood for more than 70 years. With each 2- to 3-euro refill of wine, another plate of free food arrives, quickly adding up to a full and satisfying meal that might start with tuna-flecked potato salad and move on to crispy croquetas de jamón. An individual pot of rice cooked with mussels and several varieties of tiny clams or rings of fried calamari may follow, along with lightly battered monkfish. Dessert is on you.

After the conquest of Granada in 1492, the area just below the Alhambra and Albaicín became the stage for the display of Christian architectural might. The area is easily walked, with lots of history to see between the cafes and tearooms, ceramics shops and guitar makers that lend an extra bit of local color. Worth stepping into is the Cathedral (5 euros), which blends Renaissance, plateresque and Baroque architectural styles, and the late-Gothic Royal Chapel (4 euros), built between 1505 and 1516 to house the tomb of Ferdinand and Isabella. Worthwhile sites of more recent vintage include the Centro José Guerrero (free), devoted to the work of this seminal 20th-century Spanish painter, and the new Centro Federico Garcia Lorca, which organizes exhibitions on subjects related to the life of the city’s most beloved modern poet and author.

In a city where tapas are famously free and dinner can be had for the price of a few glasses of wine, it’s been hard to get much traction for the alta cocina (haute cuisine) trend that swept Spain and the world in the past decades. The chef Ismael Delgado López is trying to fix that at La Fábula, in the Hotel Villa Oniria. The very formal service feels a little forced in groovy Granada, but the food does not disappoint. A 10- to 12-course chef’s menu might start with “gazpacho water and steamed brioche,” and end with local cheeses and three decadent desserts (75 euros, or 90 euros with wine pairings).

The classic Granada experience has always included a late-night flamenco performance in the “caves” of the Sacromonte hill beyond the Albaicín. Venta El Gallo has a reliable roster of performers and draws the occasional star as well. Admission for performances starts at 26 euros; on some nights one-hour flamenco classes are offered for an additional price.