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On a Granada cruise, you’ll sail into Motril, the largest city in Spain’s sunny Costa Tropical, a large stretch of coastline known for its balmy weather and palm-tree lined shores. This popular resort town is filled with stunning golden-sand beaches, where you can spend hours lounging under the sun or diving into the azure blue Alboran Sea.
Motril is also the perfect jumping-off point to visit the fascinating city of Granada, the Andalusian city once ruled by the Moors. Visit the Alhambra, a spectacular palace fortress sitting atop of the Sierra Nevada mountains with breathtaking architectural details.
The main attraction on a Granada cruise is The Alhambra, a stunning palace built by the Moors dating back to the 13th century. The Alhambra (which is loosely derived from the words “red castle” in Arabic) is made up of a series of buildings and gardens, including the Nasrid Palaces and the Alcazaba, which were significantly rebuilt and refashioned after the Spanish expelled the Moors in 1492 and obtained control over the fortress. Admire every corner of this intricately decorated UNESCO World Heritage Site, including its exquisitely carved wooden frames and columns, marble sculptures, fragrant gardens, and the jaw-dropping decorative stalactite work hanging from the domed ceilings.
Discover the historic quarter of El Albaicin, a neighborhood located north of the Alhambra with a rich Moorish history. Walk around its cobblestone streets and lovely plazas. Admire the 16th-century churches that were built over ancient mosques. And don’t forget to stop by the Mirador San Nicolas, a spectacular lookout point at the highest point of Granada, which offers unforgettable views of the Alhambra and the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
While there’s plenty of historical landmarks in Granada, a visit to the sprawling Sierra Nevada National Park is also a must during your cruise to Motril. Spanning over 320 square miles, the Sierra Nevada National Park includes some of Europe’s tallest mountains, as well as hiking trails that wind around the park’s lakes, forests, and hills. Aside from hiking, you can board one of the park’s lifts to get to some of the highest viewpoints at the top of the mountains.
Lounge on one of the beaches near the port of Motril, which is part of Spain’s lovely Costa Tropical. Families will gravitate towards Playa Poniente for its calm waters and close location to the city’s downtown. If you want to fish or try water sports, head to Calahonda Beach.
Go see a traditional flamenco dance show, one of Spain’s most popular cultural activities, which includes guitar music, singing, and dancing. Some of the best venues to watch traditional Flamenco are located in the Sacromonte neighborhood, where you can take in the dramatic twirling and singing while inside a small cave home with whitewashed stone walls and decorative ornaments hanging from the ceiling.
Pick up gifts, souvenirs, and more at La Alcaiceria, the former grand bazaar of Granada during the years of Moorish rule. While the original bazaar was a large labyrinth that served primarily as a silk exchange, its current iteration still has plenty of colorful stalls and shops. Comb through traditional Spanish and Moroccan goods, such as rugs, stained-glass lamps, clothing, ceramics, spices, silks, and leather goods.
Spain is famous for its tapas, and during your cruise to Motril, you’ll find these traditional small plates—which range from nuts and olives to tortillas and fried squid—in most bars and restaurants. If you head to nearby Granada, you’ll actually be able to snack on some of these tapas for free, as it’s one of the few places in Spain which still carries out the tradition of serving free tapas with a drink order.
Motril is located within the Andalusia region of southern Spain. Once ruled by the Moors, Motril later became a part of Spain in 1489. Historically, its economy was centered around the area’s large sugar cane fields and sugar refineries. Today, most of its economic activity revolves around tourism and fishing.
The port of Motril is located near the city’s downtown area. Next to the port, you’ll find several shops and restaurants, as well as pharmacies, ATMs, and hotels. The city of Granada is located roughly 45 minutes away by car.
At the port of Motril, there is a free bus shuttle service that will take you to downtown Motril, where you can visit historic landmarks like the church of La Encarnacion and the Casa Condesa Torre-Isabel. Most of the city’s downtown is easily walkable. Meanwhile in Granada, you can make your way around by taxi, bus system, or on one of the city’s popular hop-on, hop-off tourist buses. You can also book a shore excursion, which includes transportation to and from the port.
Most of the city’s commercial area is concentrated in downtown Motril, where you’ll find souvenir shops, boutique stores, and brand name stores. You’ll also find shops near any of the beach towns scattered along the Costa Tropical. In Granada, don’t miss shopping at the Alcaiceria, the former grand bazaar of the city, where you can peruse handmade items and traditional Moroccan fabrics and products.
The local currency in Motril is the euro. Credit cards aren’t as widely accepted as they are in the United States, especially when paying for small purchases. Try to have some cash on hand for shopping at a store or paying for a drink at a bar. Tipping is not expected, but if you’d like to add in a little something, you can always leave the extra change.