Granada is dominated by its mighty Moorish fortress, the Alhambra. Book ahead and visit early, at its least-crowded, and then spend the afternoon meandering the narrow streets and plazas of the old town – the Albaicín. Stay in this area at the 16th-century Santa Isabel La Real, with its Alhambra views, (doubles from €95 B&B, parking available).
On day two, take in the Alhambra’s Nasrid palaces, Generalife and the Alcazaba before driving north-west through rolling olive country to picturesque Priego de Córdoba (N-432 & A-339, 76km). The town is a restful place to be, and feels like the essence of Andalucía; its Barrio de la Villa is a labyrinth of fountains, churches, geraniums, with castle and panoramic views. Take all that in while staying at quaint Hotel Zahorí (double from €55 B&B).