Granada is a bustling, cosmopolitan city where the presence of 60,000 Spanish and foreign university students guarantees a lively night scene with everything from traditional gypsy flamenco to all night clubs and some rather seedy gay bars (with very dark back rooms!). The city hosts some spectacular fiestas and several international festivals so check dates in advance if you want your visit to coincide with one of these major annual events.
Whatever you want from an evening out, you'll find it here. As in most Andalucian cities, the traditional start to the evening is a tour of the tapas bars; the whole city is awash with bars and restaurants but you'll find the biggest concentration in Pedro Alarcon and Plaza Nueva. Typical locals tapas include squid in batter (calamares), olives wrapped in anchovies, strips of aubergine in garlic (berenjena) and the ubiquitous cured ham (jamon serrano).
If you fancy something more substantial there's a good choice of Spanish restaurants specialising in Andalucian dishes along with plenty of international restaurants (everything from pizzerias and burger bars to German beer kellers and Arab kebab houses). If you can summon enough culinary courage you may want to try the typical festive dish of Granada, the Sacromonte omelette, made of fried brain and bull's testicles.
One of the most famous Andalucian restaurants in town is the Sevilla which has a magnificent dining terrace right next to the cathedral. You can sample typical dishes of the region in an enchanting atmosphere, created in part by the music of a classical Spanish guitarist. This was a favourite haunt of Granada's most famous son, the poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca. The guest list reads like a Hollywood Hall of Fame - Roger Moore, Brigitte Bardot, Yul Brynner, Deborah Kerr, Alec Guinness and Bing Crosby are among the many stars who have dined here.
Lorca's homosexuality may have something to do with Granada's thriving gay scene. There are straight bars where gays feel comfortable and decidedly gay bars where most straights would feel downright uncomfortable!
A visit to the Caldererias in the early evening will make you feel as though you've suddenly arrived in a Moroccan kasbah. These two streets between Calle Elvira and Plaza Nueva are packed with arts and craft stalls selling all manner of goods in an exotic oriental atmosphere of Moroccan music and all the colourful chaos of an Arab souk. Moroccan cafes offer a staggering range of teas and this is an excellent place to pick up tasty Arab snacks (pita bread sandwiches, kebabs, falafel and samosas).
One of the most popular places to see flamenco is the hill of El Sacromonte on the northern edge of the city where the former gypsy caves now pack in busloads of international tourists who come here to see this most famous and passionate of Spanish art forms. Some say the performances here are too "touristy" but you'll see authentic flamenco in these caves which have spawned some of the world's greatest gypsy dancers and guitarists.
For a night out with a difference, do what the Romans and Moors used to do and pop along to the Arab Hammam Baths in Calle Santa Ana. You can relax with friends in the warm waters of the baths, soothed by Arabic music and the scent of jasmine, until midnight (but you've got to keep your costume on!).
There's a regular programme of classic and modern drama at both the Alhambra Theatre and the Teatro de Isabel Catolica. In June and July each year performers and spectators visit from all over the world for the prestigious International Festival of Music and Dance. The city also hosts the International Tango Festival in March, a theatre festival in October and a jazz festival in November.