Why Granada will blow you away
Fancy an Arabian trip to South Spain? So get ready your Aladdin magic carpet
From free tapas, Moorish baths, Arabic teterías, authentic flamenco, epic hiking trails, Federico García Lorca’s home town and the sublime Alhambra Palace—a 1000-year-old UNESCO world heritage complex that rises like an Arabian Nights fantasy at the foot of Sierra Nevada mountain range—; Granada is hard to ignore.
This Andalusian gem is unlike any other city in Spain and is home to the country’s dazzling Moorish architectural heritage. However, nowadays, Granada is more than a citadel, is a cultural melting pot of the 21st century that mixes wandering tourists, bohemians, students (Granada is top Erasmus destination), poets, street artists and flamenco musicians.
What to do in Granada? Here you’ll find some ideas
…now get ready to fly!
Get lost in the Albayzin Quarter
The Albayzin, UNESCO World Heritage-listed neighbourhood, is the old Arab Quarter. As soon as you step in, you will feel back in time due to the strong Muslim influence in this area. If you dare, get lost in a labyrinth of narrow cobblestone streets and delightful Moorish architecture.
Within the Albayzin Quarter, find the Mirador de San Nicolás (Callejón de San Cecilio leads to the Mirador’s viewpoint).Climb up the stairs and get ready for epics views of the Alhambra and Sierra Nevada. Come back here for sunset; your eyes will pop out! Don’t feel like walking? Buses C1 or C2 from Plaza Nueva will take you there.
Tea time at a Moorish tea house
If you are a tea lover you cannot miss this! Don’t you dare leave this place without sampling at least one of the huge amount of tea houses around Granada! Best Granada’s Arabic teterías will be found on Calle Elvira and Calle Caldereria Nueva where tea rooms with puffed cushions, shadowy lanterns, and shishas —water-pipes—will be waiting for you. If you choose Calle Elvira, don’t miss the Arco de Elvira, which used to be the principal gate that led to Albaicin.
Best Teterias to die for:
- Tetería Oriental: C/ Cuesta Marañas, 3 (esq. Calderería Nueva), Granada.
- Tetería Kasbah: C/ Calderería Nueva 4, Granada, 18010.
Dance with me… Olé!
Fancy a flamenco show in a typical cave? For the most authentic flamenco, Sacromonte Quarter, is definitely the place to go. There is a couple of great cave bars on the Camino de Sacromonte. This quarter is famous for its inhabited caves carved out of the soft rock. Originally built and lived in by gitanos—Spanish gypsies—as they are know locally, the caves became popular for the locals to meet up, dance all night and get a bit tipsy (why not?!). The best caves to visit are those dedicated to Zambra—a type of flamenco dancing that’s firmly rooted in Sacromonte Quarter.
Best flamenco shows:
- Peña de la Platería: Plaza de Toqueros 7, Granada.
- Cuevas los Tarantos: Camino del Sacromonte 9, Granada
FREE tapas for all!
If you are a foodie (who isn’t, hello?), this will be your favourite section. YES!… FREE tapas! Pinch me, please!
Start your Granada tapas bar crawl on Calle de Elvira, Calle Pedro de Alarcón or Calle Navas. A free tapas-plate is dispensed with every round of drinks you order. With a tenner, I can assure that you can get a bit tipsy and also a full belly. A glass of beer (plus a free tapa) is around €1.80 to €2.00 each. Cheers!
Best places in town for mouth watering Tapas
Calle Águila, 20, 18002 Granada
Marco knows how to grab your attention with authentic tapas. This remains one of my favourite go-to tapas bar in the city, and most nights, especially weekends, bring big crowds so try to arrive early. Then don’t say I didn’t warn you! Try huge homemade croqueta (H-U-G-E!) and marinated salmon with trout caviar on toast.
Mesón Rincón De Rodri
Calle Músico Vicente Zarzo, 3, Granada
Seafood lovers? This tapas bar offers fresh seafood tapas. Ask for pescaito frito (fried fish) and fresh gambas (king-sized prawn).
Calle Verónica de la Magdalena, 40, 18002 Granada
Matthew and Ana will delight you with home made international tapas prepared with loving care. My favourite? Galinha de coco e funghi (chicken in coconut sauce with polenta). This place is always packed offering not only yummy tapas but great student atmosphere.
Calle Navas, 28, 18002, Granada.
Best in local cuisine.This place is packed all the time offering seafood tapas out of this world. Fast service but is better to get in early. Personal advice? Mingle with the locals as they create lots of atmosphere. English menu if you ask. Not to be missed.
Let’s go for a swim…but Moorish style!
Put your bikini on and merge yourself in this “back to the past” Moorish swim at Baños Arabes de Granada. As soon as you enter the low-ceiling bath house with its colourful mosaics, you will be transported back to a time when the Moors ruled Granada. Baños Arabes de Granada, Calle Santa Ana, 16, Granada.
Spend a day in the Alhambra Complex
There are places in the world that evoke a feeling of magic and charm, and the Alhambra is one such place. This unique Moorish Palace is the most visited tourist attraction in Spain, attracting millions of visitors per year.
What to see?
The complex is divided into three main sections: Nasrid Palaces (you will fell in love here!), the Alcazaba, and the Generalife. Do not miss Palace of Charles V, Court of the Myrtles, Court of the Lions, Gate of Justice, Bath of the Mosque, lower gardens of the Generalife and Gate of the Pomegranates. You might want to print off this handy English map of the Alhambra Complex for your visit! De nada :)
How to buy tickets?
Due to high demand all year round, it is certainly worth booking ahead. Tickets can be bought from a variety of sources — including branches of the Bank Caixa, and the official Alhambra shop on Calle Reyes Católicos 40. You can also book by calling the ticket office but the easiest option is the Spanish version of Ticketmaster: alhambra-tickets.es. Keep in mind that queues at the ticket office can be endless even if you are only collecting pre-bought passes. Definitely, you should aim to be in position when (if not before) the windows go up.
Wanna party until late?
If you are a party animal (I’m not anymore lol) you can have so much fun in Granada! These below are my best pick-up places!
- El Camborio: Is perhaps the most popular club of all. Located in Sacromonte Quarter—and in front of the Alhambra Palace—, this student favourite, not only offers amazing music and atmosphere but if you manage not to get drunk (at least before sunset lol), you will be able to admire one of the most beautiful sunsets of the Alhambra. From any point of the garden, you have a perfect view. Camino del Sacromonte 47, 18010 Granada.
- Mae West: If you like to get dressed up then Mae West is the place for you. Prices are above the average but it worth a visit. Amazing decoration and outdoor terrace. Centro Comercial Neptuno, C/ Arabial, s/n, 18004 Granada, España.
Bed time! Where to sleep?
If you are looking for cheap accommodation, Granada offers great value for money. The prettiest lodgings are located in the Albayzín courtyard houses, but keep in mind that these call for some hill-walking (good for the butt tho), and many aren’t accessible by taxi. However, it will be worth the stay in this 1000 years of history Quarter, as soon as you look thru your hostel’s window you will feel like a Moorish King!
Now…where to book?
Hostelworld — the world’s leading hostel-focused online booking platform — offers great hostels around this Moorish labyrinth.These are the perfect hostels for location, atmosphere, and warm Spanish hospitality!
…and the winners are…
Calle Santisimo San Pedro 4, Granada.
Located in the heart of the Albayzín, this hostel with colourful courtyard offers excellent location only 2 minutes away from Paseo de los Tristes and the Alhambra. Has won 2 Awards as Worldwide Medium Hostel and Country Winners Spain. Shared rooms from €10.80. Privates from €34. Book here
Calle de la Tiña 18, Granada
Located up the hill in the Albayzín Quarter, this laid-back hostel — an 18th-century building completely renovated — features an outdoor terrace with a bar and a tree-house as well as comfy lounge areas with hammocks and cushions. Shared rooms from €17.61. Privates from €64.80. Book here
As you can see, Granada has it all, from yummy tapas bars, stunning views, student atmosphere, labyrinth streets to party none stop…and anything is possible in this magic and enchanted Moorish City… if you want, you can even be a cover girl :-)
Thank you, Granada! Xx
About the author: Marianela is a working traveller from Argentina who moved to Ireland at the age of 23 to study English and travel around Europe. After 10 years of that big decision, she has visited more than 35 countries and 120 cities. She lived in Lisbon and Granada, where she completed her studies in Translation and Interpreting. Now she is based in Dublin, works for Airbnb and in her free time writes her own blog based on her own experiences around the globe. Follow her on Facebook & Instagram. Website: www.flylikebutterfly.com