Euro City Guides: Granada
Updated: Oct 8, 2020
Granada is medieval, romantic dream. This stunningly beautiful city holds a lot of historical importance, as it was once the crossroads of multiple influential empires. It's Arab influence gives it a very unique feel that can be seen in the architecture throughout the city, especially at the famous Alhambra. Being the home of flamenco, Granada has many beautiful hillside caves to explore and see where flamenco originates from. Just walking around the old city feels like you're in a dream, and you definitely won't get bored exploring it.
Located in Andalusia, my favorite province of Spain, Granada is at the perfect location. At the base of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, you'll get stunning views everywhere you go and amazing weather. It's location also made it the site of many historic palaces, such as the Alhambra, a world-renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Airbnb I stayed in was in the center of town, along a historic plaza and in a really great location. I recommend staying in town where all the action is, especially since you are halfway between the Albaicin and the Alhambra, and a 20 minute walk to either. I've linked it here for you to book!
It's a really beautiful Airbnb and I would recommend it to anyone visiting Granada. It also had some pretty sweet views.
The city is pretty small and full of hills, so definitely explore it by foot. It can be a bit of a long walk uphill to the Albaicin, Sacromonte, or the Alhambra, but it is well worth it. You can also take a taxi to any of these places, taxis in the city are pretty easy to come by and inexpensive. Like most cities in Spain, it is easily accessible via the Renfe or any of Spain's bus lines, such as ALSA. I took the Renfe, which I recommend if you are coming from farther away. It was a 3 hour ride from Atocha Station in Madrid, but I believe the bus ride is about 6. It was a pretty comfortable ride and I only had 3 days there, so the train was the right decision for me, but I think it really depends on how much you're willing to spend and how much time you have there. Book in advance for cheaper rates!
Granada is famous for so many of it's sites, and they're all pretty incredible. There was so much to see that 3 days didn't feel like nearly enough time. If you can, I honestly would recommend spending 4-5 days here, it really is worth it. It's also a great city to relax in, so give yourself some time to relax in the plazas and enjoy that beautiful weather that you get year-round in southern Spain.
El Bañuelo: This small site along the Carrera del Darro is an old Roman bathhouse, which is pretty cool to see. You can see how nice this place once was, and a lot of the carvings in the building are really intricate. Each room was set to a different temperature, which is represented in the architecture. There's a pass available at the site that gives you entrance to 3 small monuments, including El Bañuelo and the Palacio de Dar al Horra, so definitely get the pass and save some money! Price: 7€ for the pass.
Sacromonte: Known as the birthplace of flamenco, this neighborhood is where many Roma people settled and made their homes in Granada. This beautiful little village carved out into the hillside really makes it seem as though you've stepped back in time. Flamenco was born inside of these historic caves, which many people still live in to this day. I recommend hiking up the hill to Sacromonte during the day for stunning views of the valley below and of the city of Granada. Some of the best viewpoints are up here, also make sure to go to a flamenco show in one of the cages at night!
Carrera del Darro: This is the main street that leads up to Sacromonte from the city center. It's a really pretty street, so take some time for a nice stroll. It winds along a river at the base of Alhambra, so you have some great views of the Alhambra from below. There are lots of local artisans selling their stuff, so wander in some of the shops and check them out. A lot of the beautiful painted tile you'll see all over Spain comes from here, which would make a cool souvenir!
Museo de las Cuevas del Sacromonte: If you hike up to the top of the hill in Sacromonte, there's a cool outdoor museum on the history of the caves of Sacromonte. It's made of the caves themselves, meant to portray the lives of the people who first inhabited them. It shows what their daily lives were like, and is a really cool, interactive look into the history of the region. Price: 5€.
Palacio de Dar al Horra: This small but beautiful palace was made to be the residence of a Nasrid queen and has a lot of Arab influence, just like many of the historical sites in the city. Entry is included in one of the 3-site passes available, which lets you into the palace at any time the same day for a good price. It's located in the historic Albaicin neighborhood, so take some time to walk around and explore this cute and historic neighborhood before or after your visit. The palace itself is beautiful, and has great views of the city. I know I keep talking about the views, but they really are so good here! Price: 7€ with the pass.
Albaicin: This is more of the historic "old town" neighborhood of Granada. Elevated above the city center, there are some great views of the city and of the Alhambra from up here. A lot of tourists stay here, but I believe it is a bit pricier than staying in the city center. There are plenty of nice bars and cafes here, and the neighborhood itself is so cute and worth spending a day to explore. Make sure to try a "pionono", the famous custard-y pastry of Granada.
Mirador de San Nicolas: Probably the most popular (but for good reason) viewpoint in the city. Up in the Albaicin, this outlook has the perfect view of the Alhambra, and is a great place to watch the sunset.
Mirador de San Cristobal: Stop here for some more incredible views of the Alhambra on your walk back down to the city center from the Albaicin.
Cueva de la Rocio: This is probably one of the most well-known of the flamenco caves in Sacromonte. I haven't been to any other venues in Granada so I can't really compare, but it was a great show in a cozy, intimate atmosphere. All of the seats were facing the aisle that the dancers performed up and down, which made it feel very emotional and personal. For the ticket price you have a drink included, and I believe the pricing was pretty standard for flamenco shows in Sacromonte. Seeing a flamenco show in the caves is an absolute must-do while you're in Granada! Price: 40€.
Abadia del Sacromonte: If you hike all the way up Sacromonte and continue for 20-40 minutes, you'll reach this beautiful old abbey. I would recommend visiting just for the views themselves, it's in a really beautiful, remote spot. If you're pressed for time though, you can't enter without a tour so maybe skip this one if you can't buy tickets ahead of time. If you do have the time, definitely get a tour that shows you the caves, which is the thing to see here. Price: 5€.
Alhambra (Nasrid Palaces): The Alhambra complex is massive, and it's hard to see it all at once, or even know what to see in the first place. The Nasrid Palaces are the main palaces of the Alhambra though, and probably what comes to mind when you think of the Alhambra. These are the most popular, but you can't really visit the Alhambra without seeing them. I would highly recommend purchasing your tickets online at least 2 months ahead of time. If you are visiting last minute though, check their ticket website at midnight the night before the day you want to visit, there will sometimes be surrendered tickets there. This is what I did, and my boyfriend and I were able to snag the last 2 tickets for the next day. Price: 14€.
Alhambra (Generalife): The Generalife is another palace in the Alhambra that is smaller and a bit nicer than the Nasrid Palaces. It has beautiful gardens, and is even higher up than the rest of the Alhambra. I booked a night tour here, which was absolutely the right decision. The gardens are all lit up at night and it's so beautiful! The only downside of the night visit is that you can only visit the ground floor, but it truly is a magical experience visiting at this time. Price: 7€.
Granada has some great places to eat. Like I've said before, Andalusian food is sooo good, and a lot more veggie-friendly than food from the rest of Spain. Here are some of my recs!
Disclaimer: I'm a vegetarian, so all of these are going to be veg-friendly.
Mimimi: I love this cute little vegan/vegetarian friendly breakfast cafe. They have great avocado toast, juice, and vegan pastries! https://www.instagram.com/mimimigranada/?hl=en
Artesana Picnic: Great little takeout pizza place to stop by in the Albaicin. Perfect for when you're hungry and everything else is shut down for siesta!
Pionono: Not a place, but you have to try this pastry while you're in Granada! It's kind of like a thicker, more cupcake-y version of the Portuguese pastel de nata. I got one at Casa Pasteles Albayzin in the Albaicin neighborhood, and it was great.
Wild Food: Fantastic vegetarian restaurant in the city center. It's all healthy food with really creative twists on some traditional Spanish dishes. Must go if you're a vegetarian, or just like to eat healthy. http://wildfood-plantbased.com/
Cafe Lisboa: This is probably the most famous cafe in the city, and they do the traditional Spanish breakfast well. Their main draw is that they have full English and American breakfasts, so come here if that's your thing. Their breakfasts are super filling, but they do have a long wait time. https://cafelisboa.es/en/#eluid02e04616
Alhambra Palace Restaurant: This was definitely the nicest place I went to while I was there. This beautiful restaurant is located in a 5-star hotel right next to the Alhambra with incredible views. The service here was amazing, and the food was pretty good too. It's actually not too expensive for what you're getting, comparable to the price of an average dinner in NYC or LA. Treat yourself to a meal here, (or even just drinks!) for a pretty incredible experience. *Make a res*. https://www.h-alhambrapalace.es/en/restaurant/
Granada is an incredible city, and I hope you have as much of an amazing time there as I did. The city truly is magic, it's like a living fairytale. Enjoy it, and feel free to let me know if you like any of my recommendations! :) I'll be posting plenty more Euro City Guides soon, so stay tuned.
For more pictures of Granada, check out my album on Flickr.