Sometimes you find a place that perfectly suits you; culture, food, art, history, people and weather combine in just the right way and you fall in love. For me Granada is one of those places and has got to be one of the top five cities I’ve visited. It’s not just the tapas, flamenco, wine, caves and bars that do it for me (although those things all help); there’s an energy to Granada that struck a chord with me personally. It was something I felt immediately upon arriving in the city, and something I dream of still. Apparently a lot of people feel this way.
Unfortunately we only spent three nights in Granada, but we took full advantage of its attributes. We slept in a cave, scored free tickets to the incredible Alhambra and tapas’d as much as one can tapas. Oh Granada, take me back.
We arrived to Granada from Alicante using rideshare service BlaBlaCar. Our ride cost €24 each and took 3.5 hours. We were dropped on the outskirts of the city, as our driver was continuing past, which can be a downside to travelling via rideshare if your ride isn’t staying nearby. With no taxis or buses in sight we were forced to walk in 38°c heat to the nearest cafe, where we managed to organise a taxi to our accommodation for €8.90. Worth it.
The Alicante to Granada route is well serviced by ALSA buses. You can book advance tickets for €9.25, but the journey takes between five and seven hours. Travelling via bus means you will arrive at Granada Estacion de Autobuses, which means another bus ride to the city centre.
Granada has train connections to many cities in Spain with Renfe, but none to the south or east. That means if you are coming from Alicante you need to get a rideshare or take a bus.
Granada Airport is 16km from the city centre and buses will take you there in 40 minutes. An airport to city bus ticket will cost €2.40 per person.
Getting around Granada is easy enough using the local bus service. A single ticket costs €1.20 per person and there are different options for multiple rides. Check out the Love Granada website for all the info. Taxis are also a good option for getting around if you have a few people, they are regulated and affordable.
Hint – It’s worth using local buses in summer, Granada can get very hot and has many hills.
Seeking an authentic Granadian experience we rented a semi-cave apartment near Sacromonte, with Airbnb. Our cave cost €36 per night and by far the best part about it was that it remained cold at all times. This can be very important in Granada, temperatures were already reaching 38°c daily while we were there in late June.
You can find a double room in a Granada bnb from as little as €10 per night, but if you are sharing you could go for something closer to €20 per night and stay somewhere a bit nicer. Private apartments on Airbnb start from around €35 and average €70 per night.
Granada Hotels have double rooms from €35 per night in somewhere that has good ratings. If you pay anything more than €45 per night you will be staying somewhere above average.
Couchsurfing would be a great option in Granada if you have the inclination. It’s exactly the type of city that would benefit from local knowledge.
Definitely stay in Albaicín or Sacromonte, both areas are only a short walk to the centre of Granada, they both have views over the city and an excellent local vibe.
Granada specialises in the following things: tapas, flamenco, architecture and attitude. Lets address all of these individually.
Tapas in Granada are served free when you buy a drink. That’s right, free. What you get can range from cheese to stews to gourmet seafood to chips, but the one thing you can rely on is that if you are buying drinks, the tapas keep coming. Tapas generally change with each round so if you stay in one bar for a few drinks you get to try different plates. There aren’t any concrete rules regarding size or amount per person but the nicer the bar, the nicer the tapas. Any drink counts as far as I could tell, although we mostly drank cañas (small beers) and glasses of wine, oh and the drinks are cheap. My advice is to choose a place, order a drink and see what happens. We went out drinking every night and never paid for a meal. Here are some places we tried that are worth a visit:
Los Diamantes (Calle Navas) – Classic Spanish seafood tapas
Retaurante Oliver – Good tapas and people watching
El Tabernáculo – Traditional tapas and Jesus
La Tana – Great tapas and even better wine
La Pajuana – Modern tapas and good service
Bodega La Bella y La Bestia Origins – Big tapas, almost meal-size.
If you are looking for a sit-down meal, or more substantial fare than tapas to match your drinks, you can order larger plates almost everywhere for a price.
Flamenco is taken very seriously in Andalucia and has become synonymous with the Romani population in Granada. Centered in the caves of Sacromonte, it’s a passionate art-form of flair, sorrow, bravado and most of all; love. Instruments, voice, percussion and dance tell stories to break hearts or inspire movements and you can experience it first-hand in Granada. Visiting the Sacromonte Flamenco caves is the most famous and easily accessible way to see flamenco, prices vary greatly and start from €15 for entry, although most places we found were charging more like €35 including some food. We actually didn’t visit as we were in Granada during a huge music and arts festival, so we got our fill of incredible flamenco (and the rest!) right on the street.
Architecture is cool all around the city, but make sure to spent time walking through the streets of Albayzín to soak in the Moorish housing and buildings on the hill. Sacromonte is incredible and offers amazing views over the city as you walk the cobbled streets and dodge the enormous cactuses.
By far the most impressive part of Granada is the awe-inspiring Alhambra; a fortress, palace and gardens that dates back to the 9th century. You need to go to the Alhambra and you need to book in advance. Some people book months in advance but if you show up in person you can probably get a ticket for the following day, although you might not get to choose a time. General admission is €14 per person and it is well worth twice that, although we were gifted ours by a kind French stranger while standing in the queue. Thank you kind French man.
Expect to spend around four hours at the Alhambra wandering through the elaborate multicultural palace and gardens, taking in the views from the fortress that sits proudly above the city. The complex is enormous but it’s the finer details that makes this place so impressive
Possibly the best thing about Granada is the infectious attitude the city imbues. It’s fierce, dark, hot and gritty. It’s Spanish but proudly Andalusian. It’s artistic and emotional. Anthony Bourdain said when talking about Granada;
“This is the dream of all the world. The dream is to live in Granada. You know, work in the morning, have a one-hour nap in the afternoon, and at night go out and have that life. Go out and see your friends and eat tapas and drink red wine and be in a beautiful place.”
That’s it right there.
Granada for three nights;
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