Soñando Sunday: Granada
Transport options to arrive: Bus or Car (Train or Plane)
- While Granada does have an airport, keep in mind that it is very small and therefore flights are infrequent and often very expensive. However, if you are flying from or through a major airport, you may be able to find a bargain. You may also find “train” options on the RENFE website, but no trains currently reach Granada so keep in mind that if options are available they will typically involve a train to Antequera and a 1-hour bus ride (provided by RENFE and included in the price) from there. Bus tickets, especially from other cities in Andalucía, are generally quite economical.
Recommended time of year to visit and length of visit: Year-round, avoiding December―March if you can’t stand the cold and late June―late August if you can’t stand the heat. While small, Granada has so much charm and variety that you can easily spend 3-4 days (although it is also possible to whizz through in one).
Fun Fact: Granada means ‘pomegranate’ in Spanish and once you realize this, the detailed homage paid to this fruit throughout the city will not be missed! You’ll notice it worked into the bollards (the steel posts designating pedestrian streets), the design on doors and windows, as well as in other artwork throughout the city. If you’re lucky, you’ll happen upon a granado (pomegranate tree) in one of the many parks!
Top three must-sees:
1. La Alhambra and El Generalife: Although you will definitely find this as the number one recommendation in every other guide as well, it is for a reason. The Alhambra is more than a beautiful palace! It was once a full Moorish city, which was overtaken by the Catholic Kings, and is the setting of so many moments throughout Spanish history. You simply can’t visit Granada and miss out on Los Palacios Nazaríes and the Generalife gardens that surround them. If need be, you can usually get tickets very early in the morning the day of, but it is recommended to book in advance (and I would personally splurge for a guided tour!). Also keep in mind that the possibility of finding last-minute tickets decreases greatly during high tourism season, so do your research.
2. Paseo de los Tristes: The stroll up this riverside street (Carrera del Darro) is beautiful from its beginning in Plaza Nueva to the very end (the area technically called Paseo de los Tristes), but some of my favorite tranquil scenes are actually of the cobblestone bridges before you reach the view of the Alhambra.
3. Albaicín: While the guidebooks will direct you to the most famous look-out point, the Mirador de San Nicolás (which is absolutely worth a visit!) the true beauty of this neighborhood of steep winding streets and steps is in losing your way. Attempt to find other look-outs like San Miguel Alto and popular squares like Plaza Larga, but rest assured that even if you don’t find any specific places, your ambling adventure will be worthwhile!
One thing to drink: Moroccan-style tea
Granada’s gastronomy is based on the free tapas culture and we already have plenty of specific recommendations for you to check out elsewhere on the site. Thus, I recommend you make time to enjoy a tasty tea in one of the many teterías along Calle Calderería Nueva. The atmosphere in these tea houses, which will transport you back to the days of Moorish influence in Granada, is so laid-back and chill you may want to order another tea or indulge in a homemade Arabic pastry, crepe, or smoothie and share a hookah or shisha with some friends!