Barcelona. Madrid. San Sebastian. These cities get a lot of attention from tourists alike. And for good reason – they have a lot to offer the tourist looking for cultural history, good food, and good accommodations all in one easy-to-access package. What separates travelers from the tourists, however, is the pursuit of culture off the beaten path. Travelers look for opportunities to explore places that a tourist doesn’t find worth their time to get to. Too much of a hassle. You are a traveler. That’s why you read Do It While You’re Young. And when it comes to culture, few places can beat the intrigue of Granada, Spain. Granada is a quaint city in Andalucía with a close proximity to the Mediterranean Sea and the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Home to the Alhambra, the most iconic Moorish structure in Spanish Islamic history, Granada is a cultural gem that shouldn’t be overlooked on your travels.
Getting Around Granada
Pack some comfy shoes because Granada’s size makes it an ideal walking city. You can get almost anywhere within the city by foot. When I found myself unable to walk to a destination, I took a city bus to get within walking range. As long as you’re in decent shape, you shouldn’t have to take a taxi while in Granada. This is great news for your wallet!
Where to Stay in Granada
Granada has a variety of hostels and hotels with decent rates. Funky Granada, HostelOne Granada and El Granado are among the top hostels within the city. Sercotel Carmen, Hotel Alixares and Hotel Saray are a few hotels within the city that won’t break your budget. You could also rent a short term apartment or get to know the locals by staying at a bed and breakfast. Granada has a friendly, small-town feel, so I would recommend spending a night or two with a local family if possible.
One of the best parts about Granada is the free tapas. Just order a drink and you’ll receive a tapa of your choice along with it. In Spain the largest meal of the day is lunch, so it doesn’t take much to create a satisfying dinner with tapas alone. Explore as many tapas bars as you can. Some may only give you olives and crackers while others fill you up on pizza or Spanish omelets; but most have outdoor seating in beautiful plazas, so sit back and enjoy the atmosphere.
If you only have time to do one thing while in Granada, tour the Alhambra. This Moorish palace and fortress was one of the last Muslim-ruled dynasties left in Spain during the reconquista by the Reyes Católicos. It was taken over by Catholic Spain in 1492. Most of the palace contains Arabic-styled arches and columns, with the interior adorned in intricate designs and tiles. Other portions of this historic structure are filled with renaissance art representing its fall to the Catholics. Touring the Alhambra is an all-day event, as the fortress is filled with gardens, fountains, towers and many breathtaking rooms to explore.
Alhambra Granada Tickets – The Low-Down
You can purchase timed Alhambra Granada tickets through Ticketmaster. Scheduled in 30 minute increments, visitors enter at any time during their 30-minute window and stay until the end of the session. Evening Visits offer limited access to Alhambra sights as well as a shorter visiting time, so keep that in mind. There’s a lot to see at the Alhambra, so you might want to opt for the daytime sessions. Also, there are different types of Alhambra Granada tickets. These include:
- full ticket: morning or afternoon (Generalife, Alcazaba, Nazrid Palaces and gardens)
- half ticket: morning or afternoon (Generalife, Alcazaba and gardens)
- evening visit ticket (Generalife)
- evening visit ticket (Nazrid Palaces)
- blue circular pass (full ticket + evening ticket for two consecutive days)
The Albaicin is a small Moorish district near the Alhambra, and is worth a visit, especially if you don’t have time to tour the Alhambra. As soon as you enter the Albaicín, it feels as though you’re walking through a different country. Winding cobblestone roads and beautifully designed houses make up this Moorish vicinity within Granada. Walk to the overlook and see the massive Alhambra in the distance. Before you leave, be sure to grab a cup of mint tea and walk through the shops.
Since Granada is near the southern coast of Spain, you can reach a number of beaches via bus. It will cost you 15-20 euro round trip, depending on the beach you go to. Salobreña is one beautiful beach only about an hour from Granada. Like on most beaches along the southern coast of Spain, you’ll sprawl out on tiny gray pebbles rather than smooth white sand. Be sure to apply generous amounts of sunscreen every few hours throughout the day, otherwise you’ll end up with a wicked sunburn.
You can’t go to Spain without venturing to a discoteca. We journeyed to Mae West, where we paid a fee of 10 euro that covered entry and one free drink. Like most discotecas, Mae West has a huge dance floor and incredibly energetic atmosphere. Other popular discotecas in Granada include Granada 10, El Camborio and Sala Principe.
Parque de las Ciencias
Granada has multiple museums, but the science museum is one of the most visited in the city. Parque de las Ciencias has indoor and outdoor exhibits, a planetarium and a butterfly house. With so many interesting things to discover, you could easily spend an entire day in this museum.
Parque García Lorca
Granada is the birthplace of one of Spain’s most famous poets: Federico García Lorca. Because of this the city created a beautiful park in his name. Enter the park for free and go for a stroll or sit down with a good book. You could spend an afternoon reading some of García’s most famous poems in the park built just for him.
What are Your Favorite Spots in Granada?
We’ve featured Granada in a number of different posts on DIWYY, most notably: