Today I’m teaming up with Charlotte to bring you a guide to Granada, Spain. I fell in love with Charlotte’s Instagram because of her unique twist she puts on her photos. And once I realized she was a study abroad student in Granada, Spain just like me in Paris, I loved following along even more. Granada wasn’t on my radar, but after reading her recommendations, it’s definitely on my list… especially since Spain is still on list of places to get to! Have you been?
Let’s get to it…
Hi! I’m Charlotte, a native New Englander who spent the last semester studying abroad in beautiful Granada, Spain. I’m excited to share my recommendations here on Musings Over Mochas today. I explored this city high and low and it will always be one of my favorite places in the world. If you ever get the chance to visit, take it! Here’s where you should stay, where you should eat, and what you should see if you end up there…
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Granada is a very affordable city, so you can find a nice apartment on AirBNB for cheap! I recommend either the Albaicín or Realejo neighborhoods. You’ll get a feel for living like a local if you stay in these neighborhoods (as opposed to the center of the city, which would be more tourist-y).
The Albaicín is the historically Arabic neighborhood and is filled with winding alleyways and unique architecture… so expect lots of hills! (You probably won’t be able to have a rental car if you’re staying in this area, since it is so old there is no parking.)
Tip: It can get a little sketchy, so always be aware of your surroundings, especially at night.
The Albaicín gets all the attention because it is so picturesque with the classic white-washed architecture and the views of the famous Alhambra palace, but I think the Realejo neighborhood is also very charming. It is also safer and more convenient to the city center. Also, the Realejo is at the base of the hill that the Alhambra sits on top of, so you can easily access the Alhambra and the surrounding gardens from here.
If you’re more on a budget and want to go the hostel route, I would recommend LemonRock. It has a bar downstairs which is always fun and there’s live music, as well. The vibe of the whole place is just very cool, so I imagine the rooms in the hostel would be great.
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A note before the recommendations – “tapas” are a Spanish tradition in which a small (and sometimes not-so-small!) bite to eat is served along with your drink. In most cases, you don’t get to choose what you get, so it’s a fun surprise! Granada is one of the only places in Spain where tapas are still completely free, so take advantage. You can make a whole meal out of tapas – I recommend doing a “tapas crawl” and hitting a few different spots around the city. To make things easy, I’ve organized these yummy eats by area…
// D’eti Coffee and Cake
This was my “spot” in Granada. It’s a cute little café run by a British expat that has delicious café con leche and baked goods.
This place has a modern vibe and serves delicious gofres (waffles) and crepes.
// Los Italianos
Widely regarded as the best ice cream in Granada, this family-run heladería is a must-visit. I get the cassata, a block of layered ice creams served in a cone.
// Babel World Fusion
Babel has funky, international-inspired tapas para elegir (meaning that you can choose what you get) and an eclectic atmosphere on one of Granada’s coolest streets, Calle Elvira.
// Puerto 43
Located near Plaza de la Gracia, this place has fresh seafood dishes and friendly service (somewhat rare in Granada) and is considered a more “local” spot.
// Cacho & Pepe
This tiny place near Plaza Isabel la Católica has delicious fresh Italian food that you can take to-go. It’s the perfect picnic food!
Always filled with people, this bar has a fun atmosphere and cool vibe.
// Helados San Nicolás
This is my personal favorite ice cream place because of their delicious, unique flavors and creamy texture. I especially love the honey date blossom flavor! Enjoy it at the nearby Mirador de San Nicolás while looking out at the Alhambra.
// Café Cuatro Gatos
This is a popular café that has outside seating with a view of the Alhambra.
// Abaco Te
There are lots of “teterías” all around the city which entice tourists with their exotic décor. And although they may seem authentic to Granada (it was once an Arabic city, after all), unfortunately, they are not. If you want to try them, go for it, but I would recommend this eclectic tea house instead for your fix of teas and delicious food.
// Dulcimena Coffee & Go
This is a rare place that serves coffee to go… the coffee is delicious and the owner is super nice.
// Café Fútbol
This spot is a very classic Spanish cafetería famous for their churros y chocolate… but their gofres (waffles) are amazing too.
I loved this spot for their huge tostadas (toasted baguette) and café con leche.
// Taberna La Tana
I never made it here, but it’s recommended by Anthony Bourdain and thus has gained a bit of a popular reputation in Granada.
A great bar with the sweetest owner/bartender… order the Lychee Temptation, it’s addicting!
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// Paseo de los Tristes
Off of Plaza Nueva, this road leads along the Río Darro at the base of the Albaicín. It’s a beautiful street always bustling with activity. At the end, cross the river and ascend up the Cuesta del Rey Chino to get to the Alhambra, a beautiful and little-known route.
// Alhambra and Generalife
La Alhambra is the Arab fortress and palace complex originally built by the Muslim kings in the 13th century. It is one of the most-visited sites in the world and is a must-see. There are free areas that you can wander around anytime, taking in the beautiful view of the white-washed Albaicín neighborhood. But keep in mind that you have to buy tickets significantly ahead of time if you want to enter the beautiful Arab palaces and gardens (the Generalife).
// Albaicin neighborhood
The Albaicín neighborhood is the historic quarter built by the Muslims that originally inhabited Granada. It’s full of winding (and hilly!) cobblestone streets, ornate Arab doors, historic sights, and, of course, stunning views of the Alhambra that sits on the opposite hill.
// Sacromonte neighborhood
If you go beyond the Albaicín, you’ll wind up in the eclectic Sacromonte. It’s inhabited by many gypsies and is the site of Granada’s famous cave homes (aka residences that are built into the hillside)
// Realejo neighborhood
In this neighborhood, you’ll find winding streets and pretty homes. If you make your way up the hill, you’ll end up at the Alhambra!
Miradors are lookout spots that have incredible views of the city. My favorites are Mirador de San Nicolás (touristy but nonetheless magical with incredible views of the golden Alhambra and the snow-capped Sierra Nevadas), Mirador de San Cristóbal (where the locals go to watch the sunset), and Mirador de San Miguel Alto (located high above the Albaicín with panoramic views of the city).
// Carmen de la Victoria
This is one of my favorite spots in the whole city. Originally built as summer homes, carmenes, which you can find all over the Albaicín, contain beautiful gardens, fountains, and pathways but are walled off from the city streets. This one, owned by the University of Granada, is peaceful and has a beautiful, wisteria-framed view of the Alhambra.
// Carmen de los Mártires
This carmen is located right next to the Alhambra. It’s more expansive and has all different sections of gardens… you might even see some giant peacocks wandering around!
Thanks to Musings Over Mochas for letting me share my recommendations! You can catch more details on Granada, my other European travels, and my New England adventures over on my blog.