It has been so long since I've written a blog post about somewhere that is not in the confines of the Comunidad de Madrid. It was so liberating to finally get back to exploring. This trip to Granada was my first true trip since I was in Shanghai, China in January of 2020. If you've followed my posts, you know I was living in South Korea, I moved home in August of 2020, then moved to Madrid, Spain which subsequently locked its regional borders due to the rapidly worsening Covid-19 pandemic.
I've written extensively about Madrid and all the amazing places to see in the Comunidad de Madrid, here.
Well, without further ado, Granada was the perfect place to go to get back in the swing of exploring things.
Granada is most known for its history. Most famously the Alhambra palace and fortress that was built by the Moors of the 13th century. These were the Moors of the Nasrid Dynasty. Alhambra was then captured by Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand in 1492. From there, Christian elements were added to the self reliant city on a hill. When visiting Granada it is a must. I really don't want to say more in fear of spoiling the experience.
If you're excited about the prospects of seeing something as historically rich as Alhambra, I HIGHLY encourage spending the extra couple of Euros and getting a ticket to a guided tour. The company I booked my tour with does tours in English, Spanish, and French. Make sure your tour includes the Nasrid Palaces, Alcazaba, and Generalife or you've wasted your time and efforts. My English tour guide was extremely knowledgable.
This will set you back around €36. Again, it is worth every penny. You can find Granada A Pie ("Granada By Foot") here.
Be warned that in its pre-Covid days, Alhambra averaged about 8,000 visitors a day. As tourism around the world starts to pick up again, it is highly advisable to book tickets to Alhambra in advance. Tours of Alhambra can be booked months in advance.
The food in Granada is particularly good. So far it has been my favorite in Spain. Of course you can get the typical Spanish tapas throughout the city, but, in Granada, the meat platters are out of this world! Another typical Granada dish is soup.
Managing the city itself is a breeze. It is very easy to get your bearings after a day or two. I recommend staying on Gran Via, which is the main avenue. If not, find a place on a side street right off of Gran Via. There are plenty of hotels and hostals in that particular area. I recall seeing several locations of a chain of hotels called "Eurostar" so you can probably start there, but, that is not where I stayed so I cannot vouch for them.
Other locations to stay would be Plaza Nueva or Plaza Isabel La Católica.
There are several public bus routes in the city. Truthfully, I only took a bus once when I was exhausted and couldn't imagine walking anymore. To my knowledge all bus routes go through "Centro" which is the main district that includes Gran Via. Each trip is €1.40 and you can pay in coins or up to a €5 bill. These buses get you to all the main points in Granada; Centro, Albaicin, Alhambra, and Sacromonte.
The only reason I never used the buses is I never bothered to figure out the long term bus card. I know it is called "Bono". Granada is very walkable though and doing that will give you the opportunity to just get lost in the streets and enjoy Granada's historical and Mediterranean vibes.
Must Do's (in order of importance)
Guided tour of Alhambra Palaces and Fortress
Mirador de San Nicolas
Carrera del Darro
Dobla de Oro package (5 sites)
Cathedral de Grenada
Royal Chapel of Granada
Basilica de San Juan de Dios
Puerta de Elvira
↳ walk up the hill behind it for the views of Granada
Finding random churches
Mirador de San Nicolás
This popular tourist destination is located in the Albayzin district of Granada. In the hills opposite of Alhambra, it will give you stunning and memorable sunset views of Alhambra. It would be advisable to get there in a reasonable time before sunset as it is popular with tourists and crowds gather there to watch the sunset.
Carrera del Darro
This infamous centrally located street consists of a walk along the river and features plenty of restaurants, cafes, bars and shops. If you look up to the hills above you, you'll notice great views of Alhambra.
Dobla de Oro
Translated, "double gold," this ticket gets you access to five different historically famous sites of Granada. This includes a Moorish palace in the hills behind the Puerta de Elvira. It also includes the famous El Bañuelo which is a well preserved 11th Century bath house. For just €5 this is a complete steal. Access to all five sites need to be used the day of purchase.
Royal Chapel of Granada (Capilla Real de Granada)
This is the final resting place of the infamous Catholic Monarchs, Queen Isabella I and her husband King Ferdinand. It was constructed from 1505 to 1517. The entrance fee is just 5€ and no photos or videos are allowed while inside. Before you make your way into the crypt below where the monarchs are, take a look up at the golden alter piece depicting the beheading of John The Baptist and another guy who appears is being boiled alive.
This famous street near the city government building of Granada is home to the best restaurants in the city. Here you can find the Andalusian meat platter. On weekend nights, this street gets crowded.