Ahhh, Granada. How mystical you are. Your near-celestial mix of intricately carved Moorish architecture, passionate Roma music and dance, laid-back Andalusian culture, snow-capped Sierra Nevada peaks, and breathtaking Arabian-esque sunsets are a wonder to behold. Your mystic beauty, zest for life, and respect for history make you a destination unto your own and one that beckons a frequent return.
Is it possible then, with only three days, to do you justice and properly drink you in? Can my longing for lingering sun-kissed afternoons, delicious (free) tapas, indulgent baklava, and flowing cerveza truly be sated in such a short time? Perhaps – with the right itinerary, anything’s possible…
Although you have countless treasures and depths that would take a lifetime to uncover, it’s your highlights that draw the crowds and capture the hearts of the thousands of tourists that journey to your gates.
Read on to discover an itinerary befitting any ardent Iberophile’s BUCKiTDREAM Diary and one that will hopefully guide you into your own Granadian love affair.
Touchdown! Leaving Granada airport, you can either get a handy bus into town that’s cheap and leaves just outside the airport, or you could jump in a cab and get a ~€20 ride to your front door.
Lunch After settling into your abode (whether that be an AirBnB in the historic Albaicín barrio, a luxurious suite within the Alhambra complex, or a cheap and cheerful bed in a backpackers’ hostel) it’s time to jump right into the Spanish feels for a spot of lunch at the semi-tourist hotspot, Taberna Salinas. Get yourself an ice-cold cerveza (Alhambra is the local brew) and wait to see what free tapas you’ll be served before ordering your meal. If it hasn’t come out already, get a serving of salmorejo – gazpacho’s richer, more sultry cousin – and the baked goat’s cheese and spinach salad.
Wander around town, soak up the late afternoon rays, and catch a busker strumming a sweet tune in the Paseo de los Tristes.
Sundowner For a view you’re not soon to forget (and a price tag to match), climb up the steep, winding staircases of the Albaicin until you reach El Balcon de San Nicolas. After a little wait, settle in at a table, order up a cerveza or vino, munch down on a bowl of traditional Spanish olives, and watch in awe as the Alhambra palace begins to glow an empiric gold as the sun sets behind the mountain peaks.
Dinner Carmen Aben Humeya is just up the road from El Balcon and, although the cost is similar, the food is a cut above. Carmen too boasts an unimpeded view across the Nasrid palaces, so if you wanted to skip the sundowner and head straight here for an earlier dinner, your night would be no less special for it. Ranked as one of the Five Most Romantic Restaurants In The World, there could be no better venue to start your romance with this enchanting city.
Breakfast Begin your day the Spanish way with a tostada con tomate y aceite (toast with tomato and oil), un café (however you like it), and zumo naranja natural (orange juice) at Al Sur de Granada. After breakfast, buy some snacks (bread, cheese, meat, olives, nuts, dried fruit etc.) in their grocery store-cum-deli for your day’s activities – hiking across the Sierra Nevada!
The Hike Beas de Granada to Granada is a 10-mile, four-to-five-hour-long hike (although it could be more accurately described as a particularly long walk) that follows the crest of the ridge between Beas and Granada. The walk boasts some of the best views of the full length of the Sierra mountain range and, because it’s relatively tame underfoot, you can take your time to enjoy the surrounds. What’s particularly handy about this walk is that even though you need to get a bus or taxi out to Beas (taxi is recommended as it’s much quicker and only around €14), the trail leads you right back into the heart of Granada, above the Alhambra palace and Generalife.
After strolling back into town, reward yourself with a cold beer at La Taberna De Tiacheta just off Carrera del Darro on Calle Puente Espinosa. Head home to take a shower and a well-deserved rest.
Dinner When peckish, stroll back into town to Bar La Trastienda for some wine, cheese, and meat. This quaint little eatery first opened its doors in 1836 as a grocery store, where the then-owner, Fernando Miranda, began serving Granadian wine and ham to customers while they waited. The meats here are to salivate for and the very affordable reds are sure to impress any lurking oenophiles.
When you feel it’s time to move on, take a short stroll around the corner to the best seafood tapas bar in town, Casa Julio. Come after eight-thirty (but not too much after as you’ll want a space at the bar) and tuck into a serving of dogfish, fried eggplant with molasses (a city specialty), lettuce hearts, and whatever else comes with your round.
The Night’s Entertainment Enjoy an evening of stripped down, acoustic flamenco at El Tabanco. Try a glass of the sherry from the barrel.
Breakfast Al Sur de Granada round two! You know the drill now – get amongst it!
The main event: Buy a General ticket to see the Alhambra, Nasrid Palaces, and the Generalife. Arrive a full hour before you’re due in the Nasrid palaces in case of slow queues (they’re very strict on timings) and save the Generalife for afterward as you’ll want to spend your time slowly walking around the grounds without a deadline. Book well in advance (two to three weeks minimum) and get the audio guide available at the entrance for the full experience.
Afternoon Tea and Spa Time After you’re palaced out, stroll back into the Albaicín for a mint tea and baklava in one of the ornate Moroccan tea houses before heading over to Hammam Al Andalus for a 90-minute stint in a stunning Moorish hammam. Dark surrounds, soft candlelight, warm waters, and an intricately carved interior await in this spa of spas.
Dinner Samarkanda is THE spot to spend an evening dining on endless bowls of falafel, tagine, and couscous. Don’t let the drab interior fool you; grab a table outside and try falafel like you’ve never tried before (and by that I mean back-to-back for about an hour, as you won’t be able to stop eating it).
Fly Home (If you can bring yourself to leave, that is!)
If you enjoyed our weekender’s guide to Granada and have already marked down your favorite bits in your BUCKiTDREAM diary, then you might also enjoy The Ultimate Guide To A Romantic Weekend In Venice and How To Spend A Weekend In Paris By Yourself. Until next time, ’DREAMers – dream big, dream boldly!