I’ll never forget the first time I stepped foot in Granada ten years ago. I was young, overwhelmed at the prospect of spending the next six months with a host family, and uncertain of everything. It was my first trip to Europe, first time living abroad, first time speaking a foreign language outside classroom walls, and first taste of wanderlust.
This time around I saw Granada with fresh eyes. It was a reunion trip in every sense of the word. I can’t put pen to paper to describe how it felt to return to a place that played such a significant role in my twenties and helped shape my character in so many ways. Not to mention all the fun memories that come with six months of life abroad in college! Beyond the personal connection I have with Granada it’s also an all-around beautiful city, confirmed by my fellow unbiased travelers.
If you’re ever given the chance to visit, just say sí. Here’s how we spent our 3 day weekend in Spain’s gem, Granada.
Day 1: Travel Day and Tapas
We flew into Málaga and took a bus to Granada. After checking into Hotel Hesperia Granada we set off in search of Plaza San Nicolás for nighttime views of the Alhambra, a UNESCO World Heritage site and former Moorish Palace. After our first glimpse of the Alhambra and Albaicín we descended the hill for a tapas crawl to cap off day one.
Day 2: Albaicín and Alhambra
Despite living in Granada previously, I needed a refresher course. We decided a walking tour with Feel the City Tours was in order. The tours run in both Spanish and English and the guides were energetic and knowledgeable. It was a wonderful way to see the city on foot.
After the walking tour we had a quick lunch and then made our way further uphill to the Alhambra. Did I mention you’ll want to pack your walking shoes? Granada is located at the foot of the Sierra Nevadas and has plenty of its own hilly terrain. We pre-booked tickets in advance and lucked out with sunny weather for our tour. The Alhambra is stunning from every angle. The architecture, colors, views, and grounds are a traveler’s dream. We spent at least two hours exploring this former fortress and palace.
Day 3: Sacromonte
For our final day we found Granada’s self-described most beautiful street, Calle Camera del Darro, and followed the crowds uphill towards Sacromonte. The 30-45 minute walk takes you along white-washed buildings and hillside caves. This area is known by locals as the gypsy quarter of town, as well as home to flamenco dancing schools and restaurants.
Two words: tapas and paella. You’ll be set if this is all you eat in Granada. For dessert add churros con chocolate at Café Fútbol and call it a day. We also loved:
- Gran Cafe Bib Ramblas for breakfast and coffee daily.
- Oliver for paella and seafood.
- Poë and Chantarela for tapas.
- La Parrala for paella.
- Calle Navas is a street overflowing with tapas bars. Try the albóndigas and tortilla española!
I’m thankful I could return to make new memories in Granada in this chapter of my life. Maybe Granada will change your life too when you visit. NO PRESSURE.
Know Before You Go:
- Granada is located in Andalucía in the south of Spain. It has a small airport of its own but most flights go to Málaga, a two hour bus ride away. We flew into Málaga and out of Granada based on our travel dates.
- Search schedules from Malaga to Granada on the Alsa bus website, you can purchase tickets at the bus station or airport and they cost us each €10 at the time of our trip. Multiple buses per day – much easier than it sounds.
- For our departure from the Granada airport we took the airport bus for €3 from the city center.
- Granada translates to pomegranate in English so look for these symbols of the city everywhere you go.
- It’s common to receive a free tapa (small snack) for every beer or wine you order. Drink up!
- Retail is closed on Sunday but restaurants are open.
- Spain’s dinner and night life is some of the latest in Europe. Plan to eat after 8pm.
- Reserve Alhambra tickets in advance especially during the busy summer months.