We would like to call this a short visit, just because we did not have too much time in Granada, just two nights, and the majority of one day was used at what most people come to Granada for, the Alhambra palace.
The Alhambra palace and fortress from the 13th century is the most visited monument in Spain, with approx. 8500 people per day buying tickets to see the Arabic architecture and wonders of the Alhambra. Read more about our visit here.
From the city centre of Granada the Alhambra is present from every corner with its elevated position above the city. The best place to get a great view of the palace and buildings is to walk up the hill to the Albaicin area for an epic sunset view from San Nicolàs or Santa Isabel La Real church.
Albaicín is a neighborhood in Granada that maintains the layout of Medieval Moorish narrow streets. With its neat narrow lanes and well-kept traditional houses, the area has retained its old charm and is the ideal place to discover Moorish architecture.
We walked from Plaza De Santa Ana and up along the river past some of the spectacular old residences, old bridges and lots of cosy cafés, this is a touristy area, but it is a must see when in Granada. When you feel like it, just start walking up the small alleys and streets towards the top of the mountain. Check out Love Granada’s Albaicin tips.
Also worth mentioning is that Granada is one of the few places left in Spain that still serve free tapas with drinks at the bars and bodegas around town. We had some great cheap meals while visiting. Read more about our experience in the tapas bars of Granada here.
The cathedral of Granada is also a grand sight. It took 181 years to build, and the site was the location of the Great Mosque of Granada for over 600 years. Construction of the new church started in 1523, and the standout design triumphs include the awe-inspiring cupola and the grand church organ. The church has a kind of weird placement, normally you think that a grand cathedral should have a grand plaza or something like this at the front, but this cathedral is built in on all sides by other buildings. No grand square here, just alleys and a small patio style entrance to one of the most amazing churches in Spain.
We stayed at the sublime Eurostars Gran Via hotel, it has grand views from the roof terrace and location wise it is smack bang in the middle of where you need to be to explore Granada.
If you are driving into the city centre with a car, you need a good GPS! It is a maze of small narrow streets, alleys, and even smaller alleys. We were sure we were stuck in a narrow passage more than once trying to navigate to the nearest parking garage to the hotel.
Plaza de Bib-Rambla and Plaza de la Romanilla are the two main plazas in the area surrounding the cathedral, and the streets around the plazas are the main shopping areas of Granada.
We visited during easter, and it was quite cold and wet during our visit. It is worth to remember that Granada sits on the Sierra Nevada mountains at an elevation of around 700 metres abrove sea level. In fact just a short car ride from Granada is the Sierra Nevada ski resort home to the southernmost skiing destination in Europe. And while the winter can get quite chilly and wet, the summers get equally scorching and hot in Granada, temperatures often hitting 40 celcius during summer.
We would have loved to spend some more time in Granada, the city deserves it for sure, we only got a fleeting impression of the main parts of the city. The history of the place is very interesting, and the juxtaposition of Arabic and European styles of architecture and the city’s layout is very different indeed. We will come back one day for sure to see more and to eat more of that delish tapas.