“The Gateway to Sierra Nevada”, “The Moorish Jewel”
10th of March, 2013
On the second day of our weekend trip we visited Granada and it’s most precious sight, the Alhambra. Coming here from Malaga was easy, in fact we decided to get the hotel in Granada instead of Malaga in order to have the most of the day for Granada before heading back to Malaga airport later in that evening. Definitely Granada is by far much more worth it than Malaga. If you have the chance, plan more time in Granada.
Although not a big city, it’s packed with places to visit, not to mention those sites are located on each hill of the city, making it pretty hard and tiring if you want to get on foot, or even public transportation, as it will take longer than expected. If you have a rental car instead, then you will be much better off and will save you lots of time.
The main reason to come to Granada is self-explained. The world renowned complex of palaces within the castle and fort of Alhambra. This unique greatest Moorish piece of architecture complex is an UNESCO site and one of the most celebrated and finest tourist places in whole Spain.
You need to remember to book in advance the tickets for Alhambra. Basically, anyone can queue and get entry for the day, but the main sight within Alhambra are the Nazaries Palaces. Those can only be visited by booking tickets for a fixed time, and even they will release some tickets on the day for those with no access to computer nor internet, that will not secure you the entrance. Instead save yourself the hassle by booking online here.
As for food, and same as for Malaga, you are never too far away from a bar serving “Menu del Dia” for really good prices. Don’t expect it to be the greatest food you could eat like in a good restaurant, but it’s very good quality for your money. Of course, on the opposite side, all fast food chains are also in the city, but don’t expect them to be every corner like many other European cities or in the city centre. They are mostly located well outside of the city and in shopping centres. Not all of them have permission to get inside the city centre core.
What to see and do in Granada:
- Alhambra. No visit to Granada can miss out on one of the greatest places on earth like this. Remember to book the tickets in advance. Sights within includes Alcazaba, Nazaries Palaces, The Generalife Gardens and the Palace of Charles V. The best views over the city and the whole Alhambra itself are from the Generalife Palace and Gardens. Even if you are tired already after the visit to the palaces, you must save energy to reach this point.
- Albayzin. The Muslim neighbourhood and one of the oldest quarters in the city. Great architecture of many influences are perfectly blended together. The main sights around are Plaza San Nicolas for viewpoint, San Joseph Church, New Mosque, Plaza Larga, Carrera del Darro.
- Plaza Nueva The main sights around include Royal Chancellery, Hose of Pisa, Santa Ana Church.
- Gran Via The main thoroughfare of the city, aligned with beautiful Art Nouveau buildings.
- Catedral Open from 10:45-13:30 and 16:00-20:00 (4 Euros)
- Bib-Rambla Square The heart of the city, just by the side of the Cathedral
- Alcaiceria It was the old silk market in Moorish times, located right next to Bib Rambla and the Cathedral.
Everything is pretty compact but distances can be long because of the many hills in the city like the Albayzin or Alhambra. The best way to explore and go from one place to another is by walking, but personally do not attempt to reach the Alhambra or Albayzin by walking. This can finish your day. Instead, take the minibus 32 from Plaza Nueva which will drop you by the Alhambra, saving you the climb or if you have a rental car, then you are spot on, since car parking is also pretty cheap.
Granada has all hotel chains but it’s wise to book in advance. As one of the major tourist destinations in Spain, specially for weekend trips, hotels can get booked out soon, or the remaining rooms quoting higher prices. We selected the Andalucia Center Hotel, for the great deal we got and the location. Easy to walk to the old town in around 15 minutes, and quiet since it’s outside the city centre itself.