72 HOURS IN GRANADA
...HELLO- HOLA...GOODBYE- ADIOS...PLEASE- POR FAVOR...THANK YOU- GRACIAS...
WHERE TO SLEEP
Personally I think the hilltop Albayzín district is the most beautiful and charming. This ancient Moorish neighborhood is well connected to the rest of the city and has incredible views of the Alhambra from Plaza de San Nicolas. There are also plenty of restaurants, tapas bars and shopping. Keep in mind this is a neighborhood with narrow passageways and steep climbs so if you have trouble walking this may not be the location for you.
I stayed at Smart Suites Albaicin which has large apartment like rooms equipped with full kitchens and laundry services. The rooms themselves are a little bare for my taste but the location is excellent and the views from the rooms are over Plaza Maria Santisima de la Aurora which overlooks the Catedral de Granada below.
WHAT TO DO
This ornate, ancient palace and fortress is the reason why so many people flock to Granada. Originally built during the Muslim rule of Spain this series of buildings and gardens are made up of three major parts, the Alcazaba, the Nazrid Palaces and the Generalife. This is something you CAN'T skip when in Granada. Buying tickets in advance is extremely important since most days sell out a few weeks ahead of time. I suggest purchasing through Ticketmaster and make sure once you arrive in Granada you pick up your tickets (you will the need the card you used to purchase them with) at the Corral del Carbón. I went during the day but I wish we had bought tickets for the night visit as well. This is one of the most spectacular places in the world I have ever been to!
Hammam Al Ándalus
Going to a hammam, or Arab bathhouse, while in Andalucia is such a treat. It is a great way to soak your afternoon cares away after spending all day walking around the Alhambra. There are many to choose from in Granada but this one in particular is very nice. Book a massage too if you are feeling extra sore ;)
This old Arab marketplace was once a place where vendors sold silk and spices. The bazaar now primarily sells souvenirs but if you look around for a while you could score some local teas, dried fruits and nuts or locally made ceramics. Make sure to check out the mini-souk on Calle Calderia Nueva in the Albayzín as well, there are a few more authentic, albeit touristy, items to be found here; think Moroccan textiles, leather slippers, and Arabic lanterns. Get your haggling game straight before coming to either of these markets!
Located in the hills of the Albayzín is this small but wonderful gourmet Granadino food shop. Come here for great souvenirs for all your foodie friends... or for you to remember this wonderful trip!
Bakakai Libreria de Avisos
I gravitate to book stores in other countries, I think it is such a great way to see a bit of local life and I enjoy seeing what people of other cultures are drawn to reading. We stumbled upon this small, alternative shop while wandering one day and I found myself falling in love. Everything happens to be in Spanish but if you can't read the language they also have a cool selection of postcards, prints and locally made 'zines.
If you want a truly unique-to-Granada souvenir come to this woodworking shop where you can find everything from handmade jewelry boxes to bureaus and tables. All of the objects found here are made using the centuries-old art of taracea: covering the surface of furniture or accessories with intricate geometric patterns made of bone, pearl, exotic wood and sometimes ivory. This art form has changed very little since its origin in the 14th century and it makes for a lovely reminder of your time in Granada.
With multiple locations scattering the city, this is the place to go for your gastronomic souvenirs . Known for their huge array of teas but they also carry a large selection of spices, candies, local honey and olive oil, essential oils, and even some cosmetics and soaps.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
This is where Granada gets really fun! Did you know that Granada is one of the only cities left in Spain that still has tapas bars that offer a free tapa, or bite, with every drink you order? It is amazing! Not every tapa is created equal though, some bars have great drinks but mediocre tapas... here are some of the best ones I sought out while in town.
Taberna La Tana
Set aside some time to visit this tapas bar in the Realejo neighborhood more than once. Jesus, the owner and bartender is a sommelier so the wine list is great and he can give you recommendations if you are unfamiliar with some of the selections. The tapas is what you come here for though, La Tana sets the bar high for what to expect when eating in Granada. Each tapa that comes out of the tiny kitchen gets better as the night goes on. My favorites were definitely the morcilla, the foie, and the salmorejo con anchoa, each served on a piece of bread. If you haven't had enough or see something on the menu you didn't get to try as a tapa order a media portion or an even bigger racion.
Bar Los Diamantes
A town favorite that has been around since 1942 and seems to be popular with tourists and locals alike. Serving up mostly seafood tapas, I suggest popping in early for a "caña" or small beer and some fried fishies. There are a few locations scattered around town but the original is on Calle Navas.
The tapas here are pretty good but don't compare to the ones at La Tana around the corner. The first night we came here we intended on going to La Tana but were disappointed to see it was closed. We decided to stop into this little wine bar and have a glass and were pleasantly surprised. The wine list is extensive and while the owner doesn't speak English, if you speak Spanish he has a wealth of knowledge about the wines to share with patrons. The tapas we had tend to be meat heavy, we had a slider which was yummy and steak with tomato and sea salt.
Café 4 Gatos
Unfortunately we only made it here for breakfast and not tapas but the tostadas are where it is at in this Albayzín café. A media portion is plenty for one person to get their day started, my fave was the jamón, queso y tomate.
Bar La Trastienda
Situated behind a deli, you must crawl behind the counter that opens up to a hidden tapas bar. They specialize in cured meats, patés, cheese and conservas. Get a vermouth here, their selection is wonderful.
Casa de Vinos La Brujidera
A great place to get a large selection of wines by the glass but the "free" tapas are not the best. Try ordering off the menu, the alcachofa con anchoa and the queso de cabra con cebolla confitada were both excellent.
Café Pasteleria Lopez-Mezquita
This historic pastry shop is the place to come to get an Andalusian confection called a pionono. These dainty desserts are said to be named after a 19th century pope and consist of a cylindrical roll of pastry that is drizzled with syrup and then topped with toasted cream.
Heladería Los Italianos
With gelato flavors like Jerez (sherry) and traditional pistachio or stracciatella any palate should be pleased in this old school ice cream parlor.
* make sure to also wander the Albayzín area and look for dulcés arabes, Arabic infuenced sweets. One of our daily stops was at Pasteleria Andalusí Nujaila on Calle Calderia Nueva.