Granada was a must-see destination for me while I was living in Madrid. It was passed through the hands of many empires, each which left their own mark. This makes the city and its architecture a beautiful mezcla of its history.
One of the most famous sites in Granada for tourists is the Alhambra. My advice if you wish to get into the main section of the Alhambra is to book far in advance. My friend and I planned our trip about two days before leaving, which meant we couldn’t get tickets to enter. However, you can still visit the grounds and areas outside the old palace.
We arrived in Granada on Friday evening, and first made our way to our hostel. We stayed at the LemonRock Hostel which I cannot recommend because there were bed bugs (discovered during night 2). Obviously this is a risk when staying in hostels or anyway with a high volume of travellers, but despite how much travelling I did in Europe, I only came across this issue once. Always check your bed, bed frame, and in the corners/crevices of your sleeping area at a hostel for any sign of creepy crawlies.
We locked our bags away in our room and walked around the city in search of dinner. We ended up at a moroccan restaurant, Restaurante Palacio Andaluz Almona, which was great for me as a vegetarian as it provided many more options than typical Spanish cuisine.
We didn’t explore too much the first night beyond what we saw on our mission to find dinner, as we wanted to wake up early for the free walking tour!
We met for the tour in Plaza Nueva around 10 am. We have a quick breakfast before the tour, and had to walk about 15 minutes to get there. One of my favourite things about Granada was the walkability. Similar to many European cities, Granada’s city centre is designed around pedestrians, making travel by foot easier than by car.
Our tour lasted almost 4 hours! We saw many famous landmarks such as the Catedral de Granada, the historic square of the Corral de Cabrón, the tiny winding streets of Alcaicería, and ending with an outstanding view of the Alhambra. Our tour guide was exceptionally knowledgable and had many fun facts. She taught us about the rich history of Granada as it passed through the hands of different empires and kingdoms. I would definitely recommend taking one of these walking tours to see Granada and get to know the city better. These tours are a type of pay-what-you-can, so make sure to tip your guide!
After our tour, since it was around 2 pm, we decided to get a snack. We ended up at a moroccan-style tea shop which was serving cherry cheesecake and had a large selection of teas. There we also planned our list of things to see in our remaining 24 hours in Granada.
We toured around the city by ourselves, returning to the Alcaicería for some souvenir shopping, then wandering closer to the outskirts of the downtown area. We ate a second snack of chocolate con churros before our next tourist sight.
Next, we made our way to Cuarto Real de Santo Domingo. The small museum offers visitors a look at some of the muslim architecture of the 1200s. It is similar to the details found in the muslim areas of the Alcazaba, but accessible without planning for far in advance.
After touring the small museum, we wandered the gardens for a while. We saw more stray cats, which were quite common in the city, and at the far end we found granadas! Pomegranates that is, which share the same name as the city in Spanish. We each took a small fruit from the tree and began our ascent for our sunset view.
We used BlaBlaCar, a carpooling app, to get to Granada. On the way to the city, our fellow passenger recommended we go to San Miguel’s church for sunset. So, following his advice we began our journey through the winding streets of the Albaicín district (the old Arabic quarters) to get to the top of the hill where the church stood.
The area of the city was beautiful, with white walls and plants overhanging from gardens. We took our time walking up the sometimes steep streets, admiring small details as we went. When we reached the top we had just enough time to find a place to sit and each our pomegranates when the spectacular sunset began. I have truly never seen anything quite as beautiful and my pictures from this moment have remained some of my favourites that I have ever taken.
We ate tapas for dinner, including gazpacho for the Andalusian effect. We walked home from the restaurant feeling safe, the inner city was still busy enough to not worry as two female travellers.
The next morning, for our last day in Granada, we went to the Alhambra. We checked out of the hostel first, and were able to store our bags in a locked room while we toured. Though we did not have tickets to enter the palace area of the Alhambra, we could still tour the grounds and outer areas of the fortress.
We spent about 2 hours in and around the Alhambra area. We wandered down the opposite side of the hill we arrived on, through the Mirador del rey chico. From there we crossed the Darro river and walked along the adjacent street, stepping into shops as we went. Until it was time for lunch, and then time to leave.
Granada was truly a magical city and I would love to return soon. It is highly recommended if you’re planning a trip to Southern Spain!