This is bittersweet guys. It's the last installment of my Spain trip recaps! Granada is located just a few hours train from Seville and although home to one of the most famous attractions in Spain, it still feels off the beaten path. Certainly most people I knew had travelled to Madrid and Barcelona, but nobody I knew had been to Granada, yet it was probably the city I was looking forward to the most because if its famous landmark, the Alhambra.
As a Game of Thrones stan, I forgoed visiting Madrid in order to fit in Granada and a visit to the Alhambra where I had heard they had filmed many Dorne scenes. Other than that, I didn't know anything about this Moorish style fortress and palace! I'm sure there are worse reasons to travel somewhere right?
Each city on our trip has been unique, and Granada was no exception. It's a smaller city, but with a big personality. Granada is a melting pot of Moorish and Spanish influences, hippy and gypsy culture and university culture, thanks to the schools there. It's as easy to stumble across squares filled with muscians and dancers as it is to walk down a street filled with high street fashion boutiques. Like everywhere in Spain though, the nightlife is crazy and the food spot-on. Spaniards really know how to live!
Granada has all the amenities of a big city with a bus and train system as well as an airport. You can easily fly from Madrid or Barcelona to Granada within 5 hours and as I said, it's just a couple hours train ride from Seville.
The Alhambra is right in the heart of the city and the closest neighborhood is the Albayzin district, a sprawling mix of alley ways, shops, churches, galleries and homes. Even if you don't stay here, the Albayzin is a must-visit. You can stroll along the main road in the shadow of the Alhambra and wander the cobble-stoned streets. Albayzin has a strong Muslim influence with hookah shops and kebabs everywhere. If you are walking though, be sure to wear good walking shoes as the streets here are very steep and literally populated with concrete studded with rocks. Not smooth cobblestones - ROCKS. I cannot emphasize enough how easy it is to twist an ankle on the roads!
In this picturesque neighborhood, many of the doorways open into private courtyards shaded with flowering vines and resonant with the sound of trickling fountains. It gets quite hot in Granada, so these small oases are welcome respites from the heat. Granada residents even take things a step farther by actually digging houses into the mountainsides. Airbnb is full of listings for "cave homes" but beware that these are usually located way up the hillsides where taxis won't venture!
Granada's food scene is lively and full of the usual tapas bars, cervecerias, but also many donair shops! We didn't eat any seafood (beyond anchovies) while here, but saw and ate, lots of delicious grilled pork and lamb. The food in Granada is quite similar to everywhere else in Spain, but one unique thing was that if you order a drink, you automatically get a tapa with it for free! And these weren't even small cheap tapas like a baguette with tomato spread - no I'm talking about a bowl of delicious salty grilled pork! As a pork lover, I was in my element!
The main thing to do in Granada though is to soak in the stunning views and the majesty of the Alhambra. We spent a day in this sprawling complex which is a 15 minute walk from the Albayzin district.
After seeing the Real Alcazar in Seville, the Alhambra was slightly less awe-inspiring as it is more fortress than palace-like and in worse condition thanks to being fought over in multiple wars; however, it is still something to see. The best part was climbing to the tower roof and checking out the stunning vista of Granada sprawled before us as far as the eye could see.
- Bring your hiking shoes! Granada's streets are in good condition, but super steep and rocky
- Peek into corner shops for deals on Spanish food goods like saffron and chocolate
- Pack water with you as the Alhambra only has 1 cafe and 1 corner shop to refresh yourself
- The Alhambra doesn't sell audio guides, so either book a tour, or read up on the sights beforehand
That's it for my guides to Spain! Each city we visited was such a thrill to see. Spain is such a gorgeous country full of lively people, incredible food and stunning scenery. I loved each city we went to for different reasons, but I think my heart was actually won over by Seville. I'm really surprised that Seville just edged out the others, but maybe it's because I feel I barely scratched its surface this time, whereas I'm pretty sure I did all the major things in the others. Until next time Spain!
Catchup on my previous recaps: