After our two days in Ronda, we jumped in our rental car and headed for Granada. We decided to drop off our rental car at the airport right away and just take a taxi into the city. We were planning to stay in Granada central for the next two days, so we figured it would be a waste of money to let our car just sit in a parking garage until we were ready to fly out. I was really surprised by how huge Granada was. It’s sprawling—not as big as Barcelona, but waaaaay bigger than Cordoba or Ronda. Our hotel was right in the historic district, placing us close to the Alhambra and other major attractions. We had also heard that Granada was a great city to eat in.
Our time in Granada was part of our 10-day honeymoon in Spain. You can read about the rest of our trip in the posts below.
And here’s our Granada travel guide!
We stayed at the Casa 1800 Granada in a room with an Alhambra view. We loved our room and the hotel itself, especially the complimentary 4pm afternoon tea they offered every day with sandwiches and snacks. The hotel is beautiful, with an open-air courtyard and stylish furnishings. The location is both a plus and a minus. It is a very short walk to the Alhambra, but this means it is smack dab in the middle of one of the most touristy sections of Granada. The shops and restaurants right around our hotel were not to our liking at all. We definitely had to venture into different neighborhoods for meals, especially since the hotel does not have a restaurant or bar, only breakfast and the daily tea service.
Museo Casa de los Tiros de Granada
Other than the Alhambra, this was my favorite stop in Granada. It’s a small museum with art, frescoes and carvings from the 17th-19th century. I like small museums because they aren’t overwhelming. You can enjoy a few pieces and not feel worn down by wandering through hallways for hours. The fresco work in particular was really striking. Plus, the entrance fee was quite small, so I think this museum is well worth your time.
Number one on any itinerary in Granada must be the Alhambra. The Alhambra is not just one location, but rather a sprawling complex with many different gardens and palaces to visit. You can easily spend the whole day there. I recommend you buy your ticket online ahead of time to avoid waiting in line. Also, the most spectacular palace in the Alhambra, the Nasrid Palace, requires a timed entry ticket, so booking online will ensure you get the timed entry that you want.
After coming through the main entrance of the Alhambra, we headed for the Generalife, which consists of a leisure palace and the most beautiful gardens.
Next we visited the Alcazaba, a fortress that is the oldest part of the Alhambra. There are excellent views of the city of Granada from its walls.
Lastly, we stood in line for our entrance time to the Nasrid Palace. The palace is most definitely worth the wait. The carvings, mosaics and intricate decorations covering the walls, floors and ceilings are spectacular. I literally could not stop taking pictures.
Granada is known for being one of the last cities to honor the age-old “free tapa with your drink” tradition. While I’ve been told you can find this practice in some restaurants throughout Spain, we only really experienced it in Granada. And the best place for this experience was Taberna La Tana. We showed up a few minutes before their doors opened because we had heard the place was tiny and filled up fast. This was good advice: The bartender and cooks rolled up to the restaurant at 8:40pm (ten minutes after they were supposed to open), took a few minutes to get settled and invited us in. The two of us and one other couple were the first to arrive and grabbed seats at the bar. Literally 15 minutes later the place was packed, and stayed that way all night. We also liked Bar Poe, which is run by an English ex-pat and had a very unique tapas menu.
There’s one last thing I have to tell you…
Unfortunately, Granada turned out to be my least favorite destination on this trip. While the Alhambra was fantastic and absolutely worth the visit and we had some of our favorite tapas in Spain here, we also experienced some of the most aggressive buskers and beggars I have ever encountered. Let me be clear—I live in New York City. I am a freaking expert at saying “no” to people approaching me on the street. On a day-to-day basis, four to six people will try to stop me on the sidewalk to ask for money for a sandwich or to tell me about how they lost their job and need to pay rent and buy diapers for their baby. On any given subway ride I’m likely to be approached by a mariachi band, kids selling candy for their basketball team or people shouting “showtime” and flipping around the subway cars. I am also often asked if I “have a minute for gay rights/to save the environment/to combat hunger” or if I “have heard of [insert name of start-up company here].” So I know how to say “no.” I have never, ever experienced the aggressiveness that I saw in Granada.
The most common ploy was for women to approach me on the street trying to give me a sprig of rosemary “for love.” These women would not accept “no.” They woul d try to shove the rosemary in my purse, grab my arm to stop me, get in my face and follow me for blocks insisting I take it. I assume if I did, they would have then asked for money with the same aggressiveness, or they were trying to pickpocket me. For some reason they would only come after me, not Andrew, so a few times he literally inserted himself between me and the women to try to get them to back off. This experience really soured me on Granada and shocked me as well since we hadn’t experienced anything like this anywhere else in Spain. I had a hard time giving Granada a chance after being accosted so frequently. This really only happened around the major tourist areas, like the Cathedral and outside the Alhambra, but it still left a nasty taste in my mouth.