Oh, Granada. My first true love. Well, except for that one guy in high school. And the guy after that. But you get the point.
My love affair with Granada began when I studied there in 2013. I loved everything about the city- the rich history, the friendly atmosphere, the incredible cuisine…I could go on for days. The more I fell in love with the city, the more disappointed I was that outsiders only visited Granada for the Alhambra. Don’t get me wrong, the Alhambra is magnificent, but there’s more to the magical city of Granada than just that. Here are five things worth doing while visiting Granada:
-Hike to the Mirador de San Nicolas
This is where you’ll find one of the best views of Granada. As you reach the Mirador, you’ll notice a gorgeous view of whitewashed houses with the Alhambra in the distance. In addition to the stellar view, there are usually Flamenco dancers and singers performing traditional songs for tourists enjoying the view. There’s also a restaurant just beneath the Mirador called El Balcon de San Nicolas that’s perfect for a date night.
-Taste the jamon asado at Bodegas Espadafor
After you’ve worked up an appetite hiking to the Mirador, you’ll probably be looking for somewhere to eat. Bodegas Espadafor is a traditional Andalucian tapas bar that opened way back in 1910, and the jamón asado is to die for. It’s super cheap and with any drink you order, you’ll get free tapas, which is common in Granada. Not only is the food delicious, the atmosphere (think old paintings of bullfights, Moorish artistic touches, and extremely friendly waiters) will constantly remind you that you’re in Andalusia.
-Stroll along the Darro River
A walk along the Carrera del Darro is one of the most scenic parts of the city. Along the way, you’ll find shops and [overpriced] restaurants and people watching galore. The street dates all the way back to the 17th century, and you can tell by the surrounds buildings’ Moorish-style architecture.
-Party in a cave
Who would skip the opportunity to say they’ve gone to a club build out of a cave? El Camborio is the name of the place and you’ll want to take a taxi there unless you like hiking up the incredibly steep sidewalks of Sacromonte. This is by far one of the coolest discotecasI’ve ever been to- with the downstairs area a labyrinth of caves built out of the mountainside. Here you’ll find a mix of international travelers and locals, most of whom attend the University of Granada. There’s no doubt you’re in for a good time here! Another tip: don’t get to the club before 1 a.m. and plan on having a late night out!
-Relax at the Baños Arabes
The Hammam Al Andalus Granada, the first Arab baths in Spain, opened in 1998, five centuries after being closed by the Catholic Monarchs. “Arab bath? You mean to tell me I’ll be taking a bath with a group of strangers in a dimly lit communal bathtub?” you ask. Well, yes and no, but it’s cultural, dammit! You’ll just have to trust me on this one. And besides, traveling can be stressful on the body, so it’s OK to treat yourself! The website states, “the Arab baths are made up three spaces created by water pools at different temperatures and which give their name to the hot, warm and cold rooms. The route, which is accompained by Andalusian music, is completed with the steam room, the relaxation room – where clients can enjoy a typical tea – and the hot stone room, in which they can receive a massage or Ritual of their choice.” Cultural spa days are the best, right?!
Dale limosna, mujer, que no hay en la vida nada como la pena de ser ciego en Granada.- Francisco de Icaza
The above quote roughly translates to, “Give him alms, woman, for there is nothing sadder in life than to be blind in Granada. Well said, Francisco, well said.