Granada is mostly known around the world as being the home to the iconic (and beautiful) Alhambra, a 1000-year-old palace and gardens that looks like something right out of Arabian Nights. But there’s certainly more to this small Spanish city than its palace
With the majestic Sierra Nevada mountains in the background, it’s no wonder the Alhambra is the first thing to see on every visitor’s list. Most only stop with flights to Granada for a day or two, to tour the gardens and palace complex and then move on to other Andalusian jewels like Cordoba and Sevilla.
Like any place, it takes time to uncover its true character. With a little help though, you can get to the root of this incredible city in no time at all. Totally young, edgy and yet dripping in history and cultural influences from centuries past, Granada deserves more than just a stopover.
There are just some things in Granada that shouldn’t be missed.
You’re easily transported to another century and another country when you step inside one of Granada’s intimate tearooms in the Albaicin district. The custom of drinking tea and smoking flavoured, candied tobacco is perhaps one of the only cultural traditions that still survives from Moorish times. Curl up on a round cushion on oriental rug-covered floors and choose your brew. The Arabic sweets are also worth trying.
Sevilla and Jerez may be where flamenco got its start but it is in Granada where it found its soul. There is even a local style, called Granadina flamenco where the guitar is king. There are ample places to enjoy off-the-cuff flamenco in Albaicin, try to avoid going to places in and around the touristy streets. Local secret: the best flamenco shows are in the caves, outside the city.
One of the best things about Granada are the tapas. Where else can you eat for free every time you order a drink? Grab your entourage and hit the bars. With every beer, wine or tinto de verano, enjoy a small pincha of Spanish cheese or tortilla. Organize a crawl from one bar to the next on Calle Elvira or Calle Navas.
Granada’s famous father is of course the Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca. The more of his work you read the more about Granada you’ll understand. Lorca was born here in 1898 and captured the city’s essence through his poems and plays. You can visit his charming little house in Fuente Vaqueros, less than 20km to the west of the city centre. For a quiet afternoon, grab some shade underneath a palm in Federico Garcia Lorca Park.
Is Granada on your must-see list?