Oh Granada! In this small Andalusian city in southern Spain, the tapas are free, the music is flamenco, and the locals are a cosmopolitan mix of students, travellers and hippies – yep, and they live in caves too!
And then there’s the majestic Alhambra – a stunning legacy of the city’s Moorish past.
Yep, Granada is something special all right, and begs at least a few days of exploration to get under its skin. But assuming you only have a spare day up your sleeve, then you’re going to want to bookmark this page, share it amongst your mates, and take note.
Here’s a cheeky 24-hour guide to exploring Granada.
First things first: Your accommodation!
Upon arriving in Granada by either train, bus, or plane, the first thing you’re going to need to do is drop your bags at your accommodation. Itinere Hostel is definitely where you should stay if you want to meet other solo travellers. It’s located just off Gran Via (the main avenue in the city) and extremely close to the city centre and Calle Elvira. The Japanese-Spanish owner Takeshi is extremely friendly and will help you with anything you need to know – should this guide not be enough!
Okay, so Granada is a small city that’s easily navigable by foot, and to help you walk just that little bit faster, there’s nothing like a good dose of caffeine to put a extra bounce in your step. There are tons of great cafes in Granada that you’ll randomly discover whilst walking around, some hidden away in the old Muslim quarter and others scattered on the outskirts of the city. But a local favourite is definitely Gran Café Bib-Rambla, which is a 1907 vintage cafe that scores 10 out of 10 for both ambience and its brew. It also dishes out excellent churros and decadent hot chocolate if that strikes your fancy.
If coffee ain’t your thing, Gran Café Bib-Rambla is also famous for its hot chocolate. Or you could navigate your way to Abaco Té and share a gooey hot chocolate amidst plush cushions and the resident cat.
Visit the Alhambra!
Granada was the last Moorish city to be reclaimed by the Spanish back in 1492, which ended centuries of Islamic control and influence. Thankfully, the pearl of that epoch – the Alhambra – survived the change of empires, and it’s now one of Spain’s most cherished UNESCO sites. Obviously, a visit here is a must.
But understand: tickets to the Alhambra sell out months in advance, so book your tickets early. Failing that, a limited number of tickets are sold each morning on a first come, first serve basis at the ticket counter. During the summer, it’s best to visit the 11th century palace before midday to avoid the scorching heat.
Tapas, tapas, tapas!
Granada is famous all over Spain for its free tapas which come complimentary with every drink purchase – how awesome is that?! Granada’s also famous for its abundance of tapas bars, colonising just about every street and avenue in the small city.
But if you’re looking for the highest concentration of tapas bars in the city, then make a bee line for Calle Elvira and graze your way through dozens of cool bars dishing out tapas, beers, wine and sangria. Definitely stop for a drink or two at Babel World Fusion, a cool bar that serves sizeable tapas and ice-cold beer.
Finish off with flamenco!
In addition to the majestic Alhambra, Granada is also famous as the cultural heart and soul of flamenco (much to the chagrin of the Sevillanos who claim the music hails from their neck of the Iberian peninsula). There are tons of taverns and bars offering live flamenco almost every night of the week, so you won’t have any trouble finding a show. Tablao Albayzín comes highly recommened.