Places to eat:
- Puerto 43 – Delicious fresh seafood dishes, friendly service (somewhat rare in Granada), and not touristy
- Babel World Fusion – Funky tapas place on one of Granada’s most eclectic streets, Calle Elvira
- Helados San Nicolás – Some may say Los Italianos is the best ice cream in Granada, but I prefer Helados San Nicolás (the Honey Date Blossom flavor is the best!) up in the Albaicín. Enjoy your ice cream at the Mirador San Nicolas while taking in the beautiful view of the Alhambra.
Credit: JJ Merelo
Places to go:
- Carmen de la Victoria – Originally built as summer homes, carmenes contain beautiful gardens, fountains, and pathways but are walled off from the city streets. This one, owned by the University of Granada, is especially beautiful and has a great view of the Alhambra.-pictured above
- Carmen de los Mártires – Another Carmen, but this one is located right next to the Alhambra. It’s has beautiful, expansive gardens… and you might even see some giant peacocks wandering around!
- Parque Federico García Lorca – This park isn’t much in the winter, but when the weather warms up it truly comes to life. Don’t miss the beautiful flowerbeds full of colorful roses that bloom in May.
Events to attend:
- Flamenco show – Flamenco was born in Andalucía, so it’s a must-see while you’re here. As a warning, the shows put on the gypsies in the caves of the Sacromonte are popular, but not the most authentic.
- Festivales – Spain loves to have festivals. In Granada, Día de Cruz takes place early May, and the city has decorated crosses all over the city as well as women dressed up in traditional flamenco wear. There are also a few events in late May and early June that take place after the program ends, if you want to extend your stay. Elsewhere around Spain, some big festivals are Carnaval in Cádiz, Féria in Sevilla, and Las Fallas and Valencia.
- Events along Rio Genil – I loved to wander to the Rio Genil area (beside Paseo el Salón) on the weekends because there’s usually something going on. On separate occasions, I came across an outdoor art exhibit, a craft fair, and and art fair.
Stores/shops to go:
- Art fair – Keep an eye out for an art fair that moves to different sites around the city, but I believe takes place every Saturday. The local artisans set up tents and sell paintings, prints, metalworking, and more.
- Calle de la Calderería Nueva – this is a street that leads up to the Albaicín from Calle Elvira, with lots of shops. They are touristy, but if you’re looking for a cheap leather bag, Moroccan lamp, or tapestry this is the place to go.
- El aire artesanía – if you dig around a bit in the Albaicín, you can find artisan shops (like this one) that are more authentic and less touristy.
- ALSA buses – For getting around Spain, ALSA buses are the way to go. Sign up for their BusPlus rewards program to get discounts on tickets!-pictured above
- Blablacar – If public transportation schedules don’t work for you, check out BlaBlaCar to ride-share with someone headed the same direction.
- Join programs for day trips – For day trips around Spain, you can join in on an excursion offered by the Centro de Lenguas Modernas, or another program such as ERASMUS that does one-day trips to towns around Spain.
Random things to know:
- Use mostly cash – I wouldn’t say it’s frowned upon to use credit cards, but it’s definitely not as common as in the U.S. Unless you have a large bill at a restaurant or are shopping at a chain store, it’s best to pay in cash.
- Avoid touristy restaurants – I was pretty discerning about picking restaurants that weren’t touristy and always ended up with good meals. When eating, stay away from the big plazas and the people that try to bring you into their restaurants. Additionally, as a general rule (there are some exceptions), avoid places that have photos of their food.
- Don’t accept anything from the gypsies – It’s not uncommon to see gypsy women standing around in touristy areas offering up bushels of thyme or a palm reading. Just keep on walking — the trick is that they seem like they’re offering these things for free, but will insist you pay as soon as you accept.