A long weekend in Granada – Spain

The stunning Alhambra

Every year we have a break with a group of friends, three couples. Each couple has to take responsibility for the arrangements for this annual trip. They have to choose the destination which has to be somewhere none of us have been to before. They also have to arrange the travel and accommodation. This year it was our turn to choose, and we went for a long weekend in Granada in Southern Spain.

Getting There

Until recently there have been no direct flights to Granada from Manchester or Liverpool, which we prefer to fly from. To get there you had to fly to either Malaga or Almeria which meant a transfer of a couple of hours. However EasyJet are now offering a twice weekly flight direct to Granada from Manchester. The flight time is around 2 hrs 50 mins, with a 25 minute transfer to the city centre.

Why Granada?

As well as being a convenient destination I have always wanted to visit the Andalucia region of Southern Spain, particularly with its reputation for beautiful cities such as Seville, Granada and Córdoba, but also with the region being renowned for its food and drink.

Beautiful Granada

Granada is situated on the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, and is probably most famous for being the home of the Alhambra, but as we discovered it certainly has a lot more to offer. It’s a fairly compact city so is quite “doable” on a weekend visit, we stayed for 4 nights.

Accommodation

Granada offers a good selection of accommodation. There are plenty of hotels to suit all budgets, plus a good selection of self catering options. Most of the hotels are situated in the city centre in easy walking distance of all the major attractions.

We stayed at the 4 star Eurostars Catedral (for the hotel website click here). Centrally situated next to Granada cathedral. The hotel was in a great location and very convenient for the plethora of bars and restaurants Granada has to offer. Bed and breakfast was £135 per night. For the location and standard of accommodation I felt it was good value.

The Eurostars Catedral Hotel

Eating and Drinking.

It was obvious for the moment we arrived, late in the evening, that we would be spoilt for choice for places to eat and drink. As it was 10:30 pm and we were all very hungry we just took pot luck and chose a bar that appeared to be popular with the locals. We were not disappointed with the choice on our first night nor in fact with any of the bars and restaurants we visited during our stay.

If like me to love ham, you are made!

Tapas

The vast majority of bars serve tapas, snacks served with drinks. In some bars you get tapas free with every drink you buy, in others only with your first drink and then you pay for further tapas or raciones (larger portions of the tapas). Tapas vary you may get delicious croquetas, meatballs, Spanish omelette, sliders, ham, cheese…………, the list goes on and on.

We found at lunch time that the free tapas were quite sufficient for lunch., especially in those bars where you got tapas with every drink. You do need to take care in the evening though especially if you are going to a restaurant for dinner, as you can get full on the tapas with pre dinner drinks. By the end of our break we were having to turn down tapas particularly pre or post dinner! Just to be aware that in many of the bars and restaurants the menus are in Spanish and the staff do not speak English. Google Translate was very useful!!!

We found prices very reasonable everywhere we went, the most we paid per couple was around £80 for 3 courses including drinks and wine.

Recommendations of places to eat and drink in Granada

We were not disappointed with any of the bars and restaurants we visited but some deserve a special mention.

La Vinoteca, Calle Almireceros

This is the tapas bar we visited on out first night. It was 11 pm and packed with locals. The tapas were amazing particularly the croquetas. Great atmosphere and service.

Wine and ham what more do you need!

La Tortuga Boba, Plaza Romanilla

A great bar in a quiet square just behind the cathedral. We called here for lunch but as they served free tapas with every drink ordered we didn’t need to order anything from the lunch menu. Their garlic pork was a particular highlight.

Casa Gabriel, Calle Pages ( for their website click here)

A quite long up-hill walk from the city centre but worth it for the excellent grilled meats, particularly the Iberico Pork. Excellent service.

El Picoteo Casa Torcuato, Calle Agua del Albayzin (for their website click here)

In the warren of narrow street high up in the Albaicin area of the city. Worth finding if only for the Jamon Iberico platter. One of the food highlights of our trip. Packed with locals so may have to wait for a table.

That magnificent Jamon Iberico platter

El Mercader, Calle Imprenta

Number 1 on Tripadvisor and deservedly so. Located just off the lively Plaza Nueva. A quirky restaurant, you have to book. The food and service were amazing definitely the standout meal of our weekend. I had the Roe Deer Lasagne with Truffle Bechamel, what a beautiful dish!

We loved this place so much we tried to book a table for the next night but it was fully booked. Highly recommended.

La Botilleria, Calle Varela (for their website click here)

Another excellent restaurant for our last night. Located in an area of the city frequented more by locals than tourists. The food was delicious, I had the slow cooked pork knuckle. As the name suggests the wine list here was exceptional with many local Granada wines.

What not to miss in Granada

The Albaicín from the Alhambra

Besides just eating and drinking there is plenty to see and do in Granada. Although it’s a compact city you will do plenty of walking and a lot of that will be uphill so make sure you have comfy shoes!

Stunning architecture

We took the full city tour on the hop-on hop-off tourist train on our first morning. It’s a 2 hour circular tour which enables you to get your bearings and see all the main sites. We did get taxis a couple of times they are very reasonably priced.

These were the highlights:-

The Alhambra

The Alhambra at night

The number one tourist attraction in Granada if not the whole of Spain. The Alhambra is a complex of palaces, gardens and a fortress standing on a hill dominating the city.

It was built during the 1200s and 1300s for the Nasrids, the Muslim rulers of the Emirate of Granada. With the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada mountains it is a magnificent site and you have to visit it during your stay. You need at least half a day to do it justice.

Visitor numbers are restricted. You are best to buy your tickets on-line in advance, tickets go on sale 3 months before the date of your visit. You are given an allocated time to visit the Palaces and are allocated a one hour time slot. Make sure to print off your vouchers which you then exchange for entry tickets, at the main ticket office. You also have to produce photographic ID for all visitors. We didn’t have any ID and had to return by taxi back to the hotel to get our passports. I would recommend you get to the ticket office at least 30 minutes before your allocated time.

To get to the Alhambra there is a steep climb from the city centre. There are 3 must see attractions the opulent Islamic palaces, the stunning Generalife gardens, and the fortress with its amazing views of the city and the Sierra Nevada mountains.

The beautiful Generalife Gardens

The Albaicin

The old Moorish quarter of the city. An atmospheric network of narrow streets and alleyways with a good selection of shops, bars and restaurants. The Albaicin is situated on the hillside facing the Alhambra with stunning views.

The view from the highest point of the Albaicín looking across the Darro river to the Alhambra

There are several Miradors, popular viewing sites situated in vantage points. Personally I’d avoid these as they get very busy, you are better just wondering the area and you will undoubtedly come across amazing views without the hordes of tourists.

I really loved this area of the city and when I return to Granada would probably look for accommodation here.

Granada Cathedral and the Royal Chapel

I am not someone who normally visits religious buildings but as this was literally next door to our hotel we decided we should pay a visit.

Granada Cathedral at night

I’m so glad we did. The Cathedral is an impressive site from the outside, to really take in the size you have see it from above, the fortress at Alhambra offers amazing views.

The Cathedral and Plaza Nueva from the Alhambra

However it’s worth paying the small entrance fee to explore the inside of this truly beautiful building. The intricate carvings, stone work and stain glass windows are stunning.

I would say you need about 2 hours to take the full tour including the Royal Chapel.

Sacromonte

Sacromonte is the old gypsy quarter, where people still live in houses which have been constructed from caves. Many of the bars in this area are also located in caves, and if you want to see authentic Flamenco this is the area to come to.

The cave houses and flamenco bars of Sacromonte

The views of the Alhambra, the city and the mountains are magnificent, and well worth the up hill walk from the city centre.

The snow topped Sierra Nevada mountains overlooking Granada

The Guestbooks Comment “We certainly had a great time in this beautiful city, Granada certainly captivated us and we will definitely return.”

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