When I made plans after Seville to visit the other big Andalusian city of Granada, I was expecting to see more of the same—which wouldn’t have been a bad thing since Seville is killer. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Granada is a flavor of its own. They may both be Andalusian cities, but if Seville is dulce de leche ice cream, Granada is salted caramel with a cinnamon swirl: slightly spicier and more exotic (although if I had to pick one to eat for life, I might choose dulce de leche.) The city is rich with Islamic architecture and remnants of Arab culture leftover by past rulers. Don’t miss out on seeing Granada, nor these must-see spots while there.
If you’re a fan of cave houses (who isn’t), check out the neighborhood of Sacramonte. It’s one of six neighborhoods that make up the Albayzín, which is one of the coolest urban districts in Granada. Sacromonto is the traditional neighborhood of the Granadian Gipsies, who settled in Granada after the Christian conquest of the city back in 1492. The whitewashed caves are Santorini-level picturesque; plus, if you haul yourself up to the abbey at the top of the neighborhood, you get a view of all of Granada.
I didn’t realize the Alhambra was that big a deal until my Airbnb host saw that I hadn’t booked a ticket yet and frantically spent half an hour giving me detailed instructions on my alternatives to secure tickets at the last minute. Good thing since he was right, the Alhambra is a must see. The opulent palace complex and gardens feature some of the finest Islamic buildings in Europe. Make sure to book tickets way in advance as they’re usually sold out.
This is souvenir shopper mecca. Only a small area of the original bazaar remains, but here you can purchase everything from fancy loose teas to embellished daggers to hippie decor that looks like it belongs in an Urban Outfitters catalog, but is much less of a rip-off. My sister and I picked up matching gemstone rings and bangles and embroidered purses.
Un Restaurante Marrakech
Morocco is directly south of Spain so there are quite a few Moroccan immigrants in Andalusia. I learned while eating at Teteria Restaurante Marrakech that there are actually two Spanish territories which lie within Morocco, one of which the chef was from. In Granada you’ll find quite a few restaurants serving Morrocan food, but we especially loved this one, located not too far from the Cuevas de Sacromonte.
It’s common tourist knowledge that Granada is the capital of bumming free tapas by ordering drinks. For tips on that, check out this post on maximizing your free tapas. However, not everyone knows about Baraka. This is a great restaurant to stop by for affordable smoothies after you’ve eaten one (or many more than one) too many deep-fried croquetas. Indeed, quality smoothies are a rare find in Spain. The outdoor patio at this place is adorable, and for those who aren’t smoothie fans, I also endorse the chai tea latte.
So maybe you’ve seen a traditional Flamenco show before, but I doubt you’ve seen Zambra. Zambra is a type of Flamenco dance that originated with the Gypsies in the provinces of Granada and Almeria. It became typical during wedding ceremonies and is now often performed in the caves of Sacramonte. We went to see a show at Maria La Canastera, but I think there are even better performances at other venues, so check around.
Also published on Medium.