‘Rushing’ is not something we are particularly adept at nor inclined to here in Spain. Though the old stereotype of ‘Spanish time’ has become wildly exaggerated, there is some truth in it, especially when it comes to enjoying oneself. Lunch breaks, for instance, often go on for 3 hours, and if a national or regional holiday falls on either a Tuesday or Thursday, it is not uncommon for the Monday or Friday, respectively, to be taken off too, in order to ‘bridge’ the gap to the weekend.
If, however, you find yourself strapped for time on your jaunt to Andalucía, and thus, find you have only 48 precious hours to see the magical and Moorish-redolent city that is Granada, then firstly, may I offer my sincere condolences, for you simply will not have enough time to fully appreciate it. Secondly, let me give you a helping hand, by offering my suggested itinerary for such a tragically short-lived city break…
18.00: Cool off with a tubo and tapa.
If you’ve arrived late in the afternoon, you’ll no doubt be feeling rather parched after all that travelling, so before you head off for an early evening stroll, grab an ice-cold beer with a tapa and relax. Most tourists, when in search of the prettiest plaza to do just this, will likely wind up paying over the odds in Plaza Nueva. I prefer Plaza Romanilla, just two streets to the left of the Cathedral (when facing). Giardinos serves up tasty tapas and provides shaded respite from the intense heat if you’re visiting in spring or summer.
Central Granada bustles with life during the day, and the market-strewn Plaza Bibarrambla is right at the heart of it. The square is flanked with cafeterías, heladarías and top-dollar restaurants, and perfect for taking in the city’s family-friendly ambience. A little further along you’ll come upon the face of Granada’s Cathedral, which is well-hidden between the surrounding buildings. Also nearby is Plaza Trinidad, another spot that’s great for people-watching.
Dinner is served until late in Spain, and in Granada there is ample choice, so don’t worry about not finding a table. Tapas come for free with each drink, unlike in most other Spanish cities, so hopping from one bar to another is a popular way of dining out. The long, lively and cobbled Calle Elvira is an ideal place to start. Chow down on one of the delicious hamburgers at El Espejo (Elvira 40), a wedge of Tortilla Española at Bodegas Castaneda (Almireceros 1-3) or something a little more exotic at Babel World Of Fusion (Elvira 41).
22.00: Finish off with an ice-cream
Every balmy evening is best concluded with a double scoop of gelato or ice-cream. In Granada, there is no shortage of places to choose from, but ask any local and they will almost certainly point you in the direction of Los Italianos (Gran Vía de Colón 4), una heladaría with a reputation so good that even Michelle Obama had to investigate on her trip to Granada in 2010.
08.00: Breakfast, Spanish style
Kick off your full day with a truly Spanish breakfast: tostada de tomate con jamón serrano y café con leche –grated tomato with a pinch of salt, a few slices of ham and olive oil on toasted bread and ground coffee with hot milk. Trust me, there is nothing better to wake you up and get you raring to go. You could be adventurous and attempt making this yourself if you’re renting an apartment (see below) or just let the expert down at your local café do it for you and enjoy. Mine, Ras Bar (Carrera del Darro 66), never fails to impress, for all the above for just €2.95.
10.00: See The Alhambra
Though not strictly necessary (you can get up very early and go and queue), you’ll need to have reserved your tickets for the Alhambra in advance. You can do this by buying online or by picking up a package deal.
There really is nothing that can prepare you for the Alhambra. It is majestic, awe-inspiring and a true one-off. Entry to the Nasrid palaces will be specified on your ticket so you’ll need to work the rest of your visit around this. Generally, it is best to see the Generalife Gardens first (unless your entry time is early on) and then the Alcazaba before entering the palaces, though make sure you have at least 2 hours for this. After you’ve wandered through the stunning Nasrid palaces you can finish off with a stroll through the beautiful Nasrid Palace gardens.
You can, of course, buy afternoon tickets instead.
14.00: Rest and refuel
Time for another cerveza. You’ll need it, and probably won’t care if you pay slightly over the odds after all that walking. Drop back down the hill towards Plaza Nueva and pick a bar where you can recharge your batteries. Los Diamentes or Los Manuelos are well shaded, though often noisy and crowded. Calle Elvira and its adjoining side-streets, just over the road, has a wide selection to choose from.
17.00: Discover El Albaicín
Once you’re ready to explore again, head along Calle Elvira and take a right onto one of the narrow, steep and colourful passages that lead you into the confusing maze of El Albaicín. Here, it is almost impossible not to get lost, even for those of us who live here. But that’s the fun of it, since you never know what is just around the corner. The Albaicín is littered with evidence of Granada’s Moorish past: aljbes (well-like structures historically used for storing drinkable water) and huertos (extremely flowery gardens) are two reoccurring examples.
19.00: Watch the sunset at El Mirador de San Nicolas
If you don’t stray too far from the beaten path, you should eventually arrive at the bario’s beating heart and Granada’s most popular viewpoint: El Mirador de San Nicolas. The view of the Alhambra, perched emphatically above the city with its mountainous backdrop, is quite spectacular. Cameras clack wildly with excitement here and there are, inevitably, lots of musicians playing traditional Sevillanas songs and gitanos (gypsies) selling various arts and crafts. The sky turns a dramatic blend of blue, orange and purple as the suns sets. You’ll not want to leave in a hurry.
You’ve done the tapas circuit, so why not try something a little more upmarket? Granada boasts many fantastic restaurants, like newly-opened Omkara FeelFood (Calle Acera de Canasteros 10), which serves up authentic and highly-rated Spanish cuisine at a fair price. Alternatively you may wish to meet a few of the local expats in Casa Lopez Correa (Calle Molinos 5), where the Fish Pie and Costillas are exquisite. A ración serving – one up from the tapa –typically sets you back around six to nine euros.
23.00: Vete de marcha
Now it’s time to take in a bit of the nightlife, which, as you may already know, tends not to be short-lived in Spain. In fact, it is considered unusual to go home before 4am on a night out in Spain. There are several nightclubs around the city centre but most cater for younger, reggaeton-listening students. My advice is to stick to the bars– Calle Navas is heaving with them, as is Pedro Antonio de Alarcon downtown. A beer or glass of wine is around the €3 mark, spirits & mixers €5, cocktails €6.
10.00: Breakfast, Granadino style
There’s a saying in Granada, which, when loosely translated into English, would be something like: ‘You’ve not partied Granada style until you’ve stayed up all night and had Churros and Chocolate the next morning’.
I’m not sure I’d agree with this completely, but it certainly is a popular pastime in Granada. Churros are those long, battered doughy things, which are often eaten dipped in melted chocolate. Café Futból (Plaza de Mariana Pineda 6) is the name on everyone’s lips for churros and chocolate, but there are plenty of places to find this divine treat– perfect, they also say, for curing hangovers.
11.00: Explore some more
There is still so much you haven’t seen! There’s the bull ring back towards the bus station. Maybe a hike up to Granada’s Sacromonte bario to shake off any remaining cobwebs? There’s even a Science Park in El Zaidín…
14.00: Grab another bite
Make sure you try something new!
15.00: Caves and Street Art Tour
El Realejo is the old Jewish quarter, off to the right before you arrive at Plaza Nueva. Here you’ll find countless examples of street art adorning walls and shop shutters. Most can be attributed to local urban artist El Niño de las Pinturas, who celebrated 20 years of artistry this year with an ongoing exhibition at a local art gallery and several bars such as Papaupa (Calle Molinos 16), La Brújula de Momo (Calle Moncayo 1) and Bar Ízaro (Calle Elvira 125).
If you didn’t already make the climb to the historic and flamenco-rich bario of Sacromonte, this is also another great idea. Many of the locals live in caves and are often happy to answer your questions (if you speak Spanish) and– if you’re lucky –even show you around.
17.00: Finish off with one last round of drinks and tapas
By now you should have figured out which one is your favourite. Go and treat yourself one last time!
This 48-hour itinerary was written as part of the ‘A Weekend in…’ competition for bloggers, organised by HRS. Wish me luck below!