Granada is by far my most favorite city in Spain. Due to its close proximity to nature, historical value and an even more laid-back vibe than Seville and Madrid, this place made my trip southward worthwhile.
Granada is located at the foothill of the highest mountain in Spain, the Sierra Nevada. The Alhambra Fortress, the most renowned building of the Andalusian Islamic historical legacy, is also here in Granada which makes Granada, one of the most popular tourist attraction in the area. Yes, there is a lot of tourists in Granada but fear not, I spent 5 days there I can say that you can easily escape them if you know where to go. Without further ado, let's see what are some fun things you can do in Granada.
Spain Travel Video
Where to Stay in Granada
Granada Inn is one of the best hostel I have stayed in Spain, hands down. The instant I walked into a hostel I made friends. There was only one big long table right at the center of the common area where everyone, from all walks of life socialize.
"Now, that is how you do hostel!"
They have events every night from Paella night to pub crawls. The staff was very informative and friendly, so much so that we even got to hang out with them during the many nights out we had there. The rooms have tight security and the bed was comfortable. Lockers are provided in every room. The hostel was so great I extended my stay for 3 more days!
How to Get to Granada
The best way to get here is to fly into Madrid or cities nearby and take a train or a bus from there. I would recommend you browse through Skyscanner or Momondo to find all the cheap flights from where you live to Spain and compare them so that you can find the one best fit for your itinerary.
If you are already in Seville, you can take an early morning bus at the main bus station shown below and buy a bus ticket from the ALSA kiosk. It should take you no more than 3 hours to reach Granada. From Granada bus station, you can take a bus to your hostel at the bus stop located in front of the station.
Seville Bus Station
You can also go with FlixBus as they are cheap, reliable and run widely throughout Europe.
Transportation in and around
If you stay at the same hostel as I did, every main attractions are in walking distance so you will rarely need a public transportation unless you are going outside of Granada.
If you are going outside of Granda, a scheduled bus is the cheapest way to go. Here is all the bus schedule available.
Traveling here, on average, will cost you more than traveling in most countries out there. You can expect to spend around 45 - 65 USD per day per person with food, accommodation and transportation.
Keep in mind that this is just a suggested daily budget based on my style of traveling, which is leaning more toward the budget side of things. If you want to stick to this budget, expect to sleep in dorms, eat out only a few times, and be comfortable using the cheapest and most convenient way of transportation, which often times involves walking.
If you are looking for a travel insurance to go along with your trip to Spain, I would recommend WorldNomads.com, which is what I use to look for a travel insurance that fits my kind of adventure. They have a simple and flexible search system that allowed me to find the right insurance for the right amount of time at an affordable price in seconds. If you need a travel insurance, give WorldNomads.com a try.
What to Do in Granada
The Alhambra Fortress
Legend has it that the they intentionally built the fortress so that, from the outside it looks like an unattractive block of fortress while hiding the most beautiful gardens and colorful floras right under the enemies' noses.
They really do hype this place up so much so that they limit the number of entry per day and there is no way you would get access to the fortress if you haven't book a ticket online before or did not gtt the ticket the day before. There was one part of the fortress that you are allowed in only during the given time slot assigned to your ticket. Yeah.. very complicated.
The way I did was, I went to the ticket machine in front of the fortress the day before, and got the only ticket available which was a bit more expensive. My time slot to visit the palace was 11:30am and due to my non-traditional ticket, I almost missed my time slot because no one told me I had to exchange the receipt with an electronic ticket so I had to run back to the gate, got the "real" ticket and lined up for the palace again.
Verdict: After spending a whole day there, here is my verdict. It was so-so. It sure was beautiful but it was just a bunch of well-decorated parks. The interior design reminded me of the Taj Mahal, but less impressive in size. It was almost not worth the complication that they put me through.
Do the Free cave walking tour
Every evening at 5pm, there is a free walking tour that begin from the square as we walked through the old part of town where you can get the view of the Alhambra Fortress from the hill. We then hiked up the Sacromonte for a panoramic view of Granada and the surrounding mountain range. After Sacromonte, we went toward the other side of the hill, and walked down into the backyards of all the caves, dug up by the locals to shelter themselves.
While we walked through these beautiful part of town, the guide will expllain the backstories and legends of how the people of the caves have come to be. I highly recommended doing this if you want to get both the scenery and history in one go.
Eat and drink at the La Riviera Tapas Bar
For 2 euros, you will get a beer and a free tapas of your choice for free and all the choices are delicious as hell. This place was suggested to us by the hostel's staff and I was there every evening for 3 days straight just to get that fried octopus legs and a few beers to prepare for the long night out. I could not have recommended this place more.
Here is the location of the bar. It can get confusing at times due to all the small streets that criss-crossed all over the city.. especially when you are drunk!
Watch sunset at the top of Sacromonte
This is the best sunset you will ever get to experience in Spain, a top the Sacromonte overlooking the Alhambra Fortress and all of Granada and its mountain range. You can even see the Sierra Nevada from here.
Before you hike up here, grab a few beers, some snacks and a few good friends so that you can share this magnificent moment like I did with the friends I made at the hostel.
Dance to the Flamenco show
You haven't been to Spain if you haven't seen the Flamenco dance. It's intense, it's sexual and it's awesome. You can buy a ticket to the shows or if you are as lucky as I do you might stumble upon a bunch of street performers doing the dance in the open for us poor backpackers to see. It was intense and very entertaining. Once you experience the Flamenco, you will appreciate the physicallity that these dancers have to go through to perform the dance. Respect!
Hike the waterfall trail (Los Cahorros de Monachil)
If you want to get away from the tourists, this trail is for you. You can take a bus out to Monachil and walk along the river until you reach the start of the trail. From there on, it is pretty straightforward. Along the trail, you will pass through many suspension bridges, ridges and waterfalls.
The trail is quite rugged sometime so prepare a comfortable shoes and lots and lots of water, especially if you are hiking in the summer like I did.
There is no clear-cut end to the trail so you will have to rely on your judgement when you want to return. I returned when I found a body of water that I could rest in, away from other hikers. Be sure to also plan your return as the bus only runs once an hour and if you missed the bus going back to Granada, you will have to wait an hour for the next one to come. The last bus is around 7pm.
Summit the Sierra Nevada
I have never done this myself but I met someone who did it when I was in Granada and he said it was awesome. Sierra Nevada is the highest mountain in Spain which sits at 3,478 metres above sea level. Usually, the mountain is well-known for its ski resort but during the mid summer months, the summit is snow-free and is open for hikers who wants to conquere the mountain.
Out of ski season, there are only 2 buses running. The first bus from Granada leaves at 9am while the last bus back leaves at 5pm. It should take you no more than 3 hours to summit the mountain. My friend was done by 1pm but he had to wait until 5pm for the bus to come to pick him up so keep that in mind.
Digital Nomad friendly cafe
D'etí Coffee and Cake is a typical cafe you don't find often in Spain. It has a good vibe with many benches and seats available. Wifi was amazing and the power outlets were plenty. It is also located in the quiet part of Granada.
"It took me ages to find a place like this!"
One downside was that it has a weird closing time from 9:00 am - 1:00 pm and opens again at 4:30 pm - 7:45 pm.
The Solo Traveler’s Journal is a series of posts by BucketListly where we will follow our founder, Pete Rojwongsuriya around the world as he singlehandedly travel alone and experience different cultures, people, and historical locations one country at a time.
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