If there’s one street you can’t miss in Albayzín, it’s Calle Caldereria Nueva, which people call the tea street. Stepping up the gentle steps, we are like walking in a market in the ancient capital of Fez of Morocco. A little murky, a smell of leather, a hint of spices and herbs, a mysterious corner of the Arabic tea house. Stop by a tea house, «teterías» in Spanish, is a must-do in Granada.
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Going deeper, if you don’t want to call it a higher climb, or to put it bluntly, getting lost in the Albayzín neighborhoods, you will occasionally find a «cármenes» – a villa in Granada’s own style, surrounds by a garden and high walls. Even better luck, you will come across a very handsome Spaniard guy, leaning against the gate, playing a pulsating Gypsy tune that match the scene. If by some miracle you find your way back to Albayzín, don’t forget to stop by Casa del Chapiz, a typical cármenes of Granada, especially remember to go out to the garden outside, enjoy the panoramic view of the Alhambra beyond across the river from under a certain orange tree.
It would be remiss to mention Andalusia and Granada without mentioning the ripe, yellow orange fruits that look delicious, but are not edible. Orange blossom season falls in April, early May. For me, there is no other place that can match the orange flavor more than Granada. The scent is not too sweet, not too deep, but elegant, gentle but still seductive, just like what I feel in this city.
It was already late afternoon as I continued to climb the Ermita de San Miguel Alto perched high above the Albayzín. From here we can see the whole city. On one side is the Alhambra, fully deserving of its name «Red Citadel», on the other side is Albayzín and its winding alleys look like a maze. And beyond that is the Sierra Nevada – meaning “snow covered mountain range” in Spanish, the highest mountain range in mainland Spain.
Granada is the muse of many artists. «How many legends and traditions, true and fabulous; how many songs and ballads, Arabian and Spanish, of love and war…» – Washington Irving wrote of Granada. But indeed, sitting on the steps in front of the Ermita de San Miguel Alto door, watching the sunset fall on Alhambra castle, the white walls of Albayzín suddenly dyed pink, the snowy mountains of the Sierra Nevada darken, ordinary people must know how to write a poem.
Basílica de San Juan de Dios
Address: C. San Juan de Dios, 17, 18001 Granada, Spain
Hours: 10AM–7PM/Sunday: Closed
The Basilica of San Juan de Dios is one of the most prominent Baroque-style church in Spain and a popular tourist attraction of Granada. This beautiful structure was built in the 18th century, houses the tomb of Saint San Juan De Dios. Stepping inside the cathedral, you will be amazed and impressed by the sparkling light of gold and silver inlaid everywhere. The dome of the church is up to 50m high and is decorated with sophisticated and magnificent motifs.
Of course Granada has a so-called new neighborhood, built mainly during the reign of Christian kings. After the recapture of Granada, all the religious buildings of the previous period were remodeled to Christianity. To show the authority and power of the Spanish court, they built massive churches, inside elaborately decorated with Gothic and Baroque architectural styles. Such neighborhoods, although very beautiful, very splendid, but there are many in Europe, especially in France and Italy, so I will not go into detail about them, but will continue to the top of the hill opposite the Alhambra, further to the East – the Sacromonte area.
Sacromonte is a Gypsy neighborhood, famous for its cave houses and the passion of Flamenco performances. In the evening, if you want to enjoy the vibrant and fascinated nightlife, true to Spanish style, try booking a table at a restaurant or bar in Sacromonte.
Night gradually fell over Granada. Gentle on the hillside on the way back to the city center, in a small alley, behind a half-closed gate, I faintly heard someone say: “Put your toys away! It’s time for dinner”. I smiled, picturing a family about to gather around a cozy lamp. Granada is so beautiful, so lively, yet so mundane.
Suddenly, an orange tree’s flower fell my shoulder from nowhere…
Las Alpujarras valley
On the outskirts of Granada is the valley of Las Alpujarras, which offers wonderful scenery, with old oak trees, flowing streams, mysterious waterfalls. From Las Alpujarras, visitors can go up to the top of Sierra Nevada or down to Almunéca – a town on the Mediterranean coast.
Suggested Granada itinerary 3 days: How to spend 3 days in Granada?
Granada is not big, but so beautiful, you need at least a few days to explore. I suggest the Granada itinerary on how to spend 3 days in Granada as follows:
Day 1: Alhambra
Note: Entrance tickets to access the Alhambra must be purchased online long in advance, from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the season.
Alhambra is very large and spectacular, it took me 2 days to visit. But if your time is tight but still want to see the scenery in beautiful light, you should go in this order:
- Welcome dawn at El Partal.
- Mid-morning, go to Generalife.
- Palaces of the Nazaries, choose to leave at noon to avoid the sun. Note that the ticket to the Nazaries with a time stamp, you must arrive in line 15 minutes before, you will not be allowed in after the specific time.
- Mid-afternoon, go to Alcazaba towers.
- Late afternoon, watch sunset at El Partal and stay until dusk.
The entrance ticket to the Alhambra can be used several times a day, leaving and re-entering all is okay. Particularly, with Nazaries you can visit only one time at the time indicated on the ticket. Once you have passed the Nazaries Palace ticket gate, you can stay as long as you want, until the evening you will be “kicked” out.
If you plan to visiting the Alhambra all day, you should bring water and food in your bag.
There are tickets to the Alhambra at night, but I honestly recommend not going. It was dark in there, the gardens were not visible, and the lights for the palaces were few. I do not appreciate this “by night” service. In the evening, instead you should go to Mirador Saint Nicolas to cool off, watching the Alhambra from the outside is better.
3 days in granada: Day 2: Albayzin, Sacromonte
- In the morning, take a free walking tour to understand more about Granada’s history.
- Afternoon, strolling around Albayzín, watch the sunset at Ermita de San Miguel Alto or Mezquita Mayor de Granada.
- In the evening, go to Sacromonte to watch Flamenco.
Granada itinerary 3 days: Day 3: Churches and Villas
Morning: Visit to the “new” central part of the city. Here are a few spots that I find interesting:
- Cathedral: Admission is €5 but if you come and at 9am on weekdays and 1pm on Sundays or public holidays, it will be free, access the right entrance gate.
- Royal Chapel.
- Madraza: Ancient school from the 14th century.
- Monastery of San Jerónimo.
- Church of San Juan de Dios: The largest baroque structure in Andalusia as mentioned above.
Afternoon: Visit Monument Andalusia complex (can buy single tickets at the entrance of each place or general tickets on the Alhambra ticketing website, price €5 (price 2022)).
- Corral del Carbon: A medieval hostel.
- El Banuelo: Arabic bath.
- Arab villas: Casa de Zafra, Casa del Horno de Oro, Casas del Chapiz especially the orange garden next to it has a very nice view to the Alhambra.
- Palacio Dar al-Hora, also known as Little Alhambra.
Carmen Museo Max Moreau, one of the rare Cármenes open for free in Granada. Address: No. 12, camino Nuevo de San Nicolás.
If you’re tired of the crowds of tourists in the Alhambra, stop by the Carmen de los Martires garden, which have a bit of the Alhambra gardens but aren’t suffocated by the crowds.
Granada travel blog: The most beautiful viewpoints
I went to all the viewpoints marked on the map, and here are the most beautiful places to see the scenery:
- Ermita de San Miguel Alto has a very beautiful view of the city from above, especially in the late afternoon.
- Mezquita Mayor de Granada: View the Alhambra from the Albayzín side. This is the mosque courtyard located next to the famous Mirador Saint Nicolas. But in my opinion the view from the Mezquita yard is more beautiful than the view from Saint Nicolas and much deserted. Opening hours: 11am – 2pm, 6pm – 9pm.
- Casa del Chapiz’s orange garden.
- The Alcazaba watchtowers in the Alhambra complex.
- Watch the sunset at the corner of Cuesta Del Realejo road (in front of the Alhambra Palace), at the end of the day after visit Alhambra, you can go to here.
Granada blog: Last minute Alhambra tickets
Everyone who knows going to Granada cannot help but visit the Alhambra. Therefore, visitors to the Alhambra are very crowded. Tickets to the entrance often run out a few months ago. To be sure to have tickets to the Alhambra, and especially the palaces of Nazaries, you should book your tickets 3 months in advance. Tickets can be purchased here: https://tickets.alhambra-patronato.es/en/
However, there are people who let the grass grow under one’s feet (like me). The day I arrived in Granada, I knew I had to book tickets in advance. So, what to do in this case?
There are 4 ways to buy last minute tickets to the Alhambra, with the level of certainty from top to bottom:
- Option 1: Buy a city pass (the ticket is called Dobla de Oro General – €19.65). This is a ticket to visit the Alhambra and many other attractions in Granada. Usually this ticket sells out a little later than the Alhambra ticket, but it is also quite fast.
- Option 2: Contact tour agencies in Granada. Search google and you will find a lot. Local tour agencies often have tickets specifically booked for them. The downside is that the tour goes as fast as an arrow and is quite expensive, about 50, 60 Euros per person.
- Option 3: About 1 week to 3, 4 days before the date of visit, you go to the ticketing website at 12AM (mid-night). At that time, tickets for tours that are not sold out will be sold to single tourists. This is the way I used to buy tickets just 2 days in advance.
- Option 4: Early morning from 7 am to 8 am to queue at the ticket counter. There is a certain amount of tickets sold on the spot, but they sell out very quickly.
The 3rd and 4th ways in the high season are lucky or unlucky. So as soon as you can, you should find a way to book tickets, so you don’t miss out.
Granada blog: What and where to eat in Granada?
The food in Andalusia and Granada is very delectable. I recommend a few dishes to try:
Tea: As I said in above section, tea and tearooms (teterías) are an integral part of Granada. Let’s go to Caldereria Nueva street and stop by a tetería with the young people of Granada to find out more the tea culture here.
Sangria is the national drink of Spaniards made from wine soaked with fresh fruits (apple, orange, strawberry, lemon…). There’s nothing wonderful like enjoying a cup of Sangria with a portion of tapas in the summer.
Tapas: If you haven’t eaten tapas, you haven’t been to Spain. This is not only a type of food but also the way of life of this country. There’s even a Spanish word called tapeando which means “go out for tapas”. Tapas are appetizers, each portion is as small as half a hand, but can also be ordered as a main course. Especially, tapas bars in Andalusia region will give you a free portion of tapas when you order a drink. There are countless delicious tapas bars in Granada.
• Iberian ham: Jamón Ibérico is one of the Spain’s best cured and smoked hams.
Olla de San Antón: A traditional winter dish with beans, rice and blood sausage mixed together. A nutritious, energetic dish that you should try when you come to Granada.
Grenadine Soup: This is a typical soup in Andalusia region, made with finely chopped fried peppers, onions, tomatoes and garlic… The soup has a very special flavor and you can enjoy with some slices of bread.
Habas con Jamón: The prominent dish with 2 main ingredients, ham and beans combined with a few typical local spices to create a very interesting dish. Habas con Jamón is usually served with a hard-boiled egg.
Plato Alpujarreño: Granada’s signature dish loved by locals. Plato Alpujarreño consists of fried eggs, ham, sausages, potatoes, sweet peppers. The delicious taste of the dish has made many visitors love it.
Food cost: You can buy cheap tapas and meals around 6-13 EUR. That would include about 3 or 4 tapas. If you want a little more wine, expect to cost around 18 EUR per meal.
Where to eat?
Some restaurants that I like in Granada:
- Bodegas Castaneda: The most famous tapas shop and also the most crowded in Granada. The food is savory and super cheap, ordered a plate of €15 for 2 people but we can’t handle it. Come early or you will have to wait a long time. (Address: C. Almireceros, 1, 3, 18010 Granada, Spain/Hours: 11:30AM–12:30AM).
- La Vinoteca: Slightly more expensive than Bodegas Castaneda but I find the food to be of higher quality. And especially the waiters here are super super handsome. 3 steps from the shop above. (Address: C. Almireceros, 5, 18010 Granada, Spain/Hours: 12:30–4:30PM, 8PM–12AM/Saturday, Friday: 12:30–4:30PM, 8PM–1:30AM).
- Tetería Alfaguara: Arabic tea shop and restaurant on Caldereria Nueva street, delicious food, affordable prices. (Address: C. Calderería Nueva, 7, 18010 Granada, Spain/Hours: 1PM–12AM).
- Bar Los Diamantes: The best seafood and seafood tapas in Granada, right in Plaza Nueva. However, you must come at the beginning of opening hours or you will have to wait in line for a long time. (Address: Pl. Nueva, 13, 18009 Granada, Spain/Hours: 12:30PM–12AM).
- Saint Augustin Mercado: Food market right next to the Cathedral, tapas here are very cheap and fresh fruit. You can order and eat on the spot. Jamón ibérico here is also great. (Address: Pl. de San Agustín, 2, 18001 Granada, Spain/Hours: 9AM–5PM).
Granada travel guide: Where to stay?
The center of Granada is located around Plaza Nueva, so renting a hotel around this area is the most convenient for traveling and sightseeing as well. However, because of the central location, the room rates in this area are quite expensive. If you don’t mind walking a few hundred meters, you can rent a room around Plaza Bibrambla or Plaza del Realejo. If you carry heavy suitcases, you should avoid renting in the Albayzín because this area is full of stone walkways and stairs.
During my stay in Granada, I stayed at Pension Suecia hotel (Address: C. Huerta de los Angeles, 8, 18009 Granada, Spain/ Phone: +34 958 22 50 44). This is a lovely villa located right at the foot of the Alhambra. Room rate is very soft, only about €27/1 night for 2 people. You can rent it on booking.com, agoda.com or call to book directly.
Below we recommend more best budget, mid-range and upscale hotels with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.
- Hotel Casa 1800 Granada (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Palacio de Santa Ines (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Hotel Casa del Capitel Nazari (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Melia Granada (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Barcelo Granada Congress (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Sercotel Gran Hotel Luna de Granada (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- NH Collection Granada Victoria (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
Granada guide: Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Granada you can refer to
- Granada Cathedral Guided Tour
- Alhambra Skip-the-line Admission Ticket in Granada
- Flamenco Show Ticket at Tablao La Alboreà in Granada
- Alhambra Guided Tour with Nasrid Palaces and Small Group Option
- Granada and The Alhambra Guided Walking Tour from Seville
- Granada Tour with Alhambra Palace and Generalife Gardens Entrance and Transfers
- Granada Historical City Center Private Walking Tour
- Granada Albayzin and Sacromonte Walking Tour with City Tour Train Pass
- Granada: Alhambra & Nasrid Palaces Fast-Track Ticket
- Granada City Train 1 or 2-Day Hop-On Hop-Off Ticket
- Granada: Flamenco Show in La Alboreá
- Sacromonte: Flamenco Show at Cuevas Los Tarantos Tickets
- Alhambra: Tour with Nasrid Palaces – Non-Refundable
- Granada: Alhambra & Nasrid Palaces Fast-Track Ticket
- Alhambra: Tour with Nasrid Palaces
- Granada: Alhambra Ticket and Audio Guide with Nasrid Palaces
Read more Spain travel guide here.