Well here’s a city I immediately fell in love with.
Granada is small and walkable, yet with a lot to see and a lot of traditional Spanish charm. In fact, it’s the only Spanish city that still does tapas the traditional way: in tapas restaurants, every time you order a drink (whether it’s a glass of wine or just a bottle of water), you get a free tapa to go alongside it. While you can technically get away with surviving on free tapas alone, I don’t recommend it—for starters, you usually can’t choose the free tapa you’re given, but also because there’s so many other good small plates you’ll be tempted to try!
Keep reading for my run-down & recommendations!
If you’re flying from the U.S., chances are you’ll be flying into Málaga which is about an hour and a half outside of Granada. What I failed to realize (as Type A as I usually am when it comes to travel planning) is that it’s only an hour and a half if you 1) rent a car at the airport and drive yourself, which isn’t ideal if you’re staying in the center of the city with no parking, or 2) spend an exhorbitant amount on a taxi or Uber. Womp womp. Still—getting from Málaga to Granada wasn’t that bad in the end. ALSA is the popular bus company there and you can get a ticket to Granada right when you exit the airport. The buses run frequently and are relatively painless. To get back to the airport, I bought my ticket online when it was closer to my departure date.
If you’re flying from within Europe, I think you can just fly right into the smaller Granada airport.
I stayed at this Airbnb right in el Centro near the main cathedral and it was perfect. Granada is a small city, but I loved being right in the center and walkable to so many things. Since I was working, I also was grateful to have an Airbnb with good Wifi—a lot of the cafés didn’t have Wifi and the cell phone service inside some of the older buildings was bad, which made it tricky to hotspot.
Albaicín is another popular place to stay—it’s a beautiful UNESCO heritage site up a hill—but it’s definitely less walkable to get there from el Centro, so you’d likely end up spending more time in Ubers to get around.
The Alhambra, of course, is the reason why most people visit Granada. It’s an absolutely breathtaking palace and fortress with gorgeous views and lots to see—I was there for 4 hours. I went on my own without a tourguide because several people told me to do it that way so that I wouldn’t feel rushed, but in all honesty, I wish I had a guide because while it was absolutely beautiful, I don’t know all that much about the history of what I was looking at while I was there. Depending on the type of traveler you are, you can go there alone and wander around or look for a guided tour (some fellow travelers I met booked one through Airbnb Experience).
Note that your general admission ticket allows you access for the entire day, but the access to the Nasrid Palaces is for a specific time and you have to be on time. You can buy your tickets right on their website here. And don’t forget to bring your passport for admission!
Give yourself lots of time (at least a half a day), eat before, and enjoy it!
This walking tour was the perfect way to see a ton of Granada by foot in one day. We started at the Jewish Quarter, which is also the neighborhood known for great street art. Then we climbed a hill to the caves of Sacramonto, where we visited a local’s house (in a literal cave!) and had a drink with a great view of the whole city below us, before wandering through the UNESCO heritage site Albaicín. All 3 of these things are worth doing whether you do this tour or not, but I loved how it was a curated experience and I was given lots of history and context as we went!
As I mentioned, Granada is the last remaining city in Spain that gives you a free tapa with every drink. There’s something fun and very satisfying about this that never really gets old. Unfortunately, the tapas tour I took through Airbnb Experience was not a home run—we had fun and tried some good stuff, but I wouldn’t personally recommend it—but what I do recommend is checking out my list below, try a bunch of different things, and make your own “tapas tour” whenever you have the time (and room in your stomach!).
While this might not be a super “traditional” thing to do, I absolutely loved this wine & tapas tasting at a woman-owned natural wine store. The wine and food was delicious (and curated to your preferences), and the host Alba was so kind and fun to hang out with. If you’re into natural wine and healthy food, do this!
This is a given 🙂 Enjoy the cute pedestrian streets and beautiful architecture and just enjoy!
First off, I’ll say my favorite things to eat were salmorejo (a thicker gazpacho, usually serviced with ham and egg on top), gazpacho, basically anything with tomatoes (if you coudn’t already tell), and croquettes, although this barely scratches the surface when it comes to the kinds of tapas you can try. Read on for some of the places I recommend!
Irreverente → Not a tapas bar (as far as I know), but I feel the need to put this on the top of the list because it was the only place I could find that served eggs for breakfast and was open “early” (9am for Spain is early, we’ll take what we can get). Now, I love to try to immerse myself in the culture I’m staying in, but eggs for breakfast are a non-negotiable for me and immersing myself in Eating Pastries and Wine For Breakfast for the sake of doing as the Spanish do would not go well for my mood or blood sugar. So, we start at Irreverente. It was also super cute and not crowded (because nobody in Spain eats eggs for breakfast, lol) so I would come here to get some work done in the mornings.
Bar Poë → A yummy and well-known tapas bar. It gets pretty crowded at night!
Om Kalsum → Moroccan inspired tapas, right near Bar Poë.
Los Diamantes → A seafood tapas restaurant with multiple locations. I’m seafood obsessed and loved this place. Also, it doesn’t close for siesta so if you’re feeling like you’re going to starve at 3pm when everything else is closed, come here and eat some mussels.
Bodegas Castañeda → This came recommended from a few people and apparently is a spot Anthony Bourdain visited. It felt very traditional and was delicious.
Bar Minotauro Café y Tapas → A traditional tapas bar that I stumbled upon with a fellow solo traveler on my first night in the city.
Los Manueles Bib Rambla → You know when something only has 4.2 stars on Google maps but you have a good experience there and just keep going back? That was Los Manueles for me because it’s where I discovered salmurejo, aka the thicker gazpacho I mentioned above. Guys, gals, gazpacho lovers—whether you get this dish here or somewhere else, it will ruin you. This place is also known for its giant croquettes, so obviously get one of those too.
El Rincón de Julio → I stumbled into this restaurant because it was just so cute from the outside (good branding does it all!). It was a restaurant, not a tapas bar, but the owner was nice enough to give me ½ portions of a few things to try and it was all delicious.
La Finca Coffee → Super cute café with some basic but yummy food options too.
La Jungla → Cute café with just a few seats.
Caravan Coffee&TeaShop → Cute café with seating and Wifi.
Café 4 Gatos → Known for breakfast and they have savory breakfast options (but no eggs). It’s cash only and was packed while I was there; I’m not sure it’s worth walking out of the way for or waiting a long time for, but it’s a good option if you’re nearby.