It is quite hard to narrow it down to ten things you have to do in Granada. No prizes for guessing which is number 1 !
1. The Alhambra. Yes that big Moorish palace on top of the hill is a must see and sorry to state the obvious! Buy tickets in advance to get the right time slot, morning, afternoon or even an evening tour with moonlight reflecting from the many pools. Wear comfortable shoes and don’t forget your camera. When in need of a break try the terrace at the Parador Hotel in the Alhambra grounds, with its wonderful view of the Albaicín or the bar on the balcony of the Hotel Alhambra with its panoramic view of the city, spectacular at sunset.
2. Mirador San Nicholas at sunset or any time of day. Another must see for the spectacular vista of the Alhambra with the snow topped Sierra Nevada mountains in the distance. Take the C1 bus from Plaza Nueva, the bus driver usually shouts out when you get to the bus stop for the Mirador San Nicholas. In need of a drink to go with the setting of the sun ? Just below the Mirador is the bar Juan Ramas, same view, comfortable seating and cocktails.
3. Visit the tombs of Isabel and Ferdinand, the Catholic Monarchs, in the beautiful baroque Royal Chapel by the Cathedral. The Queens private collection of paintings is a delight, spot the Botticcelli and buy postcards. The Gothic Cathedral next door is also worth a visit, a peaceful cool place to escape the bustle of the city.
4. A vermouth in one of the oldest bars in Granada, Castaneda or, if you dare, try the Calicasas, a mix of vermouth and wines and secret ingredients poured from various bottles. Watching the waiters make them is pure theatre, see if you can work out what’s in it !
5. Take tea in the old Moroccan style streets called Las Teterías, the teashops, by the locals. If you are looking on a google map the proper names are Caldería Nuevo and Caldería Viejo. Just off Calle Elvira this is also the best way to walk up the hill to the Albacín, a narrow street which makes you think you have just stepped into a kasbah in Morocco. The teashops offer all types of tea, milkshakes, juices and pancakes in beautiful surroundings, great to escape the heat of the day and relax. Get a henna tattoo while you are there !
6. A wild night of flamenco in the Sacromonte cave bars. There are lots of flamenco shows for tourists on the hill but also there are bars where the flamencos go after work. Try the Bulería or the cave of Pepe Luis Habichuela. These bars don’t open till late and there is no fixed show as such just the locals having fun.
7. Chocolate and churros in Bib Rambla. A breakfast staple in Granada, churros are like donuts in the shape of a long sausage, just dip them in a bowl of thick chocolate. Grab a table at a Churerría on one of the outside terraces and enjoy the busy life of the plaza with the birds singing in the trees, views of the Cathedral and chocolate !
8. Walk along the River Darro. From Plaza Nueva head towards the church of Santa Ana and there you see the river disappearing under the city when they paved over the river to create Plaza Nueva in the 18th century. Follow the river upstream along one of the oldest streets in Granada to Paseo de Los Tristes, the perfect place to take a rest and enjoy a beer on the outdoor terrace shaded by wisteria, at the foot of the Alhambra. It is also a lovely walk at night with the street lamps and ancient bridges lit up. Look out for the old Arab baths on the left, a little gem of a place easily missed. Entrance is free. If you want to enjoy a fully functioning Arab baths then take the street behind Santa Ana church and you will find the Hammam Baths http://granada.hammamalandalus.com/en/
9. Tapas time, 8 o’clock the traditional time for Granadinos to walk about the city and enjoy the free tapas with a small beer or glass of fino. There are numerous bars in every neighbourhood of Granada, gastro bars, traditional bars, bars that specialise in seafood, guinea fowl, snails, jamon or even sushi. A great way to explore the city.
10. Dinner in an Albaicín restaurant overlooking the Alhambra. A perfect way to end the day.