Virginia spent an entire semester in Granada as part of the Erasmus student exchange program. She's traveled to many places in Spain.
Everyone goes to Granada to see the Alhambra – fair enough. But Granada has so much more to offer. As I spent a couple of months living in Granada, I can suggest a couple of places you can visit - both off the beaten track and tourist attractions. I will also talk you through the best tapas bars (not those tourist traps in the city centre!) and cafes with good coffee (a rare commodity in Spain).
1. El Parque de las Ciencias
El Parque de las Ciencias is an interactive science museum for the whole family. Even if you don’t have children, you will have fun at a museum where touching and pressing buttons is encouraged. The museum hosts permanent exhibitions about the human body, accidents prevention, and perception, among others. It also has exciting temporary exhibitions (for instance, about robots and wildlife), games, a tropical butterfly garden, observation tower, and a planetarium. Plan an all-day visit to make the most out of your ticket. Labels are in both Spanish and English.
El Parque de las Ciencias: Useful Information
Tuesday to Saturday from 10.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m. Sunday, holidays and Monday prior to holidays from 10.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. Closed: January 1st, May 1st and December 25th. Every Monday (except holidays and prior to holidays).
Standard ticket – Museum: 7.00 €, Planetarium: 2.50 €
Reduced ticket – Museum: 6.00, Planetarium: 2 €
School ticket – Museum: 5.00 €, Planetarium: 2 €
Reduced entry fee: Visitor older than 65, younger than 18 and organised groups of more than 15 persons.
2. El Huerto de Carlos
El Huerto de Carlos is a small square with views of the Alhambra, a fountain, and a playground. As it is hidden in the Albaycín, most tourists never find it. It’s a place where Granada’s inhabitants play music for pleasure and occasionally offer you a cup of milk with cinnamon. It is a perfect spot to relax in the evening with a can of beer.
Miradores (viewpoints) are the best free tourist attractions in Granada. For views of the Alhambra from close up, go to the San Nicolas Mirador, which is always full of tourists and music. I also recommend the ice-cream shop below, where you can buy delicious natural juice and mojito. At the San Miguel Mirador, you can admire the Alhambra, a stunning panorama of the city, and the mountains. Incidentally, it is the highest point of Granada.
4. The Best Tapas Places
Most tourists stay in the city centre for tapas. But the best tapas bars with the biggest portions are located in the Plaza de Toros area and in Gonzalo Gallas Street. Some of these bars offer amazing discounts, such as 2 tapas and a pitcher of beer for €3.50. In the Plaza de Toros area, I especially recommend el Nido del Buho, where you can get as many free olives as you want. Remember that these tapas bars will be probably chock-full late at night, so you may have to wait a bit for a table.
5. The Best Cafes
You won’t find a street in Spain without a cafe. However, most of them offer simply black coffee, white coffee, or espresso with ice (which is literally espresso in one cup and cubes of ice in another). Which might be a bit of a problem if you fancy a latte or a frappe. A good place to go is La Finca Coffee, a tiny, hipster-looking place with craft coffee. Another good option is Cafe 4 Gatos in the Albaicín.
6. El Carmen de los Mártires
El Carmen de los Mártires is, in my opinion, the best green area in Granada. This park located near the Alhambra complex is free of charge. You can rest there after your Alhambra visit, admire a beautiful pond, views of the city, and pieces of Moorish architecture. The only drawback is that it closes at midday on weekdays.
El Carmen de los Mártires: Opening Times
October 16th – March 31st: Monday – Friday 10:00-14:00 and 16:00-18:00
Saturday, Sunday and holidays 10:00-18:00
April 16th – October 15th: Monday – Friday 10:00-14:00 and 18:00-20:00
Saturday, Sunday and holidays 10:00-20:00
7. El Sacramonte
If you fancy a long walk in the middle of the city, go to the Sacramonte. There's a trail that leads up to it, called El Camino del Sacramonte. The Sacramonte is a traditional Romani neighbourhood and you can see many cuevas (literally: caves) - makeshift houses in which Romani people used to live. From the top of the Sacramonte, you can admire views of the city centre and the Alhambra (again!) or go to one of the many flamenco bars in the area. Some important city events also take place there.
8. Terraza la Cueva
Terraza la Cueva is a place that few people know about. In addition to being a house, it’s a place for organizing small get-togethers. It has a tiny stage for playing music and some space for an audience. Check their Facebook page for events. You can also phone the couple who lives there to organize your own get-together. They sell home-made pizza and drinks. Getting there, however, is tricky, as you have to go through the forest and hills. Be sure to take a torch with you, as there are no artificial lights on the way!