Frugal City Guide: Granada

Tee: Mango (from last year but you can buy similar from M&S here). Skirt: Matalan (old). Sandals: £40, Teva. Photographs: Christopher O’Donnell.

You probably know by now that we love a traditional Spanish town, and Granada is no exception. But in fact, we didn’t expect it to be so modern, too – it has the perfect mix of old and new and although hot (it hit 45 degrees the week after our visit), it is an ideal mini break destination.

I last visited in 2008 so a lot had changed but it was just as picturesque as I remembered without losing any of its charm.

WHERE TO STAY

Granada isn’t particularly big, so it’s quite easy to find accommodation near the centre of town. We rented an Air BnB (we stayed in this one) which we loved in the old Jewish Quarter and was really close to everything, but it was up a (steep and cobbly) hill not accessible by car which made ‘popping back’ to the flat near impossible for us with a buggy. A lot of Granada is hill-based so it’s worth looking into more accessible accommodation if you need it.

In general, we didn’t find Granada very baby-friendly as a destination – everyone was lovely but we only came across one highchair in a restaurant on our entire trip (and it was when we stopped for a coffee, not a big meal!). Most restaurants (and the types we enjoy!) had either bar stools or benches so it did prove tricky, as Peggy will not sit in her pram to eat anymore. Nevertheless, we had a lovely trip and it didn’t dampen our opinions – just worth sharing in case anyone stumbles upon the same experience.

Dress: Free People. Sandals: £40, Teva. Sunglasses: Mango (old).

WHAT TO DO

Obviously, The Alhambra is the main attraction here and I would add that you won’t really want to give it a miss. It’s €14 a ticket (you buy them here) and best to book in advance as they limit the amount of visitors per day (and there are a LOT of tour groups) but this actually made everything much easier as we could plan our day around it and didn’t have to queue for hours (they suggest joining the admission line 10 minutes before your time slot and be warned: the walk up the hill is pretty gruelling in the intense heat so pack water and leave plenty of time for breaks on the way up!). You can also walk around the external gardens for free, which are beautiful and so calming, and just an extra tip that once you get there, signs for ‘Alhambra’ just stop as this is actually the general area (I believe), and they turn into more specific signs for ‘Palacio’ where you enter the building – maybe we’re just a bit slow but we were walking for ages in confusion wondering where the Alhambra had gone once we reached the top!

You cannot take buggies into the Palace either, so pack accordingly! But luckily they do have baby carriers you can borrow for free…this is what we did.

Also: take your Passport/ID in case, I was asked to show mine as my name was on our ticket booking – something I wouldn’t have even thought about!

Dress: Cos (old).

The great thing about Granada (and most cities I adore) is that you don’t need to run yourself ragged visiting all of the sites. Granada Cathedral is beautiful, but it’s perfectly okay to agree on its beauty as you walk past it through the gorgeous side streets, or enjoy tapas and a drink overlooking a lovely square.

WHERE TO EAT

Let’s face it, the highlight of most Spanish cities is their tapas, and Granada holds it in high regard. We found it really easy to find good, affordable places to eat and if in doubt, go where the Spanish do. It was Fiesta when we visited and it made it so much easier to spot more ‘local’ places as they were full of Spanish.

We loved ‘Las Diamantes’ – which had a real canteen-y atmosphere –  individual tapas portions aren’t cheap but they’re excellent portions and the free tapas with a drink was exceptional. In most places, tapas comes free with your drink, too. Candela was a lovely little bar with lovely atmosphere right by our Air BnB, Calle Varela was a great little street in general for tapas bars and Rosario Varela offers something a little trendier for drinks.

Our favourite meal was probably Meson Sersara, where we received two mini hamburgers as free tapas, then shared another main dish (the meat skewer, which was fantastic).

We walked to Campo de Principe for a coffee both mornings on our trip, and loved the calming quiet bustle of a city just getting ready for the day – plus there were loads of dog walkers passing-by that provided enough entertainment for Peggy! And Los Italianos is a Granada Institution for traditional ice cream.

All in all, Granada was pretty special and this trip will remain in our memories as one to remember – the colours, the food, the narrow streets, the history and of course: the free food. One for your bucket-list.

If flying, the closest (popular) airport would be Malaga and it is around an hour’s drive, but it is also easy to get to by bus or train from around the country. We drove from Nerja but parking was expensive.

You can also fly directly to Granada from London City airport, too.

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