Granada, located in Andalucia, is one of the top destinations in Spain and has a long history and a rich cultural heritage. It’s also one of the cheapest places in Spain, has a pleasantly relaxing and tranquil atmosphere over itself, a very nice city center, and there’s plenty to see and do in the city and its surroundings. In the summers it can get a little hot, and it’ll be filled with tourists and backpackers. No wonder, since Granada houses one of the most impressive and well-kept buildings in all of Spain: the Alhambra. If you only have time to see one thing in Granada, the Alhambra should probably be it. Apart from that, there are many other attractions, lots of culture, nice little tapas bars, and many streets to explore. I can definitely recommend a visit to anyone who hasn’t been there yet.
The Alhambra and the surrounding Generalife gardens have a long history of royal More and Catholic occupants. It’s a gigantic fortress you can’t miss out on when you’re in Granada. You can’t fail to spot it either, you can see it from just about anywhere in the city. Although it doesn’t look that spectacular from the outside, when you enter you’ll be absolutely stunned by its beauty. All palace halls, rooms, patios and gardens are decorated with amazing detail and you won’t regret paying the 10 euro entry fee. Be sure to buy your entry tickets to the Alhambra in advance, as there’s only a limited amount of visitors that can enter daily. If you don’t, you’ll have to get up very early in the morning and wait in line for an hour or two. Still, it’ll be well worth the wait.
The Albaicin (or Albayzin) is the Islamic quarter of Granada. It’s filled with lots of tiny streets you can wander around in for hours. The Albaicin has many little Arabic tea shops, restaurants and of course the unavoidable crap for tourists to buy – some of the crap isn’t too shabby though ;). Also, be sure to walk up the hill to the viewpoint Mirador San Nicolas, which offers a magnificent view over the city, the Alhambra and the Sierra Nevada. Another interesting feature of the Albaicin is that it’s built on a rocky hill, and the building style has adapted to this. You can find many ‘cave houses’: partly built as a cave into the hill, and partly built outside like a regular house. If you get a chance to see the inside of one of those cave houses, go for it.
Apart from being the cheapest city in all of Spain, Granada has another lovely characteristic that makes this place so good to visit and hang around: tapas. Of course you can get tapas everywhere in Spain, but in Granada they’re free. Yep, that’s right: free! Step into any bar and order a drink. Chances are big you’ll get some tapas with it. This is also a perfect opportunity for the budget traveler to get a meal. Simply have two or three beers, and you’ll have had your dinner for free! Might I recommend the bar La Riviera? It’s located just behind to the main square (Plaza Nueva), and you can actually pick the tapas yourself!
The Rambutan – the name comes from an Indian fruit – is a hostel in Granada which is located in the Albaicin quarter, on top of a hill with a magnificent view over the Alhambra. In order to reach it you’ll have to be prepared for a bit of a walk – an exhausting activity in the hot(!) summers – but this is one of those hostels where you could spend weeks: the most relaxed atmosphere, cheap prices, backpacker parties, BBQs on the roof, kittens, paragliding instructor, awesome staff, graffiti, outside terraces; they have it all. Without a doubt one of the best hostel I’ve ever stayed at.