Granada, Spain

What can I say about Granada? With its proximity to the Sierra Nevada mountain range and its historic Alhambra fortress. This city feels quiet and polite, with just enough edginess to keep the bohemian university students content.

While the beautiful old buildings are being restored into exquisite flats by professionals, the streets feel safe and there are still enough affordable rentals and hip places for the youth to hang. I felt envious and excited for whoever was in the process of restoring and renovating their Granada real estate gems.

I live in a very safe area near Barcelona but if it’s an exquisite historical flat you’re after, it’s probably not here. Most of the flats were built in the last 20 years with money on the mind and no discernable pleasing architectural style or influence aside from a few houses that are a little Frank Lloyd Wrightish.

So it was with my constant pining for southern Spanish architecture that I once again found myself imagining what a life in Granada would be like.

The sunlight and kindness of the people gave this city a kind of pleasant relaxed glow. Life felt easy and manageable here.

I have a student who did an exchange week in Granada in his early high school years. He loved it and I can see why his parents were happy to let him go. There is a good vibe here.

My husband and I bonded over a shared love of grabbing a cup of coffee or bottle of water and walking for hours around a new city. There is so much to see and understand just by observing.

Watching the locals go about their daily routines, taking in the architecture and surroundings, shopping or dining at the many shops and restaurants.

Granada was the first place I actually saw a local man eating Churros with chocolate sauce. It was about 7pm in the evening and he was having this famous snack in preparation for the beers he would later have with friends.

I only know this as I spotted him eating Churros, and about an hour and a half later, we ended up in the same busy restaurant plaza, and I saw him again – this time with a bunch of men drinking and laughing. It was nice to see, as Churros are traditional but usually promoted as a tourist bucket list item.

Alhambra

The Alhambra is a large complex of palace and fortress buildings with gardens and water systems woven through them. It’s one of the most famous locations in the south of Spain and tops the list of must-see destinations for history buffs, architecture lovers, and bucket-list travelers like me.

The Alhambra was and is an absolutely magical place. The grounds are enormous, consisting of many buildings and gardens. When we visited, the staff were setting up an event with many chairs.

It must be one of the most incredible places to have an event. Weddings, charity functions or musical performances would be stunning in any of the locations on the grounds – day or night.

So many epic views from/at the Alhambra. We went during the pandemic as soon as we were allowed to travel. So none of the tourists sites were too busy. But, the Alhambra is definitely the place to take beautiful photos whether you are an influencer or family snapping memories of family vacations.

We only spent a few hours at the Alhambra as our little guy had a nap schedule, but I would love to go back one day alone or with some art/architecture enthusiasts.

There is so much detail and artistry throughout the marble halls and beyond. Ideally, I would visit two times over a few days to truly take in the workmanship and skill.

Mirador de San Nicolas

You can’t visit the Alhambra without also visiting the Mirador de San Nicolas. Located near the Alhambra and a good walk or drive up from the AlcaicerΓ­a market, it offers famous views of the Alhambra especially during golden hour.

This lookout area is usually brimming with people and musicians singing, playing instruments and having a drink while they usher in the spectacular views of the sun setting and turning the Alhambra the most beautiful shades of gold in the process.

You don’t need tickets or money but get there early enough to get a good spot on the wall or benches. Or, if you prefer to stand, take your time. It’s quite the walk from the market and took us at least 25 minutes.

So, if walking up cobblestones streets through a neighborhood of white Spanish style homes is not your idea of fun after a long day, consider taking a taxi, but it’s worth it.

AlcaicerΓ­a market C. Alcaiceria, 1, 3, 18001 Granada

This market is a bohemian dream. If you’re after long flowy dresses and skirts, glass lamps or souvenirs, this market is so much fun. Our Airbnb was actually nearby so we visited many times and picked up some fun t-shirts.

I’m pretty sure the university crowd makes this market there go- to destination for cheap yet funky wardrobe essentials. I really think this would be such a fun city to go to school in.

Not only does the market boast endless shops but nearby there is a busy bar and restaurant area. Whether you are after a charming cafe for breakfast or a rowdy bar for night drinks, you’re sure to find it here.

AndalusΓ­ Nujaila C. CaldererΓ­a Nueva, 9, 18010 Granada

Located in the heart of the market, this take-out only dessert shop offers the most exquisite middle eastern vegan and vegetarian delights. Baklava, almond cookies, cakes and pastries we are still thinking about our tasty treats.

Federico GarcΓ­a Lorca C. Virgen Blanca, S/N, 18004 Granada

This park named after one of Granada and Spain’s finest poets, is a must visit for those who love roses and those who have little ones. Aside from extensive gardens there is a large children’s play area with slides, jungle gyms and even a restaurant. Another wonderful way to spend a few hours in this fantastic city.

Wild Food  Pl. Isabel la CatΓ³lica, 5, 18009 Granada

This was definitely my husband’s favourite restaurant in Granada. Nice decor in a great downtown location with an excellent vegan menu. The artichokes and teriyaki cauliflower were two of our favourite dishes. We ate here a few times on our trip.

EL Piano Vegetarian Restaurant C. Santiago, 2, 18009 Granada

Cute place with lots of dishes to choose from. I think we chose 2 dishes each and then desserts. And although it was quiet when we went in there was someone playing the piano, which is always nice. Nice, artsy vibe, super friendly service.

I Need Coffee Pza. del Realejo, 5, 18009 Granada

Along with Churros, Pan con tomate (bread-usually toasted with a tomato spread) is very Spanish. However, as muchas I love the idea, I can’t say it’s my go-to breakfast item.

However, I don’t know what it was or how it happened, but the Pan con tomate pictured below was the best pan con tomate I have ever had.

I’m so glad I have a photo of the best Pan con Tomate I’ve ever had.

The lady who made it had a real skill for balancing perfectly toasted bread with tomato, olive oil, and just the right amount of salt, maybe pepper? I don’t know. But I still talk about it as it was so delicious. And try as I might, I’ve never had one so good since.

I wondered if it was something in the tomato spread but I went back a few days later and someone else made it and it was not as good. This shop also carries an amazing array of vegan baked goods among other toasted favourites.

The coffee is great too as is the decor and staff. And, it’s on the way to Alhambra. The second time we went we walked from our Airbnb to “I need coffee” and then took a taxi up the hill to the Alhambra.

La Tienda de los Unicornios C. Cruz, 16, Local A, 18002 Granada

Can I just say that this restaurant had good food, friendly service but the decor was unbelievable.

Like, I need to refer to these photos for interior decor inspiration when it’s time to redecorate. I love the wallpaper, the mix of patterns and colors, the lighting, the wood furniture, the pictures, all of it. I need this whimsy in my life!

Lycka C. Puentezuelas, nΒΊ 29, 18002 Granada

This shop was fantastic and we found so many great toys for our son and his little cousins. The owner was super friendly and helpful. They carry an excellent array of wooden toys, backpacks, books, the list is endless.

They also have an online shop and a large instagram following so if you’re looking for something special definitely check out this shop.

And of course it’s not a summer vacation without gelado! Grillo offers a nice selection of vegan and vegetarain options.

Sky is blue in Granada C. Molino de la Corteza de San AndrΓ©s, 14, 18010 Granada

I can definitely recommend this Airbnb without question. Wonderful location close to the market, restaurants, and city centre, with nice clean fresh interiors and views out of the front tiny terrace.

I’m not sure if people stay here to go skiing, as the Sierra Nevada mountain range and ski resorts are not too far away but I was definitely getting cozy ski chalet vibes.

So I think I covered everything. From what to do to where to eat and shop and stay. We really loved Granada. I could easily live in Granada for a few months and I’m jealous of the university kids who get to have that experience. It just seemed like a really fun place to be young and free.

Studying, getting a part time job at one of the shops or restaurants, buying flowy dresses or shorts at the market, living in a quiant, affordable apartment alone or with a roommate and playing my ukulele and singing the nights away at the Mirador de San Nicolas…

Have you ever visited a place that seemed like the perfect place to be young or attend university? Tell me about it!

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