There is so, so much more to Granada than the Alhambra.
Granada is one of the most culturally interesting cities I’ve ever been to. Besides the big boys of Barcelona and Madrid, it’s arguably the most ethnically diverse city in Spain, with an intertwined culture marked by Moroccan, Flamenco-Gypsy, Hippie, and of course, Andaluz. The city’s unique energy is contagious yet complexing. One minute, you’re walking through the bustling streets of the lively center, passing university students, trendy tapas bars and alternative coffee shops. Five minutes later, you’ll find yourself walking uphill in the midst of the Albayzin, surrounded by in-scents and Moroccan shops, teterias and guitar-playing hippies with dreads. Walk 5 minutes more uphill, and you’re in Sacromonte, where Spanish guitar and the hardened voices of gypsies stream onto the streets from caves.
And all you wanted to explore was the Alhambra?! HAH!
Now, I realize as a short-term visitor, it’s hard to really get a feel for all Granada has to offer. So, here’s a nice, concise list. I only ask one thing from you all: Change around your itinerary and spend more than one full day in Granada!
6 Things You Must Experience in Granada beyond The Alhambra
Buy jamón and cheese from Mercado de San Augustin and go for a picnic
And don’t forget to get it from my favorite jamón guy, Joaquin at the Jamonzar booth! Forget overpriced jamón and Manchego platters from restaurants. Create your own for one eighth of the price! Buy a few hefty kilograms of Jamón Iberico and Lomo Iberico, an assortmant of spanish cheeses, a bottle of local wine and some good crusty bread. Take your stash to Carmen de los Matires or hike up to La Dehesa del Generalife and call it the best day of your life!
Go Hippie watching at Huerto de los Carlos
Did you know that free-spirited hippies come from all over Europe to settle in Granada’s Albayzin? That’s right! The heart of Granada’s hippie scene resides right HERE. Also called “Huerto del Carlos” by locals, this is the meeting grounds for all dread lock rockin’, barefoot sportin’, hacky sack playin’ hippies. Called “perroflautas“by Spaniards, literally translating to “dog flutes,” these hippies are known for having pet dogs and playing…flutes! Depending on the day, you’ll find everything from folk dance gatherings, to tribal chant meetings. Be prepared, around dusk things get weird…
Then, just get lost in the Albayzin.
THROW AWAY YOUR MAP! Don’t even try to manoeuvre your way through the Albayzin’s winding streets. As a wonderful couple from Canada said, “we were happily lost in the Albayzin all afternoon.” You never know what you’re going to discover at the end of a windy cobblestone street. Whether it’s quick glimpses of the Alhambra wedged between two tiny alley walls, an artisan jewelery shop below ground level, or a floral carmen hiding behind a Moorish gate, you’re on a journey full of charm and surprises!
Watch the Sunset from San Miguel Alto
Sure, you can go to the more accessible, touristy San Nicholas to admire the alhambra-kissed sunset. However, escape all the old farty-tourists with their huge Nikon cameras and go where the cool kids hang out! You might have to hike up the hill 10 minutes more, but it’s 10 times more worth it. From this high up, the Alhambra actually looks small.
See some non-tourist, dope Flamenco shows
AVOID FLAMENCO BUSES. Seeing these tourist buses that drop off 20+ tourists from Hotel A to Flamenco Show B makes me mad. Don’t be a sheep in the herd! Instead, go to an intimate Friday night show at El Tabanco or find a flamenco peña (aka private club), Peña la Platería, that’s offering a night open to the public, where Granada’s best Flamenco artists perform.
And my favorite… TAPEAR with free tapas! (With me 😉 )
As you’ve already read in my last extremely passionate post, Granada is the land of FREE tapas. Don’t end up in the tourist traps featured in every “Top 10 Tapas Bars of Granada”. Sign up for a tapas tour with me and I’ll show you my favorite local tapas bars throughout the city!