We arrived in Granada feeling a bit lethargic (and a lot bit greasy). Within the past 24-hours we had travelled by plane from Minneapolis to New York, from New York to Madrid, and by taxi from Madrid to Granada, Spain. Straight through. I would like to say adrenaline kept me awake on our drive from Madrid to Granada, but sleep overcame me just minutes into our drive.
As Granada began to appear, with mountains towering over the city, we made our way to city center where we would make our stay for the next three days. Our hotel was a welcome sight with lovely (little) rooms, large bathrooms (for Europe), and a wonderful continental breakfast for an early morning bite.
During our three days in Granada we stuck closely to the city center and never tired of the opportunities within walking distance of our hotel. For your next short-visit to Granada, here's my "not-so specific, but it's vacation so have fun" top picks to see, do, and eat!
Alhambra - If you can only see one thing in Granada this would be my recommendation (it's also the most visited tourist sight in all of Spain!). Built in 889 as a small fortress, it was left to ruins and then rebuilt in the mid-11th century by a Moorish King. By 1333 is was converted to a royal palace by the Sultan of Granada. Visiting the Alhambra you'll have the opportunity to participate in a guided tour that includes learning about the history, architecture, and cultural influences during each era of the palace. The palace also boasts some of the most magnificent views and gardens. Just take a peek at a few photos from our visit below! Note: It's best to plan for this tour in advance of your travels by reserving a timeslot before you leave. Luckily, my sister-in-law, who was living in the city during our visit, booked our tickets well in advance or our stay.
Tour the City from the Hills - On day three we made a spur of the moment decision to hire a guide to walk us through the main streets and hills of Granada. It was a decision we did not regret and just another reminder to my Type A personality to leave room for spontaneity on our future vacations! Our tour took up the greater part of our morning and early afternoon (and good walking shoes were a must). You can hire a guide on almost any street in the city. The views, the history, the cave homes, variety of architecture, and culture of decorating homes with the most wonderfully colorful flowers and plates is worth every step! Here's a peek of our day walking the city:
Shop. Shop. Shop. - Granada does not disappoint on the shopping. After spending two days learning about the history and culture of the city we were pretty excited to have the time to sneak into all the gorgeous boutiques and eclectic markets we found along the way. Shops typically open around 10am, close at 2pm for siesta (yes the city becomes very quiet during "naptime" and I think it would be only proper to implement this lovely tradition here in the states), and then reopens between 4-5pm. They're also closed on Sundays, so plan your shopping around the times they'll be open. We visited electric markets that you'll find throughout the city. They take color to new levels and showcase beautiful pottery, scarves, children's toys, and some of the most amazing smelling spices and dried fruits! The boutiques and traditional shops we visited included European staples like Zara and Mango, but I personally fell in love with the specialty boutiques and found myself the most lovely lace dress!
Tapas, Espresso, and Gelato - If you've spent time in Granada or you've heard anything about Granada it's probably about the Tapas; small plates of traditional Andalusian (region of Spain) dishes served for FREE before every meal. Many restaurants will serve a variety of Tapas every evening and I highly recommend giving them all a try. I (unbeknownst to me) dove right into a eel stuffed pepper! Not something I'd normally be up for trying, but when in Spain! Along with tasting your way through Spain be sure to enjoy many, many, many cups of their delectable espresso. I'm still mourning my return to coffee in the states following our trip. And last, what European trip would be complete without eating your weight in Gelato? It's everywhere, but ask any locals and they'll point you in the direction of the most popular (or simply follow the crowds!).
We were three days into our Spanish adventure with one city under our belt and three to go! Ready to trade in our walking shoes for swimsuits, books, and naps on the beach. The Mediterranean Sea would be a welcome respite from our busy days in the city. We were off to Nerja, Spain!