How to Do Granada in A Day
Bunny Does Granada in a Day
Granada in Spain (not to be confused with the Caribbean island of Grenada) has long been on Bunny's bucket list. She finally managed to squeeze in a whirlwind visit to this magnificent city last September. This was a time when Bunny traveled without the company of Mr. Bunny and had to manage with little time, and little money, in her little pawns.
Where Bunny Stayed in Granada
For her only night in Granada, Bunny opted to stay in Palacio de Santa Ines in the Unesco World Heritage Albayzín district. The hotel had decent reviews, a good location and an affordable price tag.
After having lugged her heavy suitcase up some serious stairs to Palacio de Santa Ines, Bunny was awed by the striking reception and friendly service at the hotel. Her double room, which was the cheapest type the hotel offers, had no view, but it was clean, comfortable and came with a complementary bottle of palatable red wine. Bunny was happy and ready to explore Granada.
What Bunny Did in Granada
On her first afternoon, Bunny decided to wander aimlessly in the old Muslim quarter, Albayzín. This incredibly atmospheric, albeit quite touristic, part of the city transported her directly to her beloved Middle East. When she ventured further from the popular spots and shops, Albayzín's narrow winding streets were not only full of character but also mostly deserted and quiet. Bliss.
Things got busy again at Mirador de San Nicolas, which is located on a hill in the upper part of the Albayzín, and a very popular place for watching the sunset in Granada. It was bit too popular for Bunny's taste as she observed people starting to gather there for hours before the sun was anywhere near setting. Bunny decided to opt instead for something more comfortable and parked herself on the terrace of the restaurant El Huerto de Juan Ranas, which has a fabulous view of the Alhambra.
El Huerto de Juan Ranas is situated a bit lower on the hill than some of the other restaurants in the area but if you snap a table on the edge of the terrace you'll have the view to yourself, a comfortable chair and a cooling drink at a reasonable(ish) price. The food seemed overpriced though so Bunny nursed her beer for as long as it seemed decent. In fact, she lingered there for all the different shades of the sunset, taking photos and soaking up the atmosphere, until the lights around the Alhambra started to light up.
Then it was dinnertime and the only way to dine in Granada is tapas, enjoyed with copious amounts of red wine. Bunny had been hopping around for quite a bit, looking for the perfect tapas menu for vegetarians, before she settled in one of the many tapas restaurants literally inundating the place. The name of the particular restaurant escapes Bunny (too much red wine perhaps).
After dinner, not surprisingly, she skipped the party scene and headed for bed early, gathering strength for the Alhambra experience the following day.
Bunny’s Big Day at the Alhambra
The Alhambra is the crown jewel of Granada, Granada’s love letter to Moorish culture, as Lonely Planet puts it. It is the one sight you cannot miss.
Unfortunately, visiting the Alhambra can be somewhat confusing. Bunny had booked the Alhambra General ticket online in advance and opted for the earliest possible start, 8.30am, to try and avoid the worst of the crowds.
Getting there and inside
Early next morning, Bunny hopped on a bus (line C3 from Plaza de Isabel la Católica) for an easy five-minute transfer up the hill to Alhambra.
Pre-booked Alhambra tickets have to be collected on site and Bunny had some initial difficulties in locating the self-service machines where the tickets could be printed. Afterwards, she had to join the queue that was already frighteningly long at 8am. Bunny’s never been a big fan of queues so she soon got impatient with the line not moving an inch and left her place to wander around a bit.
With some luck and friendly advice from one of the guards on spot, she found another entrance (sans queues!) lower on the hill, and closer to the Nasridi palaces which were to be her first stop inside the Alhambra.
What Bunny Did at the Alhambra
The Alhambra comprises three separate attractions: Nasridi palaces, Generalife and Alcazaba, which require separate tickets. Unlike the other two monuments, the Nasrid palaces may only be accessed in the hour indicated on your ticket, due to limited capacity.
Bunny was happy to have opted for an early start as the Nasridi palaces were reasonable quiet during her morning visit. There were some dreaded tour groups but Bunny managed to navigate a path that kept her from the great unwashed for most of her visit.
As the day progressed and got hotter (bring your hat!), Bunny slowly moved on from the Nasridi palaces to Alcabaza and the Generalife. She enjoyed her wanderings but the crowds seem to have multiplied by the hour. By the time Bunny reached the end of the Generalife gardens, she was ready for murder and decided it was time to go.
Altogether, Bunny needed approximately four hours to enjoy Alhambra at a leisurely pace.
Where Bunny Ate
By the time she was done with her ramblings, Bunny was quite peckish and ended up having a light lunch on the terrace of the Parador de Granada hotel. This luxury hotel is located right in the middle of the Alhambra gardens, commanding a gorgeous view of the Generalife from the terrace. Bunny was duly impressed, both with the location and the lunch, and decided to stay in the Parador on her next visit to Granada – making a mental note that Mr. Bunny would be picking up the bill that time.
After lunch, Bunny enjoyed a nice walk (downhill all the way) back into town and also had time to wander around other parts of Granada, notably close to the Cathedral (she skipped going in).
She also caught an ex tempore flamenco show on the streets. Watching the impressive dancers perfect their leg work on the cobbled streets of Granada made her really feel like she was in Spain.
By early afternoon, it was time for Bunny to collect her left luggage from the hotel and head out for other adventures.
Bunny’s Book Recommendation
The Hand of Fatima by Ildefonso Falcones de Sierra. This sprawling historical novel is an entertaining read that gives you an excellent feel of what life was like in the region 400 years ago.
Bunny’s Wrap-Up: Does Granada Live up to the Hype?
Absolutely. Bunny’s overall take-away was that the Alhambra truly is one of those “must see” attractions that should be on everyone’s bucket list. More time would have been nice, but even a day is enough time for a memorable experience and set of photos.