Things to do in Granada, Spain – only it’s not
This is not a list of things to do in Granada, Spain, but it is a small selection of what we did do. When Alan and I escape Spain Buddy Heights, we tend to kick back and relax rather than race around every “must visit” place within a 10 kilometre radius.
This is not a tourist guide of things to do in Granada, Spain
We don’t do the tourist thing when we go away. Alan has banned me from making spreadsheets and itineraries, and although I struggled with that at first… I have to admit that he is right. So seldom do we switch off from work completely that those couple of days away really help to recharge the batteries if we simply go with the flow.
We always do a lot of walking around a city to get a feel for the place and Alan photographs graffiti, homeless people, empty commercial units and rotting animal corpses (I kid you not), while I salivate at every tapas bar we walk past until eventually we can stop for a glass or three of wine and some good food. Of course we also look at who lives in the area that is also in our online business and social network and arrange to meet up with them. Granada offered us all of that.
For us, holidays are a no-go because we can’t leave the dogs with just anyone. Thankfully, Alan’s Dad (Stan the Man) comes to stay twice a year, enabling us to escape the house, the mountain, the computers and the telephone, for a couple of days – bliss!
We tend to aim for a city on these short breaks and have previously visited some stunning places. However, Granada provided much more than I was expecting. I loved the city… its feel… its buildings… its everything really. Granada is steeped in history, although I was surprised not to see more museums. Malága, as a contrast, had much more in the way of art galleries and museums to look at.
Granada city is a different animal. The place is buzzing with students, tourists, shoppers and workers. The city is alive and full of promise. Would I recommend it? Absolutely. I’d probably go as far as to say it is my favourite Spanish city visited so far.
In early March 2015, Alan and I visited the city for a couple of days. Here is what we did.
A fantastic little hotel in Granada
We stayed at the Hotel Anacapri, another successful stay booked through our favourite travel agents, Exclusive City Breaks. They are based in Germany but they all speak excellent English and Phil Burch, who we have known for almost a decade, is English himself. We have used them several times now. We simply pop an email to Phil with our “must haves” and “would likes” and he comes back with a list of hotels for us to choose from. He has also beaten any price we see too. He’s definitely worth an email to for your next city break – highly recommended. His English language website will be launching soon too, so you won’t need to battle with the German site for much longer.
Anacapri was right in the heart of where we wanted to be. Granada is not a city for driving around easily so we booked parking through Park Via, a service we would definitely recommend. We saved a packet by using them. The car park was a 10 minute walk from the hotel and we were thankful for Alan’s satnav to get us there. But once we had checked in, dumped the bags, gone for a wander and grabbed a glass of wine we were happy.
The staff at the hotel could not have been more friendly and helpful. Although we were prepared to converse in Spanish the whole time, we did not need to. The Spanish lady we spoke to was fluent in English, and the other lady was American.
The room (we stayed in room 103) was compact but there was still enough room to move around. It was spotlessly clean and well maintained. heating is controlled from elsewhere in the building but there is airconditioning and two windows. You can also order pizza to your room, although we didn’t bother.
Although TripAdvisor comments said there would be no minibar, we did have one and a fridge which was great for storing bottles of water and wine.
There is a lift between floors, but there are three steps leading into the hotel which could cause problems for those with mobility issues.
The continental breakfast was basic but of good quality. Ours was included in the price of our stay but if yours isn’t, you’d get better value elsewhere. €12 is a bit steep for what was available.
There is free wifi in all areas of the hotel (which we utilised) and a safe. The safe key needs to be collected from reception.
There is a hairdryer in the bathroom and the hotel can organise a laundry service should you need it. There are also basic supplies in the bathroom, but ladies may wish to take a bottle of conditioner with them – I had to go and buy one or I’d never have got a brush through my long locks.
There is a bar which is manned by the reception staff – just go to them if you need anything.
Outside the Hotel Anacapri
Outside the hotel is an Indian restaurant, Muglia, but don’t bother. We read rave reviews on TripAdvisor and headed there on our first night expecting something amazing. It wasn’t.
The service was attentive and friendly although he wasn’t the happiest of chaps. The food was plentiful, and hot… and the vegetable pakoras were really very good.
It was during the main course that it all went wrong. Alan and I ordered two different curries which is where we really felt let down. He had a lamb madras while I opted for a lamb curry (medium heat). It was the same sauce but his had some chopped chillies in it. They also expected us to use the same cutlery throughout our courses. We were disappointed.
Also very close to the hotel was Hannigan & Sons Irish bar. I always like to have a Guinness when I spot one is available and their’s was particularly good. The barman (born and bred in Granada) was very friendly and chatted proudly about his province.
Once I escaped from a dodgy old fella, who was getting a little close for my comfort (no, that wasn’t Alan), we did get to chat to a lovely young Manchester lad who now lives and works in Gibraltar. He was sight impaired yet had thought nothing of jumping on a coach and heading away from The Rock for a few days. Nice chap, and we wish him well – even if he is a lawyer *cough*.
On the same street as the hotel is a great little supermarket that specialises in cheese, jamón and drinks – Mantequeria Castellano. It was perfect for grabbing some wine, honey rum and olives.
Not the Alhambra palace
We didn’t visit the Alhambra palace, although Alan did make me walk all the way up the hill for the view. Yes it was hot. Yes I was wearing flip-flops. No I was not impressed. I don’t “do” hills by foot unless it’s a hike through the countryside. But to be fair, once at the top, the views were more than worth it. In one direction, you can gaze across the city and watch a flourishing city going about its daily business, while in another the snow capped Sierra Nevada provides a stunning backdrop to the Alhambra and the hillside properties.
The area we walked through looked like it had seen better days but there were also a couple of stunning properties currently under construction that looked like something out of Grand Designs. With the views afforded from their terraces and infinity pools, there are certainly worse places to live.
A lazy afternoon
Just below the Alhambra palace is a square with at least a dozen restaurants flanking its edges – Plaza Campo de Principe. We whiled away quite a few hours here, sitting in the sunshine, watching the world and his wife wandering by.
The place we stayed the longest at was Restaurante Los Martinetes. After my uploaded photographs of cups of hot chocolate disturbing a few Facebook friends, I reassured them that everything had returned to normal by posting a photo of a glass of beer that I was happily wading through. The emergency services were taken off high alert and friends’ concerns were reduced, returning the cosmos to a much happier state.
It wasn’t until after I had uploaded the photograph to Facebook, however, that we spotted our grinning photobomber.
The service was friendly and attentive, and the two staff members we had looking after us throughout the afternoon spoke English – another shocker for us. Apparently there are so many English speakers in the area and they are simply catering to a wider market.
Again we got free tapas with each drink so we enjoyed migas, tortilla, cheese, jamon and olives.
It was great to put some faces and voices to people that we have been networking online with for a couple of years now. Alan had met a number of them on a previous visit to the city, but it was the first time for me.
The wine and beer flowed, much hilarity ensued and tapas came with every drink. Friendships were formed and enhanced, phone twins were found and arrangements were made for more visitors to Spain Buddy Heights for the coming months. We are grateful to those of you that made the effort to come and spend some time with us.
The staff made us feel extremely welcome and we popped back the following night for more food and wine and a good chat with Fran who took time for a proper chat about his city, of which he is very proud. He even helped me with my Spanish without laughing too much at me.
Special mention must be made of the deep fried aubergines, the meat in garlic sauce, the pork slice and the jamon with quail’s egg.
Los Tintos, as the name suggests, is all about the wine. They have a selection anyone would be proud of. I’d have been drinking my way through the lot if we’d stayed for longer.
The interior of Los Tintos is bright and airy, and it was busy on both of the nights that we visited, even though this was during the working week.
Locals certainly seem to love the place – always a good sign.
Posada del Duende. Calle del Duende, 3.
The other bar we loved was Posada del Duende. Love it or hate it, bullfighting is an integral part of Spain’s heritage, and this fabulous little bar paid an indepth and passionate homage to it.
The walls are chock full of memorabilia – photographs, tickets, and even a stuffed bull head. Apparently the bull’s head had been there since 1970. The missing ear shows this particular bull lost his battle.
On the first evening we visited, we spotted an unusually shaped knife behind the bar and asked what it was for. The barman was happy to explain and brought it down for us to take a closer look. It was a ceremonial knife, rather heavy, and is used specifically for the final kill of the bull in the bullring.
Again the tapas were free with each drink and the best, in my opinion, was the griddled pork on bread. Often, pork can be a bit tough but this was tender and succulent. Their tortilla was also very good and obviously fresh.
Again, this place seemed popular with the locals – with groups of three of four older Spanish gentlemen enjoying a few tubos and tapas.
The obligatory television was on both times we visited, so we were able to catch up with the news before “enjoying the delights” of a quiz show or two.
The Arabic quarter
Despite Alan suffering with man flu we still managed to have a great time. By far, my favourite part of the city was the Arabic quarter. Here you can browse around a hundred or so shops, all selling the same items of course, but there is something quite special about the atmosphere.
It is here that a number of teterias (tea shops) nestle. Pop in and have a beautiful aromatic fruit or herb tea, and a puff on a huqqa.
There is plenty to eat and drink in the area and it has a truly Moorish feel so beautifully preserved in Andalucia. You are greeted by stall owners as you pass, but they are not pushy. There are plenty of leather goods available and I nearly bought a leather rucksack (may have to go back for it). There is clothing, huqqa pipes, ornate glass lampshades, tablecloths, jewellery by the ton and lots more besides.
If you are looking for tacky gifts for people back home, you’ll be spoilt for choice – and most shops seem to stock the same items so a container definitely arrived from somewhere.
I picked up a horrifically coloured spoon shaped thermometer with Granada and dogs on it for a friend as a little joke, and then treated myself to a new bracelet. Don’t be too shy to haggle. I ended up paying 50 per cent less than the marked prices.
People watching where the cool kids hang out
At the top of the shopping area here, we found Restaurante Teteria Las Cuevas. It is a fantastic spot for relaxing and people watching, and it also seemed to be the place where the cool kids hang out.
There was a public drinking fountain just across from the terrace and this seemed to be a meeting point for artists, performers and people simply wishing to chew the fat with friends.
On our visits there we were entertained by jugglers, guitarists and a big black Labrador dog that loved to do tricks… nothing formal, just the guys and gals practising and having a natter with their friends. Only one came with his hat out for a donation, which we were happy to give.
Tapas are free with each wine or beer here (as with 99 per cent of places in Granada) and we tried a few. Jamon and olive oil on bread, cheese and olives, tortilla, and the best patatas a lo pobre I have tasted to date.
There was also a choice of two menu del días available, for €10.50 or €13.50 each containing three courses. The starter choices included gazpacho, Arabic soup, salada and paella. Main courses available were chicken, pork, meatballs and fish.
Although we were lazy customers, kicking back and enjoying ourselves slowly… the footfall was regular and varied. There was just one thing wrong with this place. There was a very loud American girl sat behind me telling the world (via her volume) how hot she was and how she doesn’t tolerate “Jocks” before going on to brag about what a rebel she was and how she was self sufficient apart from the monthly allowance her parents put into her bank so she doesn’t have to work. No love… you’re not “hot” and no “Jock” would be interested anyway. Lose the pink hair, stop spending Mummy and Daddy’s money and do something constructive.
Slipping and sliding outside the cathedral
We walked and explored a lot during the day as mentioned earlier. However, I did nearly come a cropper outside the entrance to the cathedral on more than one occasion. Please take my advice and walk very carefully around the front entrance of the cathedral. The street cleaners wash the stones every morning and it becomes an ice rink. Having broken my coccyx many years ago, I am always very nervous about falling on my backside in case it fractures again.
On my second attempt to walk across the stones without losing my footing, a gypsy tried to sell us a twig of something. It certainly wasn’t lucky heather. After pòlitely refusing her a couple of times, and her continuing to push her manky twig at us, I firmly said: “No!” The woman repeated “No!” to me in a manner I didn’t appreciate. I was already stressed and angry about slipping and sliding and this did not go down well (pardon the pun). Alan had to march me away quickly before I created a scene. This was probably for the best because the slippery floor would have seen me land on my backside anyway.
So that’s it really – we ate, we drank, we explored. I fell in love with Granada and will certainly return.
I hope that you enjoyed our Things to do in Granada, Spain. Go do the tourist stuff, but remember to take time out to chill and relax too!
by Elle Draper
Elle, along with Alan, is the owner of Spain Buddy and the busy web design business - Gandy-Draper. Born a "Norverner", she then spent most of her life "Dann Saff" before moving to Spain in 2006. Elle's loves are Alan, the internet, their three bouncing dogs, good food, and dry white wine - although not necessarily in that order. More about Elle - HERE | Got a news story to share? Click HERE | Want to write for Spain Buddy? Click HERE | Interested in our low cost advertising? Click HERE