Granada, the Alhambra and the Albaicín

Granada, also in southern Spain, is much smaller than Seville and very different geographically. It sits at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and is a higher and drier climate.

Since they were working on the train line between Seville and Granada, we rented a car for this 3 hour drive. The fields of sunflowers were beautiful!

The main attraction in Granada is The Alhambra, a moorish citadel and palace.

We stayed in the medieval moorish neighborhood called The Albaicín. It has narrow, windy cobblestone streets and is located on a hill facing the Alhambra.

See the crane and tower in the picture below? That’s where we stayed.

We stayed just below Plaza Mirador de San Nicolas, where everyone (including some bus loads of tourists because the Alhambra and Albaicín became UNESCO sites in 1984) came each night to admire the views of the Alhambra and watch the sunset.

I was a little nervous about staying in the Albaicín because I had read a few mixed things on TripAdvisor. Whoever thought the Albaicín was sketchy or unsafe has obviously never really traveled before. Just use common sense. Geez! The only dangerous thing in this neighborhood was all the dog poop!

We loved spending the week relaxing in our apartment, swimming in the pool, walking to everything and taking in these incredible views from the top balcony!

Of course, you can’t go to Granada without touring the Alhambra!

Tip– you must get your tickets well in advance to see the Alhambra! You can’t just show up on the same day and expect to get in. Get ticket information here.

We had a private, guided tour that lasted about 3 1/2 hours. I’m glad we started early (it gets hot) and I’m glad we had a guide.

Although, our very friendly and knowledgeable guide spent a lot of time discussing Roman aqueducts and Arabic writing. I had to force myself to concentrate and listen in case she asked me a question!

By the way, the Alhambra and the Alcazar in Seville were built by the same architects. Cool huh?

The gardens of the Alhambra were especially beautiful and peaceful.

There is more to Granada than the Alhambra…

I already mentioned the Albaicín-just wandering around the streets is a fun way to spend the day.

There are many teterias or tea rooms in Granada. They are typically informal with a selection of teas, juices, water pipes or hookahs and moorish pastries. Mmm.

You can also spend time wandering around the Alcaiceria in Granada. It was once a great silk bazaar but there was a fire in 1843 and it burned down. Today, it’s filled with souvenir shops but we had fun strolling through!

We could easily walk to the lovely and clean center of town from the top of the Albaicín. Getting back up in the scorching hot temps was another story…but that’s what taxis are for!

On our last night in Granada, we headed out for a flamenco show and dinner at Jardines de Zoraya. We had seen a terrific show in Seville so we had low expectations. The show was actually very good!

The appetizers were good, dinner meh and the dancers were very good particularly one man at the end of the show. However, we were blown away by the amazingly talented female singer (cantaora) and the guitar player. Incredible!

One thing that we didn’t get to do was visit Sacromonte, the Roma cave community above the city. Arabs first inhabited these caves but after they were driven out during the 1500’s, the Roma settled there and still live there today. It’s full of shops, restaurants and flamenco. Well, I guess we gotta save something for next time!

Next up…Barcelona, Gaudí and a day trip to Montserrat

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