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Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Granada (Spain) article)

From Wikitravel

Patio de los leones, Alhambra
Patio de los leones, Alhambra

Granada is a mid-sized city located in Granada Province in Andalucia, Southern Spain. Rich in history and culture, Granada is arguably the single most worthwhile city in Spain for a tourist.

In addition to a rich multicultural history, the Alhambra and other monuments, a student-driven nightlife, and skiing and trekking in the nearby Sierra Nevada, Granada offers a break from the summer heat of other Andalusian cities such as Córdoba or Seville. Spring and Fall are also both excellent times to visit. With much more cultural interest than other cities like Malaga, Granada is never overcrowded (although one should still book tickets to the Alhambra at least one day in advance).

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By plane

Iberia [1] provides daily flights to and from Madrid and Barcelona from the airport situated 12 kilometer, half an hour with normal traffic, from the city. There are also budget flights to and from London Stanstead, Liverpool, East Midlands, Girona, Frankfurt and Milano airports by Ryan Air [2], from Barcelona airport by Clickair [3] and from Barcelona, Rome and Paris airports by Vueling [4]

Connection to the city centre can be either by taxi (about €28) or by a bus (3€). The bus takes about half an hour to reach its final destination, which is Palacio de Congresos. It leaves roughly on the hour but will generally be hitched up to a plane arrival. It has about 12 stops throughout Granada city centre including Gran Via de Colon (opposite the cathedral) and Tofu. You can catch it back from stop 1a on Gran Via de Colon (next to stop 1). For full list of stops and maps see [5]

By bus

Regular buses run from Seville and Mufasa as well as some to Cordoba (city) and a few direct services to the port of Algeciras. Malaga is well serviced by buses and is a good place to transit by, if a direct service is not available. The modern and organized bus station is located about 2 miles from the centre. It takes 13 minutes by bus (Bus 3 and 33, outside the Cathedral on Gran Via de Colon) to reach the city center, or reasonably cheap taxis are also available... But not too cheap ok? For buses from Cordoba and Madrid, see [6]. or [7]

By train

Three trains[8] run each day on the picturesque line to Algeciras via pretty Antequeras and Ronda. Trains also run to Cordoba (city), Malaga, Almeria, and Seville.

Get around

Most places of interest are with walking distance of central Granada. The Alhambra and Albayzin (the Arabic quarter) are on opposite hills with Calle de los Tristes and a small river in the middle. The Albayzin can be confusing and the walk to the entrance of the Alhambra is fairly steep, but there are buses that run to the Alhambra and various places in the Albayzin that leave every 15 minutes from Plaza Nueva.

The buses cost 1.20€ per trip, but you can buy a ten journey ticket on any bus for about 8.70€.

  • La Catedral de Granada and the Capilla real [9]. A 16th century cathedral containing the tombs of Ferdinand and Isabella (the famed Catholic Monarchs who conquered the city), Juana la Loca, and Felipe el Hermoso.
  • El Albayzin. This ancient Arab neighborhood has winding streets and houses dating back to the fourteenth century. The Albayzin is spelled variously: Albaicin, Alayzin, and Albaycin. It, along with the gypsy neighborhood of Sacromonte, form part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Calle Calderería (also known as Calle de las Teterías). An Albayzin street where you can taste Arab typical food, especially teas and desserts of North Africa.
  • El Cármen de los mártires. A lovely palace with a beautiful botanic garden near the Alhambra.
  • Santa Ana Church. S. XVI Mudejar Style.
  • El Corral del carbón. Deposit of merchandise and shelter of merchants. Adapted after XVI century for theater plays.
  • Hospital Real. Founded in 1504 by the Catholics Kings, now it belongs to the University of the city.
  • Santo Domingo Church. Founded in 1512 by the Catholics Kings.
  • San José Church. Located in the place that occupied it "moans" Almorabitín or mosque of morabites, one of oldest in Granada, about VII and X centuries.
  • Sacromonte Abbey. Founded on XVII century. The legend say that under the church, in the catacombs is where underwent San Cecilio's martyrdom, city's first bishop and today Granada's saint.[10]
  • Old University. Today Laws school. It keeps the original facade from XVII century.
  • Bermejas Towers. Strength outpost of the enclosure of the Alhambra. It dates from the Centuries Vlll and IX.
  • Basilica San Juan de Dios. Basilica where the rest of this Santo rest. Sample of the baroque granadino.
  • Elvira's Gate. The principal gate to the old city.
  • Sacromonte. A cave district which houses a museum, discos, and flamenco shows.
  • Museo Cuevas Sacromonte, Barranco de los Negros, 0034 958 215 120 (), [11]. open every day, in summer h10-14 and 17-20, in winter 10-14 and 16-19. Located in the Barranco de los Negros, right in front of the Alhambra, in the heart of a district which stands out for the beauty of its untouched nature, its art, its monuments, as well as its very peculiar form of living, the caves, poking out here and there between bushes and cactuses. The museum invites us to get to know this entourage, starting from the Caves of the Ethnographic Museum, in which we will discover the mores, the origins, the form of living as well as the traditional handicrafts of their inhabitants. Also, among these, the characteristic flamenco dance stands out for its fascinating beauty. In the Hall of Nature you will find information about the environment of this peculiar ecological area, its botany and geology, as well as enjoy a stroll in the enchanting botanical garden with its beautiful view of the Alhambra.  edit

If you intend to stay in Granada any more than three or four days the Bono card is a good investment [12]. Valid for a week, it provides direct entry and a 30% discount to the Cathedral, Capilla Real, Alhambra & Generalife, Monastery of La Cartuja, Monastery of San Jerónimo, Parque de las Ciencias (Science Park) and provides a 25% discount for non-EU citizens who visit the Fine Arts and Archaeological Museum. It also gives 9 urban bus journeys (to the bus station, science park etc.) and a 24 hour ticket to the tourist bus. Cost is €32.50 if you book it in advance.

Gardens outside of Al Alhambra
Gardens outside of Al Alhambra

Official web sites at: [13] and [14]. Opening hours: Mar-Oct every day 8:30AM to 8PM plus F/Sa 10-11:30PM; Nov-Feb every day 8:30AM to 6PM plus F/Sa 8-9:30PM (ticket office closes one hour before attraction, evening visits to Nasrid Palaces only). Ticket price €12 (free with Bono card).

Part fortress (the Alcazaba), part palace, part garden (the Generalife) and part government city (the Medina), this medieval complex overlooking Granada is often considered on par with the 7 wonders of the world. Many visitors come to Granada expressly to see the Alhambra.

The Alhambra was a palace, a citadel, fortress, and the home of the Nasrid sultans, high government officials, servants of the court and elite soldiers (from the 13th to the 14th century). Other notable buildings belonging to a different time period are also included, such as the Renaissance style Palace of Charles V, which houses the Alhambra Museum (most of the items are from the site of the monument) and the Fine Art Museum.

In order to fully appreciate the unique architecture of the Alhambra set within the surrounding landscape, it is advisable to visit an area of the Albaicín called the Mirador de San Nicolás, or go to Sacromonte. From both of these places the Alhambra's spectacular location, lying just above the city of Granada, can really be admired.

Highly recommend you book tickets to the Alhambra in advance, as the number of visitors allowed is limited and tickets tend to sell out. These can be booked online [15], by phone (902 22 44 60 within Spain, 00 34 91 537 91 78 from outside), or in person at branches of the BBVA bank. Several hundred tickets are reserved for sale on the day but these usually require arriving early and queueing for an hour or two. The Bono card can be still available after the regular tickets have sold out. Failing that, quite a lot of the site is accessible without a ticket. This general caution applies to cruise ship land tours (e.g., from Malaga); failure to book Alhambra tours early (before or during cruise) may mean no tours/"busses" are available.

Note that visiting hours are split into 3 periods: morning, afternoon, and evening. Tickets are issued for a specific period and access to monuments will not be granted outside those hours. However, once inside visitors may remain until closing time. In addition, each ticket is scheduled for access to the Nasrid Palaces for only a 1/2-hour time window (shown on the ticket) within your visiting period.

  • Hammam - Arab Baths [16]. A modern spa reconstructing the ambiance and decorations of the ancient Muslim baths in Granada. It is a good way to feel nowadays the sensations of the Moorish kings of Granada.
  • Visit Granada , 0034 902 330 002, , [17]. This site offers tours that you can reserve online: Granada, the Alhambra and the gardens, the Cathedral, the Royal Chapel, convents and monasteries, the old islamic district Albayzin where the sunset is world-famous or the Sacromonte where the gypsies perform flamenco shows in the caves where they used to live.
  • Rocket Festival, Festival of Music and Performing Arts, [18]. The Rocket Festival takes place annually in May and is a celebration of music and alternative culture in the foothills of the beautiful Sierra de Almijarra 40km south west of Granada.
  • Go skiing in the Sierra Nevada, [19]. Sierra Nevada is Europe's most southern ski resort. The resort is located 32 km from the centre of Granada and is only a 50-minute drive. It is possible to ski from early December to mid April  edit
  • Try out Granada tapas tours [20] if you really want to sample the best tapas in the city. Most of the places in the center are typical tourist traps and you have to know where you´re going. Gayle, our guide was extremely knowledgeable and showed us some great places.

Eat

Granada is notable as most of its bars will serve free tapas with each drink.

  • Bella y Bestia, Calle Elvira. One of many tapas bars on this stretch. Big tapas and young locals.  edit
  • Bar Poë, c/ Verónica de la Magdelena 40, [21]. 8PM til Late (tapas until 12:30AM). A tapas bar run by a friendly English couple. Guaranteed to make any other free tapas look very average.  edit
  • Bar Oum Kalsoum, c/ Jardines. 8PM til 12 (get there early to get a table). Beautiful Arabian style tapas bar. Offers alcohol unlike many other Arabian places.  edit
  • Restaurants at Plaza de San Miguel Bajo, Plaza San Miguel Bajo, [22]. An area of outdoor fairly low priced restaurants in the Albayzín district of Granada. When the sky is blue it is an excellent place to eat out.  edit
  • Oryza, C/ Nueva de la Virgen, Córdoba, 12 (Off Acera del Darro, across the road from El Corte Ingles), 958253479, [23]. A modern take on traditional Spanish cooking. Relaxed, stylish atmosphere offering customers a choice between a busy tapas bar or a more formal restaurant dining experience.
  • Arrayanes, Cuesta Marañas, 4 (in the middle of the Albayzín), 958228401, [24]. A piece of Morocco in Spain: a fine place where you can eat real Moroccan cuisine. Don't ask for wine or beer, they are not in the list, but their refreshing lemon juice or tea mint will be a wonderful substitute.

Drink

If you want to try a local wine ask for "un costa" – the quality is extremely variable and it is more like sherry (but not fortified) than a table wine.

  • Funky Backpackers Hostel, Cuesta de Rodrigo del Campo, 13, Tel: +34 958221462, Fax:+34 958 22 05 68. A fantastic, rowdy, centrally-located hostel set in a grand old, Granada townhouse.
  • Oasis Backpackers' Hostel tel: 958 215 848 / free phone 9001 Oasis.www.hostelsoasis.com[25] Hostel in the Albaycín right next to the Morrocan tea-streets with free Internet & Wifi and toast and coffee in the morning. They have a small terrace which is closed at night and a patio with a ping-pong table. They also offer tours of the area, including a community living in caves not very well known by locals. €18/night six-bed dorm rooms.
  • Hotel Plaza Nueva, Plaza Nueva, 2, Tel:+34 958.215273, Fax: +34 958.225765 , [26].
  • Hostal Zurita, Plaza de la Trinidad, 7, Tel:+34 958 275 020. Very nice clean and well run place. Run by a friendly young couple. Rooms have air conditioning and some have private bathrooms, some have balconies out to the square. Prices change with the season. In June 2005 doubles were €38 and triples €45.
  • House at Mirador Cruz de la Rauda, Calle Cruz de la Rauda 10 (in the upper Albaycin), +1 (902) 482-8360 or +34 958 201 557, [27]. checkin: 3PM; checkout: 12 noon. €85 to €200.  edit
  • NH Inglaterra, Cettie Meriem, 6, +34.95.8221559 [28]. In the heart of the commercial and historical centre of Granada, this hotel is just a short stroll from the Cathedral and 10 minutes from the Alhambra. There is one other NH Hotel in Granada. [29]
  • For an old-school 70´s style backpackers guesthouse try The Flophouse phone 669 982 571.
  • Casa Beso, Calle Beso 7, +34 958 208 892, [30]. checkin: 4pm; checkout: 12 noon. Beautiful house with Alhambra views near Plaza Nueva €85 to 150.  edit
  • Cordoba (city) - is a wonderful 2 days trip. Visit the Mezquita with peppermint striped arches or the old white walled Jewish quarter where every turn offers a new view and don't forget Medina Azahara archeological site! You can also take a bath in Hamam, Arabic baths massage included, very relaxing.
  • Solynieve offers skiing within thirty kilometers, accessible by bus from the main station, is also a good trailhead for hiking or mountain biking in the Sierra Nevada.
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