Best Things to See Eat and Do in Granada, Spain – My Favorite Spanish City
Choosing a favorite Spanish city is like choosing a favorite ice cream flavor. They are all really good in different ways and its so difficult to pin point which one would be my absolute favorite. However, if I were forced to choose which city in Spain was my number one pick to visit, it would have to be Granada. I enjoyed my time in Granada so much that the last day there I was already making mental plans to come back again.
Driving From Seville to Granada
We drove to Granada from Seville. We rented a car through National and picked it up from the train station. It is about a three-hour drive East and we actually really enjoyed the drive. We saw some pretty countryside and other interesting things along the way. We parked at San Agustin Parking Garage. We got a little lost finding it. There was a man on a scooter who pulled up beside our car and offered to help us find it. He led us right to the underground parking garage and we tipped him a Euro, which was totally worth it for us. The parking garage was a short walk from our hotel, which was very convenient.
Plaza de San Agustín, S/N
The hotel we stayed at wasn’t the nicest hotel we’ve ever stayed in, but what made it fantastic was the central location. It is called, Hotel Macia Plaza. It was right in the center of all the good things to see and by all the good places to eat. It was nice for naptime for our two-year-old son, Jimmy, to have the hotel so close to all the best places to be. We came home and napped him one day and then napped him in the stroller the next day. If we forgot something, which we tend to do, it wasn't the end of the world to go back and grab it from the hotel because the hotel was always close by. Location is key when booking a hotel. They were accommodating when it came to having Jimmy in our room with us. They had his portable Pack n’ Play bed ready to go without us having to remind them.
Plaza Nueva, 5
(If I was going to plan a trip to Granada again, I would stay in the Parador de Granada hotel. For more information about this hotel, check out my post here.)
The typical Spanish breakfast has become my most favorite breakfast now days. In fact, I almost feel weird eating anything else for breakfast. We found the best place to go in Granada – Gran Café Bib Rambla. It was perfect in every way – the perfect old time Spanish setting, cute décor, great service, and yummy traditional Spanish breakfast foods. We ordered a round of freshly made churros with a side of piping hot chocolate dipping sauce. We got the traditional tostada with tomato puree and olive oil with some fresh local cheese sliced on top. And to wash it all down, the traditional café con leche and freshly squeezed orange juice. Complete breakfast perfection. Make sure to check this café out when you’re in Granada. It's one of the best. (For more information on the traditional Spanish breakfast, click here and here.)
Plaza de Bib-Rambla, 3
Spain is known for their tapas. Tapas are a small portion of food of all different types of Spanish cuisine from homemade ham croquettes to cold ajoblanco soup. What makes Granada tapas different than all the other tapas in Spain are that they are FREE. No, that wasn’t a typo. They are actually free. The only catch is that you have to order a drink to get them. It can be any drink that you want, alcoholic or not, and when you order a drink, you know that a free tapa is coming your way. And if you are still hungry after your first drink and tapa, well then order another drink, and wait for your second free and completely different tapa to arrive. Every drink that you order, a free tapa comes with it.
I really enjoyed this free tapa culture in Granada. I found it so exciting, wondering what they were going to bring me as I sat there with my drink. It felt like a little surprise, almost like a magic trick, that suddenly, a delicious small plate of food appeared in front of me. I loved how it forced me to try new things that maybe I wouldn’t of ordered otherwise or didn’t even know that I liked. It helped me to branch out in the Spanish cuisine world.
An activity that Spanish people typically do in Granada in the evenings and especially on the weekends is to go, “Tapa Hopping.” Granada is full of tapa bars. They are different from the typical US bar in that they are more like a restaurant than a bar. Kids are always allowed inside. There are too many tapa bars to count in Granada. It is really fun to join the locals and go from one tapa bar to the next. I am the type of person who can never decide where or what to eat because I love it all, but in Granada I didn’t have to. I could go to them all! We really enjoyed sitting down for a tapa and drink here, and then walking across the street to the neighboring tapa bar to sit down and enjoy another there. Then we walked a little further down the road and did it again, over and over until we were full and done for the night. It is a fun way to meet new people, experience new settings, and try a large variety of foods, while barely spending any money. It is so cheap to eat there. It blew me away.
Where to Eat?
Like I said above, there are so many tapa bars in the area that you really can’t go wrong. And if you end up in a mediocre one, well who cares? Just eat your small tapa and head over to the next one that’s better. We ate a lot of tapas that weekend but the most memorable ones were at the following restaurants:
Taberna Mas Que Vinos –
This place is tucked away in a little side street and has amazing food. We loved everything that we got.
Calle Tundidores, 10
Bodegas Castañeda –
This place had the best homemade croquettes. They were huge! The employees there were so nice too and made us feel at home.
Calle Almireceros, 1-3
Los Diamantes –
Great place for people who like seafood. I am not a huge seafood fan, but I loved their bacalao. It’s a tender white fish that is fried in a salt and vinegar batter. This place is always packed so grab a table as fast as you can!
Plaza Nueva, 13
Want to get an amazing view of the whole city and the Alhambra? Go check out one of the many lookouts throughout Granada. Granada is built on a hill so you can hike uphill to the lookouts and get a great view of the whole city!
Mirador San Nicolás –
This is the most popular lookout. It is quite a good hike up to get there, but it’s worth it in the end. There is a gorgeous view to enjoy, especially of the Alhambra. You can see the Alhambra so close from this lookout. There are usually people up there playing instruments or selling art. It’s a great place to take some photos and just relax and enjoy the view. There is a little ice cream shop right below the last set of stairs to the lookout called, Helados San Nicolas, if you want some ice cream to eat while you’re up there. To the left of the ice cream shop is a popular bar with a fantastic view that sells very expensive drinks, but it’s still always packed. Grab an empty table if you see one. They don’t come very often.
Calle Espaldas a San Nicolas s/n
Abaco Té –
If you want a good view and a nice cold drink to enjoy while you are looking at it, Abaco Té is perfect for you. This restaurant has many floors that you can choose to dine at. You have to climb a large narrow staircase to get to each floor. All of the floors are cute but the real gem is at the very top, in the balcony area. There are several cute tables to sit and relax at. They have delicious and huge drinks to order, like smoothies, granitas, fresh juices, coffee drinks, milkshakes, everything. It’s worth a look!
Calle Alamo del Marques, 5
(There are two other famous lookouts in Granada that we didn’t get a chance to go to, but I’ve heard from friends that they are a good choice for amazing views. Go check them out – Mirador de San Miguel and Mirador de San Cristóbal)
When traveling with a toddler, finding a good park is always a must. Jimmy thrives when he can get some energy out and run around a bit before doing more touristy things. We found a really cute park area at Placeta Cristo Azucenas. There were lots of local kids playing there. Jimmy and I started playing with a little boy and he spoke in Spanish to me. “Puedo jugar?” (Can I play?) I love little kids from all cultures. I’ve always been drawn to young children. Maybe that’s why I become a kindergarten teacher? Talking to them in Spanish is one of my favorite things because they don’t care how broken my Spanish language skills are. They talk to me no matter what, and treat me as if I am speaking perfectly.
There were a lot of interesting people in this area just hanging out. They were sitting in big circles, chatting, and playing guitars. Some were singing. Some were eating. Some had dogs with them and others had kids. This is a prime area in Granada for some fascinating people watching!
One of my favorite Ice Cream shops of all time is in Granada. I am embarrassed to admit, but we went twice in one night. It was my idea. Once around 5 PM and then the second time was right before they closed. It is that good. Trust me.
It is called Lost Italianos. Italians really know how to make good ice cream, even if they are in Spain. With a whopping 1200+ reviews on Google, you know it’s got to be good. Every flavor is so pure and fresh tasting, very simple, yet very classic. They have flavors like caramel, nut, chocolate truffle; so simple, but so good. But the thing that makes this ice cream shop stand out is the ice cream tortas that they make. They have these homemade ice cream cakes made and ready in their deep freezer. When you ask for it, they cut you a slice, but then they put it into a waffle cone. It is a totally different idea for ice cream, but it really works and it's so delicious. We tried the Torta de Chocolate, which is layers of different chocolate and vanilla flavors and the signature Cassata which has strawberry and pistachio flavors. There are so many layers in their ice cream cakes that I really don’t even know what they all were. All I know is that they were dang good. In fact, if they were in Seville, Los Italianos would of made the list of the top ice cream shops in Seville.
Another thing I loved about this place is that they gave Jimmy a free ice cream cone. When we go out for ice cream, we often just have Jimmy share with us and we give him bites as we go. Jimmy was crying for ice cream as we were paying and getting settled, and the guy serving us noticed him. He put a small amount of ice cream in a sugar cone and gave it to Jimmy. It wasn’t a full scoop by any means, maybe a few spoonfulls, perfect for a toddler his size. Jimmy loved the independence of having his own cone to hold. Since our trip to Granada, he always wants his own cone because, “I want to hold it!” When we went back again at the end of the night, they gave him a second free toddle sized ice cream cone like that one, which we were very grateful for.
An Area to Explore
If you want to go to a good area with an up close view of the side of the Alhambra and a great place to just wander around and explore, head to Paseo de Los Tristes. There are a lot of fun restaurants down that way where you can sit under beautiful treleses of flowers. Most of them are quite touristy, but it might still be fun to stop at quickly for a drink and a small tapa. There are a lot of good shops in this area. Explore a bit, do some shopping, and have some fun here.
Paseo del Padre Manjón, 3
Famous Pastry From Granada
Our friend from Sevilla told us that when we went to Granada that we HAD to try the typical pastry from the area called, Pionono. It is a very thin white cake that has been soaked in an cinnamon egg batter and rolled up with a custard filling on the inside and an egg custard “frosting” on the top. It looks like a little Spanish cinnamon roll. It is super moist and eggy and SO GOOD. We tried them at two different places – Gran Café Bib Rambla and Pasteleria Lopez Mezquita. Both were equally delicious. Make sure you find the homemade ones from a bakery. A lot of shops sell store bought ones from a box which aren’t as fresh or good.
Plaza de Bib-Rambla, 3
Calle Reyes Católicos, 39
The Alhambra and The Nasrid Palace
Granada is the perfect mix of old town charm and new town class, but most importantly it holds one of the top tourist destinations in all of Europe – The Alhambra and The Nasrid Palace. We struggled to get tickets until the night before at midnight. Click here for my post on how to get last minute tickets. We were so glad that we got to go because it ended up being one of the coolest things that I had ever seen in my life. No wonder it’s continually sold out straight for three months. It’s that great! We went to the Gardens, Generalife, and Alcazbar areas during the day and then saw the Nasrid Palace for the night time tour at 10 PM. It was all incredible, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is in the area. Check out my post here for more information about visiting the Gardens, Generlife, and Alcazbar during the day, and also my post here for more information on visiting the Nasrid Palace at night.
Calle Real de la Alhambra, s/n
Enjoy your time in Granada and shoot me any comments or questions that you might have. I'm always happy to help when I can. If I'm missing anything amazing in Granada that is a must see, eat, or do, please let me know in the comments below. I'll make sure to check it out next time I am in the area!