Granada: My 3-Day Itinerary
This barely counts as a day, as thanks to a delayed flight I didn’t get in until late in the evening, exhausted and with sore muscles. Granada’s airport is fairly tiny. Immediately outside the lone terminal, I was happy to easily spot the Alsa coach bus waiting outside that goes directly to the city center. Luggage is stored underneath and the 5 Euros is highly preferable to the 30-40 Euro cab ride.
About 40 minutes later, I was dropped at the Catedral stop along with about half of the bus riders. Despite it being after 10pm, the streets and restaurants were packed. My hotel, Palacio de Santa Ines, I chose both because of the reasonable price, but also because of its proximity to the Alhambra and the city center. According to google, it was about a 7 minute walk from the bus stop. I quickly realized my mistake in not factoring in the struggle of pulling a rolling suitcase over cobblestone streets. Nor did I realize my hotel, while in a picturesque area, was actually up several steps on a smaller side street. The night manager at least was kind enough to carry my luggage up to the 2nd floor. Arriving, I found I had paid about $88/night for what I found to be a small room with one window that looked out onto the lobby... overall the hotel was good, but I'd recommend calling ahead to make sure your double room has a window that doesn't guarantee you'll be hearing every guest check out in the morning.
I dragged my tired, sore self out of bed as I had a 9:30 reservation at the Nasrid Palace which I booked with my Granada Card in advance. I followed the google map from my hotel across the now-empty plazas, going uphill a few streets, and into a park that surrounds the Alhambra. At 8:45, it was empty and the signage in the park is basically non-existent, so I had a few moments of panic that I was going the wrong way. Stay to the left and keep going uphill, and rest assured that eventually you’ll see the walls of the Alhambra looming over you.
The Alhambra was, as I’ll explain more in a future post, fantastic. I spent a few hours wandering around. I left at noon, just as the bus swarms were getting to be a bit much, and headed back to my hotel. The Palacio de Santa Ines, as mentioned, gave me an underwhelming room, but it was affordable, centrally located, and had a delicious buffet breakfast (for 8 euros extra). While I was still irrationally angry at them for having too many steps, they did also help me book an afternoon appointment at the al-andalus hammam (60 Euros for a 90 minute session with a massage)
That experience, after days of travel and aching muscles, was fantastic. You’re required to wear a bathing suit as the pools are coed. The hot steam pools, about 5 at different temperatures, are dimly lit and, while not the original walls, have an amazing Moorish design with candlelit rooms and a tray of tea available. Attendants will find you in the baths to take you to-from the massage area, which was also excellent.
Freshly relaxed, I set out that evening to investigate whether tapas were still complimentary in Granada bars and tabernas. After stops at a few places included I was delighted to find that they were! I settled in for a meat-heavy meal at Bodegas la Mancha, where I met several other travelers.
We swapped Andalucian travel tips before I made my way home around 11:30. Many people were still out dining, and as mentioned in the guide, I felt perfectly safe walking home by myself.
I had a bus to catch this afternoon, but this left time for an early morning walk along the Rio Darro up to the Albayzín neighborhood to see it in the early light.
The walk started off fairly flat (and nicely empty at 9am on a Saturday), but eventually the elevation started gaining. I was passed several times by the C1 and C2 buses, their passengers giving me odd looks for choosing to climb the hills. Eventually I made it to the Mirador de San Nicolas overlook. At that time in the morning I shared the overlook with a couple taking wedding pictures, and their cab driver waiting patiently for them.
I wandered through the maze of streets, stairs, and backed myself out of more than a few dead ends before I found myself back in the Centro area. Eventually my wandering led me back to the hotel, where I arranged both for someone to carry my suitcase downstairs as well as for a cab to take me to the bus station (about 10 euros, 20 minute drive).