Things to keep in mind while planning your vacation (solo or otherwise)!
BUYING TICKETS TO THE ALHAMBRA
Tickets are available about 90 days in advance. Try to book as early as you can, and get tickets that include the Nasrid palaces, as those are easily the highlight of the whole complex. I’ve heard good things about both the daytime and evening views of the palace, so really up to your preference. If you're going during the day I'd suggest buying for either the morning or late afternoon, as that will help avoid the midday bus crowds. If the palaces are booked for the date you want, you have a few options:
-Book a guided tour - there are a great many on offer. It will cost a bit more, but will provide some of the information and back story that is missing onsite.
-If you’re staying at a hotel, check with them if they have tickets they can sell you.
-A limited number of tickets are available the day of if you’re game for getting there early to wait at the ticket office.
-Get a Granada Card. This is the option I went with. You select a date and time for the Alhambra, but the 40 Euros also covers most of the other museums and cathedrals in town for one week from that date, as well as one ride on the hop-on hop-off trolley, and several bus tickets.
The old, quaint, compact city center is paved in cobblestones. Beautiful for photos, not good for rolling luggage or flip flops. Make sure to bring comfortable, sturdy shoes and try to pack light.
WHERE TO STAY IN GRANADA
The city is compact enough that it’s a fairly easy walk, cab, or bus ride to get to the sites. However, if you’re traveling alone, I would recommend staying closer to the city center. That way you can save on cab fares in case you’re going home late at night, and it’s easier to pop over to bars/restaurants/cafes without having to worry about how to get there and back again. Look for places in El Centro, Albaicin, or El Realejo. In El Centro, I can recommend Palacio de Santa Ines or Anacapri as good deals at boutique hotels (though for the Palacio check in advance if your room has a window!).
If you’re driving into town, check with your hotel or airbnb as to where you can park. Parking is difficult, extremely limited, and often expensive. Furthermore, cars are not allowed in the crowded central streets without a permit - it’s why you’ll see almost only cabs on some of the one-way cobblestone streets. Presumably this is to avoid seeing tourists with their cars stuck in alleyways that are too narrow to fit them. Given the size of the area, either don’t bring a car or park somewhere further out and just bus/cab it around Granada.
As I mentioned above - free tapas. I feel this needs to be repeated a few times. If you’re at a bar drinking a very affordable beer (known as a caña) or glass of wine, you will get a small plate of something to munch on - olives, a small slice of an omelette, some bread and ham, etc. The easiest way to save money in Granada is to conduct your own bar crawl and taste the tapas along the way.