Anything But Paella

Granada for (next to) nothing

Granada is an amazing place to visit and whether it is your first time there, or your tenth, you are still bound to find something incredible. For us, something like 20 years had elapsed between visits, but we were blown away by this short trip, and it certainly didn’t cost the Earth!

Granada, the Alhambra and the snow-capped Sierra Nevada

Now, this blog is about how to see Granada for next to nothing. If you need to travel, find a hotel, eat and drink, it is of course impossible to do this for absolutely nothing! Staying a short way out of the city centre certainly helps to reduce the costs. We found the Hotel Andalucia Centre to be exceptionally good value, although the autumn sun shining on our window all afternoon meant it was rather hotter in our room than we had expected. You need to have some sensible shoes on too as there is a lot of walking and it’s not all flat. Bus routes around the city help alleviate this for just a few Euros.

The hotel swimming pool but Autumn is not the time for us to take a dip!

Just up the road from the hotel is a roundabout topped by a helicopter. This is a memorial to the Spanish Air Force and something which intrigued us. Crossing the roads around the roundabout gives you many different perspectives on this unusual monument.

Monument to the Spanish Air Force

Nearby is something that is most definitely not free. The Granada Science Park contains a science museum, a biodome where you can learn about biodiversity and conservation, and a planetarium. It’s going to cost you €13.50 to see all three parts, or you can do as we did and just visit Albert Einstein who sits on a bench near the car park. Having your photo taken with him is free!

Albert Einstein awaits selfie-takers!

Our walk then took us alongside the river towards the city centre. Along the way were some wonderful statues. The tribute to flamenco was particularly impressive. We were also lucky enough to be able to see the intriguing ecomeninas collection spread around the city promoting recycling. Past the Puente Romano we rested in a large, open park with some nice fountains.

Why did we rest? Well, there was a steep climb ahead next through narrow cobbled streets. Eventually we found our way up to the Alhambra, the jewel in Granada’s crown. Despite it being out of season there were still a lot of people waiting to enter the palace and its gardens. We visited years ago and decided not to pay to go in again. If you want to read more about what is inside and how to buy tickets in advance, then hop over to our friends at Piccavay who will give you all the information you need.

Steep cobbled streets

Feeling a little out of breath we had a look around the gift shop. Then we headed back down the other side of the Alhambra along the Cuesta del Rey Chico to the Paseo de los Tristes. This was a beautiful path with great views of the palace and its surrounds. Sitting with a coffee at the bottom gave us a great panoramic view of the fortifications high above the river.

Nearby we discovered the Palacio de los Córdova. We were surprised to be able to wander through the gardens and around the courtyards free of charge. It was a beautiful spot, and a hot tip is that there are toilets inside!! Further up the hill the cave houses of Sacromonte will have to wait for another visit. Instead we were heading for Mirador San Nicolás and its amazing views over the Alhambra with the backdrop of the snowy mountains. It was quite busy up there but well worth the climb. Presumably it is extremely crowded in the summer.

Plaza San Nicolás

The maze of streets of the Albaicín eventually led us back down towards the cathedral, although we didn’t venture inside. If you want to, it’s €5 including an audio guide. There are a few cramped streets where you may think you have been transported to Morocco. Carpets, lamps and slippers adorn the walls and the smells coming from the restaurants are mouth watering. We did succumb to some couscous while we were there in the evening!

All that was left was a stroll back along the river towards the hotel for a well earned siesta. We then retraced our steps and enjoyed a beer and some tapas before finding a nice place for dinner. There are so many places to choose from, especially as you get closer to the cathedral area. For tapas we loved Restaurante Chikito which had a very traditional flavour to it. Even Diego Maradona has eaten there! We then really enjoyed an Argentinian meat feast at the Atahualpa Steak House. Highly recommended!

Of course, there was an ulterior motive for our visit in the first place. Real Betis were playing away to Granada so we went along to lend our support. Sadly the team did not respond and were beaten 1-0 in a terrible game which saw the hosts move to the top of La Liga for the first time in a generation. Their time at the summit was short-lived though!!

Granada fans revelling in victory.

If you would like to recreate our walk, it was only 8.3km but there was lots of stopping along the way!

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