A stone’s throw away from Morocco yet immersed in true Spanish culture, Granada, Spain is truly a one-of-a-kind destination. Throw away your watch and step back in time while discovering its tiled streets and revel in a culture steeped in Moorish history. Granada is one of the last cities in Spain where tapas are served free with alcohol. A drink usually only costs $1-2 so get ready to eat and drink your way through the city.
Granada, Spain in 36 Hours for the Luxury Traveller
10:00 a.m. Cafeteria Lisboa (Calle Reyes Católicos, 67, 18010 Granada, Spain) Gear up with a sweet breakfast before your tour of the Alhambra Palace at Cafeteria Lisboa, conveniently situated in the city’s busiest square, Plaza Nueva. This bustling cafe serves every variation of cafe con leche you can dream of and its display of pastries will have you craving something sweet. Skip the tostadas here and order one of their Portuguese croissants instead. Unlike its French counterpart, this croissant is heavy and doughy because of the egg yolk in its dough and will keep you full until lunch time. Grab a few pasteles de nata to-go for a pick-me-up during the long day of walking ahead of you.
2:30 p.m. Los Manueles (C/ Reyes Católicos, 61, 18009 Granada, Spain) Your legs will be aching from all the walking you’ve done in the morning. Rest up on the sidewalk patio at Los Manueles. Its original location near Plaza Isabel La Catolica sits in the shade, providing ample shelter from the sweltering sun. While the locals go home for lunch with their families and an afternoon siesta, opt for the three course prix fixe lunch menu at Los Manueles and let the chefs decide what you’ll eat. Your lunch might begin a plate of fresh grilled calamari or a small bowl of gazpacho to cool you down. A generous serving of creamy chicken paella arrives next on most weekdays, followed by decadent chocolate cake or smooth ice cream from the creamery next door. The waiters are attentive, making sure each dish is served with a small glass of complementary wine.
7:00 p.m. Rosario Varela (Calle Varela, 10, 18009 Granada, Spain) Mingle with the locals at Rosario Varela, a new tapas spot nestled between a vitamin shop and a liquor store. Its cozy corners hide students, tourists, and locals alike. Order a pitcher of their watermelon mojito and watch the tapas roll in. Among the selection is grilled white asparagus or pate on crispy flatbread. Get a seat by the window and when the sun starts to set, say goodbye to your waiter and make a beeline for the liquor store next door. By a 40oz Alhambra beer and walk up to the nearest mirador. I recommend Mirador de San Nicolas for gypsy serenades and a view that President Clinton said couldn’t be beat.
10:30 p.m. Alhambra Palace Restaurant (Plaza Arquitecto Garcia de Paredes 1, 18009 Granada, Spain) Make reservations ahead of time for dinner at the Alhambra Palace restaurant. This cliffside hotel restaurant boasts a glassed-in panoramic view of the Alhambra Palace. While its staff may be snobby at times, their food more than makes up for it. Their steak tartar never fails to amaze guests and the seared venison arrives at the table smothered in truffle oil and still sizzling from the grill. Don’t bother with the expensive drinks here, but savor every last bite of your dinner well into the night. Watch as the city below you sparkles and hums and imagine Moorish ghosts roaming the palace across from you. Talk late into the night with the rest of the hotel guests and leave well after the bill is paid and your table is cleared.
12:00 a.m. Tablao Flamenco Albayzin (Plaza Mirador de San Cristóbal, 5, 18010 Granada, Spain) After a hearty dinner, climb up the steep streets of the Albaicin district to watch a traditional flamenco show. Tablao Flamenco Albayzin is one of the oldest flamenco taverns in all of Spain and has shows every night for as low as $25 per person. Enjoy the complementary sangria left around the long tables as you get serenaded by flamenco singers and feel the rhythm of the drums and guitar in your bones. Only the best singers and dancers are able to perform at the tavern. Refill your cup with more sangria and head home feeling confident that you’ve experienced a part of true Spanish culture.
10:00 a.m. Cafe Baraka (Calle San Jerónimo, 24, 18001 Granada, Spain) A five minute walk from the city’s law school campus, Cafe Baraka is a popular spot for students to grab a bite before or between classes. Cafe Baraka serves American classics like milkshakes and french toast, but with a Spanish twist. Live like a local and order a cafe solo (espresso) and a tostada. The platter that arrives will have half a toasted baguette from the bakery next door, olive oil, tomato puree, slices of manchego cheese, marmalade, and spicy sausage. Have fun making little bites with each of the toppings and people watch through the screened patio. Cafe Baraka is one of the only cafes in Granada with complimentary wifi so take some time to catch up on emails and plan the route to your next destination.
2:00 p.m. Carmela (Calle Colcha, 13, 18009 Granada, Spain) After an afternoon exploring the gardens of Federico Garcia Lorca, swimming in the arab baths, or bargaining with shopkeepers in the Albaicin, head over to Carmela. This small restaurant attracts businessmen who are too busy to go home for lunch. Their berenjenas con miel (fried eggplant with honey) is a favorite, but any tapa that accompanies their canas (small beers) will do just fine for a quick lunch.
6:30 p.m. Bar Poe (Calle Verónica de la Magdalena, 40, 18002 Granada, Spain) Take a break from practicing your Spanish and surround yourself with familiar sounds at Bar Poe. Owned by an Angolan English duo, this small bar serves up North African inspired tapas. Instead of ordering sangria try tinto de verano - a refreshing mix of wine and sparkling soda that the locals prefer. You can pick which tapa comes with your drink and the chicken in coconut sauce with polenta is a best-seller. More experimental travellers will enjoy the Portuguese style cod or spicy chicken liver. Sit back and enjoy your drink while meeting locals, erasmus students, and regulars who boast that these are the best tapas in Granada.