Granada, Spain in 36 Hours for the Budget Traveler
10:00 a.m. Cafe 4 Gatos (Placeta Cruz Verde, 6, 18010 Granada, Spain) Spend your morning getting lost in the Albaicin quarter of the city and make sure to stop by Cafe 4 Gatos when it opens. The whitewashed houses surrounding this cafe date back to the early 1500s and are now home to expats. Old and new generations alike gather at this cafe for a small cafecito, while gypsy women drink claras (beer mixed with lemonade) all day long. Their generous tostadas topped with jamon iberico, fresh pureed tomato, olive oil, and manchego cheese will keep you full long into the afternoon. Don’t skip their fresh baked brownies or cookies, which keep the schoolchildren in the neighborhood sustained throughout the week.
2:30 p.m. Hicuri (Plaza de los Girones, 4, 18009 Granada, Spain) and Los Italianos (Calle Gran Vía de Colón, 4, 18001 Granada, Spain) After exploring the winding alleys of the Albaicin, make a pit stop at Hicuri for a bowl of refreshing tomato and cucumber gazpacho. This vegan restaurant serves up an antipasto platter of carrot sticks, manzanilla olives, and vegan ranch dressing. Their ratatouille is robust and the tiramisu is so rich and creamy that you’ll barely notice the lack of dairy. After a quick lunch, head over to Los Italianos for a scoop (or three) of their famous gelato. Michelle Obama made a special stop at this gelato shop when she visited Granada in 2010 for a scoop of their famous cassatta ice cream. A cone of cassatta ice cream will put you back 2 euros, while any other scoop is 1 euro each. The stracciatella is popular among school children who form a line outside the door each day after school in the Spring and Fall months. Duck into the small shops on Gran Via to escape the afternoon sun while enjoying the rich gelato in a waffle cone.
7:00 p.m. Lio (Plaza de las Pasiegas, S/N, 18001 Granada, Spain) Watch the sun go down behind Granada’s grand cathedral while sitting on the outdoor patio at Lio. As people rush home from work, the city comes alive as the street lights turn on around you. Order a cana (small beer) and pray that the waiter brings out a tapa of ox burger sliders with spicy mayo sauce. Don’t mind the juices spilling out when you pick up the patty wrapped in a brioche bun. Street performers often serenade stragglers in the Cathedral’s plaza while tourists mill about trying to buy last minute souvenirs. The small beverages will allow you to order more drinks, which means more tapas. Take the time to sample some Spanish favorites here - cold tortilla soaked in olive oil, shrimp in garlic oil, or spicy chorizo sausage before heading out to buy souvenirs of your own.
10:00 p.m. Om Khasulum (Calle Jardines, 17, 18002 Granada, Spain) Follow the pulsing music to Om Khasulum for the city’s favorite Moroccan restaurant. With a $13 pitcher of beer or sangria, you and a friend can share eight tapas each. The zesty hummus, baked falafel, couscous, and cauliflower puree are four must-haves from this spot but the extensive menu allows you to pick from a wide range of small dishes. This place is swarming with locals so practice your Spanish with a few of the regulars and make plans for the rest of the night.
5:00 a.m. Shawarma King (Calle Reyes Católicos, 46, 18010 Granada, Spain) After a night at the discoteca, most people head to Shawarma King to avoid feeling like they got hit by a bus the next morning. There are a few locations scattered throughout the city but the biggest location on Calle Reyes Catolicos is the most popular after a night out. Order your plate of Shawarma McDonalds-style from the photos posted on top of the cashier and glued to the walls. A “number 5” will get you chicken and all the toppings wrapped in a soft pita and a garlic mayo sauce for dipping. It’s best enjoyed outside, sitting on a curb, shooing away the city’s roaming cats.
10:00 a.m. Cafe Futbol (Plaza de Mariana Pineda, 6, 18009 Granada, Spain) Muster up the energy to rejoin the rest of the city by going to Cafe Futbol. Situated in a hidden plaza, Cafe Futbol is busy at all times of day but their extensive seating that covers most of the plaza will ensure you’ll have a seat no matter when you go. Order a cortado and churros con chocolate to follow. Spot the other tourists by checking who tries to drink their cup of chocolate instead of just dipping their churro stick in it. The chocolate is thick like nutella so a little goes a long way. Cafe Futbol is a great spot to sit and watch the day pass. Know you’ve outstayed your welcome when you see children walking home for lunch. Stretch your legs on the nearby Plaza de Bibataubin and loop around the city for a long afternoon paseo.
3:00 p.m. Bohemia Jazz Cafe (Plaza de los Lobos, 11, 18002 Granada, Spain) As you try to identify the different smells wafting through the air from each apartment building, find your way to Plaza de los Lobos in the center of the town. Hidden among narrow apartments is Bohemia Jazz Cafe, a student favorite for an afternoon pick me up. Don’t get distracted by the vintage movie posters decorating the walls and order one of their gin-spiked milkshakes immediately. Spend the rest of the afternoon perusing their selection of puzzles, books, jazz records, and take a stab at playing on the grand piano. Live music starts at 5:00 p.m, accompanied by complementary bites and testers of dry red wine.
6:30 p.m. Bella y Bestia II (Carrera del Darro, 37, 18001 Granada, Spain) Finish off your time in Granada with a bang - literally. Head to Bella y Bestia’s newest location across from the Corte Ingles department store and order a round of sangria for the table. If you tell the waiter it’s your first time there, he’ll surprise you with firework sparklers in your drink. This new location has a luxurious theme with leopard print wallpaper, chandeliers, and a lion’s head fountain but it won’t break the bank and has excellent tapas to match the theme. The mini hamburgers, croquettas, and charcuterie platter are all crowd pleasers and come in generous portions to share.