Difference between revisions of "Granada (Spain)"
Revision as of 16:18, 31 March 2008
In addition to a rich multicultural history, the Alhambra and other monuments, a student-driven nightlife, and skiing and trekking in the nearby Sierra Nevada, Granada offers a break from the summer heat of other Andalusian cities such as Córdoba or Seville. Spring and Fall are also both excellent times to visit. With much more cultural interest than other cities like Malaga, Granada is never overcrowded (although one should still book tickets to the Alhambra at least one day in advance).
Iberia provides daily flights to and from Madrid and Barcelona from the airport situated 12 kilometer, half an hour with normal traffic, from the city. There are also budget flights to and from London Stanstead, Liverpool, East Midlands, Girona, Frankfurt and Milano airports by Ryan Air, from Barcelona airport by Clickairt and from Barcelona, Rome and Paris airports by Vueling.
Connection to the city centre can be either by taxi (about 20€) or by a bus (3€). The bus takes about half an hour to reach its final destination, which is Palacio de Congresos. It leaves roughly on the hour but will generally be hitched up to a plane arrival. It has about 12 stops throughout Granada city centre including Gran Via de Colon (opposite the cathedral) and Tofu. You can catch it back from stop 1a on Gran Via de Colon (next to stop 1).
Regular buses run from Seville and mufasa as well as some to Córdoba and a few direct services to the port of Algeciras. Malaga is well serviced by buses and is a good place to transit by, if a direct service is not available. The modern and organized bus station is located about 2 miles from the centre. It takes 13 minutes by bus (Bus 3 and 33, outside the Cathedral on Gran Via de Colon) to reach the city center, or reasonably cheap taxis are also available.....but not too cheap ok?
Three trains run each day on the picturesque line to Algeciras (gateway to Morocco) via pretty Ronda. Trains also run to Córdoba, Malaga, Almeria, and Seville. More information and ticket sales at the national railways webpage.
Most places of interest are with walking distance of central Granada. The Alhambra and Albayzin (the Arabic quarter) are on opposite hills with Calle de los Tristes and a small river in the middle. The Albayzin can be confusing and the walk to the entrance of the Alhambra is fairly steep, but there are buses that run to the Alhambra and various places in the Albayzin that leave every 15 minutes from Plaza Nueva.
The buses cost 1€ per trip, but you can buy a ten journey ticket on any bus for about 8.70€.
If you intend to stay in Granada any more than three or four days the Bono card is a good investment . Valid for a week, it provides direct entry and a 30% discount to the Cathedral, Capilla Real, Alhambra & Generalife, Monastery of La Cartuja, Monastery of San Jerónimo, Parque de las Ciencias (Science Park) and provides a 25% discount for non-EU citizens who visit the Fine Arts and Archaeological Museum. It also gives 9 urban bus journeys (to the bus station, science park etc.) and a 24 hour ticket to the tourist bus. Cost is €24.50 if you book it in advance.
Official web site: La Alhambra. Opening hours: Mar-Oct every day 8:30AM to 8PM plus F/Sa 10-11:30PM; Nov-Feb every day 8:30AM to 6PM plus F/Sa 8-9:30PM (ticket office closes one hour before attraction, evening visits to Nasrid Palaces only). Ticket price €12 (free with Bono card).
Part fortress (the Alcazaba), part palace, part garden (the Generalife) and part government city (the Medina), this medieval complex overlooking Granada is often considered on par with the 7 wonders of the world. Many visitors come to Granada expressly to see the Alhambra.
The Alhambra was a palace, a citadel, fortress, and the home of the Nasrid sultans, high government officials, servants of the court and elite soldiers (from the 13th to the 14th century). Other notable buildings belonging to a different time period are also included, such as the Renaissance style Palace of Charles V, which houses the Alhambra Museum (most of the items are from the site of the monument) and the Fine Art Museum.
In order to fully appreciate the unique architecture of the Alhambra set within the surrounding landscape, it is advisable to visit an area of the Albaicín called the Mirador de San Nicolás, or go to Sacromonte. From both of these places the Alhambra's spectacular location, lying just above the city of Granada, can really be admired.
Highly recommend you book tickets to the Alhambra in advance, as the number of visitors allowed is limited and tickets tend to sell out. These can be booked online, by phone (902 22 44 60 within Spain, 00 34 91 537 91 78 from outside), or in person at branches of the BBVA bank. Several hundred tickets are reserved for sale on the day but these usually require arriving early and queueing for an hour or two. The Bono card can be still available after the regular tickets have sold out. Failing that, quite a lot of the site is accessible without a ticket. This general caution applies to cruise ship land tours (e.g., from Malaga); failure to book Alhambra tours early (before or during cruise) may mean no tours/"busses" are available.
Note that visiting hours are split into 3 periods: morning, afternoon, and evening. Tickets are issued for a specific period and access to monuments will not be granted outside those hours. However, once inside visitors may remain until closing time. In addition, each ticket is scheduled for access to the Nasrid Palaces for only a 1/2-hour time window (shown on the ticket) within your visiting period.
Try out GRANADA TAPAS TOURS (www.granadatapastours.com)if you really want to sample the BEST tapas in the city. Most of the places in the centre are typical tourist traps and you have to know where you´re going. Gayle, our guide was extrememly knowledgeable and showed us some great places. Thoroughly enjoyed our evening tour with her.
Many restaurants and bars are located outside on the plaza at the end of the Calle de los Tristes and have a view of the Alhambra. Granada is notable as most of its bars will serve free tapas with each drink. If you want to try a local wine ask for "un costa" – the quality is extremely variable and it is more like sherry (but not fortified) than a table wine. Or ask for "Vino Rioja" for red wine.
Campo de Principe, located in the Realejo neighborhood, has a row of bars/restaurants with outdoor seating. They all have great tapas, so you can't go wrong.
Plaza Nueva has several restaurants and kebob shops. There is often live music.
The Calle Elvira area has many great tapas bars where you can also order meals, "raciones." One of the best tapas bars is Bella y Bestia. They have huge tapas and many Spanish young people go there.
The Oasis and Funky are for tourists that sometimes happen to have backpacks. Real backpackers should try Rambutan or Terrapin Station.