Granada might be the most beautiful city in Spain. Reconquered by the Catholic Kings in 1492, I always imagined a charming city, unique for its Arabic past. But Granada was even better than I dreamed. After years in our wishlist, we finally managed to visit Granada this summer. In August, the city was really hot but we still enjoyed it a lot.
We travelled from Barcelona to Granada by high-speed train and one of our first stops after a long journey was the famous Mirador de San Nicolás – “mirador” means “viewpoint” in Spanish. Although this viewpoint is the most crowded in the city, it is not the only one. The Alhambra is always present wherever you look around. If you want to enjoy the best views of Granada, don’t miss the following sites.
1. Mirador de San Nicolás
Yes, you cannot miss the vibrant Mirador de San Nicolás, specially at sunset. It is the heart of the Albaicín quarter and attracts all tourists that visit Granada. With life music (mainly traditional flamenco), it is a great place to have some drinks in front of that postcard view. Sierra Nevada mountains complete the scene and should be really beautiful at winter with snow over them. The name of this viewpoint is due to San Nicolás church, one of the most special places in Granada.
2. Nice restaurants in Albaicín
Around Mirador de San Nicolás there are several romantic restaurants that offer views over the Alhambra. Booking is advisable if you want to ensure a good table. We decided to have dinner in the restaurant called Carmen de Aben Humeya. “Carmen” comes from the Arabic word for “garden” and is a typical house with a yard. It is worth to say that Carmen de Aben Humeya was selected by Zagat as one of the top 10 romantic restaurants in the world. Traditional gastronomy mixed with innovation. Although a bit expensive, a meal in Carmen de Aben Humeya is always a good idea.
3. Mirador de la Cruz de Rauda
If you want to get rid of the crowds, you can continue walking through the steep streets of Albaicín until you reach Mirador de la Cruz Rauda. It is hard to find in the middle of nowhere. However, it is worth the effort. From this viewpoint you will have views over the Alhambra, but also the white houses of Albaicín and the church of El Salvador (built over Granada’s main mosque).
4. Mirador de San Miguel Alto
Even higher than Mirador de la Cruz de Rauda, this viewpoint takes its name from the church next to it. It is possible to reach it by walking from Mirador de la Cruz Rauda. However, we arrived at Mirador de San Miguel Alto by car after a road trip around Alpujarra (mountain region in the south side of Sierra Nevada). It was definitely a good decision. We won’t forget that view of Granada at our feet.
5. Abadía del Sacromonte
There is more to do than walking in Granada. A must-see site is the Sacromonte Abbey. It is placed in the hill just behind the Alhambra and has a very special history. Such hill was formerly called Valparaíso, but in 1595 some relics were found there, together with certain books made of lead and written in Arabic, which explained the martyrdom of San Cecilio (patron saint of Granada). Due to this finding, 1,200 crosses were placed in the hill and later an abbey was built. A local bus takes you from the city centre (Plaza de Elvira) to the abbey entrance.
6. Generalife (Alhambra)
View of the Alhambra in the Alhambra complex itself. Generalife gardens and palace were the leisure place for Granada’s Muslim kings. They are located outside Alhambra’s walls. The site offers views over the walled complex. It is worth to stop in the viewpoint of Patio de la Acequia (picture below) and take some time to enjoy the landscape.
7. Alcazaba (Alhambra)
Inside the walled complex of the Alhambra, visitors can enter the Alcazaba. “Kasbah” in Arabic, it was a fortress home to the military quarter. It was aimed to be a refugee in case of siege. From the top of Alcazaba’s own walls, the view over the Albaicín quarter is stunning. If you visit it in summer, be prepared to feel the sun on your skin.
PS: If you love viewpoints like we do, don’t miss our post about the best ones in Lisbon. 🙂