24 hours in Granada, Spain

In the Albaicin quarter of Granada, Spain. Photograph courtesy of Turismo Andaluz.
In the Albaicin quarter of Granada, Spain. Photograph courtesy of Turismo Andaluz.

A one-day destination guide to the best of historic Granada, Spain:

9:30 a.m.: Walk Through History

Start your day in Granada with a thoughtful stroll through the narrow, twisting, cobblestone-paved streets of Albaicín. The historic Moorish quarter is awash in Mediterranean blues and whites, its homes alive with bountiful balcony gardens. 

11 a.m.: Spice Things Up

11 am 2

As you stroll through Albaicín, be sure to poke your head into the myriad storefront shops, where locals gather their daily ingredients and sundries. For fresh-from-the-oven baguettes, Panaderia María is worth seeking out. Rincón del Sabor stocks spices, jarred pâtés, chocolates and other candies that make good gifts or take-home memories. Buy a bag of ras el hanout, an earthy spice blend with a kick that traces to Andalusia’s North African influence.

11:30 a.m.: The Pearl of Granada

Granada's Alhambra is a must-see. Photograph courtesy Tourist Office of Spain in Miami.

The Alhambra, like the Louvre and the Vatican, is filled with such remarkable beauty and fascinating antiquity that it is impossible to fully appreciate in a day. Hire a private guide (ask for Federico A. from to make the most of your time and give you a primer in Islamic architecture and Spanish history. A former medieval fortress that was converted into a lavish Moorish palace, the Alhambra and its Generalife gardens are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

General admission $14; guided tours $55-$250.

2:30 p.m.: A Cold One With a View

A view of Alhambra from El Mirador de Morayma restaurant in Granada.

It’s usually a safe bet to be skeptical of restaurants with incredible views — the scenery often overshadows the food. But Mirador de Moryama, a restaurant set in a hillside garden, serves food that’s equally as satisfying as its drop-dead-gorgeous views of the Alhambra. Pair an order of oxtail croquettes with a cold Reserva 1925 lager from Granada’s Cervezas Alhambra.; 

Cerveza Alhambra is brewed in Granada.

5 p.m.: Kick Back in a Convent

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The AC Palacio de Santa Paula, part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection of modern and boutique hotels, retains the old-world charm of its former convent days. Stone archways lead to a steam room and sauna hidden behind the fitness center. A courtyard situated in the center of the 75-room property provides a calm reprieve from which to savor a vermouth apéritif.

Suites from $240.   

8 p.m.: Med Meets Nikkei

18 pm Salmorejo_cordouan

A few blocks from the hotel and in the shadow of Granada’s main cathedral, Sibarius restaurant in Plaza Bib-Rambla serves Spanish-Mediterranean cuisine with Peruvian-Japanese influences. A specialized gin program matches well with Sibarius’ oyster bar and sushi options. The restaurant also serves an excellent spin on the traditional salmorejo, cold bread-and-tomato soup that here comes with a dollop of olive oil ice cream.

11 p.m.: ¡Olé! 

Flamenco Dancer
Flamenco dancing in Granada. William F. Hertha

The hilltop neighborhood of Sacromonte is where Granada’s gypsy population settled after the Granada War. They brought with them their unique style of flamenco, called zambra, which displays roots in the music and dance of India, Africa and Europe. Nightly shows at Cueva de La Rocío, one of Sacromonte’s cavelike flamenco restaurants, depict a dramatic romance that culminates in a wedding.

From $20 for a show and drink.