Free Things to do in Granada
Besides its spectacular setting, mountain views and monumental landmarks, there is another reason why Granada is top of the list for many travelers: it’s cheap to visit. Andalusia is one of the cheapest regions in Spain and can be easily enjoyed without breaking your pockets. Thanks to the large University student community in Granada, it has gained quite a reputation for itself with an inexpensive tapas bar scene.
For travelers on a budget, Granada would be the perfect place to just hang around for awhile to experience local life without overspending. As fellow travelers, we understand how important it is to keep to our budget while on the road; here are some suggestions for free things to do in Granada.
Part of the Alhambra
Coming close to winning the title as one of the 7 Wonders of the World, the Alhambra is definitely one of the most architecturally-beautiful and well-preserved palaces in Europe. Said to be the most visited monument in Spain, the Alhambra is certainly one that you cannot miss. Entrance tickets come at a hefty price of 12euros each. There is, however, a part of the Alhambra that is free to enter; it even offers a panoramic view of the city beneath.
If you’re unwilling to part with your money, you can still soak in some Moorish history and drink in the city views here. Once you’re at the main entrance of the Alhambra, head down towards the Hotel Alhambra Palace instead. Towards the end of the downwards slope, you’ll find a leafy walkway that leads you to fountains and a giant Moorish gate. Follow the path all the way through to get to the entrance of the Palacio de Carlos V (Charles V built his palace within the Alhambra). There is no entry charge for this part of the Alhambra, and yet you get to see the white Sacromonte caves and the Mirador de San Nicolas (a viewing point on the top of Albayzín) across the valley.
Granada’s Cathedral is free to enter. Like most cathedrals in Spain, this one spots a gothic exterior with sky soaring ceilings and giant organs inside the building. The Granada Cathedral might not be as grand and majestic as the one in Seville, but it makes up with a stunning interior. Be sure to check out the Cathedral from its Bib Rambla entrance, where intricate carvings of saints stand above the giant gates.
In Granada, most bars offer free tapas along with any drinks order (be it beer or pop). Visitors to Granada often find it hard to believe. Instead of the usual platter of olives or nuts, expect to be served a full plate of calamares, or jamon iberico or even salsa con carne, topped with rice. Evidently, the standard and quality of tapas vary according to bars but some tapas bars worth checking out include el Reventaero (Camino de Ronda), famous for its huge portions and selection of international beers, el Matador (Calle San Anton) that serves up spicy African sandwiches and Pan-Pan (Calle Pedro Antonio), a popular haunt for students.
There are several tapas zones in Granada: Plaza Nueva has a few classic tapas bars, as well as eclectic ones along Paseo de los Tristes, and Pedro Antonio where most locals hang out. Tapas hour starts around 8, 9pm and usually ends around 12am.
I have previously written about the Sacromonte flamenco shows that take place in the city’s hilltop gypsy caves. These shows tend to cost around 20 to 30 euros per person. Most tourists who come for these shows have booked the package with their hotels – with transport included. If you’re not ready to fork out so much money to catch a flamenco performance, there are several flamenco bars that either charge you for drinks only or a small entry fee.
An excellent place to see an authentic flamenco performance without paying an entry fee is the Eshavira Flamenco Club off Gran Via. You might not find a performance every night here, so ask for the schedule before coming. Flamenco shows usually start around 11pm. Other places worth checking out are Club Taurino and Carmen de los Chapiteles.