Granada Survival Guide
by Vanessa Johnson on Thursday, July 26, 2018
Summer temperatures in Spain can be suffocating, and the southern city of Granada is no exception. But don’t worry! At don Quijote we know all the tricks to combat the heat — and staying at home in front of the air conditioner doesn’t count, especially in a city like Granada, which is only an hour away from the beach and the mountains.
Here are some practical tips:
La Costa Tropical
Okay, we’ll admit it: it’s not as comfortable as having the beach a 10-minute walk from your Spanish school, but in Granada it’ll be easy to find out why the nearby coast is called the Costa Tropical. Less than an hour away by car, the coastal town of Motril has two beaches to choose from, each with its own charm. Calahonda, a Blue Flag beach, is in the town itself (making it the perfect option if you’re taking the bus) and has lots of beachside restaurants and bars. The beach of La Joya is more out of the way, and to get to it you have to descend 200 steps to reach the bottom of the cliffs that protect it from massive crowds. We assure you, it’s worth the extra effort!
The small town of Salobreña is another good place to spend the day playing in the waves or sunbathing on the dark sand. After you walk up to the castle and enjoy the views, there’s nothing better than going for a swim at La Guardia beach, where you can also rent a kayak or enjoy the delicious pescadito frito (fried fish) this area is known for. If you like snorkeling or scuba diving, head to La Rijana beach — you need a car to get there, but when you see how clear the water is, you’ll be glad you made the trip.
Wait till sunset
After the sun goes down, Granadinos take to the streets and the city fills with life thanks to the cooler temperatures. Join them and enjoy the many tapas bars you’ll find downtown, from the high-quality tapas in Plaza de la Pescadería to the cheaper and more plentiful tapas of the university neighborhood. If you’re looking for something more special (and, why not, romantic), make your way to the upper part of the Albaicín neighborhood and sit at one of the terraces with views of the Alhambra, or walk along Paseo de los Tristes and enjoy the fresh air by the river. If you’re a flamenco fan, the caves of Sacromonte are well-insulated from the Granadan heat and cultivate the ideal atmosphere to experience the magic of the dance, song, and rhythms of the Spanish art.
The coolest hours of the night are also the ideal time to learn about the secrets of the city: you can book a nighttime visit to the Alhambra or tours through the narrow, cobblestone streets of the Albaicín where the guide will tell you all sorts of legends and interesting facts about the city.
Run for the hills… or better yet, the mountains!
One thing that makes panoramic views of Granada so spectacular is the background — the peaks of the Sierra Nevada are truly spectacular. In the winter, they’re a popular destination for ski bums, while in the summer they’re a good place to enjoy temperatures a few degrees cooler. Take a walk around the Hoya de Pedraza Botanical Gardens, cross the hanging bridges over the gorge of Los Cahorros in Monachil, practice adventure sports, or take a relaxing dip in the pool in the center of Pradollano.
Sierra Nevada even has a summer festival: each year, Spanish singers and bands play a series of free concerts known as Sierra Nevada por Todo lo Alto. Savor the feeling of wearing a coat in the middle of summer while enjoying a mixture of music and nature.
A breath of fresh culture
When the heat is no match for your burning desire to get to know Granada better, the most sensible thing to do is seek out a place where you’ll be protected from the blistering rays of the sun. Luckily, Granada is bursting with ways to enjoy the culture and history without sweating buckets. The heat can’t penetrate the thick walls of the cathedral, so you’ll be free to enjoy the beauty of its chapels, including the famous Royal Chapel, where the Catholic Monarchs are buried. If you’re interested in more modern history, you can stop by the Huerta de San Vicente, the family house of poet Federico García Lorca, or the museum of Sacromonte, where you can take an up-close look at the special culture and lifestyle led by the people of these typical Granadan caves.
Another obvious option is to visit the Alhambra, with all its impressive palace rooms and refreshing patios. Take advantage of the season and see a different side of the Generalife Gardens by attending the annual summer festival celebrating Lorca and Granada: each performance is a fusion of flamenco and the special poetic world of the most universal Granadan, and the result is magical.