Albaicín is a neighborhood in Granada that maintains the layout of Medieval Moorish narrow streets. With its neat narrow lanes and well-kept traditional houses, the area has retained its old charm and is the ideal place to discover Moorish architecture. Albaicín is especially famous for its dramatic views overlooking the Alhambra palace. We have compiled a list of the 10 best things to do and see when visiting the area.
The Church of San Salvador, built in the 16th century over the Albayzin mosque, is known for its extraordinary horseshoe arches, the Arab-style ceilings and the old traditional water tank. The ensemble came together to convert the Morisco population who had remained in Granda after the revolt. The church has a very interesting architectural style that reflects the blend of strict Classicism with Moorish elements. This is a perfect place to contemplate the effects of history on architecture.
The Church of San Nicolas is well worth the steep hike through Albaicin to reach the most spectacular view of the Alhambra. Set against the charming mountain range of Sierra Nevada, the Alhambra palace perches on the top of a hillock with the spectacular glory of its Moorish architecture. Admired by many travelers and frequently depicted on paintings, this stunning view has the power to make an imprint on the soul of every visitor.
Carrera del Darro is one of the oldest streets in Albaicín, which runs along the picturesque river Darro. Characterized by the old charm of Moorish architecture, the street is known for its performances, vendors, cafés and scenic views of the Alhambra from below. This is the perfect place for those who want to enjoy shaded parks, fairy-tale-like bridges and a relaxed pace of life, sipping a limonada in a café. Carrera del Darro is also home to a variety of restaurants specializing in different cuisines.
Taberna 22 tops the list of best tapas bars in Albacín. The place has an artistic, vintage style that creates a welcoming atmosphere. What really sets this bar apart from other such places in Albaicín are the excellent good-value tapas and the wide range of drinks that will satisfy even the most sophisticated palates. In Taberna 22, customers can enjoy a quiet afternoon drink with scenic views of the Alhambra.
The number 31 on the Carrera del Darro houses the 11th-century Arab Baths which used to be part of the Mosque of the Walnut Tree. One of the oldest and largest baths of the kind in Spain, this was once a popular place among locals who frequented the baths to get a haircut or a massage. Today, this historic site is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Albaicín and it is certainly worth the visit for its exquisite architectural style. The highlight are the octagonal holes in the roof that acted as a natural ventilation system.
Bar Aliatar, better known as ‘snail bar’, is a place like no other. Situated in the Plaza Aliatar, in high Albaicín, the bar has specialized in traditional snail dishes for many decades. The bar has a pleasant ambiance and a fabulous terrace to enjoy the food, the sunshine and the city views. The menu also features delicious ham from the local mountains and crispy fish topped with green peppers. The snails are soft in texture with an appropriate touch of spice.
Plaza Larga, or long square, is the most vibrant square in Albaicín, characterized by its attractive cobblestone paving which holds the vegetable and fruit market every morning. Saturday morning is the best time to visit this plaza for the chance to explore the city’s flower market. The streets glow with pink, blue and white colors with stalls selling the most exotic flowers and turning the city into a festival of colors. Plaza Larga also has a growing culinary culture with many restaurants and cafés serving delicious tapas with original Arabic touches.
La Porrona restaurant is one of the best places in Albaicín to taste an original paella, also served in a vegetarian version. Situated in the old Arabic quarter, near the Church of San Salvador, from the restaurant customers have a stunning view of Alhambra. The restaurant is known for its relaxed Andalusian ambiance and its popular live music performances by local musicians. The decorations portraying local flamenco dancers give the whole place an additional authentic look. This is a perfect place for travelers in search of authentic Spanish culture.
Paseo de los Tristes, also known as the Promenade of the Sad, runs parallel to the river Darro. The place takes its name from the fact that funeral carriages used to pass through that part of the city on their way to the Alhambra cemetery. Today, this is one of the most lively places in Albaicín, redesigned to incorporate a magnificent fountain and temporary stages for small bullfight performances, dances and music festivals. Pretty stone bridges straddle the river Darro and Moorish-style houses rub shoulders with flower clad convents and market squares. This is definitely the perfect place for an inspirational afternoon walk.
Café Lara, located in the old quarter of the city, tops other destinations in Albaicín in terms of classic Andalusian cuisine. This is a good place to enjoy afternoon siesta indulging the palate with typical Andalusian dishes like crisp quarters of iceberg lettuce tossed in roasted garlic, grilled whole peppers sprinkled with sea salt, and softly tender black sausages oozing with rich flavor. A quiet ambiance and great service complement the enjoyable dining experience.