Arabic Cafés on Calle Calderia Nueva
Granada’s Arabic heritage is the richest in Andalusia, and nowhere is this more evident than on the mini-souk that is Calle Calderia Nueva. Leading off Calle Elvira and up into the old Arabic quarter of Albaicin, this narrow, cobbled street is lined with Arabic fabric and ceramic shops, tea shops and sweet stalls. In any of the numerous Moorish-style cafés on Calderia, you can choose from a huge selection of herbal and infusion teas, freshly ground coffees, Arabic pastries and flavoured shisha pipes to enjoy as you watch life unfold on the colourful, chaotic street outside.
One of the most well-appointed cafés, bars and nightspots in Granada, Camborio sits right opposite the Alhambra, across the valley in the Gypsy flamenco neighbourhood of Sacromonte. Split over several levels –some for a chilled coffee or beer, some for dancing until the small hours – the views of the Alhambra from this popular student hangout are jaw-dropping. Camborio is known more as a nightclub and late-night bar amongst locals, but it opens in the afternoons too and does a decent (and decently priced) coffee, making it a great place to stop for a break as you explore the charming neighbourhood on its doorstep.
El Camborio, 47 Camino del Sacromonte, Sacromonte, Granada, Spain, +34 958 33 22 11
In most traditional Spanish cafés, you have one choice when ordering your coffee: with or without milk. Decaf? Forget it. At Baraka, of of the coolest cafés in town, nine types of coffee are on offer (all available as decaf, too), as well as an impressive selection of fresh yogurts, juices, cakes, tarts and sandwiches. The two-person brunch deal is well priced and can be enjoyed on beach-hut-style outer terrace or within the café’s spacious interior. This place gets very busy in the mornings and at lunchtimes, so service can be a little chaotic, but is always super-friendly; in any case, you look out onto one of the liveliest streets in central Granada, so there’s plenty to watch while you wait for your frappe, latte, espresso or cappuccino.
Café Baraka, 24 Calle San Jerónimo, Granada, Spain, +34 958 27 60 09
Hotel Alhambra Palace Café & Bar
From the outside, this hotel is a monstrosity, a big orange blight on the hillside – but it gets much better inside. Because it’s already at the same elevation as the Alhambra itself, whose exterior, you sense, the hotel’s designers tried to emulate, the ground-floor café/bar boasts a balcony with incredible views of the southern half of Granada and the mountainous landscape beyond. This is one of the best spots in Granada for a coffee and slice of cake, or for early evening drinks as you watch the sun set. By Granada standards it’s not cheap – about €4 for a coffee and €12 for a sandwich that would be free as a tapas elsewhere – but the views justify the prices.
This chic little café is situated in a beautiful old townhouse halfway along the prettiest street in Granada. Winding alongside the Darro River at the foot of the Alhambra, the Carrera del Darro is the perfect street for a morning stroll – before the temperatures start to climb to prohibitive levels – and Duran is the best place to stop for breakfast in this area. A range of organic coffees, customised by skilful baristas, can be enjoyed in its elegant, minimalist interior, from where you can watch life unfold on the street outside. Directly opposite is the charming Puente Espinosa, one of the oldest bridges in Granada, on which a local poet often sets up with her typewriter to write poems for passing tourists.
Barista Duran, 25 Carrera del Darro, Granada, Spain, +34 628 41 45 95
El Balcon de San Nicolas
Hiding behind a battered old wall at the top of Albaicin, squeezed in among the barrio’s scruffy rooftops, is the best café in the neighbourhood. From the plush white sofas on its open-air terrace, you can enjoy a staggering perspective on the Darro Valley and the Alhambra; in fact, so unspoilt and direct is the view that the mighty Arabic fort seems to have been erected on the hillside opposite solely for the benefit of El Balcon’s clients. It’s the kind of setting – vast, humbling, unchanged in centuries – that makes profound conversations about life and love almost compulsory. The outside terrace is ideal for a mid-afternoon coffee break (on the white sofas, of course), while a restaurant on the lower level offers a full lunch and dinner menu.
El Balcon de San Nicolas, 4 Callejón Atarazana, Granada, Spain, +34 958 28 57 14