Although Barcelona, Madrid, Costa del Sol, and the Balearic Islands are the most visited regions of Spain, smart travelers know that Granada is where they can really get to experience the country as they envision it. The exported image of a sunny Spain that is rich in culture, history, tradition, arts, cuisine, and music can be truly experienced by visitors who explore the best neighborhoods to stay in Granada.
If you want to get a taste of flamenco culture in Old World Spain, your best bet is the Andalusia region, which is where the Hollywood image of Spain comes from, and you will really want to stay in Granada to fulfill your vacation dreams.
Granada is easily one of the prettiest cities in the world; its earliest human settlements date back to the Bronze Age, and it was the site of numerous territorial battles dating back hundreds of years before the Roman Empire moved in to establish an autonomous territory.
In the Middle Ages, Granada became a Moorish domain for a long period that lasted until the Catholic Spanish Crown conquered in the same year Columbus discovered the New World across the Atlantic.
Even after this significant conquest, a Muslim emirate remained in the magnificent citadel of The Alhambra, a World Heritage Site that draws more than two million visitors each year.
Even though the sovereign status of The Alhambra eventually fell, the city became a symbol of ethnic and religious tolerance, thus prompting the arrival of Jewish and Romani people whose stay in Granada over many centuries has shaped its incredible diversity.
Where to stay in Granada: Best areas and neighborhoods
Many tourists who come here to visit The Alhambra on a day trip only to return to their beachfront hotels in the south coast do not know what they are missing; many areas in Granada are simply magical and beg to be discovered. When you choose to stay in Granada, you will be able to enjoy everything from architecture to history and from gastronomy to nightlife.
The pleasant year-round weather, transportation options and overall affordability of Granada will satisfy even the most demanding travelers. Although this is not a large city, many areas in Granada feel like they are a world apart.
You can find places to stay in just about any district of this magical city, but you are better off taking time to learn about certain areas in Granada that will match your style and budget. Here are a few recommendations:
1. Centro – Downtown Granada
The heart of the city is considered by many to be the best place to stay in Granada; it extends from the area around the Cathedral to Plaza Nueva.
In Downtown Granada you can visit heritage treasures such as the Cathedral, the Royal Chapel where the Catholic Monarchs are buried, the Alcaiceria, the Bib Rambla Square, the Madraza, the Corral del Carbon among other emblematic sights.
You can’t go wrong when you book a Centro hotel, but you should not expect to pay a little more compared to other neighborhoods in Granada because pricing is competitive. Abundant shops, bars, and tapas restaurants are another reason to stay in the downtown district.
Walking to The Alhambra from the Centro takes about 25 minutes, and it is highly recommended because it will take through narrow and historic pedestrian alleys, but you can also board a bus and be there in just 10 minutes.
Granada attracts many students who wish to learn Spanish as a foreign language, and this explains the numerous long-term apartments and backpacker hostels, many of which are quite affordable.
All in all, there are more than 500 lodging options in Downtown Granada; they range from historic luxury hotels to modern budget inns with competitive features such as gourmet breakfast and blazing-fast Wi-Fi access.
This district is highly recommended for backpackers and younger tourists looking for a central district filled with nightlife, culture, affordable places to stay in Granada, and transportation options.
Beiro is where you will find bars and clubs with a more international vibe; moreover, the ancient Arab culture that shaped Granada happens to be more prominent here thanks to the tea houses, hookah bars and art galleries.
Youthful travelers who want to visit the beaches of the south coast like to stay in Beiro because this is where Granada’s main bus and train stations are located. Even if you do not stay in Beiro, this neighborhood is worth visiting for all its gastronomical offerings around the bullfighting arena; plus, the outdoor cafes are perfect for people watching.
Visitors looking for more character in the Granada district they choose to stay in should strongly consider Albaicin, a neighborhood where the Andalusian vibe is stronger and the architecture is more impressive.
Albaicin is the oldest and most iconic neighborhood and it was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco. This old moorish neighborhood offers breathtaking views of the Alhambra and the Sierra Nevada mountains. Enjoy the best views form San Nicolas viewpoint!!!
Although this is a pedestrian district, it is also quite hilly and may be challenging to visitors who have difficulty walking; fortunately, two city bus lines stand ready to serve tourists throughout the day.
As one of the most stately neighborhoods in Granada, Albaicin may not feel touristy enough for some visitors who expect to find pubs and cafes on every corner. Some of the most luxurious accommodations in the city can be found in this district, and they tend to be pricier, particularly if they offer panoramic views of The Alhambra and the Sierra Nevada.
4. Ronda District
Located about one kilometer west of Centro, Ronda is considered to be one of the most tranquil areas in Granada. Language students, visiting historians, researchers, and business travelers often choose Ronda when they stay in Granada because this is where they can stretch their lodging budgets.
Chain hotels, boutique lodges, bed and breakfast inns, and long-term apartments tend to cost less in the Ronda District, a place where you will find historical attractions such as small castles and the Federico Garcia Lorca Museum.
As for local cuisine, there are quite a few tapas bars and seafood restaurants to discover, and their menu pricing is geared towards locals. If your idea of a perfect vacation includes being able to get a good night’s sleep away from all the hubbub of busy tourist spots, you may want to stay in the Ronda District.
Located in the southern end of Granada, Zaidin is a residential district that serves as a perfect example of how tourism can completely transform communities. There was time when Zaidin was dismissed as a predominantly Muslim working-class neighborhood, but things have radically changed in recent years.
Smart travelers and language students often choose Zaidin because the hotels are newer and the long-term apartments have been recently renovated.
The city parks in this district are delightful, and this is the home of the Granada Football Club in case you want to attend a match at the modern Los Carmenes stadium. Overall, Zaidin is great option for budget travelers who prefer quieter nights.
When music and history are part of your vacation plans, Sacromonte is highly recommended. Sacromonte is just north of The Alhambra citadel, and this is the spot where the Romani people settled and forged their culture as it relates to Spain; they occupied caves that were transformed into performing spaces for zambra, a intense form of flamenco that was born in this little corner of the world.
If you play your cards right, you might be able to book a room in a cave where zambra performances unfold late into the night, but you can also find a few boutique hotels at reasonable prices.
Aside from zambra nights and visiting abbeys, convents, flamenco academies, and churches, there is not much else to do in Sacromonte, but younger tourists can always make the short trip to Downtown Granada.
Chana is a commercial and residential district located northwest of Downtown Granada, and it is frequented by tourists who are in search of a more bohemian experience.
In recent years, Chana has emerged as the culinary center of Granada, more so than the Centro, and restaurant owners are known to fiercely compete for diners by means of offering tapas specials, live music and discounted drinks.
Similar to Zaidin, a bustling craft beer scene is in the midst of developing, and hoteliers are increasingly setting their sights on this district. Most of the lodging options are long-term apartments, budget inns and boutique hotels; the prices are very reasonable, and tourists can easily find transportation options to The Alhambra and other attractions.
One of the most modern neighborhoods of Granada is also one of its most affordable in terms of lodging. Located south of Downtown Granada and right on the edge of the Generalife nature preserve, Genil is a research city blessed with a high quality of life; in fact, many prospective retirees looking to invest in the Spanish real estate market choose to stay here.
Even though there are only a few hotels in Genil, they are affordably priced for the purpose of luring tourists in search of nice views of The Alhambra, which looks magnificent at night thanks to its bright illumination. It should be noted that the hotels of Genil tend to be stylish; some of them feature Turkish baths, lavish courtyards, and indoor swimming pools.