5 Day Getaway - The Perfect Christmas in Granada, Spain

Picturesque white washed homes and scenic vistas, the burbling fountains of the Alhambra, and copious tapas and sweet wine; these are just a few of the reasons that we decided to spend Christmas in Granada, Spain. The opportunity to get some much needed sun combined with rumors of glittering lights and holiday cheer led us to book our holiday season trip to Granada for 5 days. In this post, I’ll share the itinerary we created for ourselves for a relaxing Christmas break. We hope you find it useful if you’re planning your own trip to Granada around the winter holidays.

Day 1: Christmas in Granada - Arrival and Getting Settled

Bus from Malaga to spend Christmas in Granada

  • Ground Transportation: Take the train from the airport to Maria Zambrano Station (~10 minutes).  From here, cross the street to the bus station.  Alsa offers frequent bus service to Granada.  Depending on your flight time, you may also be able to catch the less frequent bus service directly from the airport. The journey from Málaga to Granada takes less than two hours.
  • Accommodation: We stayed in a touristic apartment at the comfortable and centrally located Suites Gran Via 44.  Our apartment included a small kitchen (important for Christmas Eve/Day when many shops and restaurants are closed).

Day 1: Get Oriented in Granada by Day and Night

  • Explore Plaza Nueva and the surrounding area in the late afternoon when the buildings are drenched in golden light.
Granada Buildings Drenched in Sunlight at Christmas
  • Count the pomegranates: The pomegranate is the symbol of the city of Granada. As you're walking around town, see how many pomegranates you can spot.
Pomegranates - Symbol of Granada
  • Admire the holiday lights: After the sun goes down, take a stroll and admire the Christmas lights strung along the main streets and squares. The effect is truly magical.
Christmas in Granada - Holiday Lights

Day 2: Pretend to be a Local

If you're going to be in town for a few days or more, it's fun to pretend to be a local and try some out of the way places to eat and drink. We particularly enjoyed:

Christmas in Granada - piononos at Olympia 21
Olympia 21: Conveniently located on Calle Gran Via Colon, Olympia 21 offers a dizzying array of sweets; the perfect accompaniment to a cup of coffee taken standing at the counter. We sampled piononos here (kind of a cross between angelfood cake and creme brûlée) which were amazing!

Christmas in Granada - Chocolate and ChurrosCafe Tramezzini: The locals seem to disappear off the streets in the early evening. Where do they go?...for churros y chocolate of course! The service at Cafe Tramezzini was slow which was understandable given the crowds that had descended on the place but it was worth the wait when we were presented with a thick cup of chocolate and crispy churros fresh from the fryer.

Christmas in Granada - Tapas

Bar Alhambra: Tapas are a staple here in Granada. We tried Bar Alhambra, a higher end tapas bar. The place was so crowded that we had to sit outside under a heat lamp. Still, we enjoyed delicious croquetas and other tapas favorites.

Christmas in Granada - Tapas at Kanela



Kanela: At the other end of the spectrum, we tried Kanela, a 'hole in the wall' place near Elvira Gate. For 2 euros, we were treated to a quiet caña (small glass of local beer) and a free tapa. The local atmosphere was priceless.

Day 3: The Albayzin

Christmas in Granada - Albayzin Neighborhood
The Albayzin neighborhood of Granada rises above the city centre.  The climb is quite steep but it's totally worth it for the sweeping views you're rewarded with at the top. We recommend 'getting lost' and exploring some of the small streets and alleys that define the neighborhood. Here's an outline of the route we traced if you need some inspiration to get started.
The highlights of the Albayzin for us included:
Christmas in Granada - Dining al fresco
Dining al fresco on Placeta de San Miguel: We were lured in by the value-for-money Menu del Dia offered at Rincon de la Aurora. The 3 course meal somehow tasted even better when splashed with ample amounts of sunshine on the square.

Christmas in Granada - Mirador San Nicolas


Mirador San Nicolás: We marveled at the spectacular views of the iconic Alhambra from Mirador San Nicolás. 

Christmas in Granada - Bodegas La Mancha


Bodegas La Mancha: Let gravity help you descend from the Albayzin and onto Calle Joaquin Costa for a post walk reward of tapas and vermut.

Day 4: The Alhambra

No trip to Granada is complete without a trip to the Alhambra, Spain's #1 tourist attraction. The Moorish palace and stronghold before the reconquista requires a full day to do it justice.
  • Walk up from town: After the walk to the Albayzin the day before, your legs should be conditioned to do a bit of climbing. A lovely 30 minute hike along a forested path will deposit you at the gate of the Alhambra palace complex.
Christmas in Granada - Walking Path to the Alhambra
      • Tip: buy your ticket in advance online and pick it up at the Tienda de la Alhambra (Alhambra Shop) on Calle Reyes Católicos nº 40 to avoid disappointment as the Alhambra hosts a limited number of visitors each day.
  • Alcazaba: Check out the views of Mirador San Nicolás where you stood the previous day from this crumbling fortification at the edge of the Alhambra complex.Christmas in Granada - Views of Albayzin from Alcazaba
  • Nasrid Palaces: Make sure to arrive in time for your timed entry to the Nasrid Palace, the highlight of the Alhambra. Admire the Moorish textures, windows, and fountains.
Christmas in Granada - Nasrid Palaces - Alhambra

  • Carlos V Palace: Take a quick spin through Carlos V's unfinished Palace and pop into the Museum of the Alhambra which features a variety of artefacts tied to the site.
    • Tip: Check the weather forecast and bring gloves and a hat. The weather was very cold when we visited in late December. The Museum of the Alhambra is one of a very few places on site where you can get inside to warm up. Most of the buildings (including the Nasrid Palaces are open-air).

Christmas in Granada - Carlos V Palace

  • Fountains and Gardens: Give yourself plenty of time to stroll through the fountains and gardens in the wider Alhambra complex including the Jardines del Partal and Jardines del Generalife. The atmosphere is very relaxing. We took some time to listen to the gentle sounds of the fountains, do a bit of birdwatching, and marvel at the breathtaking views over Granada below.
Christmas in Granada - Alhambra Gardens

    Day 5: How to Celebrate Christmas in Granada

    Granada shuts down for Christmas in the late afternoon of December 24th (Christmas Eve). Shops are restaurants are generally closed until at least evening time on December 25th (Christmas Day).  


    Christmas in Granada - Cakes at Rey Fernando
    Lay in supplies: Visit Cortes Ingles and at least one local bakery to buy a few sweet treats for a bit of holiday indulgence. We tried Rey Fernando (yum!). Plan for a quiet day at your hotel relaxing and recovering from all that walking and exploring!

    Christmas in Granada - Local liqueurRestaurante Poetas Andaluces II: Working through the staff at our hotel, we managed to secure a reservation at a local asador for the late evening on Christmas Day. Christmas cheer apparently transcends language. The waitstaff at the restaurant didn't speak English and we spoke very little Spanish. Still, we managed to communicate through miming and broken sentences and had a delicious meal which culminated in a complimentary glass of local liqueur to toast the holiday and an amazing trip!

    We hope you've enjoyed our recommendations for a Christmas city break in Granada, Spain.  We'd love to hear from you about your own holiday experiences in Granada - please drop us a comment below with your favorite places in Granada.

    Here is a link to more in-depth posts and photos on all of the sites and experiences in Granada highlighted above. Note that you can also click on any of the photo collages above to see full sized images on Google Plus.
    Trip Dates: December 22 - 26, 2013 Note: All expenses for the trip were incurred by the author. None of the elements of the trip were sponsored by any of the attractions, hotels, or restaurants referenced.



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    Sidewalk Safari: 5 Day Getaway - The Perfect Christmas in Granada, Spain
    5 Day Getaway - The Perfect Christmas in Granada, Spain
    Check out a 5-day independently organized itinerary to spend Christmas in Granada, Spain. Written by Dublin-based travel blogger, Jennifer (aka Dr. J) of Sidewalk Safari.
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