The passions are like that. I was planning my trip to Andalucia and trying to choose where to stay in Granada when I saw the first photos of Albaicín. I knew it was love.
The neighborhood Albaicín is a visual delight. The walls are mostly whitewashed, with colorful ceramics (plates and vases) hanging on them, traditional courtyards of Córdoba.
There are doors of Arabic origin. Profusely worked windows. There is color and life and soul in the narrow, cobbled streets that create a labyrinth where you just want to get lost. IS same a neighborhood, in the true meaning of the word.
The alleys form a network that runs from the highest zone of Albaicín, in San Nicolás, to the River Darro, down there, where Albaicín ends. An area that integrates the list of World Heritage Site in Spain, visually very different from the center of Granada.
Using the words of Samar, a very sympathetic host of Moroccan origin living in Granada, is to go down that "Albaicín ends when the stones end" in the streets. And so it was, most of the streets of the neighborhood were cobbled, which made it look even more charming and characteristic.
And so, between a visit to Alhambra and a memorable dinner in the center of Granada, it was in the neighborhood Albaicín that I felt good. Not only the palaces and mosques, squares such as Plaza Larga, the viewpoints of Los Carvajales, San Cristobal or San Nicolás, the neighborhood grocery stores, cafes and terraces, views of the Alhambra; but, fundamentally, by the environment, by the air you breathe, by everything you feel the most difficult to explain.
It's from those places where people greet me when we meet on the streets (and how much I love these simple things in community life!). I felt at home. And having stayed in the neighborhood contributed even more to that sense of familiarity.
It was as if it were in a Grenadian version of a well-kept Alfama or Mouraria, with tourists having enough time at certain times of the day and specific places - like the late afternoon at Miradouro San Nicolas - but quiet in the rest of the time and places.
And so, he said, it was in Albaicín that I spent most of the my time in granada. Almost always in the street, with an incursion to the neighboring district Sacromonte and sporadic "down there", to downtown.
Still, I did not know everything. The theories (tea houses) of Albaicin - institutions whose existence I discovered too late -, one or other mansion and several courtyards that hide behind the Moorish doors. But it would have taken more time.
Be that as it may, and despite the very high expectations, not even for a moment did the Albaicin neighborhood disappoint me. IS same the kind of environment where I feel good. Yes, when I saw the first photographs, before traveling to Andalusia, I soon learned that Albaicin was love. And I was not wrong!
Maps: points of interest in Albaicín
When to go
Although theoretically it is possible to visit Granada at any time of the year, I recommend spring and autumn in order to avoid the more extreme temperatures of Andalusia.
The best way to explore Albaicín is by foot; and the route to the lower part of Granada is well done walking. For those who stay in the center of Granada and do not want to walk, there is also the chance to climb to the neighborhood by minibus, namely using the C31 (Albaicín - Centro) and C32 (Alhambra - Albaicín) lines. Find more details about the lines that serve the neighborhood Albaicín this page.
Some people write that the neighborhood Albaicín is dangerous and that one must be careful. Honestly, I think this is a prejudice that remains fruit of a time when the neighborhood would have been, so to speak, badly attended.
Nowadays, Albaicín is a quiet neighborhood. It has its share of indigents and people with alternative lifestyles - and maybe that contributes to prejudice; but never for a minute did I feel any animosity or insecurity in Albaicin. In short, I did not feel great differences compared to other parts of Granada considered more "safe".
Where to eat
In Albaicín, there are some well-known traditional restaurants, namely the Torcuato, El Picoteo and Aixa (local recommendations). Among them, I had the chance to taste the famous Andalusian oxtail on the terrace of the Aixa restaurant, in the Plaza Larga, and a delicious Salmorejo from El Picoteo. As for the most famous Torcuato, it was closed the night I tried to have dinner there.
See also post about us Things to do in Granada, for an additional gastronomic suggestion (not to be missed).
Where to stay
I have written a specific text on the issue where to stay in Granada (center or Albaicín) and I can say that, for me, the choice is obvious: I prefer the neighborhood. Read the post to see which of the areas best fits your traveler profile.
I stayed in a cave house called Flintstone House, which I loved, reserved on airbnb. It's in the upper part of the neighborhood (my favorite), but the truth is that it was not cheap. It was worth it for being a group of five people, but there are excellent inns in Albaicin more in mind.
When it comes to apartments, there are extraordinary calls Smart Suites Albaicín, I've been almost to book. They are really worth it and the location is great in the heart of the neighborhood.
Alternatively, the traditional Palace of Santa Inés it's beautiful and very recommended, although it's a bit expensive for my usual budget. It is located in the lower part of Albaicín, so it is especially suitable for travelers who prefer not to have to climb the slopes of the neighborhood so often. In this segment - with comfort, quality and average prices - I also recommend the Hotel Santa Isabel La Real, in The Posada de Quijada and House of Aljarife. You will be very well installed in any of these hotels.
If you prefer to save on accommodation, the most economical Cuevas Coloras Hostel e White Nest Hostel (young environment), or the Sightseeing (more traditional) are the best options. The first is in a typical house dug in a higher area of Albaicín more distant (see if the location pleases you). The rest are both in the lower part of the neighborhood, by the river; are simple and highly praised.
Lastly, do not choose your hotel in Granada without first Shine Albayzín, one of the most extraordinary architectonic hotels in Albaicín.
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