After Córdoba, we took a three hour bus towards the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains to the once Spanish capital, Granada.
Currently, there are no direct trains between the cities, but the bus ride wasn’t at all bad. We reached our hotel close to the city center at 2:30pm allowing us to still make use of the day.
Granada is much bigger than Córdoba, so definitely consider spending a little bit more time there. The must-see for the city is the Alhambra, but I suggest taking the free walking tour as soon as possible, because there is so much more to the city that isn't as well known.
We learned so so much from our guide that made us wish we had an extra day. For instance, some of the Moorish architecture still exists under the current city. There are tours that take you underneath, but unfortunately were not running during our time there. A third tour takes place on the hills across from the Alhambra, where the Gypsies took shelter in caves after not being welcomed into the city.
With only 24 hours though, we just had enough time for the main tour around the city and the Alhambra - still enough to fall in love with the city.
The Alhambra, a palace city from the Nasrid dynasty, is named for its reddish walls. The palace's Arabic translation is actually "Red Castle." It strategically sits upon a hill, in front of the Albaicin and Alcazaba neighborhoods, the older parts of Granada. The roads leading up to it are narrow and winding, which is intentional to ward off any incoming attacks. Today, only approximately 20 percent of the original castle is still standing, which is unbelievable when you see how much there is to see.
Make sure to buy a ticket in advance, it’s just easier and one of the sections is time-stamped.
Alhambra is easy to get to...if you know where you’re going. Don’t follow Google Maps, it leads you up a hill to the edge of someone’s house. We ended up making a big circle and climbing multiple inclines and stairs, which on a hot day was not fun. There are buses and taxis that can take you up the winding hill, but I do suggest you walk if you can. It’s always a better way to become more familiar with your surroundings.
The best way to get there is from Plaza Nueva. We learned this on our free walking tour. You can follow the river (which is actually underneath the ground) all the way to the entrance.