Granada in the summer is a place to get swept into Arabian nights, feel the breeze blowing through bohemian streets, hear the sorrowful wailing and powerful beats of locals playing flamenco while you look out over the Alhambra and the Sierra Nevada from the Mirador (lookout) San Nicolás… It is a sweet and spicy city filled with international students, ancient cultures that take shape in its architectural treasures, mixed traditions that will make your mouth water and stunning nature filled with the sharp smell of olives, sweet almond blossoms and bright pink and purple bougainvillea popping against the crisp white buildings of the Albaicín. It is a place you will want to stay to see all year-round, but summer is a great time to start. Here’re some of our favorite things in Granada in the summer just to get you started:
Mirador San Nicolás at nightYes, it is hot in Granada in the summer but that’s what makes it magical. The heat that lingers throughout the day is transformative. Everything is a little lazier, a little more relaxed, and at night when it cools down just a bit, it is the perfect time to venture out again and explore the city’s loveliest locations. The Mirador San Nicolás on a warm summer night, looking out over the mountains and the incredible Alhambra, filled with life and other people lounging too, is the perfect place to spend an evening with friends drinking in the view and the culture all around you. You may even get lucky and hear people playing live flamenco or even dancing a bit, or simply enjoy the ambiance of other happy people enjoying the natural and man-made beauty all around them.
Off the beaten path (really off!)Wake up with the sun, or wait until it’s on its way out for this one (in order to survive the heat) but a little hike into the hills to see part of Granada’s underground (literally) culture makes for an interesting little adventure. Hike into Sacromonte and then just a little more into the back hill paths (maybe past yapping dogs and make-shift gardens) to see some of the interesting natural caves that have been converted into homes of all kinds. International hippies and gypsies are sprinkled throughout the hills living in caves that are everything from the most basic shelters with dirt floors and rock walls to complete and comfortable homes with all the fixings. If you’re looking for an adventure this is a good place to start.
¡FLAMENCO!Summer is the time for flamenco in Granada. And it makes sense. There is heat in the music, in the power of the dancers, and definitely in the air. The strong movements full of life and energy, mixed with languid lethargy and the slow wailing of flamenco dancers and singers seem to match the sun beating down – it gives us life and energy and makes us slow everything down all at once in the hot arid summer. Some of the best flamenco shows can be seen at summer flamenco festivals like the one held at the Generalife at the Alhambra or Los veranos del corral. But there are also plenty of places to see flamenco throughout the city. There is a strange mix of both ultra-touristy and strangely authentic flamenco to be seen in the cuevas of Sacromonte (a traditionally and historically gypsy neighborhood). Although flamenco may truly be a deep part of the culture of the neighborhood, it has now also become a way to make a living, and busloads of tourists from around the world are carted in every day to watch as performers put on shows all evening in order to earn a living; so although they may be masters in the art, putting on great shows, some may feel that a bit of the heart and soul of real flamenco is lost in the repetition. However, don’t be disheartened, if you don’t get to one of the bigger festivals mentioned above, and the caves of Sacromonte don’t sound like your style, there are plenty of hole in the wall flamenco spots (not to mention common impromptu shows on the streets) to experience this beautiful Andalusian art.
Find a place to take a swimGranada is surrounded by mountains with rivers and reservoirs to explore and the beautiful beaches of the Mediterranean just a short trip to the south (about an hour by car and a little more by bus). So when the heat starts to get you down, find a lovely place to jump in the water and cool off. If wandering the mountains sounds good, try a hike around the Embalse de Canales in search of swimming coves; or if you’re not up for a walk in the hills try a trip to the restorative Baños Sierra Elvira in Atarfe, manmade pools with natural, medicinal mineral waters from the mountains that is changed out every day (only 6 miles from Granada). And if you’re looking for even more water, make your way down to the coast and the lovely beaches of la Costa Tropical for a refreshing swim in the Mediterranean.
Granada is a great destination all year long, but there is something special that happens in the city in the summer. Let the heat carry you away into its rich ancient cultures and beautiful corners and get lost in Spanish this summer.