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Granada: Hidden Highlights

For a small city that sees more than its fair share of visitors, Granada manages to keep many of its highlights pretty closely under wraps. For those of you wanting to break free from well-trodden paths, take a trip with Ben Cooper who goes off the beaten track to unearth ten hidden highlights in Granada.

By:  Ben Cooper
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Concealed by the twists and turns of the Albaicin’s alleyways and the crumbling nooks and crannies of the city’s old Jewish quarter, the Realejo, are any number of tiny bars, intimate places to stay and breathtaking monasteries that aren’t heaving with throngs of tourists. While few, if any, of the places mentioned below are exactly hidden to locals, for the average visitor with only a couple of days to see the city, they’ll almost certainly be well off the map.

Hidden Things to See in Granada

nombre Carmen de los Martires (Granada)

Despite sharing the same hill as a certain red fort and being a popular civil wedding venue, visitors to the Carmen de los Martires tend to be fairly few and far between. Peacocks roam the (slightly ramshackle) gardens, while there are grottoes, a boating lake and a striking 19th century mansion to poke around. With plenty of shady areas and lovely views across the city and on to the shimmering vega beyond, it’s also an ideal spot for a picnic. Free entry. (Paseo de los Mártires, s/n, Granada, 958227953).

monasterio de dan jeronimo granada Monasterio de San Jerónimo (Granada)

From the moment you cross the threshold of the Monasterio de San Jeronimo (built in the early 16th century by the Catholic Kings) and stroll around its large cloistered courtyard you’re struck by its rather solemn, forgotten about air. The highlight undoubtedly is the adjoining church: its gilded altarpiece and a central nave covered in faded, sepia frescoes lean inwards, creating the effect of having stumbled into a forest clearing in autumn. 3 €. (C/ Rector López Argüeta, 9, Granada, 958279337).

cuesta de los chinos granada Cuesta de los Chinos (Granada)

Snaking alongside the Alhambra’s intriguing outer fortifications and babbling waterways, you rarely have to share the Cuesta de los Chinos with anyone other than the odd dog-walker or strolling couple. At the last bend (before the path dips down onto the Paseo de los Tristes), you get a glorious view of the Albaicin on a good day, a dazzling white smudge in the sunlight, its green cypresses reaching upwards towards the brightest of blue skies. (Cuesta de los Chinos, Granada).

granada secreta y subterranea Granada Secreta y Subterranea (Granada)

A series of guided tours led by artists and writers that explore several hidden aspects of the city. One takes you behind the (otherwise closed) doors of the carmenes of the Albaicin; another includes a tour of the city’s disused gold mines. The most popular however, delves into the secrets of the passage-riddled ground around the Alhambra and the Fundacion Rodriguez-Acosta. And for such an ancient city, secrets there are obviously plenty… € 15 - 30. (Info desk for Granada PuraVida, Plaza de Trinidad, Granada, 958201939,

Hidden Places to Stay in Granada

carmen del cobertizo granada Carmen del Cobertizo (Granada)

The carmen – an eye-catching Moorish house-patio-garden complex – is the archetypical romantic bolthole in Granada. Secreted away down the merest crack of a street in the lower Albaicin, the Carmen del Cobertizo has a seductive ‘for those in the know’ feel. It’s not cheap, but with just five rooms, some striking original features, a tiered garden area dotted with fruit trees and (glory be!) a dipping pool, it is rather exclusive. (C/ Cobertizo de Santa Ines, Granada, 958227652,

nombre Carmen de la Alcubilla del Caracol (Granada)

Even the most disorientated tourist rarely stumbles into the upper reaches of the Realejo, a pleasingly knockabout neighbourhood with a handful of interesting palacetes. One of them – Carmen de la Alcubilla del Caracol – is quite a find. Boasting a handful of rooms (individually turned out in the utmost good taste), a lovely little garden and a well-stocked library, it’s the perfect choice for anyone looking to hole up for a few days of peace and quiet. (C/ Aire Alta, 12, Granada, 958215551,

Hidden Places to Eat & Drink in Granada

la trastienda granada La Trastienda (Granada)

To suggest that a bar within spitting distance of the well-touristed Plaza Nueva is in any way hidden would seem, on first inspection, a little absurd. But La Trastienda hides its true colours well. At the front of a tiny, ten-a-penny sort of shop, a lady smokes and chats to her friends. So far, so everyday. Slip round the back of the counter, though (something few uninformed visitors would dare to do), and a brilliant little tapas bar opens up, as if by magic, before you. (Plaza de Cuchilleros, 11, Granada, 958226965).

el eshavira granada El Eshavira (Granada)

Again, this bar’s hidden credentials suffer a little from its proximity to the noisy, bustling Calle Elvira. But really, unless you knew precisely what you were likely to find at the end of it, you’d never set foot in the reeking alleyway. As a result, very few people come across the place – a proper, smoky music bar that, with excellent live performances most nights, is an absolute must for flamenco or jazz fans. (Postigo de la Cuna, 2, Granada).

la higuera granada La Higuera (Granada)

On a searingly hot afternoon, you might get the odd tourist stumbling, slightly dazed, off Calle Panaderos into La Higuera; but during the evening it’s generally the resident Albaicineros who have the run of the place. Tapas are agreeably rustic, the atmosphere in the vine-festooned garden is lively, and inside, the bar often exhibits works from local artists and photographers. Well worth the climb up into the Albaicin. (C/ Horno de Hoyo, Granada).

carmen de la victoria granada Carmen de la Victoria (Granada)

It seems bizarre that a restaurant with one of the finest views of the Alhambra and a garden echoing with the sound of water features should be so rarely visited. If it has the air of an off-limits private members’ club, that’s because it is. Sort of. It belongs to the University of Granada, and if you manage to secure a (very decent) meal on the terrace you’ll most likely be surrounded by academics admiring the view, not quite able to believe their luck. (Cuesta del Chapiz, 9, Granada,



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El 27 October 2009 a las 7:23 AM, Valver dijo...

Buenísimo el artículo. no me pierdo la Granada Subterranea.

Un saludo!

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El 18 October 2010 a las 5:54 PM, fenderbirds dijo...

nice article, keep the posts coming

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El 4 January 2012 a las 10:12 AM, ester dijo...

I was in Granada and was fascinated by the Carmenes. I have been searching on the net for information on these carmenes. I have a few questions. Do you know who could help ?

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El 23 May 2012 a las 10:04 AM, ana dijo...

You only have to go to Alhambra, and asks for the Carmen de los Martires. It’s really amazing and beautiful, I recommend so.

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El 29 January 2015 a las 12:04 PM, norman dijo...

rebel@weed.kassem” rel=”nofollow”>.…

good info!…

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El 7 February 2015 a las 1:16 AM, michael dijo...

botany@beatings.trickling” rel=”nofollow”>.…

ñýíêñ çà èíôó!!…

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