Study Abroad in Granada

Granada, the jewel of Andalucía, is a feast for the senses. Drink in the beauty of the Alhambra, Spain's greatest treasure and most visited tourist attraction. Hear flamenco's echoing heel stomps and hand claps. Smell sweet mint tea flowing in the Muslim tea shops. Walk the winding, cobblestoned streets of the city's older sections. And taste your way through the tapas bars. Granada is a perfect place to start your love affair with Spain.

Study Abroad in Granada - Edificio Colón en Gran Via

photo by Gabirro G.


"My favorite local places were tapas [bars]," says Angelina Gomes of Haverford College, who studied with IES in Granada. "You have to take the initiative to meet locals... I went for tapas a lot and got to know different aspects of the city and culture."


Founded in 1531, the University of Granada is one of the premier Spanish universities. Federico García Lorco is perhaps the best known alumnus. Granada is very much a college town with a large student population and university outposts across the city. With the city's history of Moorish rule, Granada is a great place to take classes on Islamic culture and art. If your Spanish is up to it, you can even enroll in classes with Spanish students.

A Night on the Town

Enjoy the nightlife in the Albaicín, Granada's old Muslim neighborhood. Start at sunset with stunning views of the Alhambra from the Mirador de San Nicholás. With recent North African immigrants renewing the Islamic flavor of this area, try felafel or kebab for dinner. Next sample some of the bars along the Carrera del Darro. (Prefer something louder? Head back toward Calle de Elvira in the center of town.)

Study Abroad in Granada - City Square

photo by Pablo Ferguson

Eat This

In Granada, tapas still come free with drinks. (Elsewhere in Spain, you may have to pay for these small plates.) A tapa can be nearly anything--from a slice of Iberico ham, fried potatos or a bowl of plump olives to grilled shrimp, broad beans with ham or even paella. If you go for tapas, remember that they are not appetizers but a gradual meal. Expect to eat only one or two per stop.

Sites to See

Is "paradise on earth" overdoing it? It's hard not to gush when describing the Alhambra, the last stronghold of Spain's Moorish rulers. The complex of palaces, towers, patios and gardens is home to gorgeous tilework, intricate "stalactite" and "honeycomb" ceilings and dazzling fountains. Two highlights among many: The Court of Lions, where the sultan is said to have enjoyed his harem, contains a fountain resting on the backs of 12 marble lions. And the gardens of Generalife, the summer palace within the complex, are darn near perfect. Reserve tickets in advance. Crowds are smaller on summer evenings and in winter.

The Sacromonte area is home to Granada's Roma population, also known as gypsies or gitanos. Traditional homes were created in caves carved out of the soft rock of the hillside. The main street is tourist-centric, and over-priced flamenco clubs abound. Still, a little exploring can reveal fascinating corners--and the views of the Alhambra and Albaicín are free.

Study Abroad in Granada - Guadix

photo by Gaspar Cerrano

After climbing the hills of Granada, indulge your weary body at the hammam, modern-day Arabic baths. Enjoy alternating hot and cold soaks and a short massage.

Weekend Trip

Winter visitors can enjoy skiing and other snow activities in the Sierra Nevada mountains, only 25 minutes from Granada by car. Mulhacén is the highest peak in Spain and hosts Europe's southernmost ski resort. Do check conditions, though, as snow is not as abundant as it once was. In that case, head south to the beaches of the Costa Tropical. Thanks, global warming!

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