When you first think of Spain, there is an 80 percent chance you are thinking about Barcelona or Madrid. Two years ago, I was the exact same way. When deciding where I wanted to study abroad, I knew a Spanish-speaking country was where I wanted to go. Eventually, I narrowed it down to Spain; however, I only knew of two cities. Through more research and long conversations with my international services office, I decided to go with a city I knew nearly nothing about. In the end it ended up being the best decision I have ever decided on.
Which brings me to 10 reasons why Granada, Spain is the best unknown place to study abroad.
1. La Alhambra
A Moorish palace located among the mountains looking from one side the valley and the other among Granada. Although it was a tough twenty minutes up a large hill/ mountain (depending on how you look at things), the aftermath is totally worth the travels. However, if you are feeling slightly lazy that day, there is a two euro bus that will take you up. Following an amazing view of all Granada, to simply imagine what was once thriving in this absolutely amazing palace is truly astonishing.
2. Sierra Nevada Mountains
With amazing cites from the city, only a short 25 minute bus ride and you will be in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, with camping, hiking, horseback riding, rock climbing, and many other activities awaiting.
Majority of places you go, whether you are ordering a soda, wine, Tinto de Verano (which I highly suggest) or beer, you will receive a small plate of delicious Spanish food. In American terms, you will receive a small appetizer, for free, to go along with your drink.
According to Google, Granada has a population of 237, 540. Coming from a small town, I knew I wanted a city where I could wonder and get lost but not one where I would get lost in the crowd walking down the road. Granada gave me that. After a week I could easily navigate to and from where I regularly went; however, beyond that, I could easily wonder and luckily within a few wrong turns I could navigate my way to a familiar path.
5. La Albaicin
A district through steep hills, lined of narrow streets full of Moroccan markets and teashops. If you walk your way to the center you will find a beautiful plaza with the most amazing view of all of La Alhambra.
Granada is located in the south of Spain. Although, I have already mentioned the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Granada is also only an hour car or bus ride to the ocean. In one day you could enjoy your morning in the mountains and your afternoon at the ocean.
From experience, I discovered many other locations in Spain the natives also knew English. In Granada, not many natives know English so it forces you to use the little knowledge of Spanish that you have and encourage you to push yourself to learn more.
Although you could possibly get similar food anywhere in Spain you go, Granada has some amazing food. From Spain’s famous Paella to gelato on every block, all food in Granada is delicious. However, be aware of their different (late night) eating times. Their ‘normal’ dinnertime begins around 10 pm.
Possibly Spain’s greatest invention, siesta is the Spanish word for nap. Beginning from 2pm until 5pm, majority of stores and the city close down and they go home to take a nap. I kid you not, USA could take some tips when it comes to Siesta.
10. La Familia
Whether you stay with a host family or in a residencia (which I did) your host madres adore you. They take pride in taking care of you. They absolutely love to cook for you and all they ask in return is for you to love their food, which believe me is incredible easy to do.