Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Granada, Spain on $400: Where to eat, stay, and play

How to enjoy Granada, Spain, in 48 hours and on just $400

A fairytale castle. Winding, cobblestone alleys. Abundant street art. The best tapas in Spain. These are just a few of the many reasons to visit Granada, Spain, which is one of my favorite small cities in the world. Barcelona might get all the attention, but I’ve spent just over two years in Granada, and I know all too well the greatness that this pint-sized place has to offer.

When you visit, you’ll likely be going briefly as part of a larger trip through the country, so you’ll be working to experience Spain on a budget. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how to enjoy Granada for roughly $400 over the course of 48 hours. I guarantee that you’ll enjoy it.

Alhambra in Granada, Spain.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Where to stay in Granada, Spain

While Granada is a rather compact place, the neighborhood you choose will impact how you spend your time. You could stay in the cool cave hotels of Sacromonte, but you’ll constantly be commuting to and from the city center. You could book a place with a gorgeous view atop the hill of Albayzin, but while the neighborhood is certainly gorgeous, you’ll be doing a lot of sweating your way up and down steep hills.

I suggest you stay in Centro, which provides easy access to pretty much everything. There are many great hotel options to choose from, but Futurotel Granada Spa Garden is a particularly fun, affordable option. This futuristic hotel — as the name implies — offers techy-themed capsule rooms for as low as $50 a night, while its suites clock in at a mere $75. It has a tropical spa garden with a pool, a terrace and bbq setup, and free bikes for guests.

I’m going to assume you’ve gone with the suite, so let’s say this knocks $150 off your budget.

Tapas in Granada.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Where to eat in Granada

While Spain is famous for its tapas, Granada is the capital of these small plates; restaurants provide them for free with every drink you buy. Talk about a budget saver.

Accordingly, you can eat pretty much anywhere and enjoy some tasty eats ranging from delicious olives or bread with melted cheese to much more complex, tiny dishes, such as seafood stew or roasted pork with gravy. Some of the standout tapas spots include Poe Bar (which is conveniently close to Futurotel), Bodegas Castañada (get your goat skin bag of wine here), and El Bar De Fede (tell them the American travel writer Nicholas sent you).

If you’re looking for a more solid meal — although four drinks and four tapas will do you just fine — check out Restaurante Albahaca. For €13.50, you’ll get a three-course meal that’s tasty as can be.

Alhambra castle in Granada, Spain.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

What to do in Granada

First, the bar scene.

Granada used to offer something unique among the Spain tourism options in the form of Granada Rock City. The program provided a series of local rock shows at venues throughout the city. While the program itself ended with Covid, the music scene remained alive and well, so live music is in abundance. Lemon Rock is a great place to start if you’re looking for tunes.

Beyond that, just wander and enjoy wherever things seem wild. In the University District adjacent to Centro, there are a ton of fun college bars. Check out Bohemia Jazz Café for one of the hippest bar experiences in the world. If you’re looking to cut loose and dance, Planta Baja, Boogaclub, and Efecto Club are notoriously great places to make bad decisions.

When it’s time to sweat it out in the morning, book a visit to Hammam Al-Andalus. This traditional spa and bathhouse is built into historic caves, and it’s among my favorite travel experiences in the world, period. It’s gorgeous, relaxing, and surprisingly affordable. An hour in the Arab baths plus 15 minutes of Kessa scrub and 30 minutes of massage will clock in at just €110.

Beyond that, Granada provides ample opportunities for exploration. The Arab markets along Elvira are a great place to buy souvenirs. Wander along the scenic Darro River to take some gorgeous photos, and so on and so forth. It’s an ancient Spanish city — there’s plenty of stunning scenery.

The standout is undoubtedly the castle Alhambra. Originally built as a palace for the Moorish emirs who once ruled the Iberian Peninsula, it was eventually captured by the Catholics. It was here that Isabella and Ferdinand commissioned an Italian sailor by the name of Christopher Columbus to embark across the ocean. Big history, in other words.

The castle is outright awesome, as in inspiring of awe. The outside presents an impressive fortress, while inside you’ll find some of the world’s greatest examples of Islamic architecture and design. Abundant patterns, complex geometry, and outright psychedelic aesthetics are all over the place. To the rear are a series of tranquil, ornate gardens. Alhambra is undoubtedly one of my favorite places in the world to spend a few hours.

Best of all, most of these experiences range in cost somewhere between cheap and free. All in all, between the affordable hotel and spa, low-cost drinks and free tapas, and generally cheap entertainment, you will easily enjoy yourself while staying under budget.

Editors' Recommendations

Nick Hilden
Nick Hilden is a lifestyle and culture writer whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Afar…
Your travel bag probably doesn’t have an Apple AirTag, but it needs one — here’s why
AirTags are tiny, and make losing baggage almost impossible
Apple AirTags in carrying cases

Anyone who has ever had to replace a lost suitcase full of clothing on vacation understands the hassle it can be. Oh, and don't forget about the shoes, toiletries, and accessories — the cost adds up quickly. Plus, who wants to spend their hard-earned vacation days schlepping to a store to buy a new wardrobe? I feel like I'm not alone in saying that precious time is much better spent enjoying the fruits of your trip planning, relaxing, or exploring. But that's only one of the reasons why every travel bag you have needs an Apple Air Tag.

Whether your wayward bag is buried beneath a massive pile of lost luggage in a foreign airport or accidentally left behind in the back seat of your Uber, tracking an AirTag may be the best bet you have to track it down. The concept is super simple and nearly foolproof. Slip an AirTag in your suitcase, and you'll almost always be able to find out where it is. Above and beyond the obvious, there are plenty of great benefits to keeping an Apple AirTag in each piece of luggage when you travel — both checked bags and carry-ons. 

Read more
Costco has a secret online store, Costco Next, that any member can access – here’s how
It's just like Costco, only premium - and there are no hot dogs
Ft. Wayne - Circa August 2017: Costco Wholesale Location. Costco Wholesale is a Multi-Billion Dollar Global Retailer X


Whether you have a bunch of kids and need that Costco membership for the snacks or are entering your middle-age era and have started shopping for your jeans there, Costco membership holders are die-hard people. There are whole Reddit pages dedicated to how to best shop at the store and plenty of TikToks showing how to maximize Costco hauls. Plus, where else do you get a hot dog and a drink for $1.50 these days? But we all know that staying home and ordering online from your favorite store is where it's at, so get ready to be blown away by how to access Costco Next, Costco's best-hidden feature.

Read more
Don your best seaman’s cap and head to the most incredible lighthouse hotels in the U.S.
For ocean lovers and salty maritime souls, it hardly gets better than a stay at a genuine lighthouse hotel
View from the water of Maine's Portland Head Lighthouse at sunset.

A proper digital detox is good for the soul, whether for an hour, a day, or a week. But sometimes, you want solitude and soul-searching without getting too far away. Whether you just love nautical-themed vacations, you like seabirds more than people, or you fancy yourself a salty maritime soul, you’ll love an escape to the best lighthouse hotels in the U.S.

Sitka Lighthouse
Sitka, Alaska
New England may garner all the fame when it comes to picturesque lighthouses, but it's not the only area of the country with a rich maritime history. Sitka — a tiny town in Southeastern Alaska best known as the launch pad for Alaska cruises — has one of the most charming lighthouses in the U.S. This ultra-private "hotel" sits on a 1-acre island, and overnight guests have exclusive access to it all. The 50-year-old lighthouse got a refresh in 2018. So, while it maintains much of its original charm, it's a thoroughly modern affair inside, complete with a living room, dining room, full kitchen, and an outdoor tub. There's even satellite TV (not that you'll need it).

Read more