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An Insider’s Guide to Granada Nightlife

If you’re new in town, planning a visit or just passing through, you’ll probably want to make the most of your time in Granada, Spain’s Moorish jewel of the south. This will of course include seeing the sights, eating the eats and – one would assume – sampling a taste of the city’s buoyant night life, with a little of what the locals like to call ‘Grana’ino tyle’.

Like it or not, Granada is very much a student city; there are approximately 85,000 of them currently attending the University (Source: Wikipedia) and around 2-3,000 of these are enrolled in the Erasmus ‘study abroad’ programme (‘study’ used in its loosest sense here), so finding somewhere to party isn’t exactly difficult.

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However, if – like me – your University years are behind you, then shuffling your way in and out of student-saturated bars all evening might not be your idea of fun. But there’s no need for concern; in Granada, there’s something for everyone, though finding exactly what and where that something is can be rather galling at times – both for tourists and locals.

After two years as a proud ‘guiri’ in Granada, I’m going to stick my neck out and say that I’ve just about seen it all, even though I will, inevitably, at some point stumble upon somewhere brilliant that neither I nor my fellow guiri countrymen have ever heard of.

mapa de granada distritos

Before we begin, a disclaimer: as can be seen from the very elaborate map above, Granada is divided up into eight barrios: La Chana; Norte; Beiro; Albaicín; Centro; Genil; Zaidín and Ronda, but in the interest of keeping this article brief, we’ll focus on where the bulk of Granada’s best pubs and clubs can be found: El Centro, El Albaicín and El Realejo (a smaller barrio east of the centre), with a few honourable mentions at the end. Also, as is the case throughout the rest of Spain, Granada’s nightlife doesn’t really get going until about midnight, and tends not to wind down until about 6am, so it would be wise to pace yourself no matter where you’re going. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt since coming here, it’s that the Spanish are kings when it comes to partying.

El Centro

Calle Elvira (Source)
Calle Elvira (Source)

The beaten track, as it were, more or less makes up the centre of Granada. The long, cobbled and Moorish themed Calle Elvira, for instance, is continuously swamped with punters lurching from one buzzing tapa bar to the next, and when the kitchens call it quits for the night, there is a profusion of late night bars lying in wait for the half drunken overspill. One such enterprise is El Son (C/ Juaquin Costa 13). This joint, functioning as a bar upstairs and disco on its ground floor, fills up around 3am and stays open until the early hours. It is a fantastic example of how people in Granada will dance to just about anything; frankly, music has never been so random. Being blind drunk before entering isn’t an essential requirement, but it helps.

Things tend to be a little quieter down the other end of Elvira, but tucked down an otherwise derelict side road you’ll find Miniclub and Pata Palo catering to regularly teeming crowds, the latter especially. On a Friday night, you will doubtless spend a good twenty minutes shoving your way through the scrum before you are served, but the vibe inside both bars is as about as Spanish as it gets: we’re talking mass, screaming sing-alongs to wild, never-heard-of-before Spanish songs, some rather risky-looking table dancing and an unfathomable amount of chupitos.

el son granada spain nightlife
El Son, Granada

Over the other side of Gran Vía de Colón – Granada’s main intersection – there’s plenty more fun to be had. Entresuelo (Plaza San Augustin 2) blares out hours of reggae and dancehall at the weekend and boasts one of the best atmospheres in town. Then there’s Plantabaja (C/ Horno de Abad 11), a very cool bar whose basement – la planta baja – regularly plays host to some of Spain’s best, underground musical talents and tribute acts who are often almost as good as the real thing.

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Further westward are Booga Club (C/ Santa Barbara 8), a blues, dub and reggae stronghold also renowned for its excellent provision of live music, and Afrodisia (C/ de Almona del Boquerón 10), a swinging sixties sort of place and Booga’s unofficial warm-up bar. At €3 a cerveza, Booga is pricey compared with its rivals, but that’s ok because there’s a Chino across the road so people just get hammered on the steps outside instead.

plantabaja granada spain
Live Music at Plantabaja, Granada (Source)
booga club granada spain
Live Music at BoogaClub, Granada (Source)

For the busiest, cheapest and wildest time in town, head to the ever-frenetic Pedro Antonio de Alarcon, a long, straight, one-way street, which at its far end becomes inundated with busy bars, crowded kebab houses and chockfull chupiterías. Ergo, this is definitely the place to come if you do like student-saturated bars. Take La Marisma for example. Here, large beers, or jarras are sold for €1.60, hence the unyielding glut of bodies in the room. Each beer – conveniently – is served with a small plastic cup of salty pipas, the shells of which are promptly bitten off and tossed to the ground, creating a swathe of crunchy carpet that has to be seen to be believed. But that isn’t actually possible until closing time when everybody leaves.

Double back and you’ll encounter a much louder side of Granada nightlife: the grunge bars. Soma, El Transistor and El Peaton blast out the rock, indie and heavy metal – some of it refreshingly nostalgic, some of it deafeningly uncompromising – all night, every night after 10pm.

soma bar granada spain nightlife
Soma, Pedro Antonio de Alarcon

Pedro’s adjoining side streets have also become smeared with the same tawdry brush – Calle Socrates, home of student-favourite shot bar Chupitería 69, being a fine example. Here, a menu focused solely on inebriating its indulgers draws sizeable hordes most nights. All shots, whether ‘suave’, ‘medio’ or ‘fuerte’ (el agua bendita is particularly objectionable) cost €1, and are accompanied by vouchers that can be accumulated in order to win one of the bar’s esteemed rewards for loyalty. Lighter anyone? Maybe a T-shirt that proclaims you as Chupitería 69’s number one fan? Or just go the distance and trade all those hard earned vouchers in for the legendary thong? Even with the rewards, there are no winners here, just a lot of very, very wobbly people with incredibly sticky fingers.

chupitería 69 granada spain shot bar
El Ménu, Chupitería 69, Cale Socrates


El Albaícin

El Albaicín seen from The Alhambra
El Albaicín seen from The Alhambra

El Albaicín, Granada’s oldest, largest and most iconic barrio, rises high above the rest of the city to face the grand Alhambra Palace. Properties battle for every last inch of room here, and anybody who has successfully completed the grueling climb up to El Mirador de San Nicolas – the city’s most famous viewpoint – deserves a pat on the back. By day, the narrow alleyways are swarming with tourists, but at night most descend into the city in favour of some less physically exerting tapa hopping.

However, there are several bars well worth visiting. Café Bar Higuera (C/ Horno de Hoyo 17), for instance, is full of beans on a Friday night, especially when things warm up in late spring. The intimate and festooned beer garden out back makes for an excellent spot to chow down a tapa and clap along to bands of hippies strumming/blowing wood-fashioned instruments with no clear purpose. Other draws include Rincon de Pepe (Puerta Nueva), where delicious wine and home-cooked tapas can be enjoyed for a fair price and Casa Torquato (C/ Pagés 31) for something quintessentially Andaluz.

cafe bar higuera granada albaicin albaycin
Cafe Bar Higuera, El Albaicín, Granada

Ten minutes’ walking distance from El Albaicín – or Paseo de los Tristes if arriving from Plaza Nueva – is perhaps Granada’s most popular club of all: El Camborio. The venue has established itself as a firm student favourite, and often reaches maximum capacity on any given night of the week. If pop and Spanish chart music is your thing, you can’t go wrong here.

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El Realejo

campo del principe granada
Campo del Principe, Granada (Source)

Dubbed ‘la zona de los guiris’ by some of the locals, the nightlife in El Realejo – the old Jewish quarter of Granada – is geared slightly more toward an international crowd. There are enough Spanish owned tapas bars around to ensure a traditional quality is preserved – Campo Principe, for example, is loaded with classic Spanish style bars – but an assortment of English and Irish run pubs and eateries give the barrio a distinctly foreign or – as is the case for us guiris – pleasantly familiar feel. The cozy Casa Lopez Correa (C/ Molinos 5) does excellent food, wine and beer and often hosts intercambios in the evenings, and down the road, Paddy’s Pub (C/ Santa Escolastica 15) is the perfect place to reconvene after the night before for a proper pint, some friendly banter and a dose of live sport with English commentary! Everyone needs their home comforts from time to time, and Paddy goes that extra mile to make sure all of his customers are being looked after. The TV sets have even been positioned so that one can view four games at once, and if the game you want to watch isn’t showing, no problem; Paddy will stream it illegally from one of the laptops propped on the bar. Now that’s service.

casa lopez correa granada el realejo
Casa Lopez Correa, Granada

After hours, El Realejo doesn’t have much to offer, but for those hellbent on going all night long, gratification in the form of pounding, pounding gabba or techno can be sought out from Quilombo (Carril de San Cecilo 21) – if you’re willing to stumble uphill to get there.

Honourable Mentions

sala el tren granada musica
Live Music at La Sala El Tren (Source)

I couldn’t pen a guide on Granada’s nightlife without mentioning my favourite Granadino club of all now could I? La Sala El Tren (Carretera de Málaga 136) boasts an imposing sound system, unmatched elsewhere in Granada. Getting there is a bit problematic – either €8 by taxi from the centre or a very long walk) – but the quality of its live gigs and international DJ sets makes the journey well worth the effort. The entrance fee typically sets you back around €10 with either a copa (spirit and mixer) or a couple of beers thrown in, but the general custom is to drink copiously in the street beforehand. Events label Substation regularly feature major UK reggae, jungle and DnB names on their rosta – The Skatalites, Congo Natty, Serial Killaz, and Shy FX the latest among them.

aphrodite granada sala el tren spain
Aphrodite @ La Sala El Tren (poor phone pic quality :S)

The only other Granadino club to attract the big names in the field of electronica is Industrial Copera (C/ Paz 7), a huge, double-floored discotheque with some seriously impressive pyrotechnics. For me, it’s not quite up to Tren’s standards in terms of character and atmosphere, but it’s still considerably better than the likes of Granada 10 and Mae West – two glorified and unbelievably pretentious student haunts, far more concerned with glitz and glamour than actually playing some decent music. That’s just me though – if anybody begs to differ then please do say so in the comments section below!

industrial copera granada
Live Music at Industrial Copera

Have you experienced Granada’s nightlife? Where did you go and where would you recommend?

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5 Reasons why I’m Staying in Granada

A couple of months back I posted a long, rambling piece expounding my ongoing frustration at not being able to decide where I would call home next year. My options, as far as I could see, were fairly straightforward:

  1. Give up my life here in Granada, go home and begin looking for a job – any job – that would pay substantially better wages than those of an English teacher in Spain.
  2. Move elsewhere within Spain and continue teaching English while attempting to pursue other, hopefully profitable avenues of interest.
  3. Stay put here in Granada, where I had begun to feel quite attached, and continue teaching English while attempting to pursue other, hopefully profitable avenues of interest.

Option 3 always had its nose in front; it was by far the easiest way to go. Yet ‘easiest’ – at least for a while – amounted to ‘laziest’ and ‘most irrational’ in my mind. I kept convincing myself it was the wrong choice to make – that I’d be effectively relegating myself to a career in teaching English if I stayed, which, needless to say, is not what I intend to do with my life.

Many of you left comments and offered me sound and heartfelt advice, which was received with enormous gratitude. Thank you. I even received a longwinded, matter-of-fact email from some guy who’d stumbled across the blog via my couchsurfing profile. I never got back to him, but if he’s reading this, then thank you too.

But even after all that, I was still unable to make a decision. And that’s how it stayed, until the penny finally dropped on one gloriously sunny afternoon on Cantarriján beach, as I sat back with a mojito in hand. Moments before, I had been sunbathing in 27° heat, and 3 hours prior to that I’d been strapped to a snowboard hurling myself down the hoary peaks of the Sierra Nevada.

piste 2 playa, sierra nevada beach in a day, beach, cantarrijan, roadtrip
That mojito

How, in the name of jamón Serrano and tinto de verano, could I turn my back on that sort of lifestyle?

Well, ‘lifestyle’ may be putting it somewhat optimistically, but the point is that there was virtually nowhere else in the world I could’ve pulled off a feat quite as awesome as that. All of a sudden, any lingering uncertainty in my mind had vanished, and all I could think about were the plentiful reasons why I was undoubtedly going to stay. Here are five of them:

One: The People

I’ve been lucky enough to meet some truly excellent people since my arrival in September 2011. Initially, forming friendships with non-English speaking Spaniards proved tough, as my own level of Spanish was low and I hadn’t quite begun to feel settled. Moreover, I was determined not to slip into the confines of the ‘guiri bubble’, so duly tried my best to keep away from the typical hangouts. And by ‘hangouts’ I obviously mean ‘Irish pubs’.

These days, I’m as big a guiri as you’ll ever come across. I can often be found watching football and glugging back pints of tapa-less lager in Irish pubs. Well, one Irish pub to be exact. But I’ve absolutely no shame in admitting that; it’s here where I have met people who I now regard as best and closest friends.

Of course that’s not to say I haven’t neglected my Spanish-speaking social life – I am the undisputed intercambio king of Granada don’t you know. And the hippie vibe in Granada is very special, as can be seen in this shot below, of a huge, spontaneous party that took place in La Huerta de Carlos in el albaicin not long ago.

el albaicin, granada, people, music, alhambra
People, in La Huerta de Carlos, El Albaicin
P2P in car
On the way to the beach from The Sierra Nevada

Two: The City

Chances are if you’ve read this blog before you’ll probably have gathered that I am rather fond of my enchanting abode by now. And if you haven’t, or even if you have, allow me to explain why/refresh your memory…

Granada, as a city, is totally unique; its matchless combination of Spanish, Moorish and modern European cultures is worth staying for alone.

Each day on my way to work, I walk past Plaza Nueva, where I can see the lower reaches of the Alhambra Palace looming over the tourist trafficked square, on to Calle Elvira, where the brightly adorned Moroccan-style clothes stalls and cramped, smoky tetarías line the cobbled cuestas leading up into El Albaicin. Later in the evening, I walk home back along Elvira to the accompanying soundtrack of various Spanish bands or Flamenco artists ringing out from the tapas bars either side of me, and eventually arrive in my own barrio, El Realejo, which used to be the old Jewish quarter, to a scene of lively guiri bars and various wallworks by the eminent El Niño de las Pinturas.

I’m still discovering new and amazing things about it every day.

Una tetaría de Granada
Una tetaría de GranadaSunday Market in Granada City Centre

One of El Niño's best pieces in El Realejo, Granada

One of El Niño’s best pieces in El Realejo, Granada

Three: The Sierra Nevada 

The locality of one of Europe’s prime ski resorts (despite its comparatively uninteresting terrain) was the initial reason for my coming here. I’d never heard of it before someone mentioned it during a chat regarding my future whereabouts when I was living in El Puerto de Santa María. It just so happened that the February Puente was right around the corner and I still hadn’t made plans. One week later I was standing on top of the SN’s summit telling my friend that I absolutely had to move here. Seven months later my goal had been fulfilled.

If truth be told, I have not visited anywhere near as often as I would have liked to since the cost for one single daytrip is so despicably high, but when I do visit, I am always reminded of how extremely lucky I am, no matter what the conditions. I love snowboarding, and I’m not about to give up my local ski resort just yet.

sierra nevada, spain, granada, españa
Yours truly at The Sierra Nevada last December

Four: The Music

My first year in Spain amounted to the dullest ever in terms of decent, live music on offer. Before leaving the UK, music had been a huge part of my lifestyle. I didn’t play any instruments, but I could often be found flailing around dimly lit, subterranean nightclubs to the sound of thrashing guitars or earsplitting drum and bass, and I also wrote about it when publications were interested.

Here in Granada I have been lucky enough to rediscover the music led lifestyle I left behind in the UK, thanks to clubs like the reggae reverent Booga and the bass buff haven Sala El Tren. I’ve also seen a good amount of cover bands since moving to Granada, the most recent and outright best being a Nirvana tribute band at Plantabaja. They rocked it!

Congo Natty at La Sala El Tren
Congo Natty at La Sala El Tren
Nirvana cover band. It was a blurry night...
Nirvana cover band. It was a blurry night…

The one thing Granada does lack in this category is a major music festival, but it really isn’t that much of a big deal; Sevilla and Murcia are only a couple of hours’ drive away after all…

sos 4.8, murcia, festival, m83, josh taylor
M83 at SOS 4.8 Festival, Murcia – just 2 hours away by car

Five: The Weather

This year has been distinctively wetter and colder than the last, but I believe much of Spain has suffered the same miserable fortune. At one point I began to wonder whether there really was that much of a difference between here and back home. Then it got sunny, and I felt like an idiot.

December through February is tough – especially if you live somewhere where your housemates don’t allow you to use the central heating – but after (what is normally) a brief spell of rain and dreary skies in March, we are swiftly rewarded with months of bold, blue skies and increasingly hot temperatures until around the middle of October. July and August are especially sizzling times of year, and I do not stick around, but May and June are perfect for beach weather, hence my impending trip to Las Negras in Cabo de Gata this coming weekend :) 

piste 2 playa, sierra nevada beach in a day, beach, cantarrijan, roadtrip
Playa de Cantarriján, Provincia de Granada

Special mentions: tapas and the girls

No list of reasons why I’m staying in Granada would be complete without paying justified homage to the city’s unrivalled culinary scene – sorry – free culinary scene. Well, perhaps not everything is free (certainly not in restaurants), but any tapa served in Granada comes gratis with your drink 99% of the time.

Shawarma de pollo y Papa Yunani at the incredible Om Kalsoum, Granada
Shawarma de pollo y Papa Yunani at the incredible Om Kalsoum, Granada

Then there are las señoritas. Meeting girls – Spanish girls – as a young(ish), single, foreign and dare I say dashing fellow has been a subject I have never visited on this here blog of mine. Let’s just say that being king of the intercambios seems to yield various benefits, and I’m not quite ready to give that up either…

The Alhambra Palace, Granada, Spain, winter, sierra nevada
The Alhambra Palace from El Mirador de San Nicolas, Granada

If you’re planning a trip to Granada, head over to It Rains In Spain where you’ll find oodles of handy tips…

Review: Substation’s ‘Terror Bass Planet’

Substation Terror Bass PlanetIf ever the expression ‘it does exactly what it says on the tin’ could be used more fittingly then I’d like to hear some suggestions please.

‘Terror’ and ‘bass’ just about summed up the theme for Wednesday’s proceedings at the festival venue-sized El Embrujo, just outside of Granada. The site was inundated with scarily-clad punters stumbling about the place, as though they were actual zombies as opposed to assumed ones. Some, presumably in observation of traditional Spanish custom (or lack thereof in this instance), didn’t bother with the Halloween pretense, though it has to be said that by the end of the night these cynics blended in with the rest of the crowd quite convincingly.

Musically, this event was always going to be nothing but no nonsense, hold-on-to-your-mate-style, watertight drum and bass, intended to deliver to its zealous revelers several hours of loud and undiluted fun.

And this, unsurprisingly, was exactly what happened. Fun was had by all- certainly by I and my fellow rave-ees in any case. Our only grumble of the night came before we even arrived, owing to the frustratingly slapdash transport system. The shuttle buses provided for the event were, as one would reasonably expect, included in the ticket’s hefty price-tag, but the first hour of our evening was spent shivering under a bridge waiting for a bus that was allegedly just five minutes behind the last one.

Image Image

When we finally did arrive though, the good times came in rolling thick and fast; Congo Natty and MC Tenor Fly had already drawn a sizeable horde and ran riot with expertly fused old-school reggae and knee jerking jungle tracks throughout an impressive set. To follow were equally as polished performances from Million Like Us and Aphrodite, who ensured that the D&B mayhem continued to bash the eardrums of all present.

Congo Natty
Congo Natty a.k.a Rebel MC

Meanwhile, Panacea and Audio cranked up the noise over at the indoor arena with an onslaught of more bass-laden beats to the delight of all those present, but it was undoubtedly headliners Pendulum who stole the show with a markedly professional set capped with a much appreciated rendition of legendary track ‘Tarantula’.

Many a bass-head will tell you that this Aussie outfit sold out on proper D&B a few years back when they took the genre into mainstream territory for the first time, but love em’ or hate em’, they definitely know how to put on a live show.

The event organisers, Substation, can be proud of their first crack at putting on a show on a festival stage, and according to the man at the helm, Lola, we can expect a few more over the year ahead. In the meantime, however, you can catch Lola and his hard-working team at one of Substation’s regular events at Granada’s La Sala El Tren.

Substation Terror Bass Planet