When I first saw cave tours in Granada, I thought it was going to be a walking tour of dirt caves where people hike with lights on their heads and carry pick axes. Okay, I guess that’s not quite feasible for a daily cave tour in a big city, but it’s what first came to mind when I heard “caves.”
Sacromonte Tour: 2 Hours
The Sacromonte tour is the official name of the free walking cave tours in Granada. Sacromonte is one of the city’s cultural gypsy neighborhoods. The gypsies (or Romas, as is now the politically correct term) migrated from India in the 15th century and found tolerance and sanction in the Muslim-occupied lands. Now, 50,000 gypsies call Granada home, most living in the Sacromonte district.
Sacromonte (literally, “sacred mountain”) is home to many of Granada’s typical restaurants, flamenco bars, homes, and the famous cave dwellings. You’ll hike up the mountain visiting lots of interesting spots along the way until you reach the cave houses. Make sure you’re prepared for walking up a mountain; it’s an easy zig-zagging path so it’s not super strenuous but not something you want to do hungover or in the rain!Caves are the only free places to live in Granada, Spain Click To Tweet
The caves are the only free places to live in Granada. They’re not glamorous. In fact, many of them don’t have heat, electricity, or running water. They are literally holes in the side of the mountain to which people added a door and called home.
Why would anyone do this? It’s a free place to live in an expensive, popular city. Many of the people who live in the caves are students at the University of Granada who don’t want to waste money on an expensive apartments, expats who want an alternative experience, gypsies, or hippies who want to commune with nature and live off the land. Plus, the views are pretty spectacular from the top of the mountain. Where else can you look out and see all of Granada and La Alhambra?
From the caves in Granada, you can look out and see the entire city spread out below Click To Tweet
The guide is an expat from England who does the tour in both English and Spanish (he repeats everything he says in both languages). He takes you along the mountain and points out different caves, some of which you would never know people lived in if he didn’t tell you. He’s very knowledgeable and explains what it’s like inside the caves. He even shows you some caves you can rent on Airbnb! The tour passes a cave bar before heading back down to end in the Sacromonte neighborhood overlooking La Alhambra. The tour is free but the guide works on tips (he doesn’t guilt you into tipping him, it’s completely optional). But he’s so entertaining and helpful that you’re going to want to pay him!
Other Free Walking Tours
The tour host moved to Granada from England because it’s an awesome city with lots of culture, free tapas with each drink, and a cool, trendy vibe. He also is an avid snowboarder and is close enough to drop everything and drive the 30 minutes to the nearby Sierra Nevadas on a whim. What cooler job than taking people around to show off his incredible city and get us to love it as much as he does? Well done, sir. Besides the cave tours, He offers two other free tours: a historical city walking tour and an Albaycin district tour.
Historical Tour: 2.5 Hours
The historical tour takes you through the old city of Granada while you learn about ancient legends, funny anecdotes, and historical facts of the old Nasrid Kingdom. The guide paints a picture that brings history to life as you walk through central Granada. This tour also gives you a small taste of the narrow cobblestone alleyways of the Albaycin neighborhood, one of the most multicultural neighborhoods in Spain.
The historical tour starts in the Plaza Nueva and takes you through ancient Arab bath house ruins. You then walk past a monastery where you can buy secret cookies and candy baked by Spanish nuns. Then, you walk up through the narrow streets and into a traditional Moorish house open for visitors to tour. After that, keep walking up through the Albaycin neighborhood to a typical Spanish garden owned and kept up by the University of Granada. Get a glimpse of the cave houses as you walk past some of the gypsies’ most southern cave dwellings and the cave bar (so you know where it is for later that night). Finally, the tour ends at St. Nicholas Plaza where you can get some amazing photos at eye level with La Alhambra.
Albaycin Tour: 2 hours
Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to do the Albaycin tour because it’s offered every other day and I was there on the cave tours day. I got a taste of the Albaycin district during the historical tour, and wow, what a cool neighborhood!The Albaycin neighborhood in Granada is a cool neighborhood to check out Click To Tweet
Here’s what walkingranada.com has to say about this tour.
The Albaycin has retained the charm of the Muslim, Jewish, and Christian people who have lived there over the centuries. Romantic writers and artists have found inspiration in the cobblestone alleyways of the Albaycin. Moorish houses, traditional gardens, old mosques, and arab palaces coexist to give this neighborhood a magical feel. Stroll through artisan shops, Spanish bars, and beautiful architecture. It’s a mysterious area full of character.
Have you been to Granada? Do these free walking tours inspire you to visit? If you’ve been or if you plan to go, let me know what you think in the comments below!
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