Well, there were lots of interesting people around when I visited the mirador (viewpoint) of San Nicholas on a bright, sunny February afternoon. I've not seen so many dreadlocks nor so many dog-on-ropes in one place for quite some time.
San Nicholas is set at the top of the hill on which the ancient Moorish district of Albaicin/Albayzin was constructed. It's an old church, dating back to 1525, and is suffering from its age. A fire in 1932 destroyed its Mudejar wooden ceiling and resulted in its dome collapsing 3 years later. There are problems with damp, and with the foundations, and you cannot now access the nave...you can just look at it from the side.
You can still climb the tower for even better views. I didn't.
There's a small fee for climbing the tower, and any donations you make just for looking at the interior will go towards the church's eventual restoration.
As for the mirador, that's the large square opposite the church which gives you superb views of the Alhambra over the Albaicin rooftops and the intervening chasm of the Darro river valley. It's a very popular spot with visitors, of course, simply because of those views....and that's why you, almost certainly, will encounter the same sundry jewellery-sellers, artists and musicians as I did.
That sunny February mid-week afternoon was all very comfortable and pleasant, with no hassle to buy things and no pressure to make 'financial donations', other than a hat being passed round after a few flamenco songs (which was fair enough....they were quite good). I enjoyed the sunshine and the view, the faint haze of spliffs, the toddlers and new babies being shown off and the dogs allowed to wander and play at will. Whether that same atmosphere prevails in high season, or after dark, I cannot say.
You can get an idea of the superb views and the atmosphere (complete with flamenco accompaniment by the local buskers) from my short video here (available from 31st May).
It's definitely worth making the effort to climb up through the stepped alleyways and narrow, steep streets to reach the mirador. Or you can take the easier way and catch minibus 31 from outside the Cathedral on Gran Via de Colon. The bus doesn't pass through Plaza San Nicolas but it will drop you off fairly nearby.
This square on top of the Albaicin is probably the most typical spot to have a good view of the Alhambra, as it's located on a hill in front of the Palace. To get there just keep going up from the Darro river through the laberynthical alleys of the Albaycin.
The Plaza de San Nicolas is situated in Granada Old Town, known as the Albaicin.
It is possible to walk to it form the centre of the town, if you're the energetic type.
Alternatively, you can catch one of the little transit-style buses that rattle through the old town's narrow cobbled streets.
The plaza has a wonderful view back to the Alhambra Palace, with the Sierra Nevada mountains in the background.
There are also a number of bars and restaurants in the vicinity if you feel in need of refreshment.
When we were there there were musicians playing Spanish guitar which added to the atmosphere.
There'll be plenty of other tourists there with you, but it is well worth the effort as you don't get that view from anywhere else.
One of the best views of the Alhambra is from the well known lookout point called Mirador de San Nicolas in the Albaicin district of Granada.
The views from this mirador are good all throughout the day, but especially at sunset. The mirador stands opposite the Alhambra on a hill in Albaicin, and also offers good view over the rest of the city and of the Sierra Nevada mountains (when they're not covered by cloud).
There are numerous routes to the mirador from Albaicin though it can be difficult to find without a map as the streets in the Albaicin are narrow and winding.
The mirador is always busy, as it's a well known spot, and there is often music from local groups to accompany the fine views.
Another good lookout point over Granada and the Albayzin district is the Mirador de San Nicolas which means ‘viewpoint of the Great St Nicolas”. From here you will be able to see the Alhambra and the Church of Santa Maria, the Tower of Coseas just amongst a few notable sights. You can visit Mon-Fri 9.30am-7.00pm and Sat 10.00-2.00pm.
One of the best views of Alhambra and la Sierra Nevada can be found at Mirador de San Nicolás. It is located at Plaza de San Nicolás, one of the highest points in Albaicín. A visit to this plaza is worthwhile, not only for the breathtaking views, but also for the lively local scene. When I visited in February 2005, a group of gypsies were singing and playing la guitarra, and a Maghrebine calligraphist sold framed Arab proverbs inscribed in amazing artistic Arabic calligraphy. For a small fee, he would inscribe people's names in the most beautiful Arabic script (see photo of calligraphist). I found Mirador de San Nicolás to be one of the most fascinating places in Granada. I filmed a short video during my visit - click on Mirador de San Nicolás to view it.
Situated on top of the albaicin el mirador de san nicolas is a balcony where you can enjoy the best sight of la Alhambra, Granada and the best dusk.
Situado en la parte de arriba del albaicín, desde el mirador de san nicolás se pueden conseguir las mejores vistas de la Alhambra, Granada y el mejor atardecer.
This is the recommended spot to see the sunset over the Alhambra, It's also recommended to keep your valuables hidden, as it's allegedly a prime pick- pocketing site.
Well, I arrived here early afternoon, and there was no-one else here- So I was half expecting to be jumped on by hidden nee'r do wells!
Luckily I had an undisturbed time viewing The Alhambra from this vantage point.
I took a few pics, had a wander around the streets and squares of Albaicin, then returned here about an hour later. I found an assembled gathering of tourists taking pics of the Alhambra, plus a small group of 'the great unwashed' gathered around a loppy looking guitarist, who proceeded to wail something which I guess was supposed to be a variation on a flamenco lament, with an accompaniment of a few half hearted strums of his guitar- his glassy eyed mates were far more impressed than I was!
The 16th century Church of San Nicholas stands at the back of the mirador. This church, like many others, was set on fire during the Spanish Civil war, as the impoverished inhabitants of Albaicin supported the Republicans, who rose against Franco.
The Granada tour (mini bus) stops near here, as do the 'donkey buses'
This viewpoint in the Albaicin is a perfect place for a picture of the Alhambra and the Sierra Nevada, with its open view east. The only problem is that there is a lot of people trying to sell the same bad souvenirs. With so many tourists and vendors, it’s hard to appreciate the great view you get.
I couldn't tell you how to get here as a friend led me to it, but please make the trek up to Mirador San Nicolas. The view of the Alhambra and the city is amazing, especially at night. However, the best part of my experience here was the group of gypsys singing traditional songs and playing guitar. Really, I haven't heard anything as good and heartfelt in such a long time and they were really just doing it for the enjoyment of it and for the tradition. Beats Fado in a restaurant or Flamenco on a stage any day!
If you're in Granada, you have to go to the Mirador de San Nicolas.
You can go there any time of the day, but specially on sunset. There are people playing music, selling hippies things and having fun.
Everybody goes there to see the sunset, and so the most pleasant thing to do is to get yourself a bottle of beer before you get there (for about $1) and drink beer watching the Allambra. It gets amazingly beautiful at night. You can go with your friends (I was travelling by myself and met lots of people at the hostel Oasis) and just enjoy the moment.
For the best view of the Alhambra you must go to Plaza de San Nicolas. You can sit and enjoy the view from the small stone wall or enjoy a cafe or beer at the small bar at the edge of the cliff. Go during the late afternoon to see the view during the day, then stay until sunset to see it change to night. The Alhambra is lit once it's dark creating something magical.