MIRADOR DE SAN NICOLAS

Granada
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Why visit the Mirador de San Nicolas?

Granada is a city full of lookouts with breathtaking views. But the Mirador de San Nicolas, located in the Moorish Albaicin neighborhood, enjoys the unrefuted best views. From this lookout you can see the many palaces of the Alhambra extending across the cliffside with the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the background. The most popular time to visit is right at sunset, when the warm light beams onto the Alhambra’s red bricks, causing it to glow. Some say it is one of the best sunsets in Spain. Visiting the Mirador de San Nicolas is for sure, one of the best things to do in Granada.

San Nicolas Square in Granada's Albaicin Quarter, Andalusia – Spain
San Nicolas Square

Every evening around sunset, a crowd gathers in the San Nicolas square to witness an unforgettable sunset. When the warm rays of light splash off the Alhambra’s facade, you will understand why Alhambra in Arabic means “red castle.” Even Bill Clinton, when visiting Granada, stated that this was “the most beautiful sunset in the world.” (or did he? see the full story below)

With such amazing views, Mirador de San Nicolas can get pretty packed. You will find tourists, locals, hippies and gypsies all in this one spot. The atmosphere is lively but relaxed at the same time. There are plenty of vendors selling crafts and improvised flamenco performances to keep you entertained while you wait for the sun to set. There are also musicians strumming their guitars and painters attempting to immortalize the view with each brushstroke.

The lookout is named after the San Nicolas church that is located in the same square. It was first built in 1525 on top of a mosque. It has since been destroyed and rebuilt several times. But the original bell tower has survived. It’s possible to pay a few euros to climb to the top where you can enjoy views that are even a little bit better than down below in the square.

Did Bill Clinton really even visit San Nicolas?

Bill Clinton is often quoted as saying that the Mirador de San Nicolas has “the most beautiful sunset in the world.” But did he really? Well, yes and no. The quote is accurate, however, the White House confirmed that Clinton had never actually been to San Nicolas.

The full story started back when Bill Clinton traveled to Granada as a student. Fast forward to 1997 when he had just finished attending a Nato Summit and wanted to take Hillary and Chelsea to see the Alhambra and a special lookout. But instead of visiting San Nicolas, the president actually went to the nearby Mirador de San Cristobal. It is here that the quote is attributed. He later told reporters, “it was the same time in the evening, the same light, the same colors. Everything is the same, exactly as I remember it.”

Gorgeous Alhambra views from the San Nicolas lookout in Granada's Albaicin – Andalusia
Gorgeous Alhambra Views from the San Nicolas lookout

So why the confusion? Well, it seems the mayor of Granada wanted to capitalize on Clinton’s love for the city and thought it would be good for tourism. He secretly placed a monument to Clinton with the quote at the Mirador de San Nicolas. The monument with the (incorrect) inscription of “Willian B. Clinton” stirred up quite a controversy in the Albaicin. It was vandalized and removed shortly after.

The truth is, there are plenty of great lookouts in Granada. If you want to have the best views of the Alhambra then we think San Nicolas is the best. Since the Alhambra faces south, you will not actually see the sun go down. But instead the setting sun illuminates the sky and the palaces.

However, if you want to see the actual sun set and look out over the rest of Granada, then the nearby San Cristobal lookout is fantastic. You can only see a small portion of the Alhambra from this lookout but you get to see a large section of the Albaicin’s 11th century city wall.

Both viewpoints are amazing in their own right and both are worth a visit.

How to get to Mirador de San Nicolas

For the most part, getting around Granada on foot is quite easy. However, the Albaicin neighborhood is one of the exceptions. It sits on a steep hillside in front of the Alhambra and the Mirador de San Nicolas is located high up on that hill. If you have limited mobility (or have already done a lot of walking exploring the Alhambra), you might want to arrive to San Nicolas with the least amount of effort.

Mirador de San Nicolas seen from the Alhambra – Granada, Spain
Mirador de San Nicolas seen from the Alhambra

GET TO THE SAN NICOLAS LOOKOUT BY BUS

Of course, taking a taxi is always a very comfortable option. But luckily, there are 2 city bus lines that stop right next to San Nicolas. Those are the minibus lines C31 Albaicín - Centro and C32 Alhambra - Albaicín. They both stop at Plaza Nueva as well as along the Carrera del Darro and its continuation, the Paseo del Padre Manjón.

During the day, there is approximately one bus every 5 to 10 minutes. However, it depends on the exact day of the week (less frequency during the weekend) and time of the day. One ticket costs 1.40€.

Although the minibus line C34 Sacromonte - Centro doesn’t stop right next to the San Nicolas lookout, it might be convenient if you are coming from the Sacromonte. The closest stop is located at Cuesta del Chapiz 60, which is a (fairly flat) 5-minute walk away from San Nicolas.

Also, note that those three bus lines are run by microbuses with a maximum capacity of 20 people. Therefore, during peak season, it might happen that the first bus you see fills before you get in. But since buses are so frequent, this shouldn’t be a big issue.

From San Nicolas, it is a good idea to explore a little further uphill and make your way around the Plaza Larga. This is one of the prettiest areas of the Albaicin. From there, you can go back to the bus stop and ride down, or better yet, continue exploring and making your way down on foot.

Restaurants around Mirador de San Nicolas

Restaurant El Trillo near the Mirador de San Nicolas in Granada, Spain
Restaurant El Trillo

It is true, there are several restaurants around the Mirador de San Nicolas that have incredible views. It would really be hard to find other restaurants in the world with such views. But – and this is a big but – most of the food served in these restaurants is expensive and not the best quality.

If you are still set on having views of the Alhambra while eating, then the only place we can comfortably recommend is a 5 minute walk downhill from San Nicolas. El Trillo Restaurante has a lovely patio that does have some nice views to the Alhambra. And while it is still not the cheapest restaurant, you do get very high quality dishes.

For more of our restaurant and bar recommendations, check out our complete restaurants in Granada guide.

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