Things to do in Granada, Spain
Are you looking for things to do in Granada? This beautiful Spanish City in the region of Andalucia attracts visitors from around the world to witness its massive Alhambra. Alhambra is not only the biggest attraction in Granada, but it’s also one in the most popular tourist attractions in the entire country.
But what else is there to do in Granada? It turns out there is quite a lot. So, if you are planning a trip to the south of Spain make sure to spend more than one day in this old Moorish City. Granada, Spain is not to be confused with Grenada, in the Caribbean, which is beautiful as well!
Best Things to do in Granada, Spain
When you visit Granada, we recommend spending three days to really experience all the top Granada attractions. Alhambra alone takes one day to explore its massive grounds, so you will want another two days to peruse its magnificent, architecture, lively walking streets, and beautiful lookouts.
Planning a trip to Granada? Get this Granada Tour and Pass that includes entrance to Alhambra including a tour and entrance to 10 top Granada attractions. Beside’s Alhambra, you’ll have entrance to the Granada Cathedral, Royal Chapel, Cartuja Monastery, San Jerónimo Monastery, Science Park Museum, Zafra’s House, Cuarto Real, Sacromonte Abbey, Casa de Los Tiros Museum, Museum of Fine Arts and Archaeological Museum. Including transport! See details here
Alhambra is known as the crown jewel of Islamic Spain and it is easy to understand why. Standing proud overlooking Granada with beautiful views of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, it is easy to spend several hours enjoying the beauty of this massive complex.
This guided tour takes you through Alhambra to learn of its importance in Spanish history combining both Christian and Islamic influence. You see the Gate of Pomegranates, Pillar of Charles V fountain, and the Alcazaba fortress. Youll also visit the Nasrid Palaces, and Generalife, the summer palace and one of the oldest surviving gardens of the Moors.
Alhambra was the residence of Moorish rulers in the 13th century and this large palace was the last Moorish Stronghold in Europe, and thankfully it is well preserved today. We took a guided tour through Alhambra, and it really is needed to truly understand the history and story of this iconic complex.
After Spain conquered the moors, Alhambra became the Royal Court for catholic monarchs, Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand II.
Dating back to the 1200s, Alhambra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site offering a mix of sightseeing experiences including walking through the royal chambers, its sprawling gardens, and the castle complex giving a glimpse into the lives of Moorish civilization.
The Nasrid Palaces
The Nasrid Palaces was the palace of the sultan and are beyond impressive.
Tips: To visit Alhambra’s Nasrid Palaces a thirty-minute time slot is required. Try to book the first entry to avoid crowds. The light is best in the mornings and the weather is the coolest. Get your Fast Track Ticket here
The Morrish Castle is awe-inspiring with marble walls and intricate designs. Get your Alhambra and Nasrid Palace tickets in advance.
One could say that the gardens of Alhambra are worth visiting on their own and could use an entire other day. We feel the same way. These beautifully manicured gardens were the star attraction of Alhambra for us.
This fast-track ticket lets you avoid the long lines for access to Nasrid Palaces, the Generalife Gardens, the Palace of Charles V, and the Mosque Baths as well. Easy cancellation with a full refund within 24 hours.
This area was the former summer residence of the Sultans. I couldn’t help but snicker a bit when thinking that they packed everything up just to go across a field for their summer residence, but it is worlds away. We could get lost among its fountains and shaded walkways.
The views of the city and the nearby Sierra Nevada mountains are breathtaking from here. You just need to fight your way through the crowds to see it! But if you take a second day to enjoy the gardens, you can go early in the morning to avoid the larger crowds.
Hot Tip: if you love gardens and want to see some free gardens in the city, Carmen de los Martires is a palace with vast gardens including a British Garden, French Garden, and Palmeras Garden. There are high hedges and even medieval ruins making for a great escape from the heat of the city.
The Alcazaba is another portion of Alhambra to explore. It is the oldest part of the Alhambra complex dating back to the 9th century.
This was a fortress with several towers to explore. If you want to visit Alhambra independently, we suggest getting this audio guide including the entrance to explore at your own pace. You can still learn about its origon as the palace of the Sultan of Granada to being the Royal Court of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.
Parador de Granada Terrace
When you need a break from walking the sprawling Alhambra, make your way to the Parador de Granada hotel terrace for drinks on the terrace. It is a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle with shaded trees, misty water fountains, and fantastic views.
We had the opportunity to eat in its dining room and take a walk through its main areas. There is a lovely chapel inside where a wedding was taking place during the time of our visit.
You must not miss going into the Arab baths when you visit Granada. We went to the Hammam Al Ándalus for a glorious evening in the Arab Baths. What made this experience so unique was that our reservation wasn’t until 10 pm. Even as we were coming out, others were coming in! That’s the way things go in Granada, people are out all night long. See their website for details.
There are different hot pools of varying temperatures and there is a steam room. We also chose the optional massage. It was only 15 minutes long, but it was a nice bit of pampering after a long day of walking.
You can make a reservation in advance for Granada’s Hammam Al Ándalus. This gives you a 1.5-hour session in the traditional Arab baths and steam rooms. The business is not that old but it feels like you have stepped back in time to experience an authentic Arab bath complete with mint tea and the herbs and spices of your choice for your massage.
If you want to visit authentic baths, El Bañuelo is the best preserved Arab bath in the entire country. They are now protected as a national monument and you can book private tours to see one of the more interesting places in Granada.
This guided tour is a great option to immerse in Islamic Granada. It goes through the Albaicin Quarter taking you to the best viewpoint and monuments including the public baths of El Bañuelo
Flamenco Show in Sacromonte
We have always wanted to see a flamenco show in Spain and when visiting Granada, the birthplace of Flamenco, we had the chance to see the most authentic flamenco show you can get! Flamenco performances include dinner in a cave restaurant located in the Sacromonte District of Granada. Before the show, we enjoyed traditional food and wine followed by a Flamenco performance in the stage room.
This felt like the way the gypsies must have danced years ago. The space was small and dark and dancers showed off their skills on the floor just steps from our seats.
We watched our Flamenco performance at Cueva la Rocío, The show was Zambra flamenca that is directed by the Maya Family of Granada , a gypsy family with a great tradition and the cradle of great artists in the flamenco world.
You can also Book tickets in advance to make sure you don’t miss this traditional experience. The performance takes places in one of Sacromonte’s cave homes that have been continuously inhabited since the 15th century. Your ticket includes one free drink and you can order more drinks at the bar or add on a traditional Spanish meal.
Cave Houses of Sacromonte
To learn more about the local culture and history. Taking a stroll along the Camino del Sacromonte Sacromonte to see the traditional cave houses is a wonderful experience. This is the main street in Sacromonte where you’ll find many tourist-friendly cave dwellings, restaurants, and shows. If you walk up a little higher to Vereda de Enmedio, you may find a more authentic feel.
The best way to do this is to get a ticket to the Sacromonte Caves Museum Admission Ticket. At the Museo Cuevas del Sacromonte, you’ll visit 11 caves to learn about the history and culture of the Sacromonte District inside these traditionally furnished cave dwellings. You’ll not only see traditional crafts and gardens, but you also learn more about the history of Flamenco in the Sacromonte District.
If you continue up Camino del Sacromonte you will come to the Sacromonte Abbey which houses a 17th-century Abbey and Seminary and an 18th-century college. Inside there is an entrance to several caves inside the hill and this abbey hill also has breathtaking views of Alhambra.
Mirador de San Nicolás
No trip to Granada would be complete without going to Mirador de San Nicolás for the best view of Granada and Alhambra. Located at the top of the Albayzín Neighborhood in the Plaza De San Nicolas, the Mirador de San Nicolás offers the perfect view of Granada.
It is the perfect place to relax after you’ve finished your walk uphill. The Plaza de San Nicolas is filled with crowds as street performers and artists entertain the tourists enjoying the view. There is a lively vibe at this picturesque location as you watch the sunset over the Sierra Nevada range and Alhambra.
We took a Sunset walking tour through the Albaicín & Sacromonte neighborhoods of Granada. The Albaicin is a UNESCO Heritage listed for its more than 3000 caves and traditional Roma (gypsy) culture. This tour also takes you through Plaza Nueva, Placeta de San Gregorio, and Casa Enrique Morente
Granada was built to see Alhambra and there are several viewpoints to take in the views of the palace complex and gardens. Other miradors that are recommended are Mirador de Los Carvajales, Mirador de San Cristóbal at San Cristóbal Church, San Miguel Alto, and Mirador Placeta de Carvajales. See map for details.
Albaicin Neighborhood – The Arab Quarter
The Albaicin (Arab Quarter) is located in the historical center taking you back to the time when Granada when Moorish rulers were the head of the lands. The Albaycin is the old Arab Quarter and is a wonderful place to take a stroll through the streets in the late afternoon.
This beautiful district built on a steep hill filled with winding narrow streets and whitewashed houses. It is a bit of a steep walk, but it is worth it as you go through streets that feel like old bazaars, and lively areas that have a bohemian vibe. A walk through the Albcaicin leads up to the Mirador de San Nicolás where you’ll also see Iglesia de San Nicolas.
Some highlights of this district include, San Nicolas Church, Corral del Carbon and Dar al Horra Palace.
Plaza Nueva is the oldest square in Granada and sits between the Historical Center and the New city center. This is where many walking tours begin and there are plenty of restaurants and patios lining the square. Plaza Nueva is a great place to make your way to when you first arrive to start exploring. From here, you can walk to many of the top attractions in Granada.
Take a Walk along Paseo De Los Tristes
Paseo de Los Tristes got its name from the funeral processions that used to pass along this street. Most walking tours will begin at Plaza Nueva and walk through Carrera del Darro to Paseo de Los Tristes.
From here you can continue up toward the El Albaicin District or Alhambra. This is a short street, but it has a rich history and it was once the busiest street in Granada with festivals and street parties.
Hop on Hop Off Bus Tour
Whenever we get to a new city, we love to book a walking tour or bus tour. A Hop on Hop off Tour is an excellent way to get acquainted with a city.
With this full-day ticket, you will hop on or off at ay stops including Alhambra, Albaicin, the Realejo district or the Mirador de San Nicolas. We walked all the way up here, but were surprised to see that bus tours made it here. If you aren’t up for the walk, we highly suggest it.
Stroll along Carrera del Darro
If you are looking for romantic things to do in Granada, take a stroll with your loved one along Carrera del Darro. Located on the left bank of the River Darro, Carrera del Darro is a district along the river.
Here you’ll find traditional Arab-style houses and 16th-century buildings. Plus, there are two picturesque stone bridges dating back to the 17th century. Plus, from Carrera del Darro, you Alhambra and Mirador de San Nicolas.
plaza bib Rambla
Plaza Bib Rambla is the main shopping district of Granada and the main square. It is a lively square with plenty of outdoor terraces to enjoy tapas and street performers and vendors.
Several streets branch out from here including the Arab market. An interesting fact is that this plaza was used during the Spanish inquisition to burn witches at the stake. Thankfully today it is used for more festive occasions.
A true gem of our Granada visit was going to the rooftop of the Granada Cathedral after a tour of the Royal Chapel. The Granada Cathedral was built on the grounds of a mosque under the orders of Queen Isabella and today is the second largest cathedral in Spain.
While it was ordered to be created by the Catholic Monarchs, neither Queen Isabella nor King Ferdinand saw its completion. Diego de Siloé
It consists of four buildings, The Royal Chapel, the Lonja and the Iglesia del Sagrario The Granada Cathedral took 181 years to be built thus explaining how its foundation is in the Gothic style while the rest is Spanish Renaissance. Enrique Egas started work on the cathedral in 1518 and Diego de Siloé replaced him in 1529 putting four decades of his life into its work.
Make sure to go inside to see its sculptures and paintings, stained glass windows, and its different chapels.
The Royal Chapel was built before the Cathedral between 1505 and 1517 by Queen Isabella. She signed the orders to have the Royal Chapel built to be the resting place of Catholic kings and queens. The Royal Chapel houses not only King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella but the Catholic Monarchs, Joanna of Castile and Phillip the Handsome.
It is surrounded by the Granada Cathedral, Madraza Palace, and the Church of Sagrario. When it was first constructed it was connected to the Granada Cathedral.
Granada Cathedral Rooftop
The rooftop of the Granada Cathedral has some of the best views of the city. Going up its narrow spiral staircase was an adventure unto itself, but then being able to walk along the narrow paths on the side of the building really took our breath away.
We went to the rooftop on a press trip after TBEX, a travel blogging conference in Marbella and I cannot for the life of me find if the general public can go up on the rooftop. If you can, I highly recommend it.
Granada Science Park
If you are looking for things to do in Granada with kids, a trip to the Granada Science Museum is a fun interactive experience. It explores astronomy, gravity, and a Journey into the Human Body. There’s a planetarium, botanical garden, a biosphere room, and the observation tower has some of the best views in the city.
This is a massive complex that is actually the most visited museum in all of Andalucia. Permanent collections include Foucault’s Pendulum Building, Scientific and technological heritage, Macroscope Building and Raptors in Flight and the Tropical butterfly exhibit. We didn’t make it to this museum, but after doing more research, I really want to go!
A guided tour to the Cathedral and Royal Chapel is highly recommended. It is a large complex with an interesting history as the chapel was built upon a mosque and offers insight into Christian history in Granada. This tour also includes a visit to the Arabic Baths, El Bañuelo dating back to the 11 century and it ends at La Madraza, the first university in Granada.
San Jeronimo Monastery
After Spain gained control of Granada the San Jeronimo Monastery was the first monastery built under Christian rule. If you are spending a few days in Granada, you may want to check this monastery out.
This tour meets at Plaza de Bib Rambla and takes you on a combined tour of three interesting places including the cathedral, royal chapel and the San Jeronimo Monastery. Each location played an important roll in Christianity in Granada where they were all built after the conquest of the city representing changes in Granada’s history.
Enjoy a Free Tapa with Cocktails
One of our favorite things about visiting Spain is heading into one of the many tapas bars and enjoying the free tapas. Granada stays true to form with plenty of tapas bars to choose from.
In Granada, Ir de Tapas is a way of life as locals go for a drink and a snack. If you order a cocktail, you will receive a free tapa. This is a great way to enjoy appetizers before dinner as you enjoy a glass of sparkling wine, Apero Spritz, or local rum on a patio. Bar la Buena Vida is a popular place for tapas.
Wander Through La Alcaiceria Market
Who doesn’t love shopping when they travel? La Alcaiceria Market is open daily and was once Granada’s Grand Bazaar. When you leave the Grand Cathedral of Granada, it is just a hop skip, and jump to La Alcairceria Market.
The stores located along the narrow streets remind you of the Souks in Turkey or Morroco. What was once the silk and spice market is today a great place to buy a souvenir in Granada. It definitely has a middle east flare with colorful clothes, handbags and scarves for sale.
Basilica San Juan de Dios
If you haven’t had your fill of religion yet, another place to visit in Granada is the Basilica San Juan de Dios. It houses the tomb of St. John of God, the Patron Saint of the Sick. The small chapel behind his tomb even houses small personal items of the saint. It is a large Baroque-style church and is one of the most important examples of Baroque architecture in the city.
Where to Stay in Granada
We stayed at the Eurostar Puerta Real Hotel and it was an excellent location. There was a fantastic rooftop bar, rooms were chic and modern and its central location was within walking distance of all of Granada’s top attractions. We suggest staying in the city center. Check prices on Booking.com and Reviews on TripAdvisor
Alhambra Palace Hotel – Alhambra Palace Hotel is a luxury hotel that has been in operation since 1910. The Alhambra Palace Hotel terrace is a great place to have a cocktail and enjoy sunset. See reviews on TripAdvisor and check prices on Booking.com
How to Get to Granada
Granada is the capital city of the Province of Granada in the Andalusia region of Spain. Located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Granada may be in the south of Spain, but in the winter it is home to Europe’s most southern ski resort.
- You can fly direct to Granada to Federico García Lorca Granada-Jaén Airport.
- Trains take you to Granada station in downtown Granada and you can easily drive to Granada.
- We rented a car to explore more of the region of Andalusia and Costa del Sol during our trip to Granada and found it to be affordable and easy to navigate. Check car rental comparisons here
When to visit Granada
The best time to visit Granada is May and June and September and October. These months are still not too hot and crowds will be a little less.
That said, we visited in June and it was already a major heat wave.
Granada can be very hot in the summertime. It was 40 degrees Celcius in the evening when we visited in June. Drink plenty of water and try to visit attractions in the morning or in the evening. There is a reason that there is a siesta in Spain. In mid day you really don’t want to be out sightseeing.
We asked our guide how Granada was in Winter and although it is cold, it could be a very nice time to visit to avoid the crowds and to see a different side of the city. Plus, there is a nearby ski resort in the Sierra Nevada.
Day Trips from Granada
Bordering Granada is the coastal region of Costa del Sol and there is plenty of beach life to be had. Granada is an amazing city, but when visiting the South of Spain, you are going to want some beach life.
If you aren’t up for driving, you can also book this highly rated tour to see the 4 cities of Andalusia from Madrid. It takes you from Madrid to Cordoba, Seville, Toledo, and Granada, Spain.
Kayaking and Beach day in Almuñecar
We took an incredible in the seaside community of Almuñecar. The kayaking tour took us out to beautiful sea cliffs and sea caves along the coast. We stopped to do some snorkeling and swimming on the beach.
This is an excellent beachside resort town with plenty of water sports and activities. Lunch was had at El Chambao de Joaquín. It was just one of many seaside outdoor restaurants with beautiful beach views.
Sierra Nevada Mountains
If you want to enjoy some of the best views of the city, you will want to take a drive to enjoy some of its viewpoints. This highly rated tour takes you on a 4X4 Safari from the Granada city center to the peaks of the nearby mountains.
This trail dates back to the time of Moorish rule where you’ll enjoy an elevation gain of 2500 meters. (8000 feet) offering views of the Iberian Peninsula. You’ll then drive to the Sierra de Huétor Natural Park before endign at an Andalusian restaurant.
Sierra Nevada NP
Another way to enjoy the Sierra Nevada mountains is to book this e-biking trip. We love e-biking, especially when going into the mountains, it makes uphill climbs a cinch.
This ebiking tour takes you into the Sierra Nevada National Park for views of the second-highest mountain range in Europe! Mulhacén peak reaches 3,482 meters (11,423 feet) above sea level. It’s then a downhill ride through white traditional villages and an ancient forest as you keep an eye out for wildlife.
Caminito del Ray
One of the more exciting day trips from Granada is the Caminito del Ray Day Trip. Located 50 km from Granada, this was once one of the most dangerous hikes in Europe.
Today it is safe and exciting, This guided tour takes you along a path clinging to the side of a cliff dangling 100 meters (330 feet) above the reservoir below. You’ll walk 5 kilometers along this elevated walkway to enjoy some of the most beautiful views in Andalusia.
Map of Granada Attractions
Follow along with this map of the best things to do in Granada. It is mapped out in order of districts and neighborhoods so you can easily walk from one Granada attraction to another.
And there you have it, everything you need to know to add to your Granada bucket list. Have you been to Granada? Would you like to witness the majesty of Alhambra? What are you waiting for, get yourself to Andalusia today!
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