things to do in Granada

The best things to do in Granada

One of our favourite Spanish cities that we’ve visited (so far), Granada is located in the Andalusia region, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Granada is best known for it’s amazing Moorish architecture dating back to the Moorish occupation, especially the famous Alhambra Palace. There are so many fantastic tourist attractions in Granada if you have an interest in history, culture and architecture.

We first visited in around 2007, and again in 2021, and each time we have found so many great things to do in Granada.

Is Granada worth visiting?

If you hadn’t already guessed from my first paragraph, yes Granada is a must-visit! You’ll be in awe of the amazing Moorish architecture all over the city, will enjoy learning about the rich history of Granada, and marvel at the beautiful views from the city’s most popular viewpoints. From the history and architecture, to the tapas and entertainment, you won’t have time to get bored in Granada.

And although it’s the first place everyone mentions, don’t worry there are plenty of things to do in Granada besides the Alhambra!

Where is Granada?

Granada is a province in the autonomous community of Andalusia, in southern Spain, on the Mediterranean coast. Granada Province includes the towns of Guadix, Loja, Baza, and of course Granada city, the capital of the province. Granada Coast is part of the Costa del Sol and includes the beach resorts of Motril, Salobreña, and Almuñécar. Granada City is located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, a national park.

The most well known cities nearby are Malaga (126km), Almeria (156 km) and Cordoba (172km).

Is there an airport near Granada?

The nearest airport to Granada city is Granada-Jaén, apparoximately 19km from the city centre. The easiest way to get from Granada airport to Granada city centre is to hire an airport taxi which takes approximately 20 minutes and costs around €35. There is a bus available from Granada airport to Granada at a much cheaper price of €4 but it takes around 45 minutes to reach the centre of the city.

For cheap flights to Granada you can also fly into Malaga Airport which is approximately 135km from Granada city centre. The ALSA bus goes from Aeropuerto Malaga to Granada hourly, tickets cost between €19 – €29 and the journey takes 2h15m. You can also get from Malaga to Granada by train.

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How many days to spend in Granada?

If you’re planning a trip to Granada, we’d recommend a stay of 2-3 days minimum as there is just so much to do. If you spend 2 days in Granada Spain you can fit in most of the city’s top attractions, and if you are spending 3 days in Granada you’ll also be able to fit in some of the best places to visit just outside of the city centre. If you’re only spending a day in Granada, you’ll still have time to see the best sights in Granada.

Five interesting facts about Granada, Spain

  • Granada was a Muslim Kingdom for 800 years, which is the longest Muslim rule in Spain.
  • The Alhambra Palaces were constructed in the 13th century and were built to resemble a ‘paradise on earth’ .
  • The symbol of the city of Granada is the pomegranate – in fact “granada” in Spanish means “pomegranate”.
  • There are many hidden gardens throughout the city of Granada.
  • Granada is home to the oldest university in Spain, The University of Granada, which was founded in 1531.

Ready to book your holiday to Granada?

If you’re ready to starting booking your Granada holiday, these links may help…

  • Find great value flights and accommodation at Expedia
  • Search for transport options at Omio
  • Check hotel reviews at TripAdvisor
  • Book your tours and excursions at GetYourGuide
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If you are interested in Spanish cities with lots of history and culture, then Granada could be the place for you. Take a look below at our list of things to do in Granada plus some suggestions of places to stay.

What to see in Granada, Spain…

Visit the Alhambra

We have to start with the Alhambra as you simply can’t visit Granada and not go to one of the most popular tourist attractions in Spain. If you only have 24 hours in Granada, make sure the Alhambra is at the top of your list!

The Alhambra palace and fortress sits high up on the hilltop, overlooking the city and the River Darro, so you literally can’t miss it. Building started in 1238 and was further developed in the centuries that followed by both the Moors and the Christians.

With stunning frescoes, decorated arches and columns, and ornamented walls, there is so much to see that you need to allow yourself at least half a day to get around.

The Alhambra is a walled citadel made up of several palaces, as well as gardens, mosques, baths, pavillions, forts, and barracks, all surrounded by an impressive wall.

As well as the amazing architecture and beautiful gardens, you have amazing views across the city and mountains that are well worth checking out.

You can either book a guided tour or just walk around by yourself. Make sure you buy the tickets online in advance, and book a ticket that covers all areas of the Alhambra. You can walk up to the Alhambra from the city centre but it is very steep so you may prefer to catch a bus from the Plaza Nueva.

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Walk around the Carmen de los Martires gardens

Next on the list of things to see in Granada is Carmen de los Martires (Carmen of the martyrs), a beautiful palace and gardens located in the surroundings of the Alhambra. If you have time before or after your visit to Alhambra, these gardens are definitely worth a visit.

Originally built as a Catholic church and convent in the 19th century, it was later turned into a palace with extensive gardens before being given to the city of Granada. Here you will find a French Baroque garden with large pond and statue of Neptune; an English-style garden with three-tier fountain, hedges and palm trees; a Lake with a stone jetty with fake medieval ruins; the Nasrid Patio which imitates the typical elements of Nasrid gardens; and the wood-maze that joins up the gardens.

If you’re looking for free things to do in Granada you’ll be pleased to know that Carmen de los Matires gardens are free to enter and open from April – October.

Explore the Albaicín

Another of Granada’s must see places is the Albaicín disctrict. The Albaicín is Granada’s oldest Arab neighbourhood, and is situated on the hill directly across from the Alhambra. The district is a maze of narrow, cobbled streets, with whitewashed buildings and busy plazas. The mosques in Albaicín were torn down and replaced by churches in the 15th century but there is still a very Moorish feel with lots of Arab tearooms as well as Arab baths.

To explore this neighbourhood in more detail, you can book onto a Free Tour of the Albaicín with an expert local guide.

When visiting Albaicín you must stop at the Mirador de San Nicolas (viewpoint) where you’ll have fantastic views of the Alambra directly in front of you, as well as the city and Sierra Nevada. One of the best things to do in Granada at night is to stop by the Mirador de San Nicolas at sunset to see the sun go down and the lights come on at the Alhambra.

You can walk up to Albaicín from the city centre by walking up any of the narrow streets that run alongside the River Darro.

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Book onto a tour of Granada

A really great way to explore more of Granada and to learn about the history and culture is to book onto a tour of Granada with a local guide.

A fun tour as well as one of the more unusual things to do in Granada is this Segway Tour of Granada which takes you through the squares and alleyways of the city.

One way to see more of the city that’s also a fun activity for families in Granada is to jump on the Granada Tourist Train for a tour around the historic neighbourhoods of Albaicín and Realejo.

For free things to do in Granada you shouldn’t miss this Free Walking Tour of Granada with a local expert who will take you on an informative 2 hour tour of the city.

Experience gypsy life at the Sacromonte Caves

A must visit and one of the top things to do in Granada is to pay a visit to the Sacromonte Caves just outside the city centre. The cave houses of Sacromonte are where the gypsies of Granada lived in the 18th century, and are grouped around ravines that form the streets.

Many of the caves have been turned into bars and restaurants, as well as some homes that allow tourists in to see what life in a gypsy cave house is like. A must see in Granada is one of the traditional flamenco shows with dinner in one of the cave restaurants at Sacromonte.

As with most places in Granada city you will also have spectacular views of both the Alhambra and the mountains from here.

You can walk from the city along the River Darro to Sacromonte, but we’d recommend jumping on a bus from the Plaza Nueva.

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Eat tapas and watch the world go by

Granada is one of the best places to eat tapas, mainly because they’re free! For every drink you order you’ll be brought a portion of tapas, so take advantage of trying lots of different Spanish dishes.

There are so many bars to choose from, and your best bet is to head to one of the bustling Plazas and find a busy bar – if it’s popular with the Spanish then it’s bound to be good.

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Visit the Granada Cathedral

One of the top attractions in Granada Spain is the impressive Catedral de Granada. You can’t miss the imposing building of the gothic Granada cathedral as you walk around the city, and it’s somewhere you should definitely add to your sight-seeing list.

The dome is decorated with stained glass, sculptures, and paintings, and there is an exhibition of cathedral treasure on display.

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Shop at the Arab market

The mercado artesania is an arabic-style bazaar with shops selling bags and purses, jewellery, arabic lanterns, clothing, souvenirs and more, definitely one of the best places to find things to buy in Granada. It can be found right next to the cathedral in the middle of the city, so if you’re visiting the cathedral then the arab market is a great place for a wander and to pick up some souvenirs.

Visit the Granada Science Park

If you are looking for things to do in Granada with kids, a fun day out can be had at the Science Park. This interactive science museum is located a 15 minute walk from the city centre and includes sections on nature, astronomy, mechanical games, optical effects and a journey inside the human body. There are also picnic and rest areas as well as the ‘BioDomo’, a space dedicated to the biodiversity of the planet with more than 200 species of animals and plants.

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Go hiking in the Sierra Nevada

From the Granada bus station you can take a bus up to the ski village of the Sierra Nevada. From here you can explore the surrounding area, join a hiking tour, marvel at the views, or in winter months enjoy the snow!

There are plenty of hotels and lodges up there so if you fancy a change of scenery it’s a great place to spend the night. For more details you can check out this post which includes details of our visit.

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Where to stay in Granada

There are so many wonderful places to stay from 5 star hotels to airbnbs in Granada. Whatever type of accommodation in Granada you’re looking for, here are some suggestions for you.

Remember to check out hotel reviews on Tripadvisor before booking.

Hotel Granada Center

This is where we stayed – it’s slightly out of the city center but easy to jump onto a bus opposite the hotel, or alternatively it’s 10 minutes’ walk from Granada’s old town and 5 minutes from the train station. The hotel has free WiFi, gym, roof terrace, buffet breakfast, and an a la carte restaurant.

Find out more and book here.

Parador de Granada

The place we would love to stay is at the Parador de Granada which is located within the grounds of the Alhambra Palace within a 15th-century convent. There is a terrace overlooking the Alhambra as well as a beautiful covered terrace.

Find out more and book here.

Casa Albaycin

This 2 bedroom apartment has some fantastic views and is located in the Albacin district just 400m from Granada Cathedral, 300m from San Juan de Dios Museum, less than 1km from Paseo de los Tristes, and a 8-minute walk from San Nicolas Viewpoint.

Find out more and book here

Chezmoihomes Apartment

A modern 2 bedrooms apartment in the centre of Granada, 300m from Granada Cathedral and 600m from the Basilica de San Juan de Dios. These apartments offer free WiFi, private parking, and a fully equipped kitchen.

Find out more and book here.

We hope this list of the best things to do in Granada has given you some ideas of what to do on your visit and where to stay, and that we’ve inspired you to visit this beautiful city!

Now you know what to see in Granada, visit Get Your Guide to book tickets, tours, experiences, and activities in Granada.

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If you have been to Granada before, what was your favourite thing to do?

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  1. Fabulous area!! I love the views through the arches in Alhambra, and hiking in the Sierra Nevada sounds right up my street! I mean, as long as I have waterproof socks and microspikes to help with the snow. 🙂

  2. Wow this sounds like so much fun! I would love to visit the Arab market. Also, I love Spanish tapas and I think any trip to Spain is worth it just for them. Thanks for sharing!

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