Nestled amid the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Granada stands out with its
whitewashed houses and medieval landmarks built during Spain's Moorish
occupation. Among these is the iconic Alhambra, a hilltop complex
featuring palaces, courtyards and gardens that once belonged to the
Beyond its historical heritage, the city also
delights visitors with its delicious tapas, urban art murals and lively
Our itinerary below features the best things
to do in Granada, including where to eat and where to stay, as well as
tips on when to visit.
If you're only in Granada for two days, the Alhambra is probably the
first thing you'll want to see. This iconic fortress might date back to
the 9th century, but the current complex is from the 1200s when Granada
became the seat of the Nasrid emirs, the last Moorish rulers in the
To beat the crowds, head here early in the morning and
give yourself at least three hours to explore the grounds. Start with a
walk around the Nasrid Palaces. These include a series of buildings
and courtyards decorated with intricate designs and water ponds. Then
make your way to the Generalife, a palace famous for its extensive
gardens where sultans used to escape in the summer. Get lost in its
narrow paths and enjoy the views over the city and the Darro river.
building worth visiting is the Palacio de Carlos V, a Renaissance
palace that now houses the Museo de la Alhambra and the Museo de Bellas
Artes. This last one features a collection of artworks ranging from the
16th-century onwards with a focus on religious paintings and sculptures.
Note: It's best to book a ticket online a couple of weeks
before your trip to make sure you get in. In the peak season, tickets
sell out pretty fast (months in advance), which means you won't be able
to buy them at the entrance.
From the Alhambra, head to Sacromonte. It's the city's gipsy quarter,
but also the home of flamenco. Stop by the Museo Cuevas del Sacromonte,
and you'll see the caves where the local community used to live.
take a stroll around the Camino del Sacromonte to capture the views of
the Alhambra in the distance. If you're up for it, you can climb to the
Abadía del Sacromonte, a 17th-century abbey famous for its underground
After exploring Sacromonte, slowly make your way to the Mirador de San
Nicolás. It’s one of the best spots to watch the sunset in Granada. From
here, you can capture the Alhambra and the peaks of the Sierra Nevada
rising in the background. Order some ice cream at the nearby Helados San
Nicolas and come back to enjoy the views.
Next stop is the Carrera del Darro, one of the prettiest streets in the
city. It begins near the Convento de Santa Catalina and follows the
river stream until it reaches the Plaza de Santa Ana. As you walk along
this promenade, you'll find a series of stone bridges and century-old
buildings covered with lush greenery in the springtime. Look over the
ancient walls to see the Darro river flowing underneath your feet.
Just a few steps away from the Plaza de Santa Ana is
the Corral del Carbón. It's one of the oldest Arab monuments in Granada,
dating back to the 14th century. At the time it was used as a warehouse
and a shelter for coal traders, which is how it got its name. Later in
the 16th century, it worked as a theatre. Visitors are welcome to step
inside and wander through its quiet courtyard. In the summer, it becomes
the stage for plays and flamenco performances.
Watching a flamenco show is one of the best ways to
end the night in Granada. Every evening lively flamenco performances
take place around the city. This is the birthplace of the Zambra, a type
of flamenco danced around the provinces of Granada and Almería. During
the performance, dancers are usually barefoot and use finger cymbals.
Some of the best places to see flamenco in Granada are the Casa del Arte
Flamenco, El Templo del Flamenco, Jardines de Zoraya and La Alboreá.
Begin your second day in Granada with a tour of Albaicín. It's the
city’s old Arabic quarter, where the Moorish population settled after
the reconquest. Get lost in its maze of winding streets surrounded by
whitewashed houses and picturesque squares. You'll need to climb up a
hill to get here, but splendid views of the Alhambra and the Sierra
Nevada mountains await you at the end. Walking through the
neighbourhood, it's hard not to notice the Moorish heritage left behind
in structures like the Casa de Zafra, the Casa del Chapiz and the Arab
You've already captured the views from the Mirador de San Nicolás on the
previous day, but there are many more lookout points in Albaicín that
deserve a visit. Just opposite the Iglesia de San Cristóbal is a
viewpoint with the same name overlooking the old city walls. Higher up
you'll find the Mirador de San Miguel, which offers panoramic views over
the Albaicín quarter and the Alhambra. Other viewpoints worth checking
include the Mirador de la Lona and Mirador de los Carvajales.
Still in Albaicín, you can visit the Palacio de Dar al-Horra. This
15th-century palace was once the home of the sultana Aixa, the mother of
Granada's last Muslim king. It has a typical Moorish design with the
rooms surrounding a central courtyard which provided shade in the
summer. Soon after the Reconquista, the palace got merged with the
Monastery of Santa Isabel la Real which you can see today. With the same
ticket, you can access the Arab baths later in the day.
Close to the palace is the Puerta del Elvira. When Granada was under
Moorish rule, this was the official gate to the city. Since then it has
undergone several renovations, but the location and the structure remain
pretty much the same.
Continue walking until you reach the Basilica of San Juan de Dios. The
interior of this 18th-century church is a Baroque masterpiece featuring
stunning frescoes, paintings and gilded altars. It's open every day
except Sunday, and it closes during lunchtime.
The Granada Cathedral replaced the city's old mosque at the start of the
16th century. It took over 180 years to build this church, which is why
you'll notice a mix of architectural styles. The foundations are
Gothic, the structure is mostly from the Renaissance, and the facade is
Baroque. It's worth stepping inside to admire its stained glass windows
and the paintings decorating the walls.
After visiting the cathedral and the chapel, head to Plaza
Bib-Rambla, a lively square surrounded by 19th-century houses and cafes.
Take some time to explore the shops around the side streets and then
treat yourself to some churros at the Cafetería Alhambra.
Close to the square is the Alcaicería market. Back in the Islamic era,
this was the city's bazaar, where merchants occupied the streets with
their silks and spices. These days there's only a passageway left,
mostly lined with souvenir shops selling anything from postcards to
jewellery. If you want an authentic gift from Granada, however, it's
best to visit other local stores. The Fajalauza sells stunning handmade
ceramics, the Espartería San José specializes in whicker items, while
the Comestibles Cristobal is the perfect place to buy some serrano ham.
From the Alcaicería, make your way to the El Bañuelo. Dating back to the
11th century, these are some of the best-preserved Arabic baths in
Spain. After the reconquest, most of these bathing facilities got
destroyed, but these managed to survive because they were hidden under a
private house. It features stunning Moorish archways and chambers with
star-shaped openings which have remained intact through all those years.
The water doesn't run here anymore, but if you want to experience
something similar, you can visit the nearby Hammam Al-Andalus. This
modern spa offers a series of cold and hot pools typical from the old
Arabic baths, as well as massage treatments.
Carmen de los Martires: Close to the Alhambra, you'll find
Carmen de los Martires, one of the most beautiful gardens in Granada.
Despite its location, it's often overlooked by tourists, leaving you
plenty of room to explore its leafy paths. A 19th-century mansion stands
at the middle of the park offering sweeping views over the surrounding
Granada Charterhouse (Monasterio Cartuja): This quiet monastery is
among the best examples of Baroque architecture in Spain. Set a few
miles north from the Albaicín neighbourhood, you can walk there or catch
a bus. It was founded around the 1500s, but it took another 300 years
to complete it. Behind its sandstone structure is a lavish interior with
intricate stucco walls and a stunning frescoed cupola.
Realejo is the city's old Jewish quarter. After exploring Sacromonte
and Albaicín, you can spend some time wandering through this vibrant
neighbourhood. Noteworthy buildings in this area include Casa de los
Tiros, the Palace of Los Condes de Gabia and the Church of Santo
Domingo. In recent years, Realejo has also become famous for its street
art scene thanks to colourful murals designed by the local artist El
Sierra Nevada: This mountain range occupies a large
part of Granada's landscape. It contains the highest peak in Spain
(Mulhacén) at 3,479 metres and the most southerly ski resort in Europe.
From the city centre, it will take you about half an hour to reach
Sierra Nevada. Beyond skiing, visitors can also hike or enjoy the views
from one of its lookout points. It's also worth visiting some of the
whitewashed villages scattered across the region, known as La
Alpujarras. For more information on what to do in the area, check out
our Sierra Nevada guide.
Monachil: Monachil is a quiet
mountain village located within the Sierra Nevada. It gets its name from
the Arabic word for a monastery. The village is famous among hikers for
its hanging bridges which overlook the canyons of Los Cahorros gorge.
Verdes: Set on the outskirts of Granada, the Cumbres Verdes is a small
hamlet that belongs to the town of La Zubia. Surrounding it are a
series of nature trails ideal for hiking and biking, as well as some
picnic areas where you can stop for a snack.
Tropical: The coast of Granada is renowned for its subtropical climate,
hence the name Costa Tropical. It's less developed than the Costa del
Sol in the east, but the landscape alone makes it worth the visit with
its stunning headlands and coves. Salobreña and Almuñecar are the main
towns here, both famous for its beaches and historic castles. The coast
is also popular among hikers and water sports fans.
Granada has a variety of family-friendly attractions. Children under 12
can enter the Alhambra for free, but you still need to purchase your
tickets in advance. Take your time exploring the area and don't expect
to cover everything in one day. You can also join a guided tour or bring
some illustrated books with stories about the Alhambra to entertain
Another place that might be interesting to visit is the
traditional dwellings in Sacromonte. Kids will enjoy going inside these
caves and imagining what it's like to live here.
When you need a
break from sightseeing, head over to Federico García Lorca, a large
park near the cathedral with a playground and friendly ducks. It's the
perfect spot for a picnic and, in the summer, they host movie screenings
A few minutes south of the city centre is the Parque
de Ciencias. This interactive museum includes a series of exhibits about
the human body and technology, mostly aimed at kids. There's also a
butterfly house and a planetarium, where they can learn more about stars
From Granada, you can drive to the Sierra
Nevada. Most people come here to ski, but there are many other
activities available for kids, including ice skating, sledging or
Where To Eat In Granada, Spain
Granada is one of the few cities in Spain where you can still get
free tapas with your drink. These can include anything from patatas
bravas to serrano ham or deep-fried calamari. They usually get better
with each round, enticing you to stay in one place instead of going on a
tapas crawl. Some bars even allow you to choose your tapa, so keep an
eye out for that. Below are some of the best places to eat in Granada:
Café 4 Gatos:
Set in the Albaicín neighbourhood this is the ideal spot for breakfast
in Granada. They serve delicious toasts, cereal and homemade cakes. In
the summer you can sit on the terrace and enjoy the views of the
Taberna La Tana: At Taberna La Tana you can
order a wide range of wines by the glass. Ask the staff for a
recommendation and make sure to try something local. To pair with the
wine, they have a selection of tapas.
Taberna Catavinos: This small tavern is famous for its mushroom dishes and quality seafood.
You can get tapas with your drink or order a few raciones (portions)
to share. Besides the delicious food, they also offer a big wine list.
Botilleria: La Botilleria is one of the best tapas bars in Granada.
You can come here for a glass of wine with free tapas or sit down for a
full meal. They also serve desserts, which is often hard to find in the
Bar Los Diamantes: Los Diamantes is renowned for its
delicious fried fish tapas. There are three branches in Granada, but
the original one is at Calle Navas. It's a small place so you'll have to
squeeze in, but it's worth it for the experience.
Khalsum: You'll find this Morrocan-inspired bar near the city's
cathedral. It combines the traditional tapas concept with Middle-eastern
specialities like falafel and tagines.
Where To Stay In Granada, Spain
Hotel Alhambra Palace (5 stars): This is among the oldest five-star hotels in Spain. Its Moorish design is inspired by the Alhambra and the monument itself is only a 10-minute walk from here. There are more than 100 rooms available, most offering city views. The hotel's restaurant serves typical Andalusian cuisine and there's also a bar on-site with a panoramic terrace facing the Sierra Nevada.
Hotel Palacio de Santa Paula (5 stars): This luxurious hotel
occupies a former 16th-century convent in the centre of Granada. The
building combines its past features like the rounded arches and wooden
ceilings with modern furniture and facilities like a sauna, Turkish bath
and a small gym. Guests can also enjoy a meal at the hotel restaurant
housed inside the old convent library.
Parador de Granada
(4 stars): Set within the grounds of the Alhambra, the Parador is ideal
for those who want to stay close to the city's main attractions. It's
housed inside a 14th-century Moorish palace, later converted into a
convent. This explains its mixed decor with Moorish and Christian
elements. There is a restaurant on-site and a courtyard overlooking the
Alhambra gardens. Due to its privileged location, it's worth booking
well in advance.
Hotel Catalonia Granada (4 stars): You'll
find this modern hotel right next to Granada's train station. It
features 153 rooms, some of which include private terraces. In the
summer, guests can take advantage of the pool on the rooftop and enjoy
the city views. There's also a bar and a wellness area with a spa, gym
and massage rooms. The city centre is only 15 minutes away from the
Santa Isabel La Real (3 stars): The owners of Santa
Isabel converted a 16th-century home in the Albaicín neighbourhood into
a cosy budget hotel. You can still see most of its original details
which they kept intact like the Andalusian courtyard. The hotel only has
11 rooms, so it's ideal if you're looking for a bit of privacy, some
even offer views of the Alhambra. The home-cooked breakfasts included in
the stay are also a bonus.
Hotel Casa Morisca (3 stars):
This charming boutique hotel occupies a restored townhouse from the 15th
century. It's close to the train station and only a few minutes walk
from the historic centre. The building features a Moorish decor with
stucco arches, wooden ceilings and an inner patio. Some rooms offer
views of the Alhambra and the Generalife.
The best time to visit Granada is around spring or autumn. From May
to June the temperatures are mild, and the flowers in the city’s
gardens are in full bloom. It’s also at this time that Granada hosts
most of its cultural events like the annual feiria. Summer brings
warmer weather, but with temperatures reaching the 40ºC, it can be
uncomfortable to walk around the streets. September and October are also
quiet months with similar temperatures to spring, but slightly cooler
in the evenings. Winter is another option if you’re looking to ski in
the Sierra Nevada. Prices during this season can vary, depending on
where you stay.
San Cecilio: Every year in February, Granada honours its
patron saint, San Cecilio. Residents organise a pilgrimage to the
Sacromonte Abbey which houses the saint's tomb. The celebrations also
include traditional dances and a gastronomic festival. The Tortilla del
Sacromonte and the Salaíllas are a few dishes typically eaten during
Semana Santa: Around March or April,
the city hosts a series of processions to celebrate the Holy Week of
Easter. These take place in several neighbourhoods, but all of them have
to pass through the Carrera Oficial in the centre. Participants carry
floats with saint statues and wear pointed hats known as capirotes .
Cruces de Mayo: This colourful festival is held every year on
the 3rd of May. Locals decorate the streets with large crucifixes made
of flowers and church crosses around the city also get a makeover. Near
each cross, there is usually a series of casetas , where people
gather to eat, drink and dance.
Corpus Christi: As the summer approaches, Granada welcomes
its biggest festival: Corpus Christi. It starts in the middle of June
and lasts for about a week. It includes two processions, a folkloric one
with people dressed up as giants and monsters and a more religious one
that passes through the city's churches. The main event, however, is the
feiria in the Almanjáyar district. During the festival, locals set
up food stalls here, and there is plenty of entertainment, including
puppet shows and sevillanas.