best things to do in granada spain

16 Best Things To Do & See In Granada, Spain

Granada is home to some of the most beautiful architecture and scenery in all of Spain. The city is absolutely brimming with history and culture, making it a fantastic place to visit for anyone interested in deep-diving into the history of this incredible region.

Granada is also home to some of the best food in Spain, and the Morrocan influences in many of the dishes are truly unique and delicious. You’ll find the Moorish influence everywhere you look, from the narrow streets and souvenir shops they contain, to the architecture and buildings that dominate the skyline across Granada and the mountains.

The people of Granada are also super friendly and welcoming, so don’t hesitate to strike up a conversation with a local if you find yourself lost or searching for recommendations. They are always more than happy to help whenever you find yourself stuck.

Whether you’re visiting for just a few days or making a longer holiday out of your time here, I know you will be just as head-over-heels in love with this place as I quickly became.

And since you’re here, you’re probably looking for some of the best places to see here. Read on to discover the “12 best things to do in Granada Spain” I have put together for you so you can make sure your trip to this incredible city is an unforgettable one.

 

Best Things To Do In Granada Spain

 

1. Explore The Alhambra

 

alhambra best thing to do in granada spain

 

The Alhambra is a must-see for anyone visiting Granada. This ancient palace is one of the most well-preserved Moorish buildings in Spain and it’s absolutely beautiful.

This UNESCO world heritage site is also the most visited monument throughout the whole of Spain, and after seeing it perched on top of its own small mountain, dominating the skyline with a backdrop of the Sierra Navara mountain range, it’s super easy to see why.

The site itself covers over 140,000 square meters and was constructed by Morrish rulers back in the 13th century to be used as their palace of residence. Also called the “Red Palace”, it is made up of a number of different areas, each with its own distinct features and architecture.

Some of the highlights include the Nasrid palaces, which are considered to be some of the finest examples of Moorish art and architecture in the world. The Comares Palace and Palace of the Lions are particularly fantastic inside.

The Generalife gardens are also stunning and you can spend hours just wandering around them alone. The gardens were constructed for the sultans to enjoy their summer residency here, and you’ll find the gardens coated in colourful flowers, plants and a number of different fountains and water basins.

Lastly, the Alcazaba was constructed as a military fortress back in the 11th century and it is the oldest part of the Alhambra. It was the starting point of all other works on the palace and serves up some great viewpoints from a number of different towers.

IMPORTANT: Tickets sell out quickly. When I visited in April 2022, the earliest available ticket I could book was 3 weeks later. I strongly recommend that as soon as you know the dates of your visit, book your tickets right away to avoid disappointment.

 

Booking Tickets for the Alhambra

As you already know, the Alhambra is the most visited monument throughout the whole of Spain, so it’s fair to say this place can get busy. And with a limited quota of tickets available to the general public each day, you will definitely want to book them in advance, as early as possible.

You can buy tickets at the ticket office on the day, but the likelihood of you getting a ticket with entry into the Nasrid Palaces is pretty much impossible.

You will also have to join the queue to enter, whereas you get a queue jump when you purchase your tickets in advance.

there is a free audio guide which you download on your phone and you will find a code to scan to download this when you arrive. If you prefer a guided tour, you can buy a guided tour ticket for an even more unforgettable experience

The Alhambra General ticket is the most popular ticket and is often the one which you will have a long wait for. This will get you access to all of the below;

  • Nasrid Palaces: Mexuar, Comares Palace, Palace of the Lions and Corredor-Lindaraja.
  • Portico of the palace, gardens and walks.
  • Alcazaba: The Candle Tower and Garden of the Adarves.
  • Generalife: gardens and palace (The court of the Main Canal, The Soultana’s Court and the water Stairway).

The Alhambra General Ticket costs €14 from the official ticket website.

You can also get the Generalife and Alcazaba Ticket (often with shorter notice, as well) but this does not include access to the Nasrid Palaces. Tickets costs €7.

Since you are coming all of this way to visit Granada and the Alhambra, it would be a real shame to miss out on the full Alhambra experience though (including the Nasrid Palaces). If you find that the general admission tickets are sold out for the dates you want, then don’t lose hope just yet. Try the below;

  • Purchase the Dobla De Ora General Ticket. It costs more at €22.74 but comes with the Alhambra General + extra monument admissions.
  • Purchase through Get Your Guide. If the general entry tickets have sold out here, you can still purchase a guided tour ticket – although you’ll pay more – but still worth every penny.
  • Purchase through Tiqets
  • Purchase a night tour ticket with entrance to the Nasrid Palaces.

Opening Hours:

October 15th – March 31st:

Everyday 8:30 – 18:00

April 1st – October 14th:

Everyday 8:30 – 20:00

 

2. Visit The Granada Miradors

 

granada miradors fun places to see in granada spain

 

There are many viewpoints around the city of Granada and these are referred to as “Miradors”. Some are more famous than others, but all of them offer up something cool and interesting, and some with breath-taking views over the cityscape that is just screaming out to be photographed.

The most famous Miradors in Granada are;

Mirador de San Nicolas: This is located within the Albaicin neighbourhood right in front of the Alhambra and next to the Carmen de Los Martires. From here you will have the best views of the Alhambra, the palaces, and The Generalife Gardens with a gorgeous backdrop of the snowcapped Sierra Nevada mountain range.

There is no better viewpoint in Granada for the Alhambra than this one, so don’t miss it. It’s worth noting that it is always busy here too, with crowds of people trying to capture photos. If you’re patient though, you’ll b able to get up to the wall for the best possible photo opportunities.

San Cristobal viewpoint: Located in the Sacromonte neighbourhood and offering up panoramic views of the Alhambra.

Mirador de San Miguel Alto: This is another one of the most popular viewpoints in Granada and gets very busy. It’s located in front of the Basilica de San Juan de Dios and offers up wonderful views over the city and Alhambra.

Catching all the miradors is definitely one of the fun things to do whilst visiting Granada Spain, but be sure to arrive early to these viewpoints if you want to avoid the crowds and get that perfect photo!

Top Tip – Get a sunset in at Mirador de San Nicolas. It’s the most incredible time to grab a photo of the Alhambra in all its glory, even if you’re grappling a bit with the crowds.

 

3. Stroll Around The Albaicin Neighbourhood

 

albaicin best things to see in granada spain

 

The Albaicin is an ancient Moorish Quarter that sits on a hill above the River Darro and next to the Sacromonte. This is one of the most atmospheric places in Granada with its labyrinth of winding streets, hidden plazas, whitewashed houses adorned with geraniums, and stunning views over the cityscape.

It’s easy to spend a couple of hours getting lost in the Albaicin, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes and pack some water and snacks because there can be a lot of steps on uneven paved floor!

This former Arab neighbourhood is packed full of Moroccan-inspired restaurants, souvenir shops and markets. It’s like stepping into a middle-eastern bazaar with bright colours, spices and handmade goods. It is a charming place brimming with authenticity, serving up a taste of how things would have been all those years ago (minus the tourists).

There are a few notable landmarks and things to see in the Albaicin which should make it onto your list of best things to do in Granada, Spain;

  • The Mirador de San Nicolas: As mentioned above, this is one of the best viewpoints in Granada and offers up incredible views of the Alhambra.
  • Casa de Los Pisa: This is a 16th-century mansion that was once home to an important family from Granada. It’s now a museum and you can tour the beautiful rooms and learn about the history of the house and its former occupants.
  • Plaza Larga: This is a large square located in the heart of the Albaicin and is a popular spot for locals to gather, especially in the evenings when the temperature drops.
  • San Salvador Church: This is a small church located on a hill in the Albaicin with great views over Granada. It’s worth popping inside to see the beautiful Baroque altar.
  • San Nicolas Church: This is another small church located in the Albaicin with a beautiful Baroque altar.
  • Dar-al-Horra Palace: This is a 15th-century palace that was once home to Granada’s last sultan. It’s now a museum and you can tour the beautiful rooms and learn about the history of the palace.
  • Corral del Carbon: This is a 14th-century building and courtyard that was once used as a storage facility for coal, wheat and other goods merchants brought into Granada.

There are plenty of other things to see and do in the Albaicin, so be sure to explore and see what else you can find. Wander the streets and soak up the incredible atmosphere this area has to offer.

 

4. Explore The Sacromonte Neighbourhood

 

sacromonte best things to do in granada spain

 

The Sacromonte is a neighbourhood located on Valparaiso Hill above the Albaicin and is home to Granada’s Gypsy community. It’s a charming area with traditional cave houses, stunning views over the city, and a lively atmosphere.

The Sacromonte is known for its flamenco shows and there are plenty of caves (called zambras) where you can see a show. These shows are usually very touristy, but they’re still worth seeing if you want to experience some traditional Spanish culture.

The neighbourhood is also home to the Sacromonte Abbey, a beautiful 17th-century monastery that’s worth visiting for its architecture and views over to Alhambra. There are guided tours available here as well to learn all about the Abbey and its catacombs that run daily between 11 am – 1 pm and 4 pm – 6 pm.

If you’re looking for something a bit more low-key, the Sacromonte is also a great place to wander around and explore. There are plenty of hidden alleyways and streets to explore, and you’ll get a taste of how the locals live. It’s a well deserving activity for our best things to do in Granada Spain.

There’s a lovely little museum here too called the Cuevas del Sacromonte Museum. Here you will learn all about the traditions and history of this neighbourhood and its locals. There are guided and self-guided tickets available at the door, or you can buy your tickets in advance and skip the queues. It is open every day of the week between 8 am and 8 pm (closes at 6 pm between October – March).

 

5. Visit The Granada Cathedral and Royal Chapel

 

granada cathedral one of the top things to do in granada spain

 

The Granada Cathedral is a beautiful building located in the city centre. It was built between 1523 and 1702 and is one of the most important examples of Renaissance architecture in Spain.

The Granada Cathedral is home to two famous tombs; the tomb of Isabella I of Castile and the tomb of Ferdinand II of Aragon. These two monarchs were responsible for the unification of Spain and their tomb is a beautiful example of Gothic architecture.

A visit to Granada wouldn’t really be complete unless you can say you visited the Royal Chapel as well. This is a separate attraction but it is located right next to the Cathedral and is the final resting place of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile, as well as their daughter Juana la Loca. The chapel is a beautiful example of Renaissance architecture and is well worthy of its place on this best things to do in Granada Spain list.

For more details, you can check out the official website.

Opening Hours: both are open Monday to Saturday from 10:15 – 18:30, and Sunday from 11:00 – 18:00

Entrance Cost: €5 Adults / Free for Under 12s. You can book tickets online here.

TOP TIP – Buy a combined attraction ticket for your visit to Granada and save. You can purchase a combined ticket here where you can select the attractions you want to see, or pick up the GRANADA PASS which includes everything including your Alhambra General ticket

 

6. San Juan de Dios Basilica

 

san juan de dios basilica best things to see in Andalusia spain

 

This beautiful basilica is located in the heart of Granada and is one of the city’s most important religious buildings. The San Juan de Dios Basilica was built in the 15th century and is a stunning example of Gothic architecture. It was constructed in dedication to St John of God – the patron saint of hospitals and nurses.

The interior of the basilica is where it really wow’s, with beautiful stained glass windows, gold-covered walls, ceilings and pillars, and artwork and paintings coating every surface.

You buy your tickets at the entrance of the basilica and you can also download the audio guide on your phone from the app store, which will walk you through all points of interest and the stunning artwork throughout the building.

Included in the ticket price is also entry to San Jeronimo Monastery which is no more than 100m away. If you have time, it’s well worth checking this

Entrance Cost: Adult 6€ / Students €5 / Seniors €5.50 / Under 12 €Free

Open Hours: Monday to Saturday 10:00 – 19:00 / Sunday 13:30 – 19:00

 

7. San Jeronimo Monastery

 

san jeronimo monastery best places to see in granada

 

The San Jeronimo Monastery was constructed in the 15th century with stones taken by the kings from the Arab gate of Elvira and is another fine example of Spanish Baroque architecture.

The inside of the monastery is also super impressive, although not dropped in the same gold as the San Juan de Dios Basilica. Still, the entrance to this one is free when you purchase the basilica ticket, so why would you not take the 1-minute walk around the corner to visit this one too?!

Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday: 10:00 – 13:30 and 16:00 – 19:30 / Mass is on Sundays at 10:00 and daily at 9:00.

 

8. Relax in the Carmen de los Martires Garden

 

visit the carmen de los martires garden in granada

 

After all that walking around Granada, you might want to take a load off your feet and relax in one of the city’s beautiful parks or gardens. The Carmen de Los Martires is one of the most popular gardens in Granada and is located just next to the Royal Chapel.

The French Baroque park was created in 1918 by order of King Alfonso XIII and was named after a convent that used to occupy the site. The garden is full of beautiful fountains, sculptures, and plants, and is a great place to relax after exploring the city.

The large pond in the middle has a statue of Neptune in the centre and is surrounded by 4 other statues in different styled gardens to symbolise the 4 seasons. These include a Spanish garden, an English garden, the Paisajista Garden and the Nasrid Patio, with each one just as individually beautiful as the last.

It’s also a great spot to enjoy the views of the city and the Sierra Nevada mountains, and a fantastic spot to come and unwind with a picnic if you have time on your side.

The entrance to the gardens is free.

Opening Hours:

April 1 to October 14 – Monday to Friday 10:00 – 14:00 and 18:00 to 20:00 / Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 10:00 – 20:00

October 15 to March 31 – Monday to Friday 10:00 – 14:00 and 16:00 – 18:00 / Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 10:00 – 18:00

 

9. Attend a Traditional Flamenco Show

 

cave flamenco show in granada spain

 

Granada is famous for its cave flamenco shows, and if you’re in town then you most definitely need to attend one. These traditional shows take place in caves located in the Sacromonte area of the city and have been a part of the Granadan culture for centuries.

The most popular cave flamenco show in this enchanting, fairytale-like city is at the Zambra Maria La Canaster and has been hosting shows for over 50 years. The cave is located just a short walk from the city centre in the Sacromonte district and is home to the famous Flamenco singer and dancer “La Canastera”. Secure your seat with a drink by purchasing a ticket online. It can often get booked up a few days in advance so buy your ticket in advance to avoid disappointment

Other popular flamenco caves include:

Tickets for these shows can be purchased at the entrance to the caves, and usually cost around €20 per person with a drink.

If you’re around the historic centre and can’t get to the Sacromonte district, then check out the Tablao Flamenco La Alborea. This is another famous Flamenco show in Granada and will take you on a journey through the “palos” of flamenco and will without a doubt leave a lasting impression on you.

Show times vary depending on the cave, but most shows start at 21:30 and last for around an hour. You can also book your show online to guarantee a space at these more popular shows. They are a super fun thing to see whilst visiting Granada and will certainly leave a lasting impression.

 

10. Go Shopping at Bib-Rambla Square and the Alcaiceria Market

 

alcaiceria market highlights of granada spain

 

If you fancy a spot of shopping on your trip to Granada, then head to Bib-Rambla Square in the city centre. This large square is pedestrianised and is home to a number of shops and boutiques.

The Alcaiceria Market is also located nearby and is the perfect place to pick up some souvenirs or gifts for loved ones back home. It’s almost what you would imagine shopping in an old middle eastern bazaar would be like in Morroco, with colourful rugs, jewellery, hanging glass lamps in multitudes of colours, ceramics and all other kinds of shiny wares and items for sale here.

If it all gets too much, then you can stop off at one of the many coffee shops along the way and grab a coffee or a snack. You’ll also likely notice this area attracts a lot of the students from town, with the cheap drinking places sprawled out across some of the narrow alleyways. If you fancy something a little stronger than coffee, then that won’t be too hard to find here either, where you can get stuck in down some of the lively back streets and alleys!

 

11. Enjoy an Arab Bath and Hamman in Granada

 

ancient arab bath granada fun things to do in granada spain

 

Granada was once an Islamic city, and you can still see evidence of this in the architecture around the city as well as in some of the customs and traditions that are still practised today.

One of these is the Arab bath, which you can experience for yourself at the Hammam Al-Andalus. This is a traditional Arabic bathhouse where you can relax and unwind in one of the many heated pools.

These traditional Hammans vary in temperature and are fantastic at de-stressing, relaxing and firming the skin, as well as providing essential vitamins and minerals and helping the circulation of the blood.

The Hammam Al-Andalus is located in the heart of the city, just a short walk from the cathedral and it is open every day from 10:00 to 23:00.

Other Arab Bath Houses that are popular with visitors include Aljibe San Miguel and Banos de Elvira and are also centrally located for anyone to enjoy.

You can expect to pay between €20-30 for a basic bath for 90 minutes, or you can pay a little extra (€10-15) for a short massage to end the treatment. It’s a fun thing to do whilst you’re in Granada, Spain, and a very traditional activity to get involved in (I wasn’t exaggerating about the relaxing part either…)

 

12. Eat a Moorish-Inspired Meal

 

enjoy granada food

 

As you already know, there is a lot of Moorish influence within this region of Spain with it being home to the last remaining Arab ruler in 1492. We see it in the buildings, the population, the culture, and of course…in the food.

So whilst you’re here, you definitely need to give the Arabic food a little whirl to get a taste of the real Granada experience. If you’re looking for something traditional to do in Granada, then you can check out the below best Arabic restaurants in Granada, Spain;

 

13. Cartuja Monastery

 

cartuja montastery best things to see in granada spain

 

Located on the outskirts of Granada is another fantastic gem of the region. Travel 3km north of the city and you will find this baroque renaissance-style monastery.

The build of Cartuja Monastery dragged on for 3 centuries, first being started in the 16th century as a home for the monks of the Carthusian Order. This Christian Order was one of the toughest, meaning the monks lived a reclused life restricted to mostly prayer, vows of silence and fasting.

Considering the strict Christian order, this is actually one of the prettiest monasteries you can find in the whole of Andalusia, and even throughout Spain, so if you think this one isn’t worth the additional 3km travel out of town, then think again!

Opening Hours: Thursday, Friday and Sunday – 10:00 – 14:00 / Saturday 10:00 – 18:00

Entrance Cost: €5 Adults / €3.50 Pensioners / Children Under 12 Go Free

 

14. Visit the Granada Science Park

 

science park granada spain

 

This one is usually a bit of a curveball and often overlooked, but this Science park is actually the most visited museum in the whole of Andalusia. I know, right – didn’t expect that in this historical city.

Spread over 70,000 square meters, it houses a number of different permanent and temporary exhibitions to engage and educate visitors of all ages through interactions and activities. Plus, it’s only a 15-minute walk from the city centre.

Inside the buildings, you will find exhibitions on all things science, from physics, geology, mechanics and chemistry. Outside, you’ll also find another 27,000 square meters of green areas, housing a garden of astronomy, birds of prey, and even a butterfly park.

To finish it off, there is also a large Planetarium for the space geeks and BioDome, exhibiting the window of life that is biodiversity, helping visitors understand the connection and relationships of everything that surrounds us. It seems somewhat understated as a biodome, but it’s more like a botanical garden and a mini zoo all in one – it really is amazing.

Great fun for the whole family, and kids especially will fall in love with the activities as they pass an educational day here.

For more info on everything that is going on here, you can check out their official website.

Opening Hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 10.00 – 19:00 / Sunday 10:00 – 15:00

Entrance Cost: You can buy a combined Museum & BioDome Ticket for a reduced price of €11 for Adults and €9 for seniors and children

  • Museum – Adults €7 / Seniors and Children (3 – 17) €6 / Under 3s Go Free. Tickets are available from the official site here.
  • Planetarium – Adults €2.50 / Seniors and Children €2 / Under 3s Go Free
  • BioDome – Adults €6 / Seniors and Children €5 / Under 3s Go Free

 

Best Things To Do Around Granada

 

15. Sierra Nevada

 

sierra nevada day trip from granada spain

 

Sierra Nevada is a popular day trip from Granada wth its locatation just outside of Granada. As you can imagine, it’s one of the most popular day trips from the city. The Sierra Nevada is a stunning mountain range that offers some of the best skiing in Spain in wintertime and incredible hiking trails with views that will take your breath away during the summer.

You can reach here in under an hour from the centre of Granada and if you’re coming here for the snow between December and April, then check out some of the spots around Borreguiles, Monachil and Pradollano. These are the most famous, and where you will likely find some of the best pistes on the mountain range.

If you’re coming during the warmer months, then you could hire some mountain bikes, try your hand at some climbing, or even a bit of paragliding for those adrenalin junkies out there.

You can either hire a car and make the drive yourself here, or you can book yourself onto one of the many day trips that depart Granada most days, so you can sit back and let someone else take care of the planning for you.

Think 4-wheel drive safari through the picturesque villages and forests of Andalucia. You can check out all of the available tours here.

 

16. Nerja

 

nerja best day trip fromgranada

 

Nerja is a beautiful coastal town located just over an hour away from Granada. The town is famous for its beaches, caves and Mediterranean atmosphere and makes for the perfect day trip from Granada to Nerja.

The Balcony of Europe is one of the most popular attractions in Nerja. This promenade stretches along the edge of a cliff offering incredible views out to sea. You can also find a number of restaurants and cafes along the Balcony of Europe, making it the perfect place to enjoy a coffee or lunch with a view.

Nerja is also home to the Nerja Caves, which are some of the most impressive caves in the whole of Europe. The caves stretch for over five kilometres and contain a number of stalactites and stalagmites, as well as a large auditorium which is often used for concerts and other events.

there are plenty of other fun things to do in Nerja Spain, so make sure you give yourself enough time to catch all of the best bits

Whether you’re looking for a day of relaxation on the beautiful beaches or adventure in the caves and hiking the River Chiller, then Nerja is the perfect place.

If you’re not racing against time during your trip to Andalusia and Granada, then you could easily spend a day (or 3) here in Nerja, to relax, unwind, and slow life down a little on the coast for a while.

 

Visiting other parts of Spain? Why not check out some of my other travel guides

 

FAQ

 

What is the closest airport to Granada?

Malaga Airport is the closest international airport to Granada and is around an hour and a half drive away by car. Your best bet is to hire a car from Malaga airport and drive the 125km yourself to Granada

 

How do I get to Granada?

Granada can be reached by car, bus or train from most major cities in Spain. If you’re coming from Madrid, the journey will take just over three hours by car or around two and a half hours by train. Fro Malaga, you can drive the 125km to Granada in around 1 and a half hours.

 

Is Granada a safe city?

Yes, Granada is a very safe city. The crime rate is low and you should have no problems walking around the city centre at night. However, as with any city, it’s always best to be aware of your surroundings and keep your belongings safe.

 

When is the best time to visit Granada?

The best time to visit Granada really depends on what you want to do while you’re here. If you’re looking to ski or snowboard, then the best time to visit is between December and April. For hiking and outdoor activities, the best time to visit is between May and September when the weather is warmer. However, Granada can be enjoyed at any time of year.

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