Best known for its magnificent Alhambra Palace, there’s a wealth of things to do in Granda, a city in Southern Spain’s Andalucia region. Granada is the perfect spot for a European break and we spent some magical days exploring everything that Granada has to offer. We’ve put together our list of the best things to do in Granada and the best sights in this incredible city. From delicious tapas and the meandering neighbourhood streets to the incredible Alhambra Palace, Granada has something for everyone. Here are our 20 best things to do in Granada!
We’ve included a map at the bottom of this post which includes the location of all the places mentioned and a link to a interactive Google Map.
1 | The Alhambra
The crown jewel of Granada is undoubtedly the palace and fortress of Alhambra which, with almost 10,000 visitors every day, it is the most visited tourist attraction in Spain. The stunning hilltop palace overlooks Granada and is visible from all over the city. The name La Alhambra comes from the Arabic meaning ‘Red One’, a reference to the iconic red brick which adorns its walls and it is magnificent to see. The huge complex includes the Nasrid Palaces, the Gardens at Generalife and the Museum of Fine Arts.
The Alhambra shares a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation with the Generalife Gardens and the nearby residential area of Albaycin. Anyone visiting Alhambra will soon realise that the designation is warranted as the site is absolutely stunning.
Best things to do in Granada tip: With over 3 million visitors annually, the Alhambra Palace and the Generalife Gardens are the most visited sites in Spain. As a result, you will have to book your tickets well in advance on the official booking site. Tickets go on sale 3 months in advance and, during busy summer periods, tickets sell out at least a month in advance. We visited Alhambra at the first entrance time, which was perfect as the Nasrid Palace was not too crowded.
2 | Nasrid Palaces
A visit to Alhambra should start with a walk through the beautiful Nasrid Palaces. The palaces comprise a series of buildings and courtyards built to resemble a flowing garden. This is the most popular part of La Alhambra and has assigned visit times due to the limit of people in the palace at a given time.
Some of our favourite spots were the Lion Courtyard with its intricate design. the Oratory and the pond of the Arrayanes Courtyard.
Best things to do in Granada tip: : Don’t attempt to drive to La Alhambra as parking is difficult and the roads are narrow and winding. Instead, hop in a taxi to the summit from your hotel a short time before your entrance ticket.
Where to Stay in Granada
We recommend staying as close to the city centre as possible as this will allow you to easily explore the city on foot. There are two main areas to stay in Granada: in the more residential area of Albaycin or in the city.
- Santa Isabel la Real: a restored house from the 16th century perfectly located in Albaicin. This hotel is perfect for exploring the city and the views are spectacular. This hotel is perfect for anyone wanting the best location for exploring Albaycin and Alhambra – check prices now!
- Granada Five Senses Rooms & Suites: also located close to the Granada Cathedral, this clean-look, modern hotel is perfectly located for anyone exploring Granada. With a huge variety of tapas bars on your doorstep and the major sights within a short walk, this hotel is perfect for anyone looking for a decent modern hotel, with an unbeatable location – check prices now!
- Hotel Palacio De Santa Paula: we chose to stay at this beautiful hotel located 5 minutes walk from Granada Cathedral. A former convent, the hotel has been beautifully restored around the historic building. The central courtyard, used for evening dining and breakfast, is one of the most visually stunning places we’ve eaten in! – check prices now!
3 | The Gardens at Generalife
Alongside the Nasrid Palaces, Generalife is the major Alhambra attraction. Once a place of relaxation and leisure for the Kings of Granada, these incredible gardens are the oldest surviving Moorish gardens in the world. The name means ‘garden of the architects’ and the setting on the top of the hill overlooking Granada and the Dorros river is breathtaking. The highlight of the gardens is the Patio de la Acequia, the water garden courtyard, with its long pool and fountains.
Best things to do in Granada tip: Once you leave the Nasrids Palace make sure to visit the gardens at Generalife. The Gardens are located close to the main entrance of Alhambra and can get very busy at peak times.
4 | Granada Museum of Fine Arts
The Museum of Fine Arts is a beautiful collection of 2,000 pieces of renaissance and baroque art and sculptures. It is located close to the entrance to the Nasrid Palaces in the Alhambra complex. If art isn’t your thing, it is still worth exploring the entrance courtyard of the Museum. The interior is a two-floored columned courtyard and a stunning sight in Granada.
5 | Albaicín
Albaycin is packed with hidden corners and squares, all connected by the whitewashed traditional buildings and steep cobbled streets. Walking through the narrow streets of the Moorish Albicin neighbourhood is like stepping back in time. The winding streets meander up and down the hill and are overlooked by the majestic Alhambra Palace offering fantastic views. It is one of the most interesting parts of Granada to explore. Each turn you take will provide a new view of Alhambra and another beautiful setting.
6 | El Huerto de Juan Ranos
One of the best things to do in Granada is to enjoy a cold drink on a warm summer evening while taking in the view of the magnificent La Alhambra. We discovered El Huerto de Juan Ranos while exploring the Albaicin area of Granada and adored the al fresco setting and stunning views of Alhambra.
The views from El Huerto de Juan Ranos are spectacular, with uninterrupted panoramic views of the Alhambra palace.
Best things to do in Granada tip: The best time to visit El Huerto de Juan Ranos is in the late afternoon just before sunset. You should be able to get a seat and the views are amazing.
7 | The Miradores of Granada
There are a number of miradores, or lookout points, dotted on the hills throughout Albaycin. The most popular of these is the Mirador de San Nicolas, once described by Bill Clinton as ‘the most beautiful sunset in the world’, with its panoramic views of the Alhambra and the Sierra Nevada mountains.
The Mirador de San Nicolas is located just behind El Huerto de Juan Ranos restaurant and is always buzzing with locals and tourists taking in the views across Granada.
Best things to do in Granada tip: We visited this square for sunrise and sunset and loved both times. The square gets extremely busy at sunset so aim to get there early if you’re planning to take photos and want to secure a good spot!
There are a number of other Miradors that you can easily visit while exploring the Albacin area.
Mirador de San Cristobal
For a nice view of the city and Alhambra make a stop San Cristobel viewpoint as you make your way down from Albaycin and into the city.
Mirador de la Lona
Facing away from Alhambra, La Lona offers the best view across the city of Granada. It’s also a great option for sunset.
Mirador de Los Carvajales
Los Carvajales is the lowest of the viewpoints, located lower down the hill of Albaycin. Despite this, it still offers incredible views of Alhambra. The view of the palace through the trees from here is great.
8 | Sacromonte
While visiting Albaycin it’s worth taking a few hours to walk through the nearby neighbourhood of Scaromonte, which is home to Granada’s Roma community. The area is very different compared to the rest of Granada, with many cave dwellings and whitewashed streets to explore. The views from the top are stunning, with panoramic views across neighbouring Albaycin and Granada. There are lots of restaurant options dotted along the main street, Camino del Sacromon, and in the evenings the area is a great place to see traditional flamenco dancing.
9 | Indulge in Tapas
Spain is synonymous with al fresco dining, tapas and great wine and Granada is no exception with its huge selection of tapas bars. One of our favourites in Granada is Bodegas Castaneda located close to Granada Cathedral in the Elvira area. With a traditional setup of small tables and an open standing area inside, Bodegas Castaneda is always busy but its worth the wait for a seat on the street. The restaurant is usually filled with a mix of locals and tourists and the atmosphere is great.
10 | Puerta del Elvira
It’s easy to miss the Gate of Elvira which was the original gate to Granada while it was under Islamic rule. While the gate has undergone numerous changes, the location and structure are largely unchanged, with a recent restoration in 1990 giving it it’s current form.
11 | Paseo de Los Tristes
The Paseo de Los Tristes, or Walk of the Sad Ones, is a beautiful route through Granada. The route became known as the walk of the Sad Ones as it was used for funeral processions to an old cemetery on the hill. Today the walk takes you along the Carrera del Dorro in the valley below the Alhambra, winding along the river ending at the Corral Del Carbón. We highly recommend a stroll here in the morning as the city is waking up. It’s a really peaceful and enjoyable stroll through one of Granadas best-known areas.
12 | Carrera del Dorro
At the base of the hilly residential area of Albaicín and nestled below the Palace of Alhambra is the Carrera del Dorro. This walk, which literally means ‘Road of Gold’, follows the left bank of the Dorro river.
Skirting along the base of Alhambra, this walk is beautiful in the morning as you pass the Cabrera and Espinosa bridges that cross the river. Many of the Arab buildings in the area are originals from the 16 and 17th century.
13 | El Banuelo
While walking the Carrera del Dorro make sure to stop into El Banuelo. These well preserved Arab baths date back to the 11th century and are some of the most important Moorish baths that remain in Spain today. While there is no longer any running water, the original brickwork and windows have been maintained. It is a really special place to visit in Granada and gives an insight into life in Arab Granada.
14 | Corral del Carbón
The Corral del Carbón building is the oldest remaining Arab monument in Granada and is worth spending some time in as you explore the area around the cathedral. The original building has survived since the 14th century and the entrance facade is spectacular. The interior courtyard is in its original form however today it is a little bare due to wear and tear over the centuries.
15 | Granada Cathedral
Once the site of Granada’s main mosque, the Granada cathedral is the fourth largest in the world. The cathedral is a mix of various designs due to the fact that numerous architects worked on it during its 180 years of construction. The main chapel alone is worth the 5 euro entrance fee, with its beautiful circular design and unique walls adorned with statues.
16 | Royal Chapel of Granada
Originally part of Granada Cathedral, the Royal Chapel is the burial place of the Spanish Catholic monarchs, including King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella I. The ornate burial tombs were all hand carved by sculptors from marble and are the highlight of the Royal Chapel.
Best things to do in Granada tip: Photography is not allowed inside the Royal Chapel of Granada.
17 | Alcaiceria Bazaar
You can spend hours browsing the many tiny shops and stalls that make up the modern-day Alcaiceria bazaar. Located on the grounds of the original Arab market place that was destroyed in a fire in 1843, the bazaar is a great place to pick up souvenirs from Granada.
18 | Sierra Nevada National Park
The Sierra Nevada National Park overlooks Granada and is a hikers paradise packed with places to explore. The views are spectacular and on a clear day, it’s actually possible to see across the Meditteranean over to Morocco from one of the viewpoints. Despite being a perfect hiking destination with a huge range of hikes, the Sierra Nevada range is relatively unknown outside of Spain. As a result, the trails are quiet and the views bliss.
19 | Monachil
Taking its name from the Arabic for monastery, the chilled mountain village of Monachil is a is another great hiking option close to Granada. Moachil is a relaxed mountain town that is relatively undiscovered and is worth the short trip from Granada. The main hiking attraction in Monachil are the hanging bridges and canyons of the Los Cahorros gorge.
20 | Carthusian Monastery
Although it’s slightly off the Granada city tourist trail, it’s worth taking a few hours to explore this beautiful Carthusian monastery. The interior of the church is one of the most beautiful in Spain, with its Baroque stucco walls and ceilings. Due to its location on the outskirts of the city centre, the church is relatively quiet and its a really relaxing way to spend a few hours away from the hectic sightseeing of the city.
There are so many amazing things to do in Granada and we’ve tried to capture all our favourites on this list. It’s so easy to spend an afternoon getting lost in Albaycin and Sacromonte or relaxing over delicious tapas in the lively downtown district of Granada. Granada is one of our favourite places in Spain and we definitely hope to return in the near future!
Do you have any other favourite places in Granada? If so, let us know in the comments!