The Spanish city of Granada is world famous for the Alhambra. But Granada has several other beautiful sights. What to do in Granada? 16 tips.
Granada is located in the interior of the Spanish region of Andalusia and is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain. The city is located about 70 kilometers from the Alborán Sea. This is the westernmost part of the Mediterranean, between Spain and Morocco. On the eastern side of the city, the mountain peaks of the Sierra Nevada are clearly visible.
Granada, thanks to Alhambra, is one of the most famous cities in Andalusia and is visited by millions of tourists every year. It also has a beautiful historic city center with many old buildings.
Is visiting Granada worth it? Absolutely! The Alhambra is an absolute must-see and the rest of the city is also full of extraordinary buildings. In addition, there is a very relaxed atmosphere. So yes, visiting Granada is a great idea.
What to do in Granada?
What are the most beautiful Granada sights and attractions? These are the best things to do in Granada Spain.
Of course, Alhambra cannot be missing from this list of beautiful Granada sights. The Alhambra is a large medieval complex with palaces, beautifully landscaped gardens, and a fortress. It is incredibly photogenic and truly fairytale-like. Not surprisingly, Alhambra is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Tip! Visiting Alhambra is incredibly popular. So book your tickets to the Alhambra well in advance when you plan to visit to Granada. Choose the option including Nasrid Palaces to see the most beautiful palaces.
Read more: Visiting Alhambra: the Ultimate Guide
Your ticket to the Alhambra also allows you to visit the adjacent Generalife. This fourteenth-century palace was the summer palace of the sultans, and the surrounding gardens in particular are fantastic to see.
Cuesta de Gomérez
If you walk from Alhambra’s main entrance to the city, you will pass through the Cuesta de Gomérez. This is a kind of path through a forest with an occasional fountain. This feels like an oasis of tranquility after visiting the busy Alhambra.
At the end of the path, you’ll see Puerta de las Granadas, an old city gate from 1536. A great place to walk into the city.
Mirador de San Nicolás
Granada is an incredibly hilly city, so there are several beautiful viewpoints to be found. The most beautiful (and popular) viewpoint is the Mirador de San Nicolás. From here you have the best view of Alhambra.
Tip! Go just before or during sunset for the best light. U.S. President Bill Clinton even called it the most beautiful sunset location in the world.
Do you think Mirador de San Nicolás is too crowded? If so, the nearby Mirador de Santa Isabel la Real is also highly recommended. It’s much quieter here.
Museo Cuevas del Sacromonte
The Sacromonte district is just north of Alhambra and this is where many Spanish gypsies (gitanos) used to live. They made cave dwellings in Valparaiso Hill, and you can see visit some of these dwellings at Museo Cuevas del Sacromonte.
Fun fact: many of the gitanos were practicing Flamenco, a famous Spanish dance and music style. Therefore, you can also visit flamenco shows in Sacromonte. A very fun and special experience during your vacation in Granada!
Calle Calderería Nueva
Calle Calderería Nueva is one of the most vibrant streets in Granada. For a moment here, it even feels like you are not in Granada, but in North Africa. On this street, you can visit Arab tea rooms and there are many souvenir stores selling Arab goodies.
Palacio de Dar-al-Horra
Want to see more beautiful buildings and palaces? Near Mirador de San Nicolás is another one: Palacio de Dar-al-Horra. King Boabdil was the last Arab king of Granada and this was his mother’s palace. So if you have time left, this is also a beautiful place to visit.
Plaza de Santa Ana & Plaza Nueva
Plaza de Santa Ana and Plaza Nueva are two of the most beautiful squares in Granada and they are right next to each other. Plaza Nueva is the city’s oldest square and on the north side, you can admire the impressive Palacio de la Real Chancillería. This building dates back to 1530 (!) and is home to the Supreme Court.
At Plaza de Santa Ana you will see the beautiful Iglesia de Santa Ana, also dating back to the sixteenth century. Want to learn more about the city? Next to the church is the Oficina de Turismo, a.k.a. the tourist office.
Monasterio de San Jerónimo
Just north of the city center is one of the most beautiful buildings in Granada: Monasterio de San Jerónimo. It was built in the 16th century, and this monastery is absolutely stunning. You can wander through the cloisters and visit various rooms such as the sacristy. Of course, you must also take a look inside the richly decorated church.
Catedral de Granada
It took nearly two centuries to finish the Catedral de Granada (from 1505 to 1704), but that was worth it. The structure dominates the center of Granada and is the most important church in the city. It has a richly decorated roof (with lots of gold!) and the circular Renaissance-style presbytery is really beautiful to see.
Tip! Want to learn more about the cathedral and the Royal Chapel? Then join this informative tour led by an expert guide.
Capilla Real de Granada
Right next to the cathedral is the Capilla Real, or Royal Chapel. This building was finished earlier than the cathedral. In fact, the chapel has been there since 1517. You can see two large mausoleums here, including those of the royal couple Ferdinand and Isabella. You can also see several special works of art from Isabella’s collection, including a painting by the famous Italian artist Sandro Botticelli.
Tip! Both the cathedral and the Capilla Real have a free audio guide (also in English). On-site, you can scan a QR code to download the app. So bring your headphones.
Do you like shopping? Next to the cathedral, you will find La Alcaicería, a small bazaar or Arabic market. There are several narrow streets and alleys full of quaint (souvenir) stores here. Here, you can buy beautiful jewelry, colorful fabrics, clothing, and richly decorated plates and dishes, among other things. It is the best place in Granada to find souvenirs. It’s a lovely place to wander around here for a while!
Plaza de Bib Rambla
From La Alcaicería you walk straight onto Plaza de Bib Rambla. This is one of the most beautiful squares in Granada and you might even see a street performer. It is surrounded by terraces, and some trees and there is a beautiful fountain. Plaza de Bib Rambla is a great place to go for a drink.
Fun day trips from Granada
Want to extend your trip to Granada with fun day trips? These places are easily accessible and incredibly fun to explore during a vacation in Granada.
Nerja is a seaside resort about an hour’s drive from Granada. The town itself is really cozy and has many restaurants and beautiful beaches. At the Balcón de Europa, you have a fantastic view of the rocks, the blue sea, and the beaches.
In addition, the Cueva de Nerja (Caves of Nerja) is perhaps the biggest attraction in Nerja. This is an incredibly impressive underground complex with large halls full of stalactites and stalagmites.
Read more: 16 Best things to do in Nerja Spain
The coastal city of Málaga is one of the largest cities in Andalusia. The city has a nice mix of historic and modern buildings. So you can visit centuries-old castles as well as spot hip street art in the streets here. It is also a must to visit the cathedral and climb the roof for stunning views of the city.
Read more: 23 Best things to do in Malaga
Parque Nacional Sierra Nevada
Don’t feel like visiting more cities and do you want to enjoy some nature? The Sierra Nevada Mountains are located near Granada. In the Sierra Nevada, you will find no less than sixteen mountain peaks higher than 300 meters. One beautiful view after another!
You can explore some beautiful hiking trails in the Sierra Nevada and in the winter months you can even ski here (provided there is enough snow, of course).
Tip! Join a tour from Granada to Parque Nacional Sierra Nevada and discover the most beautiful places and viewpoints in one day.
Best places to eat in Granada
Do you like good food? Then you will absolutely love Granada! Did you know that almost everywhere in Granada you get (free) tapas with your drink? These are some fine cafes and restaurants in Granada for a drink and a bite to eat:
- La Bodega de Antonio 1 – This typical Spanish restaurant is a bit hidden on a side street. You can go here for a cheap Menu del Dia or a (large) portion of tapas.
- Los Diamantes – This tapas bar has several locations in the center of Granada and the food is great. The wines are delicious and you get free (a small portion) tapas with your drinks. .
- Bodegas Castañeda – If you feel like having a nice sumptuous lunch or dinner, this is a great place to go. The restaurant has been around since 1927 and the menu features typical Andalusian dishes.
- Bar La Riviera – Beer bar and tapas bar. You get to choose which tapas you get (for free) with your drink.
- Restaurante Garnata – In the mood for a more upscale meal? If so, Restaurante Garnata at Hotel Áurea Washington Irving is highly recommended. The menu features Andalusian dishes with a special twist, very tasty! And yes, it is slightly more expensive than other restaurants above, but still a lot cheaper than in other European countries.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. You can eat good food in so many places in Granada! Would you like to spend an evening trying different dishes? Then it is highly recommended to join a food tour. With this food tour guided by a local, you will discover the best family-owned restaurants and get a taste of the most delicious dishes.
Where to stay in Granada
Granada is an incredibly pleasant city with a very nice atmosphere. It is therefore highly recommended to stay here for at least one or two nights. These are some of the best hotels in Granada:
- Granada Five Senses Rooms & Suites (3⭐, highly rated📈) – Nice hotel in the city center with a small pool on the roof. Some rooms have a hot tub.
- Catalonia Granada (4⭐, highly rated📈) – Modern hotel near the station. This hotel also has a rooftop pool.
- Áurea Washington Irving by Eurostars Hotel Company (5⭐, highly rated📈) – Beautiful and luxurious hotel right in front of the Alhambra. It is only a 3-minute walk to the main entrance. Book a room including breakfast, the buffet is very extensive and you can have a few delicious dishes prepared on request.
Check Booking.com for more options, prices, and availability.
Book your trip to Granada
After reading this article, are you totally in the mood for a city break in Granada? Then it’s time to book your trip!
- Arriving by plane – The nearest international airport is the one in Málaga. Vueling is a good (and very affordable) airline with connections to other places in Spain and Europe. You can also check WayAway, this is a flight aggregator that provides travelers with the best rates on airline tickets.
- From Málaga to Granada – There are several ways to travel from Málaga to Granada.
- Rental Car – the fastest and easiest way to travel from one place to another in Andalucia. Check Rental Cars and Discover Cars to find the best deals.
- By train – It’s really easy to travel by train in Spain. Check Rail Europe for all options and prices.
- By bus – Within Andalusia, you can reach many places by bus. Check Busbud for all options and prices.
- Tours & guided tours – In and around Granada, there are many fun tours and activities to do. Check out Get Your Guide for complete offerings.
- Travel insurance – As for me, travel insurance is a necessary component of any trip, if you want to stay calm in every unexpected event during your journey. Check out Insubuy, this is currently the largest provider of visitor insurance. I’m sure you’ll find the best plan that fits your needs.
Read more about Spain
These were all my Granada tips! Do you feel like taking a trip to Andalusia and want to visit Granada? You’ll find even more tips in these fine travel guides:
You can also read more about a trip to Spain on this website. You might like to read these articles as well:
- 16 great things to do in Seville
- 20 Best things to do in Costa Brava Spain
- 19 fun things to do in San Sebastian
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