Situated in southern Spain, Granada is famous for an exciting variety of tourist attractions. These include those with historical significance such as the magnificent Alhambra as well as those with an aesthetic value like Carmen de Los Martires, among other amazing features.
Due to a vast number of attraction sites, you may miss out on the best ones. And it’s for this reason you need the following comprehensive guide of the best and memorable things to do in Granada. It also includes the direction to get there, best places to eat as well as fancy places to retire in the evening after a long day of exciting excursions.
See Also: Best Things to do in Cuenca, Spain
The city lies at the base of Sierra Nevada, the highest mountain in the Iberian Peninsula, with the highest peak at 3478 meters above sea level. What’s more, Granada is closer to the Mediterranean Sea with a favorable climatic condition throughout the year. Thus you can visit the region at any time of the year.
Alhambra is Granada’s crown jewel without a doubt. With about 10 000 visitors daily, the charm of the places has surpassed any other attractions in the region. And it’s for this reason that you just have to stop by while in Granada and appreciate the breathtaking view of this magnificent fortress and its beautiful surroundings.
With over 800 years, this beautiful relic has been under the rule of Moorish between the eighth and fifteenth centuries. Initially, it dated back to the 9th century, but the fortress and its walls were rebuilt extensively in the 1200s by the ruler of Moorish, which was known as Granada Emirate at that time.
In particular, Nasrid Palaces are the most charming ones with stunningly beautiful interiors in Alhambra. They were built by Nasrid Kings who were Granada’s final Moorish rulers. This was between the 13th and 14th centuries.
Lying along the stunningly beautiful Nasrid Palaces is Alhambra’s major attraction also popular as Generalife. At one given time in the past, it was Granada’s King spot for leisure and relaxation. These fascinating gardens are among the oldest surviving gardens of Moorish in the world.
The name Generalife stands for ‘the architects’ garden’. It is based on the hilltop providing a spectacular view of Dorros River and Granada below. The outstanding feature of the garden is the courtyard with a water garden characterized by water fountains and a long pool.
Address: 18009 Granada, Spain
To enjoy the complete beauty of Generalife, spring is an excellent time to visit the place. During this time, the flower beds are quite colorful with neatly trimmed topiaries and edges. But that’s not all; one section of the garden that is quite memorable is hillcrest where you would find emir in the shades during summer.
3. Catedral de Granada
Did you know that Catedral de Granada is number four in terms of majestic size in the world? Yes, this is true. This church has been crafted with unique designs over 180 years by numerous architects. And that’s not all; this original cathedral foundation is Grenada’s major mosque.
During its erection, there was a fashion transition. Thus you will note a gothic foundation with the main structure portraying renaissance. To fully soak up the beauty of this cathedral, get into the main chapel.
It has a spectacular circular design that is highlighted with magnificent statues and unique walls. However, you will need 5 Euro as the entry fee into the building.
4. Royal Chapel of Granada
Originally, the Royal Chapel was part of the cathedral. This place was designated for burying high-rank people like King Ferdinand as well as Queen Isabella and the catholic monarch from Spain. To create the highlight of this burial ground, the sculptors were hand-carved from marble. The original designer of the Royal Chapel of Granada is Domenico Fancelli.
5. Palace of Charles V
This fascinating palace is situated at the peak of Assabica hill and within Alhambra palace fortified walls. Built in the early 16th century, it was meant for the Holy Roman Emperor who wished for a residence that is close to Alhambra.
The construction of this palace was out of his wish to avoid the existing Alhambra palace that was a hindrance to alteration of the Moorish castle beyond recognition. Thus, the Palace of Charles V conveys a great deal of the region’s historical background.
6. Nasrid Palaces
A walk through the spectacular Nasrid Palaces is the best way to start your Alhambra visit. These palaces are amongst the most beautiful sections of the Alhambra. It comprises a chain of courtyard and building that resembles a garden which is flowing.
Nasrid palaces are amongst the most popular section of Alhambra with more visits than what the place can hold at a particular time. Therefore, you will need to book a tour of these palaces.
Amongst the best spots not to miss while in these palaces are the Lion Courtyard which is characterized by a beautiful intricate design and other stunning sections such as Arrayanes Courtyard pond and Oratory.
7. Granada Science Park
After soaking on the intriguing relic attractions that Granada has to offer, a change of scenery is not a bad idea. And this is where Granada Science Park comes in handy. The modern lighting and building decoration is the first outstanding feature that will catch your eyes once you walk into this place. But that’s not all; it has two buildings that include Macroscopic and Foucault’s Pendulum.
For those who love biological sciences, then Macroscopio is the best place to be. The exhibits in this place appreciate the success of Al-Andalus scientists who are Islamic. However, it’s also not a bad idea to take a look at what physical sciences have to offer at Foucault’s Pendulum.
Situated on Alhambra western tip, you will find towers and marital ramparts of Alcazaba. Originally, the site was a 13th-century citadel. The most famous among the towers is Torre de la Vela also known as the watchtower. This is because of the 1492 raising of the Reconquista, cross, and banners. Furthermore, it’s the Alhambra oldest section with great historical importance to the region’s heritage.
Address: 18009 Granada, Spain
9. Granada Charterhouse
To the north of Albayzin is Granada’s is Charterhouse, one of the most lavish monasteries. This site is located 20 minutes away from the city. But if you are not in a walking mood, then a bus ride is an excellent means to get there faster and tirelessly.
This initial building foundation was in 1506, but the actual construction began after 10years. However, it was until 300 years later that this monastery was completed.
A visit to this place will stun you with sacristy by F. Manuel Vasquez and Luis de Arevalo from 1727 to 1764. What’s more, there are prominent painting collections and a striking tabernacle.
10. Corral del Carbon
Corral Del Carbon is an excellent site to visit for those who love to appreciate a bit of history. Founded in the early 14th century, it is among the oldest monuments remaining from the Nasrid dynasty. It was constructed to serve as a shelter as well as a warehouse for merchants.
And lucky are you since the entry into this historical monument is free and accessible by the public. Apart from the historical significance, this building has a charming design consisting of an oriental model with Grenadian details and decorations.
11. Monasterio de San Jerónimo Granada
The magnificent Monasterio de san Jeronimo Granada stands out as the first monastery built in Granada. This was after the city was conquered by Christians. Also, it’s where the Great Captain was buried.
Therefore, this monastery is a jewel that many historians would love to take a look at and learn about from the time its construction began in the late 15th century. Apart from the great historical background, the sacristy is another great feature that draws many visitors to this monastery.
12. Ermita de San Miguel Alto
It is situated San Miguel hill coronation with a spectacular view of Albayzin and Alhambra. Its current location was initially Aceituno tower during the Muslim era in the late 17th century. However, the tower was brought down in the early 19th century and was later rebuilt. Thus, it conveys both historical as well as ethnological significance.
13. Museo Cuevas del Sacromonte
A visit to Sacromonte will surprise you with how time has frozen in this rusty gypsy area. It is distinctively one of Granada’s fascinating attractions. You will find many locals who are still living in the traditional dappled white caves. These caves are carved from the rocks.
Additionally, there are other rusty dwellings which are improvised entirely from cloth, wood and scrap metal. In these dwellings, a rusty bucket is often the bathroom while an old rag is often the cover of its entry.
At night if you are lucky to be around, you will enjoy the famous flamenco gathering which often ends late at night. If you love formal shows, then Venta El Gallo is the best spot. This venue has an amazing roof terrace and a great place to enjoy live flamenco performances.
14. Carmen de Los Martires
Based close to Alhambra at the hilltop, Carmen de Los Martires is truly a spectacular place to take a rest while admiring the surrounding beautiful gardens. Furthermore, due to the high population of visitors who are focused on visiting Alhambra, this beautiful garden with a leafy path, small ponds and colorful flower beds offer a quiet and peaceful site to cool your mind while relaxing.
Furthermore, during the summer and spring intense heat, its shaded pathways offer a great refuge from direct sunlight. What’s more, the spectacular view of Granada from the hilltop offers a sense of space and peace that is absent in the crowded and noisy city center.
Lastly, there is a fairy tower right at the center of the garden. It has spiral stairs that give you access to the top where you can relax and appreciate the breathtaking view of the garden as well as Granada.
15. Plaza Isabel La Catolica
Based at the meeting point of Reyes Ctolicos and Gran via de Colon Street is the magnificent Plaza Isabel La Catolica. It comprises a square with a monument devoted to Queen Isabel as well as Columbus. It serves as a contentious example of capitalism. Being sculpted in the late 19th century in Rome, it carries a great deal of historical significance.
Address: 18009 Granada, Spain
How to get to Granada
The location of Granada in the region is strategic and great for the exploration of Spain’s southern section. But to begin your venture in the region, you must first get there. There are three major channels of transport you can rely on to get to Granada. They include air, train, and bus.
Don’t judge Granada airport due to the small size. In fact, it’s the best means to make your trip fast and simple. To begin with, your luggage will be well secured and the boarding gates are only two, making your work easier. What’s more, it has the capacity to support major incoming flights from other Spanish cities as well as European countries. Thus, if you are arriving from London, Manchester, Milan, Palma de Mallorca, Madrid or Barcelona, then you are lucky.
If you are afraid of heights or don’t fancy traveling by air, then the train is another best means to get to Granada. All you have to do is book your ticket and board the train on time. Since the country is in the process of upgrading to high-speed trains leading to Granada, you will have to bear with traditional long-distance rails.
The time duration of arriving at Granada depends on the place where you board the train. For instance, traveling from Barcelona to Granada takes about 12 hours while from Madrid to Granada about four and half hours among other options.
Traveling by bus is another best means to get to Granada. However, most of the bus stations arriving and departing from Granada stop in the suburban area. But the good thing is you can still get to Granada easily via bus from major Spanish cities.
Once you arrive at the suburban area bus stop, board the autobuses that will take you right in the city center. Alternatively, there is a city bus which can take you to the city center. In this case, SN1line stops in front of the Catedral stop in the center of the city.
Best Places to Eat in Granada
This spot is very popular for serving delicious seafood tapas. Thus it’s a great place to stop by if you fancy seafood or wish to try out for the first time. And as the name indicates, there is also a bar at the premise where you can complete with a beer or two as you relax.
If you can’t stomach local cuisines, then a visit to Terra Bar is the best choice. Best for offering international cuisines, you will find your favorite dish to order in this place.
Additionally, they also offer live performances to support local artists, thus if you are lucky you will find one in progress or about to start. Furthermore, the strategic location of this Terra bar makes it best to dine in after a long day city exploration.
And if you are a vegan, Terra bar is still the best place to dine as the chef upholds quality cooking by use of extra virgin oil on both vegan and meaty dishes.
El Claustro is best for luxurious dining while in Granada. The prime location makes it accessible while in the city center. What’s more, apart from the great dining experience, the place offers a spectacular view of the ancient courtyard as well as a unique architectural design.
As a guest, you have a wide range of dishes to choose from. This ranges from delicious local cuisines to international dishes of your choice. Thus, El Claustro is the best place to dine with both relaxing and spiritual sensations. However, you will have to dig a little deeper into your budget but it’s worth it.
Based on Alhambra’s foot, this restaurant is a great recommendation if you love and fancy history. The restaurant offers a wide range of dishes that comprises a blend of local cuisines, culture, Arab flavors, and international cuisines.
Additionally, these restaurants offer catering services for both individuals as well as groups. Lastly, whether you are vegan, vegetarian or meat lover, you will find the exact dish that suits you at Ruta Del Azafran.
Los Jardines de Zoraya is a must-visit spot to dine with delicious dishes. Situated at the hills facing the famous Alhambra, the strategic restaurant location and the best dishes are quite unavoidable. Some of the best dishes which they offer include grilled, and flavored Iberian pork, mojito sorbet as the dessert, and cured meat served with goat meat.
Places to stay in Granada
Based on a few minutes’ walks from the cathedral in Granada, Hotel Palacio De Santa Paula is an excellent place to stay if you are new in the region. Its strategic location in the city center ensures you will never get lost and also makes it easier to locate.
Also, while enjoying this beautiful hotel with exclusive services, have a chance to appreciate its historical significance. Formerly, it was a convent before being restored and transformed into a hotel. What’s more, its central courtyard is popular for a great evening dining as well as breakfast due to its stunning beauty.
Also popular for its strategic location close to the Cathedral, Granada Five Senses Rooms and Suites offer the best accommodation services in town. The location makes it accessible for anyone afraid of venturing into the countryside for accommodation.
With a great variety of restaurants and tapas bars within your reach, this hotel is best if you are searching for accommodation with a modern set up. What’s more, you can access a variety of Granada best attractions that are based a few steps away.
If you are a diehard historian, then Santa Isabel la Real is a perfect choice. Apart from offering the best accommodation services, Santa Isabel la Real carries a great deal of history you can inquire from the management.
Originally, it was founded in the 16th century with a perfect location in Albaicin. Furthermore, with its strategic location in the city, you have a great opportunity to explore Albaicin and Alhambra which are within reach.
This is an incredibly amazing boutique hotel to stay in for a while in Granada. Based in the city, it is found between Albacin and the city center. Despite being pricey in the high season, it’s worth your spending.
Moreover, during the low season, they offer great rates considering the best service quality they offer.
Being a luxurious hotel in this region, you will have to book in advance to enjoy the exclusive services and amenities they are offering. Founded way before the 14th century, Parador de Granada is an excellent place to stay with the great historical significance you can explore.
Apart from the elegant rooms and services, Parador de Granada offers you the closest interaction with the region crown jewel, Alhambra, which is based at your doorstep. Therefore, book your place to stay and begin enjoying your tour immediately.
If you love dwelling in luxury and elegance, then Hotel Alhambra palace is exactly where you should stay. Being a 5-star hotel, the services and amenities are quite exceptional. This luxurious hotel has exclusive rooms that offer insight into the historical background of Generalife and Alhambra palaces.
And that’s not all, the luxurious bit of this hotel extends to the bar and restaurant with a formal feel. What’s more, it’s a great place to experience a bit of Moorish culture.