Am ancient city in the south of Spain, Granada has a lot to offer the visitor. Wondering what to do in Granada, Spain for a day, weekend or longer? Read on to discover some secrets of gorgeous Granada.
The Weekend Guide to Granada, Spain
Whether you stay in Granada for a day, weekend or a month, here are some of our favorite things to do, lodgings in Granada, and of course tips for eating and drinking too! And we’ve included a handy Granada, Spain attractions map you can view on your smartphone or computer which you will find at the end of this article.
Are you headed to Granada with your sweetheart? Then you will find a plethora of romantic things to do in Granada like visiting the Alhambra at night, wine tasting and tapas, and even experiencing a passionate flamenco performance. Read on for more!
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Getting to Granada
Things To Do in Granada
Day Trips & Overnight Trips from Granada
Granada Restaurants & Bars
Places to Stay in Granada
Getting Around in Granada
Granada Attractions Map
Getting to Granada
It’s easy to get to and from Granada from Madrid, Sevilla and other parts of Spain.
Traveling by car it is about four hours from Madrid to Granada. If you don’t have a car of your own you can rent one or use shared Blablacar like locals do.
It is also very easy to reach Granada by bus from Madrid with ALSA bus and takes about 5 hours. An important note, if you plan to do this keep in mind there are no restrooms on board so don’t drink a huge bottle of water and a coffee before getting on board. 😀 The bus does stop half way for a bathroom and food break.
They are working on a high speed train line from Madrid to Granada so at this time you cannot get there directly by train from Madrid. But you can take the RENFE trains from Madrid to nearby cities like Cordoba, Malaga and Sevilla and take the bus to Granada if you plan to visit those places as well. Check Trainline for ticket and route options within Spain and from other countries as well.
The closest major airports to Granada are Malaga (AGP) and Madrid (MAD). You can fly into Madrid airport from most cities in Europe and of course from all over the globe. Check Skyscanner for the best prices and flight schedules for multiple airlines that fly into Madrid or Malaga.
If you arrive by train or bus you will need to catch a taxi or take the city bus to the city center if you are staying there.
More information about local buses and getting around in Granada is at the end of the article.
Top Things To Do in Granada, Spain
Granada is an ancient city full of fascinating history. The most famous landmark is the Alhambra, which is a must see when visiting Granada. But you must plan ahead if you want to see this sight. Read below for information about how to book tickets in advance as well as what to do if you can’t find available tickets.
Are you looking for things to do in Granada Spain in one day? Then the Alhambra should be on the list. But you can squeeze in a few other things too. Read on for some ideas.
The Albayzin neighborhood is a UNESCO heritage site due to the historic alleyways and structures from Arab, Jewish and Christian populations. Wander these tiny alleyways and imagine what is behind the walls of the “carmens” – the typical houses with secret gardens.
A few helpful tips about Granada:
- The streets and alleys of the Albayzin are covered in beautiful cobblestones, but they are uneven and slippery. Watch your step!
- If you are visiting in the summer it can get very hot, take advantage of the siesta and head to a cool, quiet place to rest.
- Keep in mind that most restaurants and stores will be closed in the afternoons due to this siesta time so plan accordingly. Sightsee in the morning, have a late lunch, then rest until around 8pm when you can go for a drink and tapas. Dinner is not typically eaten until 10pm or so.
- The Alhambra does not close for siesta but most museums and monuments do.
Guided Tours in Granada, Spain:
If this is your first visit to Granada, you might want to get oriented and learn about the city with a walking tour.
- Take a walking tour with a guide to learn about the city’s history and most famous sights
- Explore the hilly Albaicin and Sacromonte with a guide to learn about hidden some of Granda’s hidden secrets
- I like to get to know a place through food. If you’re like me, check out this Granada food tour!
- Maybe you’d like something a bit more exciting? If so, check out this ebike or segway tour. Definitely a thrill on Granada’s hills.
Visiting the Alhambra in Granada
If this is your first visit to Granada you will want to see the Alhambra. Admission is controlled each day to keep the crowds at an acceptable level. Therefore you will need to plan ahead to get tickets during your visit.
Especially in high season tickets can quickly sell out. You can purchase tickets via the Alhambra website up to three months in advance.
Reserve your tickets directly through the Alhambra. Here is the website in English for the General Ticket which includes everything (Nasrid Palaces, Gardens, Generalife, Alcazaba). You can also look at the other types of tickets such as Doble de Oro or night time visits to the Alhambra. They have a helpful chat feature if you have questions. Or you can call them at +34 858 953 616. (you can no longer get Alhambra tickets through Ticketmaster)
What to do if Alhambra tickets are sold out?
If you do not see any tickets available for your dates, it is still possible to visit the Alhambra with a guided tour. Here are several guided tours which will give you access to the UNESCO Heritage Site. Here are some guided tours of the Alhambra. The guides are full of useful information and if you get a good one it is definitely worth the extra cost if you love to know lots of details.
For lots more details about how to visit the Alhambra, how to get up to the site, and what to see, check out our guide to visiting the Alhambra.
Free Things To Do in Granada
Walking around Granada and exploring on your own is of course free. Put on your comfy shoes and go for a wander up and down hills and through the small and crooked alleyways of the Albayzin and Realejo. If you love taking photos you’ll find a lot of great photo ops.
Some of the local museums and monuments have free days, check their websites for the latest information. If you are on a budget you can definitely take advantage of these free things to do in Granada.
- Several museums and monuments are free for EU residents. Check here for information.
- Entrance to El Banuelo is free certain days of the week including Sunday.
- Wander the old market called the Alcaicería. It is touristy now but you can enjoy the narrow alleys and the architecture. Be sure to stop by the Corral del Carbon as well.
- Check out Huerta de San Vicente, the summer home of Federico Garcia Lorca, in the middle of a pretty park for free on Wednesday afternoons.
- Visit some of the free Granada gardens on this list. My favorites are Carmen de los Martires and Carmen de la Victoria. These are also quiet places that can be non touristy things to do in Granada.
- You need a ticket to the Alhambra to visit the Generalife and Nasrid Palace but access to the Palace of Carlos V, the Museum of the Alhambra and the Baths are free. Enter through the Puerta de la Justicia.
- Wander along the River Darro and stop to take photos or kiss your sweetheart on the Paseo de los Tristes with beautiful views up to the Alhambra. A very romantic thing to do in Granada.
- Head to a mirador, especially at sunset. Mirador San Nicolas is the most famous and has a gorgeous view of the sun’s last rays hitting the Alhambra. There are usually street musicians playing songs and lots of people taking selfies.
More Things To do in Granada
Combine the above free things to do with the below tips to create a self-guided walking tour of Granada. Here are some of the top things to see in Granada, and check below for our Granada, Spain attractions map.
- Start at the gorgeous Cathedral. You can tour the inside by purchasing a ticket at the door or in advance. It is also included with the Granada Card. Next door the Royal Chapel of Granada is where King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel are buried.
- Walk through Plaza Bib Rambla, a typical Spanish style square with cafes all around.
- Head toward Plaza Nueva and check out the beautiful Iglesia de San Gil y Santa Ana church, then walk along the River Darro and take in the sights.
- Stop in to El Bañuelo to see the ancient Moorish baths. The monument is free certain days of the week, check the signage on the door or ask at the desk.
- Head into the Albayzin to check out Casa de Zafra, a typical Moorish carmen house from the 14 and 15th century. This monument is also free on certain days or included in the Granada Card.
- Wander the small alleys of the Albayzin, perhaps stop at some of the hidden gardens or head toward Mirador San Nicolas for the sunset. There are plenty of cafes where you could stop in for a bite.
- Walk up to the caves of Sacromonte and explore the area. You can visit the cave museum that explains the gitano tradition of living in caves carved into the mountainside. Maybe you’d even be interested in sleeping in a cave too? Check it out here – you can and it even has a swimming pool… Definitely one of the unusual or weird things to do in Granada!
- Head up to Sacromonte in the evening to catch a flamenco performance. That’s one of the most popular things to do in Granada at night.
- You might also enjoy visiting a hammam while you are in Granada. Popular Hammam Al Ándalus is peaceful and lovely inside.
- If you are looking for non touristy things to do in Granada, I suggest heading away from the Albayzin, past Plaza Nueva and toward Plaza del Carmen and Plaza de Gracia. If you explore those areas you will see fewer and fewer tourists in the cafes and bars. Walk the side streets and explore promising places.
Day Trips & Overnight Trips Near Granada
Although Granada is a small city there is a lot to discover and the twisting alleyways have secrets around every bend. But perhaps you would also like to explore the surrounding areas. Here are some interesting places close to Granada that are perfect for a day trip or overnight adventure.
If you have a car you can reach many places in an hour or less. But if you don’t, never fear. You can also hop on the ALSA bus or take a guided tour.
Here are some of the best overnight and day trips near Granada:
- Las Alpujarras are a historical region on the flanks of the Sierra Nevada. Visit the small villages to taste traditional local products and go hiking and camping in the hills. See the picturesque white villages and sample wine from the local vineyards. If you don’t have your own car you can visit some of the villages by ALSA but or take a more convenient guided tour.
- Head to the beaches of Salobreña, Almuñecar or Nerja. All can be reached by ALSA bus or even faster by car.
- In the winter go skiing in the Sierra Nevada.
- Hikers and campers will enjoy a visit to the gorgeous Sierra Nevada National Park. There are snowy peaks to climb and tons of hiking trails. See the below map for some of the recreation areas in the national park. Don’t have your own car? Take a half day 4×4 tour.
- Cabo de Gata is an amazing coastal nature preserve in Andalucia. It’s best to head there with a car if you have one. You can go hiking, bird watching (see flamingos!), and tidepooling as well as diving and boat excursions. You can also visit the small charming villages in the park like Nijar or head to the wild beaches.
- Visit lovely Malaga for a night or weekend. This charming city by the sea is a fun place to explore. Don’t miss the Alcazaba. It’s also an excellent stop if you are flying home or elsewhere as the airport is accessible by metro.
- Cordoba is one of my favorite Andalusian cities. The entire city center is a UNESCO Heritage site and there are plenty of monuments to explore. Check out our Cordoba weekend guide to learn more.
Places to Eat & Drink in Granada
Granada is famous for the tapas, and rightfully so! It is one of the only places in Spain where you will always get free snacks with every drink you order.
Granada has food options for all budget levels. Here are some of our favorite places to eat in Granada. And of course some of the best places for wine or cocktails too. See below for a handy google map with all these locations and more.
- If you like fish be sure to stop for tapas at one of the locations of Los Diamantes.
- Bar Casa Julio is another awesome place for fishy tapas and friendly staff. The perfect place to start your night of tapas hopping.
- Calle Calderería Nueva and Calle Calderería Vieja are filled with small shops and tea rooms. Pick one you like for a relaxing cup of tea and a sweet snack, or a refreshing fruit smoothie. I like Teteria As Sirat. Abaco Té nearby is another cozy and romantic hangout.
- Bar Poe is a quirky place that students love. The tapas are hearty and you get to choose which one you’d like from the menu. The food is Brazilian meets British.
- Vegans and vegetarians will love Restaurante Páprika.
- Bodegas Castañeda is a traditional pub style bar and restaurant with amusing service and a lively atmosphere.
- El Delirio serves Mexican inspired food in a fun modern environment. It’s a good place to start the evening.
- A place with a quirky setting is Bar la Trastienda. Enter the small shop and squeeze behind the front counter to get to the bar hidden in the back. Have a vermut de grifo and hide from the world.
- In the mood for wine? Make your way to my favorite wine bar Casa de Vinos La Brujidera. But don’t tell too many people, let’s keep it cozy with regulars.
- Bar Avila II is a great place to go for tapas.
- I’d recommend sitting down to lunch or dinner at La Bodega de Antonio 1. The food is delicious! But you can also go for tapas.
- Craving a cocktail? The Cocktail Garden Tomasas is a fabulous find, hidden in a secret garden with amazing views. Definitely one of the romantic things to do in Granada if you enjoy fancy cocktails.
- Spend a warm afternoon or evening sitting with a few friends outside a small cafe and watching the passersby on Granada’s hilly paths. Pick a small bar like Taberna 22 or Las Cuevas around the corner.
- If you are just looking for a quick bite to go or want to eat a picnic on a bench I have a few suggestions. Interestingly the kebab places in Granada are some of the best I have tried around Europe. My favorite is a little hole in the wall called Damasco on Calle Elvira. The owner gives you a free falafel ball while you wait. His kebab, falafel and shwarma are delish. Or if you are a fan of jamon, grab a sandwich to go at Viandas de Salamanca.
- Piononos are a Spanish dessert that is found in Andalucia and particularly in the area around Granada. SO GOOD! The best one I tried was at Casa Pasteles Albayzin, but you can find them at many local bakeries.
A hot Andalusian afternoon calls for ice cream. Luckily you will spot shops on nearly every block. One of the most popular in town is Heladería Los Italianos where you can find traditional style sliced ice creams. Interesting!
Remember to check out the map below for the addresses of these restaurants and more.
Places to Stay in Granada
There are many places to stay within the small city of Granada. If you can find a place with a roof terrace or balcony in the Albayzin you’ll experience lovely views. Most of these will be in Airbnbs and apartment rentals but several hotels and hostels also have terrific views.
Keep in mind that Granada’s old city is hilly with lots of stairs and cobblestones when you are planning your arrival with luggage.
I definitely recommend you use HotelsCombined to compare lodging prices across all booking engines when searching for accommodations. And you can click the links below to get more information and availability for each option.
If you book through Airbnb, use this link to save €30 off your first reservation.
Budget lodgings in Granada:
- Hostel VITA: a great roof terrace at this conveniently located hostel in the Realejo area.
- Pension San Jose: basic, inexpensive lodgings with a friendly host
- Hostal Verona: spacious rooms painted in bright colors, great if you are traveling with a group as there are often several beds in the rooms.
- Rent a room in this flat on Airbnb in the Albayzin. Use this link to save €30 off your first reservation.
- Pension Boutique Gomerez Gallegos: budget friendly rooms and apartments right on Plaza Nueva
- Rent a room in this cute apartment on Airbnb and get a great deal! Use this link to save €30 off your first reservation.
- For a unique experience, check out this cave hostel! Yes, in a cave!
Apartments in Granada:
- Oro del Darro Suites: beautifully decorated apartments in the flat part of the Albaicin with incredible Alhambra views
- Bellavista: apartments with kitchens and stunning views as well as budget rooms in a traditional building
- This bright apartment has 2 bedrooms and is available on Airbnb. Use this link to save €30 off your first reservation.
- Casa de los Neveros: stylish, chic apartments with amazing views of the Alhambra
- Check out this studio apartment on Airbnb that would be great for 1-2 people.
- Get away from the bustle in this cave apartment with private plunge pool. It’s fabulous! And it’s in a cave! What?
- Lavadero de la Cruz: clean and modern apartment located in a less touristy neighborhood but still close to everything
- This spacious loft apartment in the Albaicin is available on Airbnb. Use this link to save €30 off your first reservation.
- Petit Palais 1829: if you are traveling with a group these places are ideal. Rent 1-4 bedroom apartments that are nicely decorated.
Hotels in Granada Spain:
- Hotel Casa Morisca: sleep in an updated Moorish style building
- Santa Isabel la Real: lovely hotel near Mirador San Nicolas
- Mirador del Jazmin: stunning architectural details can be found at this hotel located in a historic building with views of the Alhambra
Getting Around in Granada
If you are only visiting Granada for a weekend you will probably be able to see many of the sights on foot. However, Granada is quite hilly so if you are not up for that there are other options to get around.
I highly recommend comfortable shoes. I took a nasty fall on the cobblestone steps in Granada and so did one of my friends. In addition to my clumsiness, the fault was on our flimsy sandals. Here is a list of great shoes and sandals for traveling in Spain.
As mentioned above if you are arriving by train or bus you can access the city center via the city bus. Catch it just in front of the train station. See the city bus information here.
There are small mini buses that serve the Albayzin and Realejo – you can see the maps and schedules here. Keep in mind that these are often packed to the gills, so if you are traveling with luggage or a group it may not be the best idea. The buses stop near some of the main sights like the Alhambra and Mirador San Nicolas but you will still need to walk, sometimes up steep hills and cobblestone stairs. Just something to keep in mind if you have mobility issues. Also the weather can be quite hot in summer so bring water if you will be walking around in the sun.
Both the city buses and mini buses can be used for free a certain number of times with the Granada Card. If you are visiting Granada for more than a few days or will be using the buses a lot you can also purchase a bus pass from the machines at some of the main stops.
And of course you can hire a taxi to get you around the city, keep in mind in the Albayzin and Realejo many of the small streets are only accessible on foot. A taxi can drop you off but you will still need to walk. Just keep this in mind if you have a lot of luggage or mobility issues.
Granada, Spain Attractions Map
All of the above locations (and more) are included on the below map which you can view on your computer or smartphone. Click here to access the map. If you open it when you are logged into Google you should also be able to access it in the Google Maps app on your phone. I hope it helps you find some amazing places and fun things to do in Granada.
I hope you liked this weekend guide to Granada and that you enjoy your visit to this fascinating place.
Headed to Spain this summer? Take a look at this handy list to decide what to pack for a trip to Spain.
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