Guide To Visiting Granada

Guide To Visiting Granada and Things to do in Granada, Spain

Thinking about heading to Spain sometime and wondering about things to do in Granada, Spain? Unlike Madrid and Barcelona, or even Ibiza that most people know and may have visited, Granada Spain is a bit more quiet. It is however known for its medieval architecture, royal palaces, fountains and gardens. You will have plenty of things to do in Granada Spain when you visit.


Where is Granada, Spain

The city of Granada Spain can be found right at the point where the mountains of the Sierra Nevada meets the Vega’s fertile plain. Just behind the town is a steep mountain range, and only in front is flat agricultural land. Granada is the capital city of the Andalucía region of Spain. The city sits at 738m above sea level and is only one hour by car from the Mediterranean Sea.  Granada is located in the south of Spain, as this map of Spain shows: 

Granada Map
Credits: TuRbO_J, Flickr CC BY 2.0

How to Get to Granada, Spain and How to Get Around Granada

There are many flights available from European cities to Granada. Given that it is one of the most visited cities in all of Europe, that comes as no real surprise. The airport of Granada is simply referred to as Granada International airport. One thing that you should bear in mind is that the city is only one hour away from a much busier airport, Malaga. Many tourists will fly into Malaga, and get the bus, or hire a car to visit the city. 

If you are flying from North America, or anywhere outside of Europe, you will have to make a stopover at another European city in order to recap your destination. You shouldn’t worry, however, as Madrid and Barcelona are within proximity, and run multiple flights per day to Granada. 

Granada airport is situated approximately 12km (7 miles) from the center of the city. This means that the best option is often just to hire a taxi once you arrive from the airport, straight to your accommodation, so you don’t have to walk through the streets with your luggage. This taxi would cost approximately €30. There is also a bus service that takes you right to the city center, so you should check out the departing times and a map of the bus routes in the city.

While in Granada, you can get around by walking, taking taxis, cabs, and buses, and of course there are car rentals in Granada Spain.


Granada Spain Weather

The weather in the south of Spain varies hugely with the seasons, but the best time to visit the city of Granada is in Springtime. During the months of March, April & May, the temperatures are mild, pleasant, and there are fewer tourists. It is an enjoyable time for a getaway in the province. In the summer months, Granada really begins to come alive, with the Feria event taking place in June. It can be very, very hot and uncomfortable during the city in the daytime, so be prepared and pack appropriately. 

Granada, Spain

The fall or autumn months are very similar to spring, although there are a few religious celebrations that take place in this season. If you’re into festivals, then this would be a great time to visit. Granada is also very charming during the winter months, but then, the weather is much cooler! Temperatures can drop to below 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit), very different from the connotations of sun and beaches that we usually hold of this Andalusia region. So the weather in Granada can be an adventure in itself. 


What Language is spoken Granada, Spain

As Granada is part of Spain, the Spanish language is used in the city. However, as mentioned before, it is a highly accessible city for tourists, meaning that English is spoken in many areas, such as the traditional tourists’ spots. Should you find yourself having to speak to locals, perhaps to ask for directions, order a drink, try to make some kind of effort to talk in the local language, it will be much appreciated!


What Currency is used in Granada, Spain

As Spain is part of the Eurozone, the Euro currency (€) is used. You are unlikely to have any kind of problem finding an ATM to change your money, particularly in the city center. Most bars and restaurants will accept credit card payments, but some places especially smaller shops might prefer cash, so make sure to keep this in mind and have some cash on you. 


Is Granada Spain Safe?

Yes, Granada is very safe. Like most other touristy cities, the only real kind of crime that you should worry about is petty crime, such as pickpockets. The major tourist areas such as the Alhambra and Plaza Nueva are extraordinarily safe and vibrant, both day and night. All you need to do is apply some common sense, hold on to your belongings, and you shouldn’t come across any kind of trouble. 


Where to Stay in Granada Spain?

1. Historic City Centre

One of the best part of Granada to stay in is the historic city center because absolutely everything that you’ll need on your Granada vacation, including numerous bars, restaurants, and a range of hotels, not to mention that it is close to the majority of the main sites in this section of the city. You will find hotels as well as airbnb, hostels and a lot of other places to stay while in Granada. 

2. The Albaicín 

This area is not just a UNESCO world heritage site, but it is also just genuinely stunning. It is a fantastic place to call home, yet it still has some pros and cons. Consider staying here if you are looking for the best place to stay in Granada, Spain. 

The Albaicín - Granada, Spain

While it is unique, it is still quite a bit away from some of the other sites and famous bars & restaurants so it’s also a great place to stay if you want some peace and quiet after all the running around in the daytime. 

3. Realejo 

This is Granada’s old Jewish quarter, tucked between the historic city center and the Alhambra. It is one of the most vibrant areas of Granada with a whole range of nightclubs and bars to keep yourself entertained. We think this is one of the best areas to stay in Granada, Spain!


Best Things to See and Do In Granada, Spain

1. Tour and Visit The Alhambra 

We couldn’t write about Granada, of course, without making reference to this stunning architectural work of art. The Alhambra, which is the palace and fortress of Granada, is one of the most iconic sites in all of Southern Europe and is also a massive attraction in the South of Spain.

Visit The Alhambra

This relic is the most extended surviving structure since Spain’s Moorish rule. This unique landscape sits on the peak of the Darro Valley. Its origins date back to the 8th century but the forts and walls were rebuilt in the 12th century under the Moorish rule. Further changes were made in the 13th & 14th centuries to preserve the features of the structure and till date, it is an architectural marvel in Granada. It also tops our list of best places to visit in Granada. 

2. See the Palacio de Dar la-Horra memorial 

One of the old town’s most impressive architectural structures is this memorial. The names translate as “The Honest home,” and was the place of residency of the latest Moorish King of the city of Granada. The rooms and quarters can be found on three separate levels around one central pool and a courtyard that provide space to stay cool during the summer. The remains of an extensive orchard and gardens is also accessible on your visit. This also is one of the best things to do in Granada! 

3. Go Tour the Generalife 

This building plays the role of the summer palace for Royals. With fantastic garden features providing an excellent spot to wind down and relax, particularly during the brutal summer months in Andalusia, the kings of Granada used this estate as their vacation home.

Generalife

Between the narrow paths that wind between the various ranges of flowerbeds and fabulously elegant walkways, this spot is a must-see in the city. The external walkway also provides breathtaking views of Albaicín, which is perhaps one of the most renowned sights in the city. 

4. Get a Quick Drink at Bar La Fragua

If you find yourself in the old town, this little tapas bar is undoubtedly a must-visit. The owner of this bar, who is continually holding a beautiful bottle of Alhambra beer in his left hand, is extraordinarily friendly. You will find great music at night as well as one of the lowest-priced glasses of wine in the entire city. The Carne en Salsa tapa is a favorite and the rest of the food is generally good. So if you’re looking for tasty homemade food at cheap prices, head over to Bar La Fragua. It is one of the best places to eat in Granada. 

5. Visit Carmen de Los Martires Gardens

Should you ever find yourself at the top of the Alhambra, do not be tempted to head back down before checking out these fantastic Carmen de Los Martires Gardens, one of Granada’s most impressive green spaces. Since most visitors only come here to see the Alhambra, this fabulous garden often remains empty and unoccupied. You’ll see why this is on our list of top things to do in Granada, Spain. 

Carmen de Los Martires Gardens
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

It is the perfect place to catch a little bit of shade during the summer months, and the phenomenal views across the city landscape are an oasis from what can be a rather cramped city center.

6. Visit the Museum of Fine Arts 

As Granada’s largest museum of art for classic & historical pieces, and home to more than 2,000 authentic pieces, this area is well worth visiting if you happen to be passing through the region. It is home to several religious relics, other paintings, and sculptures which date from the 16th century onwards. It acts as a reminder of the Catholic influence in Granada, and attempts of the Catholic Monarchs to spread their control over the region for thousands of years. This museum is also home to various works from Alonso Cano, the architect who was heavily involved in the façade of the Cathedral. Visiting this museum is one of the best things to do in Granada, especially when you’re looking for indoor activities or rainy day activities in Granada. 

7. Visit Historic Albaicín 

No-one could complete their trip to Granada without allowing time to visit the oldest area of the city, Albaicín. This little area is filled with winding streets and whitewashed houses. And this place is one of the most beautiful places in Spain! Visiting here goes on our list of most romantic things to do in Granada Spain! 

Albaicín

To reach the top of Albaicín, it does require you to spend a little bit of energy, but it will be an effort that is well spent. The views from the very top are some of the finest in the entire city, not to mention the important flea market at the very top – a Granada attraction you can’t miss! 

8. Stop for tapas at Bar Pibe 

Should you find yourself exploring the region of Sacromonte, you should seriously consider making a stop at Bar Pibe, a friendly tapas bar with a terrace that offers some incredible views overlooking the Alhambra. You’ll be in for a pleasant surprise! If it wasn’t for the popularity and familiarity of the name of this bar, you would be forgiven for mistaking it as a small private patio. This bar can be found on the main tourist street of Sacromonte, but it never really has a touristy feel to it. Despite the phenomenal views, drinks are as cheap as anywhere else in the city. So if in Granada’s Alhambra area and looking for a great place to eat, this is where you should head to. 

9. Tour Granada Cathedral or Catedral de Granada 

One of the best things to do in Granada Spain is to take Granada city tours! At the very center of the historic district of Granada is the great city’s cathedral. Work first began on this impressive structure in 1518, and despite taking more than 180 years, and several architects to complete, it is remarkably still not finished yet.

Catedral de Granada
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Two towers that stretch over 262 feet were planned originally, but only half a tower was ever actually built. The exquisite design can mostly be pointed towards the influence that the famous Alonso Cano had on the building. When he took control of the model in 1652, he introduced many of the Baroque features that can be seen nowadays.

10. Visit Realejo 

Realejo is known as Granada’s Jewish area, and is, in fact, the oldest area in the entire town.  It is also, undoubtedly, the most charming. The pretty streets and large squares, which invite for aimless meandering, should not be missed on a visit to the city. What is particularly attractive to tourists is the Iglesia Santa Domingo, which is certainly one of the most obscure, but also one of the most impressive churches in Granada. The fabulous walls and paintings of the Realejo also double as an art gallery for all visitors, and include the works of famous people including Raul Rizo, a famous local artist. Visiting Realejo is a popular thing to do in Granada Spain. 

11. Tour Abadia Del Sacromonte Abbey

Built-in the 17th century by Archbishop Pedro de Castro y Quiñones,  this abbey with underground chapels, is the resting place of Saint Caecilius, the first bishop of Granada in the 1st century AD. This is one Granada tour you should take when you visit the city. 

Abadia Del Sacromonte - Granada, Spain
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

It is located in the Abbey of Sacromonte and is one the key tourist attraction in this gypsy neighborhood. It is an inspiring area, where visitors can stop by for peace and tranquility. For just €4, visitors can also get access to the inside, and visit the spooky, narrow but famous Hole Caves. If you’re looking for something weird and unique to do in Granada Spain, then head over here. 

12. Go See a Flamenco Show In Sacromonte 

Time seems to have somewhat frozen in this gypsy section of the city, as many locals still live in dappled caves fully carved from rock and music and dancing are hosted long into the night. It is one of Granada’s most distinctive tourist attractions. It is also the location for the city’s flamenco shows, which means that you will always be within an earshot of art’s unique sounds. Flamenco shows are typically spontaneous music and dances that held in the caves. These days, quite a few of the shows are organized and for a cheap ticket, you can easily get dinner and a movie in one of the caves or cave-like structures. 

13. Visit the Banuelo Arabic Baths 

Situated beneath a private house, and approximately halfway along the Carrera Del Darro, is some of the oldest and the best-preserved public baths in all of Spain, the El Banuelo. This bath dates back to the 11th century around the time of the Moorish conquest.

Banuelo Arabic Baths
Credits: Sara Amaro, Flickr CC BY 2.0

The bath was important for personal hygiene and socializing. The archways and beautiful dome ceilings of the bath are still impressively intact after more than a thousand years and also, despite the fact that the actual baths have long vanished. This is a place for kids to learn a bit about history and one of the best things to do in Granada. 

14. Eat at Bogedas Castañeda Square 

If you need to relax after touring the region of Realejo, you could make your way to the nearby square, where some of the most impressive tapas bars in all of Granada can be found. Bogedas Castañeda, is perhaps the most appreciated of them all. Order yourself a local drink, and watch the wizardry of the waiter’s speed. Although this bar is hugely popular amongst tourists, it hasn’t lost the atmosphere of a local hangout spot. So if you’re wondering where to eat in Granada, this tap bars should be on your list. 

15. Visit Casa Federico García Lorca  (House of Federico Garcia Lorca)

This impressive collection of sketches, photographs, and documents can be found in a small park on Granada’s most southern tip, which also happens to be the name of the city’s most reputable son, the famous poet, Federico Garcia Lorca.

Casa Federico García Lorca
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

He was born in this impressive townhouse in 1898 and lived there until the age of 11. He was eventually murdered during her Spanish Civil war in 1936 and the exact spot where he is buried, however, remains unknown. A trip here is one of the coolest things to do in Granada. 

16. Eat at Casa Julio

Quite literally, within near shouting distance of Bogedas Castañeda, situated in a small street near Plaza Nueva, is Casa Julio. A tapas restaurant with a reputation for impressive fried fish and having the most unpredictable opening hours in the entire city. You have a full range of delicious foods to enjoy here. Indulge in gorgeous calamari, or a plate of cold meat gambas, with a refreshing Alhambra beer. So, one more place to add to your list of places to eat in Granada. 

17. Spend time on Carrera Del Darro Street

Widely regarded as the prettiest street in all of Granada beginning at Plaza Nueva, and flowing towards Albaicín, Carrera Del Darro street is surrounded by buildings that date back many centuries ago. If you look carefully, you’ll see lush blend creepers and other blossoms covering the worn façades.

Carrera Del Darro Street - Granada, Spain
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

As you make your way down, feel free to peer over the stone wall to catch a glimpse of the Darro River flowing between the verdant banks. The river passes underneath two of the oldest buildings in the entire city that once bridged the Albaicín district to the Alhambra castle and region. This area is actually one of the tourist attractions in Granada and somewhere you should stop by for a few hours. 

18. Eat at Los Diamantes

Still wondering where to eat in Granada, and want more options? Another well-known tapas spot in Plaza Nueva is Los Diamantes, a specialist in fried fish that is incredibly popular amongst both tourists and locals alike. Unlike some of the slightly more traditional bars in this region of the city, the color scheme and decor of this seafood restaurant is a crispy white. This place can be you may have to really yell your order at the waitress to make sure you are heard over the music. But truthfully, that is part of the fun & culture in this city  and the food is 110% worth it if you love seafood. And if you like a little bit more tidiness when dining, you can visit the more modern version of this tapa bar near Plaza Nueva.  

19. Attend the Feria Festival 

Every sometime (normally in the second week of June), Granada hosts its annual celebration – a week-long festival which takes place on a large fairground on the city’s outskirts. Although not quite of the same magnitude as similar celebrations in Seville, the one in Granada is every bit as amusing and exciting.

Feria Festival 
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

For the festival, people wear their best clothes, and the drinking goes on long into the day with the most popular drink served being the rebujito – a mixture with lemonade and Manzanilla sherry. Several bullfights are also held during the celebrations and some of Spain’s most renowned matadors typically entertain guests. Though this can be rowdy, it’s can also be family-friendly especially in during the daytime. This actually is one of the best things to do in Granada as well as one of the most fun things to do in this city. 

20. Tour San Juan de Dios Basilica 

This fabulous and stunning basilica shouldn’t be missed on any trip to the south of Spain. It is dedicated to the patron Saint of nurses, John of God. From the outside, it appears relatively simple, but the interior is breathtaking. Most of the walls and pillars are completely covered in gold, not to mention that there are many wood sculptures to gaze at. There is a large pipe organ, and an impressive altar for ceremonial and religious services. A guided tour of the basilica will only set you back €4, but it’s worth adding to your list of what to don in Granada Spain! 

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