Granada has inspired many poets and painters. It is a city most visitors fall in love with and we are pretty certain that if you are a first-time visitor, you will most probably feel that crush too. If what you are planning now is not your first visit, then you know what we refer to. Besides the obvious La Alhambra palace, there are many more things to do in Granada and in this guide we provide you our top picks.
Top things to do in Granada- Contents
Enjoy one of the top marvels in the world: The Alhambra palace
Let´s start with the jewel of the Crown. Granada would not be Granada without La Alhambra. A Unesco heritage site and the number one amongst Spain´s most visited attractions, the monumental site of the Alhambra is an impressive set of monuments and buildings where the Nasrid kings and court lived from the 12th and 15th centuries. The Alhambra is composed of the Alcazaba, a walled military city, the Palaces and the amazing Generalife gardens. Get ready to enjoy o¡courtyards (the most famous and beautiful one is the Courtyard of Lions), fountains, and walls and ceilings that are amongst the best vestiges of Moorish art. Words can hardly describe the beauty of the Alhambra. One of the best attempts is by Washinton Irving in his Tales of La Alhambra; a fantastic reading. This is for sure the Top thing to do in Granada.
Get lost in the Albaicin
Some people claim that it is easier to get lost in the Albaicin than to finish Rubik’s cube in 10 minutes. This is the old Arab district. What makes it so famous and special? Think about white houses, narrow steep cobbled streets, the fragrance of jasmine, the color of bougainvilleas, and the Arab melodies played by street musicians. Getting lost in the Albaicin has a purpose though, or many! The number one objective is to get to the Mirador de San Nicolas, one of the best viewpoints to enjoy La Alhambra and our second best thing to enjoy in Granada.
Flamenco at El Sacromonte
The Sacromonte is above all famous for the Zambras, a characteristic flamenco dance of this district of Granada. The Sacromonte was the area in Granada the gypsies occupied when they arrived along with the troops of the Catholic Monarchs when they conquered the city. They settled here in caves and small houses (once you enjoy the views you will surely understand why) and they were later joined by bohemians and flamenco artists. In the old days flamenco could be enjoyed in the streets at the end of the day. But things have changed. The Flamenco is at the heart of el Sacramento but will need to book a show to enjoy the experience.
Understand Spanish history at the Royal Chapel and the cathedral
One of our favorite things to do in Granada includes visiting the Cathedral and Royal Chapel. You will find these two monuments in the center of the city. They both are without a doubt, an essential part of the list of things to do in Granada. The cathedral built at the request of the Catholic Monarchs and it is the first religious temple of Renaissance style in Spain. The cathedral of Granada is one of Spain´s top cathedrals, and we especially love its stained glass windows and the quality of the art found at the museum
Understand Spanish history at the Royal Chapel and the cathedral
The surroundings of Granada are full of natural wonders. The most obvious one is the Sierra Nevada (its views can be enjoyed from the Alhambra) Sierra Nevada is one of Spain´s top ski resorts. The Sierra de la Alpujarra is famous for its white villages like Campaneira or Pampaneira, and also for the ham from Trevelez and its natural water springs. This is a land where bereber Arabs settled after Granada was conquered. This is a very magical part of Spain. If you would like to relax and enjoy a couple of beach days, you could drive south and enjoy the beaches in the southern part of the province of Granada.
Top things in Granada in one Day
Is one day enough to visit Granada? In our opinion one day is not enough but you can still make both the Alhamnbra and Albaicin in one day. If you dedicate 2 days to Granada you will be able to add the Cathedral, a Flamenco Show and experience their famous Moorish Baths. If you decide to stay 3 days you will be able to enjoy some of its interesting museums, or a day trip to the Alpujarras, a land famous for its beautiful villages like Pampaneira.
It is arguable if Granada is Andalusia’s top destination to enjoy Moorish heritage (anybody from Cordoba will claim the city of Cordoba and the Great Mosque is. But with no doubt Granada holds with the Alhambra Spain´s jewel of medieval live and Moorish architecture
Granada is a city full of character and with many contrasts. The lavish, romantic Alhambra rises majestically above the city. In front of it, the captivating white walls and small cobbled streets of the Albaicin, the original core of the town, and which maintains its ancient Moorish charm. Further up, the Sacromonte, the old gipsy quarter in Granada, famous for Flamenco dancing and its caves.
Visiting both the Alhambra and the Albaicin will require almost 5 hours walking. The Albaicin is set on the hill and it streets are cobbled. Granada is not the easiest city to visit, but it is worth the effort! and you may want to consider taxi drives to shorten the walking time involved.
On the hill above the city there stands, of course! The Alhambra. Fascinating within, tremendous on the outside, specially if you pick out its red and golden walls and see it standing there beneath the Sierra Nevada like an illumination in a manuscript. In this Granada trip we provide with many secret ideas to enjoy the city in and out in 2 days. Granada is much more than the Alhmabra and you will agree with us once you go through this Granada city break plan.
We have hand-picked hotels and restaurants that we believe provide the best experience to enjoy Granada. They are in our view among the best options for different budget levels. You will also be able to find more ideas and recommendations in our Granada city guide.
Why Granada? Maybe the the nightingales of the Generalife gardens live up to their reputation as they sing away among the cypresses and the white and narrow streets at el Albaicin demand that you get lost, at least for a morning, and imagine how live was back in time.
Ferdinand negotiated the surrender of Boabdil, the last Moorish king in Spain in a little mosque in Granada. The Catholic Monarchs, Isabella and Fernando watched their flag rise at last above the towers of the Alhambra. They are with a good reason among the most famous Spanish people. They settled in Granada, and where actually buried at the Cathedral of Granada.
One day in Granada itinerary
The Alhambra is an citadel or fortress complex and palace. It is one of Spain´s top attractions and the most visited monument in Spain. We strongly recommend to book your tickets well in advance. Our team has put together a very complete guide with the most important highlights of the Alhambra. You can also purchase the tickets on the spot but you will need to be there really early. We would like to insist that you book weeks or months in advance. You may want to consider joining a group with a guide. This is a always a good option.
Is it better to visit La Alhambra in the morning or in the evening? Views from the Alhambra to the Albaicin at dusk are fantastic, but the views of the Alhambra from the Albaicin are even better. We would recommend to start with the Alhambra in the morning.
Lunch after la Alhambra
Once you have finished your visit to the Alhambra we recommend you take a taxi to Plaza Nueva from which you will lead to the Paseo de los Tristes. But before that our recommendation is that you enjoy lunch at Restaurante El Mercader before you start your itinerary in the Albaicin. This restaurant offers excellent value for money and great food. We recommend a light lunch to get ready to walk. This is a small restaurant and we recommend to book in advance. If you would opt for tapas, ask your taxi driver to drop you at Bar Aliatar in Calle San Sebastian (there are several Aliatars in Granada) This is a place with lots of locals and just 5 minutes walk from Plaza Nueva.
Many toursits (almost the same number) that visit the Alhambra visit the Albaicin. Despite being such a popular tourist attraction in Andalusia, its charm styas almost intact. The Albaicin was the first area settled in Granada and it possesses a unique romantic character that sets it appart. Albaicín maintains a serene quietness that transforms its potentially stressful maze-like streets into a picturesque and calming journey through Spain’s Arabic history.
Our recommedend itinerary in Albaicin. From Plaza Nueva till you get to the Paseo de los Tristes. The first interesting thing you will find is the Chuch of Santa Ana (Mudejar style) La Carrera del Darro street is named like that due to the river Darro. You will encounter 4 beautiful bridges and at the end of the Carrera del Darro you will arrive to the Paseo de los Tristes. The views of the Alhambra from this area are fantastic.You may want to stop at the beautiful Palacio de los Cordova (only exterior can be visited, free of charge)
Cuesta del Chapiz. This is the hardest area to walk. You may want to consider a stop at the Casa Chapiz to enjoy a small, fantastic palace with views over the Alhambra.
From Casa Chapiz you could continue to Sacromonte, but in our recommended itinerary we would not leave from Cuesta del Chapiz and stop at el Carmen de la Victoria, a fantastic small park with fountains and amazing views.
Mirador de San Nicolas
The next stop is the Mirador de San Nicolás. This mirador was made famous by Bill Clinton in 1997 said this is ‘the most beautiful sunset in the world,’ The Mirador, it is true,boasts breath-taking views, specially at sunset, when it can get crowded. If you feel you need a bite we recommend Restaurante las Tomasas, an excellent option in El Albaicin. It is located at Calle Las Tomasas, where the is also a Moorish water tank and from you will see the mudejar tower of San Nicolas church. We are sure you will spend a good amount of time at Mirador de San Nicolás but another excellent mirador with less tourists awaits you: Mirador de San Cristobal. From here you may want to visit el Aljibe del Rey, the larges water tank in the Albaicin.
Romantic dinner or flamenco show
We propose you 4 different options for dinner after you have enjoyed el Albaicin. We have selected options which are near the end of the itinerary. You may however prefer to get back to your hotel and rest a bit before enjoying your dinner. Restaurants in this area are a great options due to the views over the Alhambra or simply because we believe they are some of the best options for you.
Carmen Aben Humeya is one of the most romantic options in Granada. Great views. Casa Torcuato is a great option if you love fish and rice. Locals love this restaurant. Restaurante Mirador de Morayma is a fantastic place, with exquisite cuisine, a very good wine list, great decoration, and even better views! Last, not least you may want to experience the “real thing” with a flamenco show and dinner in the Sacromonte. No matter which of these 4 options you select, we are sure you will enjoy the experience!
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