The 9 best free visits and activities in Granada

Granada: The complete travel guide
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Visit Granada: What activities and free visits to do in Granada, the beautiful Andalusian city with its many facets?

This small jewel located in the south of the region of Andalusia, Spain, is known to host the Alhambra, one of the major monuments of Moorish culture in this part of the Iberian Peninsula. Granada is the perfect holiday destination for a few days. You will have the chance to discover architectural treasures as well as a heterogeneous and millenary culture while saving money. We have identified for you the best activities and free visits to plan during your stay in this pretty citadel. Here is the list of the 9 activities and free visits to do in Granada.

Also read : The 8 best things to do in Granada
The best area to stay in Granada

1. Alhambra Museum

Located within the walls of the Alhambra Fortress and more precisely on the south side of the ground floor of Charles V’s Palace, the Alhambra Museum was created in 1870 to protect the many archaeological remains collected by the Provincial Monuments Commission. You will be immersed in Hispano-Moorish art and culture. The museum consists of seven rooms: the first room houses thematic exhibitions and the other rooms present works in chronological order.

Admission to the Alhambra Museum is free for citizens of the European Union.

2. Mirador San Nicolás

This is one of the most popular free activities to do in Granada. Climb to the observation point, Mirador San Nicolás, walking through the winding cobbled streets that start from the Albaicín district. From the top of the hill you will be captivated by the panoramic view of the city of Granada, the fortified palace of the Alhambra, the Vega de Granada (Granada meadow) and the snow-covered peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

The Mirador San Nicolás can be visited at any time of the day, whatever the season. The best time to take pictures is dusk.

3. National Fine Arts Gallery

On the first floor of Charles V’s Palace, the same one that houses the Alhambra Museum, you can admire works of art from the 15th to the 20th century representing the city of Granada. Through the six rooms that make up the gallery, you will discover as many paintings and sculptures in the Baroque style as in the Renaissance. Don’t miss the exhibitions of contemporary art by local artists.

The museum is free of charge for European Union nationals, students and people over 65.

4. El Corral del Carbón

The best free visits and activities in Granada

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This former caravanserai, a building that welcomed merchants and pilgrims along the roads during their stops, is the only one preserved in Spain. It was built in 1336 under the Nasrid dynasty. After the Reconquest, this merchant hostel became a theatre where the great Spanish playwright Lope de Vega performed, before being used as a court for coal sellers. It was during this period that the building was named Corral del Carbón, which means the coal backyard. Since 1933, this building has belonged to the State and has hosted concerts and theatrical and flamenco performances in its courtyard, especially in summer.

Located behind the Town Hall, near Plaza del Carmen, admission is free and open from Monday to Sunday from 9am to 7pm.

5. The Albaicín district

The best free visits and activities in Granada

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During your stay in Granada, a walk in the Albaicín district, the old Andalusian Arab district of Granada built on the hill opposite the Alhambra, is one of the free visits not to be missed in Granada. This Moorish district is a labyrinth of alleys and squares lined with a multitude of whitewashed houses. Inhabited since the 11th century, it was under the Nasrid dynasty in the 12th century that this area became an urban centre for medinas, palaces and large mosques. After the reconquest of Granada by the Catholic kings in 1492, the original mosques of this district were destroyed and replaced by churches.

Don’t miss passing Dar al-Horra, a 15th century Nasrid palace, and stopping in El Bañuelo, an 11th century public bathhouse, one of the last remains of the Albaicín.

6. The Carmen de los Mártires garden

The best free visits and activities in Granada

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This seven-hectare park is adjacent to the Carmen de los Mártires Palace, a 19th century building nestled on the Sabika hill, home to the Alhambra.

You can stroll through various spaces: the French Baroque garden with a large pond in the centre of which is a statue of Neptune, the Palm Garden, decorated with a three-storey fountain and irregular squares of straight hedges and palm trees, the lake where ducks and swans live together and the 1944 Nasrid patio, where the typical elements of the garden centre of the time are reproduced, including the labyrinth that served to unite the gardens between them. You will also enjoy the views of the city of Granada and the mountains of the Sierra Nevada.

7. Attend a flamenco show

You can’t stay in Granada without attending a flamenco show, the free activity to do in Granada par excellence! Flamenco is omnipresent in this medieval city and is an integral part of its history. This dance represents such a tradition in Granada that it has a name of its own: Zambra. Originating from the Arabic word zumra, which means “celebration”, Zambra is the most ancient and traditional form of flamenco. There are many places where you can attend free shows and performances, especially in the streets of the Albaicín and Sacromonte districts. The places most likely to find them are on Plaza Nueva, Plaza de las Pasiegas and Mirador San Nicolás after the 8pm strokes.

8. Admire the street-art

The best free visits and activities in Granada

Photo credit: Flickr – Gwen Fran

You don’t need to go to a gallery or museum to admire some of Granada’s finest works of art, some of the city’s most colourful and impressive masterpieces adorn the exterior walls of buildings and shops. The city has been used as a backdrop by talented artists and street art is one of the best free activities to do in Granada.

The Realejo district undoubtedly contains some of the most beautiful street art drawings. It is in this same area that the murals of the internationally renowned and award-winning artist Raúl Ruiz, better known as El Niño de las Pinturas, illuminate the street walls. One of the largest and most brilliant frescoes in the Andalusian city decorates the walls of the Colegio Santo Domingo school. Feel free to get up early to admire the best graffiti in the city as many of them have been painted on the shutters of shops and businesses.

9. The Sacromonte district

The best free visits and activities in Granada

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Located on the Valparaíso hill in Granada and adjacent to the northeast side of the Albaicín district, Sacromonte is an authentic and unique district. Founded in the 15th century by Spanish gypsies, it is renowned for its caves (cuevas de Sacromonte) and cave dwellings carved into the chalky hillside, white and blue in colour. This district has kept its original structure with its narrow streets and a particular cultural mix emerges.

Between the caves that are still inhabited, you will find several that have now become bars, discos or flamenco theatres.

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