Visit Granada: what are the best things to do and see in the beautiful Andalusian city?
Nestled in the heart of Andalusia, Granada is a multifaceted city. Between sumptuous Arabo-Muslim palaces, extraordinary ski resorts, and peaceful gardens, be prepared to discover Granada’s best kept secrets.
Visit Granada and you will discover one of Spain’s most beautiful cities. Set against the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, this city is known for its exceptional architecture and emblematic monuments, such as the iconic Alhambra. To help you plan your stay in Granada more easily, we have listed the best things to do in Granada, with all you need to know to visit this gem of Andalusia.
1. The Alhambra
Photo credit: Flickr – comakut
The Alhambra, Spain’s most visited palace, is without a doubt the most emblematic place to visit in Granada. Inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, the city is one of 21 finalist candidates to become one of the 7 new wonders of the world. Emblematic of Andalusian art at its best, a beautiful mix of Castillan and Moorish influences, the Tower of Comares was built at the initiative of Yusuf I, and the famous Patio de los Leones (Court of the Lions) was commissioned by Mohamed V.
2. Enjoy a Flamenco show in the Albaicin, a true Andalusian gem
Granadins like to wander in the small cobbled streets of Albaycín, the old Arab district. Full of charm, the medina is decorated with flowers adorning the balconies of white houses. This area is also a great place to enjoy a real Spanish paella or attend an authentic flamenco show in the street. Watch the flamenco artists sing and dance, accompanied by the typical “palmas” (traditional hand clapping) that punctuate their energetic steps.
3. Admire the breathtaking view from Granada’s unmissable “Miradores”
Mirador San Nicolas
Every visitor must venture on the heights of Granada. See the entire Alhambra from the Mirador San Nicolas, offering a magnificent panorama to delight young and old alike. Try heading there for sunset, it is a popular picture spot as the sun hits just right (as pictured above).
San Miguel Alto watchtower
Overlooking Granada, the majestic San Miguel Alto watchtower is the ideal vantage point from which to admire a beautiful sunset. Anyone who ventures there, at the highest point of the city, will feel exhilarated. Beautiful pictures guaranteed, bring your zoom lens as it is a little out of the city!
4. Ride the slopes of the Sierra Nevada
While Andalusia is more often associated with the sweltering heat that envelops it every Summer, it does in fact provide for decent skiing conditions in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Culminating at 11000 feet, this mountain range offers beautiful ski resorts with stunning views of the ocean and – if you are an experienced skier – you can go up to Laguna and Veleta slopes and on a sunny day you might even see the Coast of Africa! With a long ski season – the first snowflakes fall in November, only to melt in June – the slopes remain open until May. The renting of ski equipment being inexpensive, experience the joys of skiing without spending a fortune.
5. Explore the “Parque de las ciencias”, a museum dedicated to science
Adults and children alike will enjoy this fun and educational visit. A variety of permanent interactive exhibitions address practically every aspect of science. One room is dedicated to explaining the functioning of the human body. Another room, entitled “perception”, focuses on the themes of sound and light. Thanks to the museum’s hi-tech planetarium in which 110 projectors reproduce more than 7,000 stars, visitors can also embark on a fascinating journey to the heart of the universe.
6. Go for a relaxing stroll through the city’s gardens
Both peaceful and lively, Granada is filled with plazas and gardens. While strolling in the city center, visitors can stop at the “Bib Rambla” square and admire the nearby cathedral. Passing through “avenida de la Constitución”, make sure you stop by for a short break at the “Triunfo” Gardens to admire its jets of water, lit at night.
El Carmen de los Martires
Another must-see while you visit Granada: “El Carmen de los Martires“, a small haven of peace nestled up above the city. In a green and relaxing environment, peacocks and geese keep visitors entertained while they enjoy a breathtaking view of the city.
7. Discover the caves of Sacromonte
Photo credit: Flickr – Charlie Jackson
An old gypsy town, Sacromonte is a neighborhood on a hill in the East of Granada, beyond the wall of Don Gonzalo. Many gypsy flamenco shows take place there, but more as a tourist attraction than as a cultural tradition even though it is a traditional gypsy dance, the zambra gitana, which eventually became flamenco. However, the most interesting part of this are is underground or within the hill itself, for caves and troglodyte houses abound. A sight in their own right, the caves are also a way to escape the sweltering heat of Granada in the Summer!
8. Discover Granada’s buoyant nightlife
Known for its bustling nightlife, Spain attracts partygoers from all over the world. Andalusia is no exception: there’s something to do in Granada for everyone, night and day. Destination of choice within the Erasmus student exchange program, the city is packed with vibrant entertainment venues. After indulging in delicious tapas in one of the many bars of the city center, it will be a good idea to visit one of the city’s bars, where you can enjoy a beer or a “tinto de verano” (a wine-based cocktail with Fanta) to start the evening.
Around 3 o’clock in the morning, the party goes on in one of the city’s many nightclubs such as “El Camborio”, situated up above town, and overlooking the Alhambra. Music lovers can attend one of the free or inexpensive concerts frequently taking place in Granada. From rock music to jazz or classical music, there is enough to suit everyone’s taste.
Granada also has a beautiful botanical garden, a large mosque, beautiful monasteries open to the public, and luxurious and affordable hammams… Aside from this non-exhaustive list, it’s best to travel to Granada and discover the city’s beauty and impressive heritage. Be careful, you may want to stay there forever!
How to get to Granada?
Though Granada has its own airport, it is a rather small one: flights to the city will usually require a stopover in a nearby Spanish airport. There is a bus line that can get you from the airport to downtown, but no metro line. The best solution is to land in Malaga or Seville , two popular airports with a wide selection of international flights. You will find direct flights to these larger airports from London, Glasgow or Manchester. If flying from the US, it is probably easiest to land directly in Granada after a layover in Madrid or Barcelona, as there will be no direct flights to Granada or surrounding cities. and take a bus (see the website Alsa.es). You can easily find a low-cost flight to these destinations on Skyscanner.
How to get around Granada?
Once in Granada, you can choose between different means of transport as the offer is well developed. Besides walking through the city – which is still the most popular way to visit Granada as the city itself is an attraction – the city bus and metro are useful complements,especially in the heat of the summer or to get to some areas that can be hard to reach otherwise, Granada being built in a hilly region.
While well-maintained and reliable, the metro line is designed with commuters in mind rather than tourists. As such its stops don’t really correspond to where a tourist might want to go, which is why you will probably end up taking the city bus instead to visit monuments and go around the city. The metro does stop by the main bus terminal if you are traveling to a neighboring city and can be a good way of reaching your hotel as well.
By bus or Trolleybus
Regular city buses will get you around the city in little time and most areas are pretty well-connected. In addition, there are city buses specially for typical tourist destinations. These cost the same and are operated by the same public service as the regular city buses, you will recognize them from afar as the routes are serviced by minibuses. Bus tickets are fairly affordable, starting at 1,40€ for a regular full price ticket. We recommend you get a card (5€, 10 € or 20€) as they become cheaper than single tickets after only three trips and will also save you some time at every station.
If you want to take advantage of your trip to Granada to discover other parts of Andalusia, car rental is a practical solution as it allows for freedom of movement across the region and there are many things to see on the outskirts of the city or in Neighboring Seville or Malaga.
Where to stay in Granada?
Looking for the best area to stay in Granada? The city has diverse neighborhoods that all have different things to offer whether you are looking for peace and quiet or want to be at the heart of the nightlife activity. There is a wide offer of hotels in Granada, just use a online hotel comparator to make some sense out of the plethora of offers. Additionally, in recent years the offer on Airbnb has developed as well if you fancy a home stay.
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