Things to do in Granada
Granada is most famous for the stunning Moorish palace of Alhambra, drawing visitors from all over the globe because of its breathtaking beauty and fascinating history.
Doing a tour here can take around half a day, but aside from that, there are plenty of other awesome things to do in Granada, Spain. Add the city to your Andalusia road trip and spend a few days here relaxing, wandering the beautiful streets, and soaking up the chilled way of life in this enchanting city.
Alhambra is the absolute gem of Granada and one of the most majestic buildings we’ve ever seen. The huge Moorish castle was built in the 1200s by the founder of the Nasrid dynasty (a Muslim king who ruled over this region). Because of this, the architecture is predominantly Islamic, making it even more exceptional to look at.
The palace is built from beautiful red stone (the name Alhambra comes from Arabic origins—meaning ‘red’), and the sun changes the color of the building over the course of the day. We recommend sitting below the palace and having a drink in Albaicín around sunset to see the palace turn pink.
Inside the palace, discover incredible courtyards with fountains, orange trees, and beautiful tilework. Everywhere you look, the stone and wood are carved with the most amazing details; it’s hard to get your head around how long this kind of work would have taken! Because of its unique history, it’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, making it a top thing to do in Granada, Spain.
Outside, you’ll also find magical gardens that have been perfectly curated, home to some of the most beautiful flowers and plants. The most impressive part of these gardens is the views across the Andalusian landscapes and the city of Granada below.
However, if you want to learn all the intricacies of Alhambra’s history (it has been a fort, royal palace, and courts over the years), consider booking a tour.
Alhambra is open every day apart from Christmas and January 1st. Opening times are 8.30 AM – 8 PM. It’s also possible to do a night tour on some evenings. Alhambra closes at 8 PM, so enter at least a few hours before.
2. Catedral de Granada
The Catedral de Granada sits in the center and is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. Like many of the cathedrals in Spain, it was built on top of a mosque after the period of ‘Reconquista’ (when the Christians took back Spain from the Moors).
These days, you can see the renaissance architectural style. This gives the Catedral de Granada an Italian feel, especially with the beautiful marbled square in front.
To escape the heat, visit the beautiful interior with its gold leafing, stained glass, and impressive stone arches and columns. On your way out, look for the artists painting in the outside square.
Entry Fee and Opening Times
Tickets cost 5 EUR (5.50 USD), and you can do an audio tour in many languages (for no additional cost). Conveniently, you can listen on your phone by scanning a QR code as you enter. Buy your tickets at the office by the cathedral or online in advance.
Opening Times: 10 AM – 6.15 PM Monday to Saturday (Sundays 3 PM – 6.15 PM).
3. Mercado La Alcaicería
Just around the corner from the cathedral, discover the treasure of Mercado La Alcaiceria (a top thing to do in Granada!). Narrow alleyways are a common sight in Granada, but this is one with a difference.
4. Albaicín Neighborhood
The most beautiful thing to do in Granada is to wander the streets of the ancient Albaicín neighborhood. Even the journey to get there is fantastic; walk from the center, along the stone walls of the river, across cobbled streets with cute bridges, and gently climb the hill to Albaicín.
This neighborhood is spread across the hillside, facing directly onto Alhambra with incredible views. All the houses are painted white and have sweet doorways with pots of flowers and sit on a maze of narrow cobbled streets.
There are many lovely bars and restaurants down by the riverside that have a view of Alhambra. Enjoy a drink here, especially in the early evening when the buildings turn a shade of dusky pink. You can also walk down to the river and paddle if you want to cool down from the heat! You’ll feel a real hippy vibe in this area, with lots of people sitting enjoying nature and drinks together.
Viewpoints in Albaicín
If you’re up for a hike, head up into the hills above the neighborhood and discover some spectacular viewpoints, like Ermita de San Miguel Alto (the highest viewpoint in Granada, Spain). Alternatively, for less of a walk, wander up the steps into Albaicín center and find some of these viewpoints: Mirador de San Nicolás or Mirador Placeta de Carvajales.
It’s a tranquil village, home to local people (mainly the elderly), and is full of white houses and hundreds of flower pots. It’s also one of the most beautiful villages in the region and a must-see on your Andalusia road trip!
Make sure to check out the cute squares in the village and the traditional Andalusian ‘Patio de las Comedias’, where you’ll find hundreds of different colored geranium flowers in vibrant blue pots.
How to get there: From Granada, it’s a 1-1.5 hour drive or bus ride. We recommend visiting early in the morning to avoid the bigger tour groups.
Best Cafes and Restaurants in Granada
- Wild Food (excellent vegan food inside a hotel restaurant)
- Restaurante Libanes Samarcanda (tasty and affordable Lebanese food)
- La Finca Coffee (perfect for a coffee and a breakfast tostada)
- Cafe 4 Gatos (a delicious place for a tostada in Albaicín. Make sure to try their cookies).
- Grillo Gelato (the best ice cream we had in Andalusia!)
Where to Stay in Granada
You’ll find somewhere nice to stay in most areas of Granada. There are some beautiful boutique hotels by the cathedral with lovely views of the old town and the squares. However, if you want something more modern with a pool, consider looking further out of town, where the more prominent hotels are situated.
Albaicín is the best neighborhood for self-catering apartments, and because of its height, it has impressive views over the city and Alhambra.
How to Visit Granada, Spain
Granada has a small airport that serves major cities in Spain, like Barcelona and Madrid. There are also some flights from major cities, like London, but these are very infrequent and often seasonal. For this reason, it’s best to fly to the international airport of Malaga.
How Much Does Granada Cost?
The best thing about Granada is FREE tapas—yes, free! Granada is famous for its local concept; buy a beer and get a small plate of tapas free of charge. You can’t usually choose (so it’s not as suitable for vegetarians and vegans).
Besides that, restaurants and cafes are reasonably priced in Granada (as are hotels). If you want to look for cheaper places, stray away from the city center, down the backstreets, or up towards the Albaicín neighborhood. It’s also a walkable city, so you won’t need to budget too much for transport.
Best Time to Visit Granada, Spain
Granada is exceptionally hot in the summer, and temperatures can reach upwards of 35°C (95°F). This can make walking around and seeing the sights a bit more difficult, especially as most of Granada is uphill! It’s also the busiest time, with many tour groups visiting Alhambra.
Spring/fall is the perfect time to visit as temperatures are lower and the days are still sunny and bright. If you want to stay in Granada during the winter, be prepared for the cold! There is also a ski resort nearby if you want to practice winter sports while on your trip to Granada.