One of my favorite European cities to visit in Granada. It is a place to escape from the hustle and bustle of bigger Spanish cities, like Madrid and Barcelona, and wander around cobblestone streets that trail in between white-washed buildings.
Located in the southern Andalusia region, Granada has both snow-capped mountains (with a ski resort!) and Mediterranean beaches for fun in the sun. And you’ll find the traditional treats like tapas and Flamenco dancing that make a trip to Spain magical.
Here are the top things to do when visiting Granada.
1. Explore the Cave Museum
I stumbled upon the Museum of the Sacromonte caves while randomly searching for different places on Google Maps. What the app failed to mention was that the journey was primarily uphill.
On top of what felt like 80 stairs is the Ethnographic Museum. Unlike a traditional museum that showcases artifacts inside enclosed glass cases, this museum is a little more interactive. Inside, you will find setups with different artifacts demonstrating how people lived in caves hundreds of years ago. There is also a cave set up to give information about the nature in the area and another cave that shares the history of flamenco.
You can walk through the museum independently, as each cave has information written in English and Spanish on signs hanging on the cave walls.
The cave museum is one of many prominent sites to see when you visit Granada, as it offers a unique insight into Spain’s past.
SheBuysTravel Tip: The capital city, also named Granada, is extremely walkable. However, wearing comfortable shoes is helpful when exploring this town, as the city has various hills. Not to worry, if you want to avoid breaking a sweat traveling uphill; there are buses and taxis that can take you up and down the city.
2. Marvel at the Granada Cathedral
Cathedrals are a popular attraction you can find in almost every Spanish city. Each building showcases its meticulously beautiful designs. The Granada Cathedral is another architectural masterpiece you must see when visiting.
The cathedral is located in the city center, was constructed in the 16th century, and took over 181 years to build, starting in 1523 and ending in 1704. A mixture of Gothic and Renaissance styles, the cathedral houses some of the country’s most precious artwork.
One of the most important pieces is the sculptures of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, the Catholic monarchs who gained control of Granada from the Moors.
3. Enjoy the View at the Mirador de San Nicolas
One of my favorite things to do when traveling is to find the place with the best views. Mirador de San Nicolas is a must-see lookout point that offers a stunning view of the Alhambra and is also one of the best places to watch the sunset.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Make sure to arrive early to get a good spot amongst the typical crowds of people. While an abundance of people can be overwhelming, sometimes, these large groups add charm to the scenery. People often play musical instruments or clap and sing along to flamenco songs.
4. Stroll through Albaicin
There is so much to do and see in this area you might need a full day to explore. The area has a mixture of Spanish and Arab culture. It is a great place to shop for unique jewelry, spices, teas, beautifully designed fabrics, and more.
There are also free walking tours to learn more about the area.
5. Hang Out by the Darro River
One simple yet relaxing thing to do while in Granada is hanging out by the river. You’ll often catch different groups of people sitting on the edge of the bridge that hoovers over the Darro River.
It’s a great area to catch your breath after a long day of walking around. You can take in the scenery and admire the vegetation growing along the river. Take a moment to listen to the soft, flowing river while taking in the chatter of the streets.
6. Visit the Plaza Nueva
Plaza Nueva means new square; however, it’s the oldest square in the city. Located near Carrera del Darro and running along the river, it is the perfect place to drink wine on a restaurant terrace and take in the Andalusian sun.
This lively area has merchants selling anything from handmade crafts to knock-off designer clothing. You can also catch a live Flamenco show on the weekends.
7. Shop at the Alcaiceria Market
The Alcaicería market was the original Moorish silk market built in the 15th century. It is a fun shopping area with unique souvenirs, painted ceramics, and stained glass lamps. The streets are relatively narrow, so try to visit when the area is less crowded.
8. Visit The Alhambra
Book your ticket in advance, as this site is one of Granda’s most popular attractions. There are options to visit on your own. Yet, a guided tour is the best way to learn about Alhambra’s Islamic and Christian influence.
Tours will take you through the Alhambra Palace, Nasrid palaces, and the Generalife Garden.
Built in the 13th century as a fortress, Alhambra is a place of beauty, power, and history.
SheBuysTravel Tip: There are options to schedule a self-guided or guided tour. The guided tour will give you more insights. However, the self-guided tour is best if you’re limited on time. And remember to buy your tickets anywhere between 1-3 months before depending on when you’re traveling. If you want a unique experience, you can also book to see the Alhambra at night.
9. Where to Eat: Tapas Bars and Michelin-star Restaurants
Spanish cuisine is well known. Spain has delicious and unique foods to offer, whether it’s paella or cured ham. Granada helps to uphold Spain’s reputation for great food with its variety of tapas.
If you’re unfamiliar with tapas, they are small bites of food similar to appetizers. Some popular tapas include olives, fried potatoes known as Patatas Bravas, cured ham, fried calamari, and croquettes. One of the best neighborhoods for tapas is Realejo.
Eating tapas in Granda is a must-do experience because tapas bars in Granada offer free tapas with your first drink.
If you’re looking for a more filling meal, you can try one of the Michelin Star restaurants, such as Faralá and Atelier Casa de Comidas, for more elegant meals.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Many restaurants in Spain run on different lunch hours than other parts of Europe and the United States. Typical lunch hours in Spain begin at 1 pm and finish at about 5 pm. However, in some places, the kitchen closes at 4:30 pm. Knowing where you want to eat is best so you find a place before the kitchens close. There are however a small number of fast-food restaurants that stay open all day long.
10. Relax at the Tea Shops
If you’re like me and more of a tea drinker than a coffee drinker, you’ll enjoy visiting the Teterias or tea shops/cafes. Another Arabic influence, these tea shops are tucked away in little corners of the city. They offer an intimate place to talk while enjoying a variety of teas and pastries.
Many tea cafes are on Calle de las Teterías‘ or Tea Houses Street. Some of the locations offer a beautiful view of the Alhambra.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Don’t be discouraged if you get to a tea shop with a long line. This can be typical as tea shops aren’t very large inside. If you do have to wait, it won’t be long as eating sweets doesn’t take the same time as eating a full meal.
11. Enjoy a Flamenco Show
Flamenco is a widely known Spanish music and dance form that started in Cadiz and has become very popular throughout the region, especially in cities such as Seville and Madrid. However, Granada is also a great place to experience Flamenco culture.
There are many options for seeing a flamenco performance in the city center. You can catch a show in the Sacromonte caves for a more intimate show.
12. Relax at the Hammam Arab Baths
If you want to unwind and relax, there’s no better place than the Hammam Al Andalus. Remade into a spa experience, the Hamman Al Andalus offers heated pools and massage options to experience. Bathing rituals were an essential part of the Muslim culture of the previous Arab inhabitants of Granada. Thus, the baths are meticulously designed and beautifully built in a Mudejar style. The dim lighting, floral aromas, and mosaic style of tiling and arches will enchant you.
If you don’t want to actually bathe but learn more about the history of the arab baths, you can visit El Bañuelo, which is one of the last remaining bathhouses without active baths.
13. Visit The Royal Chapel
The Royal Chapel is another architectural beauty to marvel at. Queen Isabella ordered the chapel to be built as the resting for catholic royalty. It now houses Queen Isabella, King Ferdinand II, and other Catholic Monarchs.
Built in 1913, the chapel has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Granada.
SheBuysTravel Tip: The chapel is a highly revered religious monument, and there are rules to follow when visiting. No pictures are allowed to be taken, and it’s recommended to wear modest clothing.
14. Visit Carmen de los Martires
One of the largest gardens in Granada is a beautiful sight to see. It is a stunning area that blends English and French designs and has a Nasrid touch.
The garden is a peaceful place to visit if you need a moment to escape the large crowds. Filled with beautiful plants and large garden hedges. You can relax listening to the sound of falling water from the fountains. You may even spot a peacock that is roaming around the area.
15. Walk Along Paseo de Los Tristes
Paseo de Los Tristes can be translated to the sad street. A curious name that started from the funeral processions that passed along this street in the 19th century.
However, when there’s no funeral, this street is a charming area that many walking tours pass through. The street follows along the Darro River, and it is known to be one of the most romantic spots in the city.
SheBuyTravel Tip: If you want to plan a romantic evening, walk along this street at night and be enchanted by the views of the Alhambra lit up at night.
16. Explore the Granada Science Museum
The science museum is a great spot to visit if you’re traveling with kids. As Andalucia’s first interactive museum, the Science Park is where kids can learn about gravity, astronomy, and the human body.
There is plenty to explore, including a planetarium, a biosphere room, and a botanical garden. If you’re someone who enjoys a good video, the museum has an observation tower that is over 100 feet tall.
You can spend an entire day in this land of adventure, which won’t cost you much either. General museum admission is 7 euros. To visit only the Bio-dome will cost you 6 euros and the Planetarium only 2.50 euros.
Where is Granada?
Granada is a province located in the southern part of Spain. It is part of the popular autonomous regions known as Andalusia, or Andalucia if referring to it by its Spanish name. It is about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Seville and a little over two-hour drive from Cordoba. It is also a short hour and a half drive from Malaga. Thus, Granada is a great place to visit for a day trip or a city break.
Surrounded by the Sierra Nevada mountains, the region of Granada also has a ski resort. The area is the perfect balance of sun and snow. During the winter, you can explore the snow-covered mountains of the Sierra Nevada National Park. When the weather is warmer, you can take advantage of the sunshine by relaxing on one of the many beaches along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.
Getting To Granada
There are multiple ways to get to Granada, depending on where you come from. If you’re coming from the United States, you can fly to Madrid International Airport. You can take the train into the city or a smaller plane to the Granada-Jaen Airport from there.
If you’re visiting from another part of Europe, flying directly to the Granada-Jaen or GRX airport is the fastest way.
Traveling from another part of Spain? There are various trains and buses to take you to the city.