The city of Granada, situated in the south of Spain, is a very well known among travelers. It is one of the most popular destinations in Spain, for foreigners as well as for domestic tourists.
Furthermore, Granada is the most popular destination for Erasmus students. Erasmus is a European exchange program that allows university students to study in almost every part of Europe.
An introduction to Granada
Granada has a couple of masterpieces that make it well worth a visit. But aside from these, Granada is about equally interesting as Córdoba, Toledo and Salamanca.
Yet it receives more visitors than each one of these other historic cities. The most iconic landmark of the city of Granada. It is also among the most popular in the entire autonomous community of Andalusia. Still, Granada goes further beyond this ancient and Moorish palace. Besides the tourist attractions, there are unique neighborhoods with fascinating stories behind them.
After some investigation, we are definitely sure the vibe of Granada scores a lot of points since it makes it a very likable city.
Many factors create a cozy, laid-back and friendly ambiance to the city. One of the main factors is just the people, who tend to be quite warm and fun to be and talk with – as long as you’re fluent in Spanish. The size of the city also plays an important role in this – physically it is not a big city at all, so it is quite easy to walk around from one place to another. This is nice for tourists, since public transportation is not a necessity like it is in Madrid and Barcelona.
But there are many reasons to visit Granada – so let’s take a look at the best attractions. Read on below to find inspiration on what to do and see in Granada:
Best attractions in Granada
Granada is full of awesome sights and attractions. We have selected the 7 best places – allow us to introduce them to you.
Alhambra might be one of the most famous attractions in all of Spain. It’s a massive and impressive palace, it was used as a fortress, with a history dating back to the Middle Ages. The Alhambra is a very important cultural landmark that has stood the test of time. It is now more visited than ever before.
We recommend going on a guided tour to the Alhambra when you’re visiting Granada. It is really rewarding, and it is the best way to get the full story of the palace.
The Alhambra is made up of many rooms, gardens, towers, patios, palaces. It is so big that you can consider it a palace that has small palaces within it. In total, there are 18 main spots and areas of interest. It can take a while to see it all, but it’s the main sight in Granada for a reason – so take your time here.
The Generalife is one of the most important areas of Alhambra. It has a long but narrow pool surrounded by flowerbeds and it used to the summer palace of the Nasrid rulers for many years back in the 14th century.
Address: Calle Real de la Alhambra, S/N, 18009 Granada
Visiting Granada and not having a walk around the Albaicín, or the Albaizín, at least as we recommend spending more than just 20 minutes in the part of the city. It is the most iconic quarter par excellence of this city. There are so many things that make this neighborhood so special and unique:
- The first and main thing we recommend to do when visiting this cool neighborhood is to just stroll about and you will go through narrow and winding streets, see cute white houses (some of them with typical Andalusian hanging potted plants).
Wandering off for hours there is just a true pleasure, so don’t miss out on that.
- The Alcaicería Market. It is usually called Granada’s big bazar, but some call it the Moroccan market of Granada, the former Zoco, or just an Arabic-looking street market. The big bazaar is mostly made up of small souvenirs and fabric shops.
It is very touristy and we recommend having a walk around there – it is free. But if you are looking for souvenirs, dresses (not elegant ones, but to-be-at-home dresses and clothes), hand drums, scarfs, carpets, coats, shirts… go here, and you can easily spend a while. But beware of one thing, it is a popular spot for pickpockets.
Other things to do here:
- The Mirador (lookout) de San Nicolás. It is very popular among tourists and locals, there you can have beautiful views of the Alhambra, the Sierra Nevada mountains.
- Plaza Larga (Long Square)
- Plaza de San Miguel Bajo (Square of Saint Michael low). It is a cute square, also a perfect example of why this city has the vibe it does have. Besides, we consider it a perfect spot to have some tapas, a drink or to have a snack in some of the terraces over there while you are chilling out and resting from having sightseen for several hours.
- Cuesta del Rey Chico (Slope of the King Boy). This is an emblematic spot in Albaicín and Granada in general. You can get to the Alhambra and Generalife palace by going all over the Cuesta del Rey Chico. What a better way to go to the Alhambra palace than by walking through a route that seems like you returned to the Middle Ages?
These are the main places in Albaicín we consider anyone should know before going there. But having some tapas or a beer in any of the taverns or bars around is a great idea when you’re finished with the sightseeing!
It is a late-gothic catholic temple annexed to the Catholic church of the city.
It was constructed in 1504, and the Catholic Monarchs were buried here. The inside is really beautiful and it costs only 5 euros to get in. For students (up to 25 years old) and disabled people, it costs 3.50€, and if you go as a group, you also get to enjoy a smaller entry price per person. If you’re traveling with kids, and they are not older than 12, it is free. On Wednesdays from 2.30 PM to 6.30 PM (upon reservation in advance), it is also free.
Address: Calle Oficios, S/N, 18001 Granada
Palace of Dar Al-Horra
It is a Nasrid palace located in the Albayzin quarter. It is a former residence of the founder of the Nasrid dynasty. It shares lots of similarities with the Alhambra – but the size of this palace is super small, especially in comparison with the Alhambra, as it could be just a small part of it. Yet, we recommend a visit to it as it is an interesting attraction plus it does not take too long to go all over it.
Address: Callejón de las Monjas, S/N, 18008 Granada
From 15th of September to 30th of April: open from Monday to Sunday from 10:00 AM to 05:00 PM.
From 1st of May to 14th of September: open from 09:30 AM to 02:30 PM and from 05:00 PM to 08:30 PM.
When it comes to the entrance we recommend getting the “Entrada Dobla de Oro” which also includes the entrance to other ancient monuments. It costs only 5€.
Cathedral of Granada
The styles used for the Granada Cathedral or the Cathedral of the Incarnation are a bit of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque. It was opened in 1561. The outside might look a bit less overloaded than other cathedrals, but its interior looks quite impressive and different from the norm.
Location: 5 Calle Gran Vía de Colón, 18001 Granada
Better known as Granada’s gypsy quarter (the gypsy community is very big in this neighborhood), it is located in the eastern area of the city, in the Valley of Valparaíso and it is part of the urban district of the Albaizín.
What most characterizes this quarter is the whitewashed houses and the cave houses. In fact, there is a museum in Sacromonte: Museo Cuevas de Sacromonte (Museum Caves of Sacromonte). In this ethnographic museum, you can learn how about the history, traditions and the gypsies that inhabited these caves and the Sacromonte quarter in general.
There is the Abadía del Sacromonte (the Abbey of the Sacromonte) which dates back to the XVII century, today it is an ecclesiastical museum and a parish. The layout of the complex looks old but interesting, and you are there and get to have a walk around you see how cool it actually is.
Schedule of Museum Caves of Sacromonte:
From 15th of March to 14th of October: it is open from Monday to Sunday from 10:00 AM to 08:00 PM.
From 15th of October to 14 of March: Open from Monday to Sunday from 10:00 AM to 06:00 PM.
Address: Barranco de los Negros S/N, 18010 Granada
The standard ticket costs 5€
For groups (+10 people): 3€ per person
And last but not least, there is Realejo-San Matías (or El Realejo), which was an old Jewish quarter in the city.
Oddly enough, there is a lot of street art in what it was the Jewish quarter of Granada centuries ago. They look really cool, not like normal graffiti, but actually very astonishing – almost like pieces of actual part.
This is just a small example of the cool and impressive graffitis there are around El Realejo.
Despite the fact religion is far from having the importance it used to have in Granada – and Spain in general (especially in people’s life as it is one of the least going-to-church countries in all of Europe) – the Realejo has a strong religious past, so there are several places of interest:
- Iglesia de la Virgen de las Angustias (Church of the Virgin of the anguishes)
- Palace of Bibataubín
- Iglesia de San Cecilio (Church of Saint Cecilio)
- Museo Casa de los Tiros (Museum House of the shots)
- Casa del Padre Suárez (House of the father Suárez)
- Convento de las Descalzas (Convent of the discalced)
- Iglesia de San Matías (Saint Matías Church)
- Iglesia y Convento de Santo Domingo (Santo Domingo church and monastery)
Whether you are religious or not, if you like religious buildings or appreciate religious architecture in general, and you are in Granada you should definitely visit this quarter and the aforementioned places.
Tapas culture in Granada
Didn’t we mention Granada is so well known for its tapas culture? It is hard not to mention it! And as you may guess, the Realejo quarter is such a great place in Granada for having some yummy tapas or whatever you like! There plenty of bars and taverns in this area, so you can choose the place that appeals to you.
You can get to the Realejo from, say, the Alhambra or wherever you are within the centre of the city easily while walking through tight and cozy streets.
Other popular attractions
There are other attractions we also recommend visiting while in Granada:
- Museum of Fine Arts
- Museum of Archaeology and ethnology
- Plaza Romanilla. It is one of those small but cute corners of the city you should not miss. It is a nice option for having a break since it is quite peaceful – yes, there are terraces where to have a drink or some tapas too.
- San Agustín market. This is the central market in the city and here you can find any food you are looking for, at an affordable price. But, you can enter it just to see how it looks like as it is pretty big. This market is equivalent to big markets in other cities in Spain such as the Bocanería in Barcelona, the Atarazanas market in Málaga or the Mercado Central in Valencia.
- La carrera del Darro. It is probably the nicest stroll you can take in the city. going over this route is always a beautiful experience but if you do it at night it gets magical! such an unforgettable experience, really.
Address: Plaza de San Agustín, S/N, 18001.
- The Bañuelo. These arab baths date back to the XI century and therefore they are the oldest in all of Spain. Despite being a millennium old they have remained quite well over the centuries. So, this is just another small piece of the history of the city. The Bañuelo was declared a cultural place of interest.
From 15th of September to 30th of April it is open every day from 10:00 AM to 05:00 PM.
From 1st of May to 14th of September it is open every day from 09:30 AM to 02:30 PM and from 05:00 PM to 08:30 PM.
As for the prices we recommend getting ‘ Monumentos Andalusíes ‘ which includes the entrance to other andalusíes buildings: the palace of Dar al-Horra, the Corral del Carbón, the Bañuelo and the Casa Horno de Oro. This entrance costs 5 euros, if you are interested in getting it you only have to go to the Best guided tours in Granada article. This is just one of the many guided tours you can book here.
On Sunday the entrance is free.
- Hamman Al Andalus Granada. And these are kind of arabic/Turkish baths that try to recreate the ambience of the baths back in the Middle Ages in the city. Here you can really take a bath and you can choose the temperature you want the water to be as it is made up of rooms with pools at different temperatures, a resting room, hot room, etc. So you can choose. You can also have a massage. It is a gratifying experience we suggest doing.
- The Alcaicería market (already mentioned).
- Real Monasterio de San Jerónimo (Royal Monastery of St. Jerome). We just want to remind you this is a must-visit attraction, especially if you are into nice and historical buildings and monuments.
If we had to choose the top 10, or even the top 5, cities when it comes to tapas (small dishes of yummy food, Granada would definitely be on the list. If you are a bat and you ask for a drink, whatever, you get a tapa for free. So if you are with a group of friends, with your family or even on your own and ask for two, three or more drinks you will get and enjoy more than one tapa. And speaking of tapas, there are many restaurants, bars, cafés and places to eat out and relax throghout the city. There is an article in the Granada section on the best places to eat out in this city.
We cannot forget the fact Granada is quite an unexpensive city, in fact it is one of the cheapest among cities with a population of more than 100.000 inhabitants (yeah, there are towns and small towns that are even cheaper, especially for certain regards) in Spain. Aside from public transport, taxi and maybe renting (renting a house in the old town of Granada isn’t that expensive but there are cities with lower prices when it comes to renting) If you take care of your expenses Granada could be a budget destination in comparison to the majority of the typical destinations when it comes to tourism.
The fact it is not a very expensive city also attracts many students from all over Europe, also from all over the world, to spend there one or two semesters through an exchange student program. Although there are other reasons why this is among the top popular destination for erasmus students.
Granada is the perfect example of city where to wander off for hours and getting lost around the old town. Whether you are in the Albaycin neighbourhood, in the jewish quarter, you are sitting and relaxing by the river Daro, which by the way it is a perfect refuge in the summer, or in the Mirador (Lookout) de San Nicolás while enjoy the views of the Alhambra and the Sierra Nevada mountains which surround the city. As we said before this is not a big city so it should not be an issue walking around for a few hours and going back to your hotel, appartment or wherever you are staying while in Granada. Great part of the old town, especially the streets, may look a bit scruffy but this is actually where the charm of the city lies on actually.
Another thing we love about this city is the big number of cute corners, such as hidden but nice plazas, small but charming streets or some streets that aren’t that known but they still have something special, among others. Some examples of cute and charming corners would be the Plaza Larga, the Plaza Romanilla or the ‘ carrera del Darro ‘. There are many more cute corners though. By cute corners we mean places that tend to be quite under the radar but when you discover them you like it the same or even more than many of the touristic spots.
We strongly believe the reasons why Granada receives so many tourists every year and why the percentage of people that fall in love with it is so high are that while it is an easy-to-walk-around city it has everything any person would want for a city. this means it is a very complete city so to speak.
For further details on many of the tourist attractions and many other interesting things to do in the city of Granada we invite you to read the Best guided tours in the city of Granada and other articles in the section of Granada.
For further information about this city and the province where it is situated we invite you to check the following articles out:
- Best hotels and appartments to stay in Granada
- Best places to eat out in Granada
- Best nightclubs and places to party in Granada
- Best guided tours in Granada