The spectacular Andaluisian city of Granada is one of Spain’s true classics. It boasts some of the most impressive visible influences from the Moorish empire in all of Spain and the cities history is etched into its architecture and paved into its cobbled streets. The former fortress of Granada is now one of the last bastions of true, (free!) tapas in all of Spain, and food lovers will be right their element here.
Make your way through this culturally rich citadel, one packed with museums, “bazaars” and with a range of locally made products on offer. Then, once you’ve soaked in the city, head out into the surrounding mountains for some nature time.
There is so much going in Granada that deciding where to start can be a tough! Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Read on dead reader and find out exactly are the best things to do in Granada.
Top Things to Do in Granada
If you don’t know what to do in Granada, here’s a list of some of our top things to do in this amazing city.
One of the top things most people tick off their bucket-list while in Granada is the Alhambra. This mighty complex has served many different purposes during its lifetime, it’s been a fortress, a royal quarters, a mosque and now a massive museum!
The best way to get to know the real history of this magnificent monument is with someone that can provide some added context so tours are recommended. Even if you don’t take a guided tour, make sure to book your tickets well in advance as these do sell out incredibly fast. I repeat – book your tickets as far in advance as possible!!
This well-maintained monument is one of the best places to see the Moorish influences come to life through the architecture. It is big, sprawling and has a considerable number of stairs, so do make sure to wear some comfortable shoes! It’s exposed and so gets extremely hot during the summer so bring water and sun-cream.
2. Walk Through the Alcaicería Market
The Alcaicería Market is one of the best places to search if you’re looking for some souvenirs or lovely handmade products to take home with you. It was the former Arab quarter and still retains a sense of this with Shisha bars and kebab shops lining the streets. The market street is lined with a wide selection of lamps, leather bags, slippers and other intricately designed goods.
If you’re a good negotiator, you may want to sharpen your skills while you’re here – bartering is recomended.
This market is also surrounded by a number of historical Moorish buildings that’ll make it all the more enjoyable to explore.
- Visit the world famous fortress of the Alhambra
- Get lost in the maze-like streets on the hillside
- Get up on a rooftop to get the best views over Granada and the Alhambra
For more Places to Stay, check out our full Granada Neighborhood Guide!
Flamenco is said to have originated in the fields of Andalusia as a form of expression and rebellion from the peasantry classes. Flamenco cultre is alive and well hereand you absolutely cannot leave Granada without experiencing it. It is a spectator show and you are not expected to dance (although clapping and foot tapping is encouraged).
The musicianship is sublime, the melodies stirring and the dancing intense.
There are a lot of theatres, bars and caves showing Flamenco. The trick is to try and find a one favoured by locals rather than tourists so it may be worth hiring a guide.
4. Sip a Cuppa at the Tea Houses
Calling all the tea and coffee lovers to make their way to the famous tea houses in Granada! There are several places where you can enjoy a hearty drink with a selection of flavors.
Some of our favorite places to enjoy these warm drinks are at Teteria Diwan, As Sirat and the Kasbah. The tea houses line the stairs and simply pick one you like the look of. You can even pair your cup of warmth with some of the sugary treats on the menu. Most menus have a selection of different pastries, pancakes and even scones.
The Sierra Nevada mountains surround Granada are now one of Spain’s largest natural parks. If you have the chance to get out of the city then this is a definite must-visit while you’re in Granada. This park is a one of a kind wonder that nature lovers will thoroughly enjoy.
You can decide to summit the mountain like others before you, or go skiing in the wintertime when the snowfall is in full swing.
If none of these intensive activities appeal to you, there’s always taking it easy on a 4×4 safari driven by someone else. Whatever you decide, Sierra Nevada deserves to be on your list of things to do!
6. Admire the Different Murals and Graffiti in Realejo
Granada’s streets come to life in Realejo where the walls have been tastefully done up with an exciting range of street art.
The Realejo area is right by the Alhambra and an easy detour if you plan to make your way there. See if you can spot some of the flawless signature work by El Niño de las Pinturas. That’s our challenge to you!
This activity is another definite Granada must-see and the best part is, you can enjoy it for free!
Unusual Things to Do in Granada
Granada is the best city in Spain in my view and has far more to it than the main sites. If you’re looking for unusual places to visit in Granada city, here are some of our favorites.
The Andalusia region is renowed by its “cave houses” – houses carved into the mountainside! They were once used by the peasantry class but have now been fully and properly modernised with all mod cons. The Sacromonte caves line the hill sides of Granada to this day.
For some of the best views, make your way to the top of these caves just in time for the sunset. From a distance, you’ll get to see some of the most amazing views of the Alhambra and the city.
This is one of the top things to see in Granada, Spain.
Another tell tale sign of its Moorish history, Granada still has a few haman’s open for business. For a perfect piece of bliss, make your way to the Hammam Al Andalus. This public bath is the perfect place to unwind after a long day in Granada.
Kick your feet up and relax in the different baths with varying temperatures from hot to mild and even cold. This bath has been beautifully decorated with distinct Moorish details and is a definite must-do while you’re here.
You can also indulge in some extra pampering by ordering one of the stress-relieving massages on the menu.
9. Time Your Visit with Semana Santa
The Semana Santa parade occurs annually in observance and celebration of the holy week of Easter. It’s one of the best unique things you should experience while you’re in Granada.
If you time your visit with this procession, you can expect to find intricately detailed floats making their way through the streets at different times. These floats carry different characters including “Jesus” with well curated outfits to match.
The dates of these celebrations can vary slightly per year, so do make sure to check your calendar in advance if you’d like to visit Granada during this time.
Safety in Granada
Granada is a relatively safe destination for tourists and there isn’t too much to worry about. That said, there are some precautions you should heed.
Pickpocketing, bag theft and even muggings occasionally occur in the darkened alleys around Albaicin and even around the Alacaira market. Try not to walk alone late at night in these areas but if you do, act confident and look certain of yourself. Don’t carry too much cash with you.
You may also be offered drugs in or around these areas. Note that under cover police may be operating.
The summer days get extremely hot. Stay hydrated and bring sun-screen.
We’d also advise that you also get good travel insurance. Check out our roundup of some of the best travel insurance around below!
When you make your way to a foreign country it’s always good to be prepared for anything. So, take all the necessary steps to protect yourself from harm. Check out our roundup of the best travel insurance.
You should always have emergency cash hidden on you - pick up this awesome security belt with its hidden pocket before you travel, it's perfect for hiding money, a passport photocopy.
Things to do in Granada at Night
If you don’t know what to do in Granada, Spain in the nighttime here are some of our favorite things.
10. Razzle and Dazzle at Feria de Corpus Christi Granada
This important fair occurs annually in this magical city. It highlights some of the best that Granada has to offer and showcases some of Spain’s long-standing traditions.
These traditions include the controversial “sport” of bullfighting, Flamenco dancing and other traditional processions outside of the ordinary.
If you’d like to match your travel dates with this annual fair, make sure to check out their calendar with the different dates which often vary from year to year.
If you’re an architectural enthusiast then you need to make your way to the Albaicín area at night. Here, you’ll get to see the Moorish influences perfectly framed under the moonlight in this eclectic district with an interesting history.
Ignite your curiosity on the years gone by as you find and discover some hidden gems along the way. This district has an interesting mix of exciting things to do and forms part of the best things to see in Granada.
Where to Stay in Granada
Best Hostel in Granada – El Granado
El Granado is a lively hostel located in the historical centre of Granada. Many activities, such as tapas tours and sangria nights are regularly organized so you do not have a chance to even think about getting bored! You can choose between a private room with an ensuite or a shared bathroom, or a bunk bed in a dormitory room.View on HostelWorld
Best Airbnb in Granada – Historic space that captures the city
If you’re going to stay in a UNESCO world heritage listed city, why not stay in a world heritage listed apartment? You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time to the Granada of old the moment you step into this beautifully curated space. With castle and olive grove views, you feel swept up in the vibe the moment you put your bags down.View on Airbnb
Best Budget Hotel in Granada – Hostal Verona Granada
The Hostal Verona Granada offers simple rooms in the centre of Granada. Each room has a private bathroom, air conditioning, a patio and a free Wifi connection. The hotel does not serve breakfast in the morning, but it is really easy to find within walking distance.View on Booking.com
Romantic Things to Do in Granada
Granada, Spain is positively fizzing and popping with romance! If you are here with a significant other, you are in for a treat.
12. Watch the Sunset from the San Cristóbal Viewpoint
The San Cristóbal viewpoint is one of the best places to take in most of the famous landmarks in Granada from a distance.This viewpoint experience is even better when it’s paired with a captivating sunset.
To make your way up here, you’ll have to walk up past Albaicin on an incline for quite some time. However, once you’ve reached the top, the views are totally worth it!
This viewpoint also has a lovely Catholic church perched right at the top. Every night “La Mirdor” come to life as a meeting spot for the bohmenians, backpackers and fly-traders. Get yourself a few cold beers at the nearby supermarkets and pull up a seat!
13. Indulge in the Delicious Food at El Trillo
If you’d like to see the Alhambra from a different perspective make your way to one of the most ambient restaurants in Granada, Spain with a view.
This is one of the most perfect romantic dining experiences while you’re in this city. Savor the delicious flavors of this beautiful land with a perfect setting overlooking everything else down below.
Before you go, make sure to reserve the best seats in the house on the upper level of the restaurant.
Do You Need Travel Insurance
Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favorite travel insurance provider.
Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple – just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!
Best Free Things to Do in Granada
They say the best things in life are free. Here are our favorite free things to do in and around the different Granada attractions.
14. Indulge in Free Tapas When You Buy a Drink
Granada has a long-standing tapas culture and you’ll soon realize it when you order a drink. In many establishments, you’ll find that your drink will come with a free set of tapas. The more drinks you order the more, and better tapas you get – your first drink will probably come with olives, bread or patatas, but if you stay for 3 or 4, expect delicious cuts of fish and jamon (ham) on bread.
You’ll be charged for the drinks, but won’t be charged for the tapas when you receive your bill. You do have the option of buying extea tapas if you want.
This is a great way to get a yummy pairing with your drink of choice while you’re out, so do indulge! There are loads of great Tapas joints in Alabaicin around the Cathedral and more can be found at Calle Almireceros (near the Arab quarter) – my personal favourite is Bodegas Castaneda.
15. Stroll Around Carmen de los Martires Garden
These beautiful gardens are a definite must-see in Granada, Spain if you’re a nature lover. The best part is, they are all completely free.
This garden doesn’t get as packed as the other tourist hotspots, so you could easily have it to yourself. Explore and appreciate the different landscapes and terrains that make up this lovely garden and see how many sculptures you can spot.
If you’re looking for a quiet escape from the city center, this is one of the best places to catch a break.
Granada Packing List
1. Travel Water Bottle: Always travel with a water bottle – it’ll save you money and reduce your plastic footprint on our planet. AR bottle are tough, lightweight and maintain the temperature of your beverage – so you can enjoy a cold red bull, or a hot coffee, no matter where you are. For every AR bottle sold, we donate 10% to PlasticOceans.org – an initiative to reduce plastic in our oceans!
2. Microfibre Towel: It’s always worth packing a proper towel. Hostel towels are scummy and take forever to dry. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be.
3. Security Belt with Hidden Pocket: I never hit the road without my security belt. This is a regular looking belt with a concealed pocket on the inside – you can hide up to twenty notes inside and wear it through airport scanners without it setting them off. This is hands down the best way to hide your cash.
4. Camera or Cell Phone Camera Accessories: One thing’s for sure – Granada is a picturesque destination! Get perfect shots from your phone using clip-on-lenses with wide-angle, close-up and optical zoom. With the ability to turn travel pictures from basic to professional, this universal lens sits neatly over any phone camera and comes with a durable, travel-friendly case!
5. International Adapter: Granada outlets European plugs so, you may need an adapter. Save yourself the hassle of trying to track down an adapter at your destination and paying twice as much than planning ahead by buying one online.
Books to Read in Granada
The Backpacker Bible – Get it for free! Learn how to ditch your desk and travel the world on just $10 a day whilst building a life of long-term travel with an online income. To inspire and help the next generation of Broke Backpackers, you can now grab ‘How to Travel the World on $10 a Day’ for free! Get your copy here.
The Alchemist– The story of how universe can help you to achieve goals that you really want to fight for. The main character is a young shepherd from Spain who decides travel to Egypt.
Don Quixote– I have to admit this is a long, sometimes dry, story with sentences longer than a page. However, Don Quixote is the foundation works of literature in Spain. It’s a series of tragic-comic episodes of a slightly deranged knight names Don Quixote.
For Whom the Bell Tolls– Ernest Hemingway covered the Spanish Civil War as a journalist, and turned his ac count into a fiction story.
Things to Do with Kids in Granada
If you’re traveling with kids, here are our favorite things to keep them entertained in Granada.
You might be wondering what might be so special about this particular cathedral? Well apart from it being one of the most visited landmarks in Granada, it also has some of the most detailed architecture in the region.
The architecture boasts a mixture of Gothic and Renaissance influences. It’s also lined with intricate paintings by the talented Alonso Cano.
This Cathedral is not only historically rich, but it also allows children to visit for free while on a self-guided tour. And kids love Cathedrals right?!
17. Dive in the Waters at Aquaola Waterpark
Take the kids out on a fun day out to the Aquaola Waterpark with an exciting wave pool and crystal clear waters to enjoy. This is one of the best places to escape the heat!
Indulge in some of the delicious sugary waffles as a treat or try out some of the other enticing food on offer. The menu has a variety of things to choose from on any given day.
Although it is a waterpark, unlike many others, you can expect reasonably priced items throughout.
Day Trips From Granada
Day trips are a great way to learn about some of the surrounding areas in any location. Here are our favorite day trips from Granada.
Ride Along to Motril
Take the bus to the popular coastal city of Motril for a lovely day trip. This city is one of the closest places to enjoy refreshing beach waters while reclining on a comfortable lounger, people-watching.
It’s perfectly fit for all age groups and has several beaches to choose from. You can even enjoy a game of golf at the Los Moriscos Club de Golf or even taste some Rum at a nearby distillery if you feel like igniting your taste buds.
This is one of the most hassle-free day trips from Granada if you’re not looking for too much admin.
The Almeria region descends from the high Sierra Nevada down to a stunning stretch of coastline. You can make your way to Almería by making use of the public transport system. Although it’s also dotted with lovely beaches, there’s a whole lot more that you might want to explore.
Immerse yourself in the history of this location which has a number of distinct monuments to learn about dotted around the area.
Some of the most famous landmarks here include the towering Alcazaba as well as the enchanting Castillo de San Cristóbal. For a different type of activity you can go kayaking in the picturesque Cabo de Gata instead.
While you’re here, enjoy some of the best of what this city has to offer on your day trip.
Cool Down at Guadix Cave Town
We already mentioned the cave houses of Granada but how about a side-quest to a bona-fide cave town?! Guadix is an UNESCO listed village about 50km from Granada. If you have a car then drive takes under an hour. There is a Granada – Guadix bus which costs $10. Allow a half day at least although if you want to hang around longer there are planty of hikes in the surrounding nature.
This is a highlight of the Andalucia region and well worth making the effort.
3 Day Itinerary in Granada
If you’d like to spend 3 or more days in Granada, here’s an itinerary with some of our favorite things to explore.
Day 1 – Learn About The History Of Granada
Spend the first part of your day learning about the history of Granada at the Alhambra. The Alhambra is one of its most famous landmarks.
Then, make your way to the Carmen de los Matire gardens to rest your feet while you enjoy the lush greenery and sculptures on display. This garden is a short walk away from the Alhambra.
After taking it easy, it’s now time to do as some of the locals would do and go relax in one of the Hammam Al Andalus baths. This trip is just a bus ride away. Treat yourself to a lovely massage to end off your day.
Day 2 – Immerse Yourself In The Culture
Start your day by bargain-hunting at Alcaicería where you can find a lot of locally produced souvenirs to take home. While you’re here, make sure to appreciate the Moorish architectural influences that surround you.
Indulge in a tea or coffee break at Teteria Diwan which is a 6-minute walk away. If you feel like it, reward yourself with a sugary treat to go.
Teteria Diwan is right near the Albaicín area. Take a walk to this eclectic area where you’ll get to see the Moorish architectural influences even better than before.
Day 3 – Take in All the Different Views
The Granada Cathedral will start your day off on a great note. This intricately designed cathedral shows off the creative hands and talents of those who conceptualized it.
Just a short 10-minute walk away from the cathedral, take in a different type of view from San Cristóbal. This view, unlike the one at the cathedral shows off the natural wonders of Granada from a distance.
After a day of taking in all the views, it’s only fitting to indulge and enjoy a local dining experience out at El Trillo restaurant.This restaurant is 12-minutes away from the viewpoint by foot.
More Great Resources
Final Thoughts on Things to Do in Granada
Granada is a very culture rich part of the world. Its visible Moorish influences inspire many to delve into the history and beginnings of Spain.
Immerse yourself in the different ways of life while you’re here. There’s no doubt that you’ll probably come back with a different perspective!
Whether it’s Flamenco dancing in the evenings or enjoying the sharing principles of tapas, Granada will surely leave a lasting mark unlike any other!
Enjoy the best of this magical city and make the most out of your time with its exciting range of things to do.
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