Andalucía is an iconic city and these 15 incredible things to do in Granada, Spain are just a few you can’t miss. Everything from the Alhambra to the cathedrals, local coffee shops to bodegas, each is special.
After spending a few nights visiting around the city, I quickly fell in love. One local shared a sentiment that stuck with me for the rest of the trip. I had asked why Granada was so different from the rest of Spain. His response? “La vida es fácil.” This translates to “life is easy.” And so the three days exploring Granada followed in this way.
Granada is rooted in history — you can see it and experience it everywhere. It’s a noticeable difference from the rest of Spain perhaps is found mostly in the architecture. The former Arabic rule in Spain left its mark in Moorish architecture. Today, curved arches, internal courtyards, vast gardens, and mosaics are everywhere. The most impressive? The Alhambra.
So on a visit to Andalucía’s gem of a city, these are the things you’ll want to make time for. The things you’ll definitely want to do in Granada
15 Incredible Things to Do in Granada, Spain
How to Get to Granada
There are two ways to get to Granada depending on where you are coming from. Both train and bus take you to just a few minutes outside of the city center. From major cities, it is best to take the train, but if coming for instance from Malaga, the bus is the fastest way. For the bus, you can book directly with Alsa.
Getting down to the region is quite easy. I’d recommend flying into Malaga or Seville depending on where you start your itinerary. Flights are available from major cities within Spain, with multiple options a day from Madrid and Barcelona. There are inter-Europe flights available as well. For low-cost flights, Vueling and EasyJet have good options.
Renting a car is optional in this area if you plan only to stay in the major towns and not explore elsewhere. I spent a full week exploring and had no problem getting around with public transport.
How Much Time in Granada
I spent two nights in Granada and felt like it wasn’t enough. The full three days were wonderful and I took my time exploring. It’s a wonderful city and from sights to food, you can really get a wide range of experiences.
I’d recommend a minimum of three full days especially if you plan on a half-day visit to the Alhambra,
For my full city guide on the best hotel and restaurant recommendations, head here:
Things to Do in Granada
1. Visit the Alhambra
It’s one of the main reasons visitors flock to Granada. Many come just for the day to visit the incredible rooms and gardens of Alhambra and Nasrid Palace (world heritage site). One morning, I made the climb up the hill (you can also take a bus) and was able to snag a ticket as an individual for an early time slot. I had previously booked a group tour as a back up for the time as well.
You could spend 3-4 hours exploring the Alhambra palace and Nasrid Palaces so I’d highly recommend either following Rick Steves or picking up an audio guide as part of your ticket (wear good walking shoes!)
Getting tickets to the Alhambra is one of the more challenging things for the visit. The website makes it difficult to book direct so your best bet is to pre-book a guided tour or one without a guide on a site like Viator. Tickets sell out months in advance (even for November there was little availability). See here for some tour options and Alhambra tickets:
2. Explore the gardens of Generalife
If you can’t get a ticket to the Alhambra, you usually can snag one for Generalife gardens (be sure to book a ticket with both). It’s adjacent and looks out over the city. It’s one of the most expansive and beautiful gardens I’ve personally ever seen.
3. Catch the sunset at Mirador de San Nicolás
One of the highlights of the entire trip was this night at the mirador. Making the steep climb up the steps to the side of the hill (there are a lot!), I ascended up the mountain. Making my way to the small square that perched out with views of the Sierra Nevadas and the Alhambra, I was shocked by how many people were here.
The sunset was magical, lighting up the city. And just as the sun peeled down, the lights of the Alhambra flickered on. It’s worth it to stick around just for this. Be sure to arrive early as well to snag a spot on the wall as it fills up fast.
4. Grab a coffee at local’s favorite Noat
You’ll find amidst all of the walking around the city you’ll want to sit down for a minute — at least I did. My favorite coffee shop that a local showed me was Noat. Incredibly quaint and charming, the coffee was excellent here.
The space is small but very cozy. You can also order a few snacks here as well if you’re hungry.
5. Explore the charming quarter, Albayzín
Not too far from the main city center, you can walk up the hills and steps of the Albayzín. It’s truly one of the most picturesque neighborhoods I’ve ever seen. It will give you a taste of local life, with plants and gardens spilling out over courtyards and walls. The views from here are also incredible as you get closer to the Sacromonte.
The Albayzín is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, making it incredibly special to the city of Granada.
6. Tour Carmen de los Martires
I popped into this home that sits not too far from the Alhambra. Pitched over the hillside with views of the mountains, this is a good gem to explore when in the area. I’d recommend checking open hours in advance as it is limited for when it is open.
7. Catch a flamenco show.
One of the cultural traditions of the region is flamenco. I had already seen one in Seville the previous year but I’d highly recommend seeing one at least once while visiting. You’ll find many flamenco shows throughout the city advertised. You can also book one here:
8. Embark on a self-guided walking tour
Using Rick Steve’s Granada walking tour, you can go for an hour or two exploring on your own. It starts up the Carrerra del Doro, winding your way through spots like Corral del Carbon, Royal Chapel, and Paseo de los Tristes (beautiful part here). The walking tour is about exploring on your own which is a great way to see the city.
You can grab a copy of his Granada book here.
9. Go inside the Granada Cathedral.
One sight I popped into on a whim was the Granada Cathedral. I wasn’t originally planning on going in but my friend who lived there suggested I did. It’s incredible and well worth the entry price.
Grand in size and incredible architectural sight, it’s well worth spending 20-30 minutes here. Just next to it is the Royal Chapel as well, so be sure to see both. Another religious site worth visiting is also the Basilica of San Juan de Dios.
10. Soak in the Ancient Baths.
Ancient Baths or Arab baths or very popular in this region. You’ll find them all over but the ones in Granada are quite special as they’re over the ruins of ancient baths. You can book yourself in a treatment like a massage (be sure to do so days in advance) or just get a pass to their thermal pools at Hammam al Andalus.
It’s an amazing way to relax after a few days of walking and is close to Plaza Nueva. Plus if it’s raining, it’s a good option indoors.
Book a ticket here:
11. Shop the stalls at La Alcaicería Market.
What was the original Moorish Market of Granada is now home to a market selling tapestries and other goods. It may be quite touristy but a walkthrough here is worth just having a peak to look at. You can find silk goods here still today.
12. Shop woven goods at Cordeleria Esperteria San Jose.
One of the most beautiful storefronts I saw in Granada, this store is home to many woven goods. From hats to bags, to things for the home, I’d pop in here to find a few souvenirs to bring back.
13. Take a day trip to the Sierra Nevadas.
You won’t miss the Sierra Nevadas as they tower over the city. They seem to always be there and in the fall and winter months, are covered in snow. They’re quite scenic.
If you’ve rented a car, it came highly recommended to pop out to the Sierra Nevada mountains for a hike and to explore. They’re not too far from the city. If you haven’t rented a car, you can always book a day trip with a tour group to get outside. I had no luck with the weather so I am very bummed to have missed this.
I was looking at this tour to book for a day trip:
14. Grab tapas at a local bodega.
There is some incredible food to be found in this city from the old-world to the new world. You’ll find tapas bars everywhere and is well worth a visit to the institutions in Granada.
Some of my favorite tapas in Granada was at Tocateja and Bodegas Castañeda.
15. Take a day trip to neighboring cities like Córdoba.
If you don’t have time to spend a few days in other cities, you could consider just going for the day using local transport or a booked tour. Either bus or train will get you to Córdoba so you can really self-explore the city and tour the famed Mezquita.
I have a full guide on the city as well if you decide to go on your own. For a guided tour, I’d recommend booking here: