There are a number of beautiful places to visit in Granada and I’m about to share the BEST with you, including the BEST place to stay. But just in case you hadn’t already heard, you need to put Alhambra at the very top of that list. Read on for a quick guide to Granada and an overview of the highlights that you just won’t want to miss!
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The Best Places to Visit in Granada
Alhambra is the reason everyone flocks to Granada, and for good reason. As usual, I was a bit slack on researching ahead of our visit. And as a result, was astounded by the Palaces, the grounds, the view point over the city and more.
BUT if you have limited time for your visit you don’t want to make the same mistakes I did, so read on for my top tips to visiting Alhambra.
Alhambra is incredible and displays Moorish architecture at it’s very best. There is a strong reflection of Arabic culture and history reflected in the Nazrid Palace in particular. So, if you have an interest in things Middle Eastern or North African like I do, then you’ll love it here.
Our Top Tips for Visiting Alhambra
- Make sure you buy your tickets online or the day before. Book them ahead here at this link and you’ll have the added bonus of skipping the queue. Be warned queues are long and tickets do sell out… they did in our case.
- Absolutely do not miss the Nazrid Palace – it’s the highlight. But be prepared for crowds of people here, it gets very busy.
- The morning session at 8.30am in my opinion is the best. It seemed to be much quieter.
- Get to the main entrance of Alhambra at least 15 minutes before (8.15am), and then get promptly to the Nazrid Palace – it’s a bit of a walk. If you are more than 30 minutes late (9am) to the Nazrid palace they won’t let you enter.
- Note: your entrance timing to Alhambra is in fact the same time slot for your visit to Nazrid Palace. SO… if you buy the 8.30 entrance, then this is also the time for your entrance to Nazrid.
- Get an audio guide for the palace as there are absolutely no description panels inside.
- Allow between 3-4 hours for your visit. My kids were exhausted after about three hours and started tapping out.
- Be prepared with official ID to get around inside, we were constantly asked for our passports.
- Bring snacks and water – obvious maybe – but there is a lot of walking and my kids needed feeding.
- Be sure to see it ALL! After the Nazrid palace, head to Alcazaba and then on to Generalife. Each corner is just as beautiful as the next!
- I recommend you opt for public transport as your means of getting to and from Alhambra… look for the bus C30 or C32. The bus system is very easy around the city when using the google maps public transport tab.
For a 3 hour guided tour of Alhambra and Nazrid Palace, with ticket included and skip the line bonus, then book ahead here. This option is a favourite with visitors to Alhambra.
The Science Museum – Parque de las Ciencias
This museum was recommended by a friend and I’m so glad we visited. I definitely recommend that you don’t leave your visit until the end of the day or you will end up rushing around trying to see it all, as we did.
The highlight for us was the BioDome, and the bird show, despite not understanding a word. It was very exciting to watch the owls, falcons, local vultures and more.
There is an interactive play area outside for the kids, a fantastic Space Centre and plenty more to explore here. I definitely recommend that you spend a few hours here, especially if you are travelling with children.
Albaicin/Albayzin – The Arabic Quarter
You haven’t experienced Granada until you stroll the streets of Caldereria Nueva and Elvira. There are two streets to wander for Arab influenced trinkets and meals. My favourite street of the two was Caldereria Nueva. The street was narrow, there was no traffic access and you can zig zag back and forward between the beckoning store fronts. Be sure to stop in for a coffee, tea or baklava at the Caravan Coffee & Tea Shop and take some time to browse the scents and oils of Alquimia Pervane.
Albaicin – The Old Town
There are plenty of little tapa restaurants to sit in the evening. One of our favourites was Restaurante Aixa in Plaza Larga.
One destination you definitely want to head to is the Mirador de San Nicolas. From up here on the hill, the lookout gives a spectacular view over the valley towards Alhambra. In the evening the wall fills with people as they flock for photos of Alhambra in the golden hours of the day. My favourite time of day to catch the view was first thing in the morning when fewer people were around.
The buskers are out in force in Granada, so make sure you have a pocketful of coins. Go with it, enjoy it, celebrate it… music in this city is a religion and the busking culture reflects this. We loved strolling the streets in Albaicin and pausing regularly along the way to soak in the street music.
Extra Places to Visit in Granada
See a Flamenco Show
Granada is the home of Flamenco, the famed and traditional dance of Southern Spain! So, book in an evening show in Albaicin near the Mirador de San Nicolas and Plaza Larga and hit the town for the night.
This hour long show is in a fantastic location at an unbeatable price.
Soak in a Hammam
Combining Moorish architecture, the traditions of Arabic culture and relaxation then don’t miss a soak in the Hammam al Andalus. The dimly lit Hammam is a great way to rest aching muscles after a day of walking Granada.
Book your 90 minute soak right here. This link will get you the simple soak and relaxation package with options to add on a massage for 15 minutes or longer.
This is a special part of Granada, set on the hill between Alhambra and Albaicin. Here you can catch a glimpse into the gypsy side of Granada. Music, cave homes, flamenco, culture and history… you can find it all in Sacramonte.
I think one of the best ways to see this area is on foot!
See this link here to the guided sunset walking tour of Sacramonte and Albaicin. This 2 1/2 hour tour is very highly recommended on Get Your Guide and is a very reasonable price.
Guadix – Cave Houses
The cave houses are one of my favourite places to visit in Granada. There is also an entire town of cave houses 30 minutes outside of Granada that you can visit and stay in. And I absolutely recommend, if you have a day or two spare on your journey or travels, stay a night or more in a cave house!
These homes are literally carved into hillsides and rock. The locals living here in these homes have always lived this way, and more recently opened their homes so that visitors get a sneak peek into their way of life.
See below our recommendation on where to stay in Guadix, Granada.
Los Cohorros Monachil
IF you are looking for something a little active then check out the hanging bridges of Monachil. Just 8km outside Granada is the impressive Los Cahorros gorge. This is set in a beautiful mountainous village. For hiking, rivers, bridges and nature this is a great way to spend a day. Check out this post for more details.
Best Places to Eat in Granada
If you are a food lover, then you are going to love this list of places to eat. This list of restaurants and bars has been personally recommended by a friend of friend living in Granada. We haven’t been to all of them. But I’m sharing the list so that you can narrow in on one or two that might suit you.
We enjoyed Rosario Varela. They had a busy little street side seating area, but we chose to sit inside in comfort and admire the interior. The food was fantastic, the service was great. What’s more to love!
For a busy evening vibe then check out Restaurante Aixa in Albaicin. The massive courtyard restaurant is extremely busy, but the food was quick and the atmosphere was vibrant for a local experience.
The Best Restaurants
- Hicuri Vegan
- Pizzeria Grazie Mille
- Il Capo
- Restaurante Aixa
The Best Tapas
- Bar Poe
- El Peruano
- Café Bar Damasqueros
- Halley Copas
- Rosario Varela
- El Bar de Eric
- Bella Kurva
- La Fabrica
The Best Bars
- Hannigan & Sons
Best Place to Stay in Granada
Look no further than the Albaicin district. If you are a confident driver you can drive right in but take your time and don’t panic about the maze of streets. Trust google maps a little, but not all the way… we had no trouble arriving but got stuck in a very narrow street when leaving Albaicin. Our car was larger than most, and I found myself needing to reverse back to a main road.
This aside, Albaicin is definitely the best place to stay. It is within the old city walls and up on a hill. The atmosphere up here is exciting and it’s a fun place to base yourself. And when you have arrived you can leave your car parked up and get around the city on foot or by public transport.
These are our recommendations for where to stay in Granada.
- This is right where we stayed and the location couldn’t get any better. The Florentia Home Selection Apartments are right around the corner from one of the best views in the city of Alhambra. Stay here and you won’t regret it!
- As an alternative we recommend La Corrala del Realejo. These boutique apartments are on the other side of town, but are perfect in terms of location between Alhambra and the city centre.
The Best Place to Stay Outside Granada
As I have mentioned above, we highly recommend staying a night or two in Guadix in a cave house. A short drive from the main road and you’ll feel that you’ve stepped into a foreign land. The cave homes which are built into the side of a hill, keep a consistent temperature and they are a very unique experience in Southern Spain.
IF you stay in Guadix, we recommend you eat at Bar la Granja for some of the best and cheapest tapas in town. In fact you won’t pay for the tapas if your order them with a drink. A great deal if you ask me!
This is where we stayed! Las Cuevas de Maria. Maria is extremely friendly and helpful and her cave houses are highly rated on Booking. And while being among the best in the area they don’t carry the crazy price tag.
And that concludes our blog on Granada! We hope you loved this post on the best places to visit in Granada, along with our recommendations on where to stay. If you have any questions about the activities and places mentioned here, then please do not hesitate to contact us. We love to help!
You may also like to read our other posts on Spain:
6 Best Vacation Spots in Spain
The Perfect Guide to 3 Days in Barcelona
A Perfect Southern Spain Itinerary
Don’t forget to pin this post on the Best Places to Visit in Granada to return to later.
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