Granada is one of, if not my favorite city in Andalusia, Spain. It is a place where you will find everything: interesting history, amazing architecture, unique culture, and delicious food. For those who are planning on visiting Granada, Spain for the first time I wrote the complete guide which will help you navigate this awesome place and organize your time to the full extent.
The Complete Guide To Granada, Spain
Granada has a lot to offer for tourists, and there is no way that you can see all its gems and experience Granada tapas culture in just 2 to 3 days. Therefore my advice is to plan on spending at least a week in Granada.
Since Granada is quite a popular tourist location, there are a lot of accommodations available, including AirBnB apartments. Here are some hotels that I can recommend:
Hotel Alhambra Palace is one of the most famous hotels in Granada. It is an old, grand hotel that carries the history and culture of this city. You will see many Moorish architectural elements around the hotel. Plus this hotel is quite famous for the amazing views that it offers from its windows.
The Alhambra palace hotel has a very convenient location to explore the old town, and the Alhambra as well.
Price: $200/a night
Booking: Click here to book
Gran hotel Luna de Granada is located a bit outside the city center (15 minutes walk), however it is a highly recommended place by many travelers.
Luna de Granada hotel has a pool on the site, and a gym. The rooms are spacious, and there is a very nice terrace.
Booking: Click here to book
Marquis Urban is a simple hotel with a great location. The rooms here are quite big with comfortable beds and a nice bathroom. The hotel’s highlight is a rooftop with a nice view.
Granada is quite famous for its food culture, which means tapas. Tapas in Granada are a free snack that you receive when ordering a drink. There are a few cities in Spain that are popular for their tapas (like Seville), but it is only in Granada that tapas are always free. Therefore many tourists, including locals, come to Granada to enjoy a bit of fun bar hopping.
I actually wrote a much longer list of the best tapas bars we have visited in Granada. Here are a few that stand out:
Casa Colon is a restaurant that also serves tapas. This is one of the exceptions in Granada, since usually tapas are served in the bar area only, and you can’t choose your own tapas. Here at Casa Colon you are able to sit down in a nicely appointed restaurant and still get your tapas, plus they offer a large selection of tapas that you can choose from.
Los Diamantes is one of the best places to enjoy seafood tapas. Here you can’t choose your own tapas, but everything you get is really good.
EntreBrases is one of the best tapas bars I have been. It is a small bar with not a lot of space, therefore it is usually crowded, and hard to get into. EntreBrases specializes in meat dishes and they serve the best meat tapas in my opinion. Their first tapa specialty is grilled pork with pyramid salt and it is just so, so good.
The Alhambra is a palace complex that was built in the 13th century by the Moors. It is one of the highlights of Granada and the main place you should plan to visit. It is also considered to be one of the most iconic landmarks in Europe.
You can visit the Alhambra by yourself, or have a group tour with a guide. A tour is going to be more expensive of course, but sometimes it is the only option. If you are looking for tickets close to the date, they all might be sold to tourists or to tour agencies that offer guided tours.
Although exploring the Alhambra with a tour guide has a lot of pluses, the price difference is quite big (guided tours are 4 – 5 times more expensive). So if you are on a budget get your tickets far in advance.
You should visit the Granada Museum Of Fine Art after exploring the Alhambra, since it is located on the same premises.
Granada Museum Of Fine Art is located in the palace and was built by Carlos V, the grandson of the famous Queen Isabella.
To get to the museum you need to buy a separate ticket €1,5 (the Granada card and the ticket from Alhambra won’t work here).
The Carlos V palace is built in the Renaissance style, which is a big contrast to the Moorish architectural style.
The Museum of Fine Art is actually not that big and won’t take a long time to explore, but it would be a pity if you will miss out on seeing it.
Granada Cathedral is the second most crowded location in Granada, and another one of the must see spots.
Chances are that to enter the Granada cathedral you will have to wait in line. However, it won’t take too long, usually 10 – 15 minutes and you are inside.
When you enter the Granada cathedral you can get a free audio guide and learn some history.
Granada cathedral might not look like a huge place from the outside, but once you are inside, you can see how grand this place is for yourself.
Price: €5, free with Granada card
Behind the Granada cathedral there is the Royal chapel that you can visit. The chapel is the oldest part of the cathedral which leads to a separate entrance, and a separate ticket (free with Granada card). At the entrance you also can get an audio guide to learn more about this place.
The Royal chapel has Queen Isabella, her husband, daughter, and son-in-law buried here.
The Royal chapel has some artwork from the private collection of Queen Isabella, and some other relics of Catholic kings. The Royal chapel is also one of the biggest chapels in Spain.
Sacromonte Abbey is located on top of the mountain Valparaiso. It is pretty easy to get there from the center of Granda (take the C34 bus).
To see the Sacromonte Abbey from inside you need to book a tour. The guided tour lasts just 40 – 50 minutes during which you will see a museum on the first floor of the main building, visit a few chapels in the caves, and see the most precious relic – the Gypsy Cross.
Palacio Dar al-Hora was a residence of the wife of Sultan Muhammed the 11th.
The palace is built on a slope, therefore there is a very nice view of the city from its windows.
You can visit the second floor where you will find a lot of decorative details from the Nasrid period.
Palacio Dar al-Hora is a great example of the Moorish architectural style. It is one of those places that are worth visiting in Granada.
Flamenco dance is one of the cultural symbols of Spain. You can find many great Flamenco shows all over Andalusia, however Granada offers something that no other city offers – a Flamenco show in a Gypsy cave.
Sacromonte is the area in Granada where gypsies moved to after the Catholic kings conquered Granada. Their daily life took place in small confined spaces where they worked and enjoyed dancing Flamenco.
Some of the best Flamenco dancers were born in those caves of Sacromonte. The tradition of dancing in caves lives on today.
You can visit one of the cute whitewashed caves and experience such a Flamenco show for yourself. There is no special stage or equipment, people sit along the walls of the cave, and Flamenco dancers perform right in front of you.
The monastery of San Jeronimo is the first monastery that was built after the Catholic kings conquered Granada.
The monastery of San Jeronimo is not as popular as the Granada cathedral among tourists, but no less beautiful.
You can visit the courtyard of the monastery with their 36 arches and an orange archery in the middle, as well as the main cathedral. Inside the church you will be blown away with the decorative details all over the place.
Because there are not a lot of visitors at the monastery, it creates a special divine and sacred atmosphere. The monastery of San Jeronimo is well worth visiting.
These two houses belonged to two families (Lorenzo el Chapiz and Hernan Lopez el Feri) that became new Christians after the conquest of Granada by the Catholic kings.
Unfortunately for tourists you are not able to explore all the parts of the two buildings since there are some offices in them, and a school of Arabic Studies. However, you still can see enough to understand how beautiful this place is.
There are also two cute patios that you can see and a beautiful garden with a view of Alhambra.
El Banuelo is an ancient Arabic bath. The bath includes three different rooms: a cold room, a warm room, and a hot room. Nowadays you can’t really say which room is which if you don’t read the plaques.
El Banuelo is one of the Andalusian monuments that you must visit in Granada. And while you are visiting, pay attention to the beautiful ceiling.
Casa de Zafra is a Moorish building that was built around the 15th century, and that has the most beautiful patio among all the Moorish buildings in Granada.
Casa de Zafra is a place to take some great photos of authentic Moorish architecture. Other than that there is not much to see besides a small exhibition on the first and second floor.
If you are traveling with kids, Granada Science park will be one of the best places to take your children.
If you have a Granada card, the Science park will be included in it. However you need to know that to get to the Bio Domo you will have to pay an additional €4. And you should definitely visit Bio Domo, since it is the best part of this park.
Bio Domo has a lot of different animals that actually don’t live in cages, but in beautiful specially created areas. Plus they have a huge aquarium… It is kinda like the L’Oceanografic in Valencia (a bit smaller of course).
Granada is the only place in Andalusia that always offers tapas as a free snack to your drink (in Seville, Ronda, and other places you have to buy tapas). Therefore, there are usually a lot of tourists (even locals) that come to Granada for a few days for socializing, bar hopping, and trying different tapas.
In most of the tapas bars in Granada you don’t choose your tapas. It is more as a present from a chef that you get. The rule is that you will get a different tapa with every new drink. The chefs try very hard not to repeat themselves, especially if you are sitting in one bar for more than 3 – 4 drinks.
There are many tapas bars in Granada, so you can totally get to know tapas culture on your own. For those who would like to learn more you can book a tapas tour of Granada, during which a guide will take you to different tapas bars and tell you some interesting facts.
I would recommend you to do both ways. Start with a tapas tour and then just go out on your own.