TOP THINGS
TO DO & SEE in Granada, Spain

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What You Can’t Miss

Let’s be honest, the real reason you visit Granada is to see the Alhambra. It's such an incredible place, that many will travel from the other side of the world just to get a glimpse of it. And while the city may not be very large (population of 220,000), it has a lot of charm. Looking out from San Nicolas in the Moorish Albayzin neighborhood you can see the old city below and across the way, the Alhambra Palaces with the Sierra Nevada mountain range in the background. It is one of Europe’s most magical places.

Top 5 Things to Do

1

ALHAMBRA

Patio de los Leones in the Nasrid Palaces of the Alhambra – Granada
Patio of the Lions, Alhambra Palace - Granada

The sumptuous complex of the Alhambra is a symbol of Granada and its golden era, as well as one of the best examples of Moorish architecture in the world. Although the original fortress has existed since the 9th century, it wasn’t until the 13th century that it became the crown jewel of the Nasrid dynasty.

Today, visitors have the opportunity to wander through the watchtowers, palaces and gardens where sultans and kings lived and where European history was made. The complex is enormous and there is a lot of history to take in. For that reason, we definitely recommend to take part in a guided tour to make the most of your visit to the Alhambra.

2

ALBAICÍN

Jewish neighborhood of Albaicín in Granada, Spain
Albaicín Jewish neighborhood - Granada

Granada’s Moorish neighborhood, known as Albaicín (or Albayzín) is located on the hillside across from the Alhambra and together form a UNESCO world heritage site.

Formed by narrow winding streets that stretch across the steep hillside, the Albaicín still maintains the charm and the layout of the medieval Moorish quarter that it once was. At the highest peak of its golden age during the Nasrid Kingdom (13th - 15th centuries), the Albayzín had over 40,000 inhabitants and 30 mosques. However, after the reconquest of Granada in 1492, it slowly entered a period of decline – the mosques were torn down to build churches and, in less than a century, the Moors were completely expelled.

The main thing to do in the Albaicín is to simply get lost wandering through its quaint streets and end up at the famous San Nicolas Viewpoint (free access). This popular look out point offers astonishing views of the Alhambra, especially beautiful at sunset time – but also especially busy!

Carrera del Darro in Granada's Albaicín neighborhood, Spain
Carrera del Darro - Granada

A few other attractions in the Albayzín that might be of interest:

  • Moorish bath el Bañuelo (5€ entrance fee, incl. access to Casa Horno de Oro and Dar Al-Horra Palace) – Visit the ruins of an 11th century Moorish public bath, which constitute some of the oldest and best preserved Arab baths in Spain.
  • Casa del Chapiz (2€ entrance fee) – Discover its unexpected beautiful gardens featuring incredible views of the Alhambra making for a very romantic atmosphere.
  • Calderería Nueva (free access) –  Nicknamed Granada’s “mini Morocco,” this touristy street is full of tea houses, Moroccan restaurants and souvenir shops.

* Extra tip: the city minibus line C31 makes a 20-minute loop through the Albaicín neighborhood. It leaves Plaza Nueva every 15 minutes and a ticket costs about 1.20€. You can get off at the top of the Albaicín neighborhood or stay for an entire round.

3

SACROMONTE

Caves in the gypsy Sacromonte neighborhood in Granada – Spain
Gypsy neighborhood of Sacromonte - Granada

Granada’s Sacromonte neighborhood is home to the city’s gypsy community who settled in Granada after the Christian reconquest in 1492. It is probably the city’s most picturesque neighborhood, where houses are actually caves that have been dug into the hillside.

Although Sacromonte’s origins are unclear, we do know that cave dwelling gained momentum in the 16th century. It was then that Granada’s Jews and Muslims were expelled from the city and mixed in with the gypsies in Sacromonte, which was a marginalized area outside of the city walls and its control.

The Sacromonte’s gypsy community is also renowned for its flamenco traditions. There are many flamenco performances every night. Although quite touristy, it is still a very unique and recommendable experience to see a flamenco show in a Sacromonte cave.

Cave in the gypsy Sacromonte neighborhood in Granada, Spain
Interior of a cave in the Sacromonte neighborhood - Granada

If you are interested in having a look inside a cave, keep an eye open while wandering through the area and you will see some locals offering access to their cave for 1€ - 2€. As another alternative, at the top of the hill there is an open-air folk museum dedicated to Granada’s unique gypsy cave-dwelling tradition called Museo Cuevas de Sacromonte (5€ entrance fee).

* Extra tip: the city minibus line C34 makes a loop through the Albaicín and Sacromonte neighborhoods. It leaves Plaza Nueva every 30 minutes and a ticket costs about 1.20€.

4

CATHEDRAL & ROYAL CHAPEL

Interior of Granada's cathedral, Spain
Interior of the cathedral - Granada

Granada’s Royal Chapel (5€ entrance fee) is the city’s top Christian sight. Although it is smaller and less architecturally impressive than the cathedral, it has much more historical significance.

The Royal Chapel houses the tombs of the Catholic Monarchs, Isabella and Ferdinand. As the last Moorish capital to be reconquered, Granada became a symbol of their victory and it is where they chose to be buried. Their impressive tombs were carved out of Italian marble in the 16th century in Renaissance style. However, there are actually four tombs in the Royal Chapel. Isabella and Ferdinand are accompanied by their successors: their daughter Joanna the Mad and her husband Philip the Fair.

Granada’s massive cathedral (5€ entrance fee) is Spain’s second largest church after Sevilla’s. Its construction started at the beginning of the 16th century and took almost two centuries. That is the reason why so many different styles can be found in the building. While the main structure is mostly in Renaissance style, its foundation is Gothic and the last altars and some finishes were done in Neoclassical and Baroque styles.

* Extra info: Although the Royal Chapel is actually a chapel adjoining the cathedral, the entrances (and ticket prices) are separate.

5

HAMMAM

Interior of the Al-Andalus hammam in Granada, Spain
Hammam Al-Andalus - Granada

After a long day visiting the Alhambra or wandering up and down the Albaicín and Sacromonte neighborhoods, you will feel like you need a break. The perfect place to disconnect and truly relax in Granada is the hammam Al-Andalus.

As soon as you cross the door, the beautiful setting and relaxed atmosphere will make you forget about the hassle and bustle of the city and transport you into another world where you can enjoy this relaxing Arabic tradition to the fullest. Every detail is taking care of, the ambience is perfectly set with chill music and candles – even the clothing of the workers matches the atmosphere!

Access to the hammam is done in 90-minute slots and the number of people is limited to about 12 people per pass, so it never feels crowded. With that being said, access to the hammam gets booked up quickly and it is usually needed to book at least one day in advance. There is one cold pool, one warm pool, two hot pools, a steam room, hot stones and a lovely relax room serving traditional tea. But to get the full experience you should also book a massage.

More Things to See

FLAMENCO

Flamenco is a passionate ancestral art that has become an expressive form of Andalusian folklore. Not only has it been popular for centuries, but still today it plays an important role in local culture. It is part of festivities, traditions and every day life. It’s in their blood!

Granada is one of the main hubs for flamenco and, more specifically, its gypsy community in the Sacromonte neighborhood. If you are interested in flamenco, then experiencing a flamenco show in Granada is a must. For more information, check out our Where to see flamenco in Granada page.

PIONONOS

Piononos are a sweet pastry that originates from Santa Fe, a small town next to Granada. This delicious little treat is made up of a thin layer of pastry covered in syrup and rolled into a cylinder shape, which is then topped off with toasted cream. Although there are many variations, the basic ingredients are eggs, sugar, flour, cinnamon and rum.

Traditional piononos are small and can be eaten in just a couple of bites. Locals often have them as a dessert after a meal or as a snack together with a coffee in the middle of the morning or afternoon. You will find bakeries and cafés selling piononos all over Granada. Businesses are proud of their piononos and they will often claim to have “the best in town.” Who really has the best piononos? There is only one way to find out… by trying them all!

*Interesting fact: The name “pionono” is a tribute to a 19th century pope called Pope Pius IX, which in Italian is “Pio Nono.”

MADRAZA PALACE

Inaugurated in 1349 by the Nasrid King Yusuf I, the Madraza Palace was Granada’s first university and functioned as a school of Muslim studies. It was built at the heart of the city, right next to the main Mosque at the time (now the Cathedral) and the Alcaicería, which used to be Granada’s commerce hub where silk, gold and other goods were traded.

Today, the Madraza Palace belongs to Granada’s university and its patio can be visited for free. You can also pay 2€ to join a 15-min guided visit that includes the impressive prayer room, richly decorated, and the gentlemen’s room (“Salón de los Caballeros”) which is upstairs and houses a splendid Moorish framework from the 16th century.

CARRERA DEL DARRO

Carrera del Darro is one of Granada’s oldest streets and, to this day, still one of the busiest. Tourists flock this street all year around, attracting performers, vendors, beggars, etc.

However, while in Granada, it is still a must to enjoy this romantic walk next to the Darro river, starting at the Plaza Nueva and ending at the Paseo de los Tristes, with the imposing Alhambra at the top of the hill on the one side and the Albaicín neighborhood on the other. There are also several bridges connecting Carrera del Darro with the neighborhood of the Churra, at the foot of the Alhambra hill.

In addition, you will find various places of interest along the Carrera del Darro, such as the Moorish bath el Bañuelo (5€ entrance fee) and the Archeology Museum (free for EU citizens, 1.5€ others).

ALCAICERÍA MARKET

Granada’s Alcaicería was originally the city’s Grand Bazaar with over 200 shops filled with silk and other precious goods (spices, salt, etc.), stretching from Plaza Nueva to Plaza Bib-Rambla. Silk was so valuable that the market had ten armed gates and its own guards!

The Alcaicería survived the Christian Reconquest, but it was shut down a century later when the Moors were forced to leave the city. Unfortunately, a fire in 1843 destroyed what was left. What we see today is a much smaller replica built in neo-Moorish style in the late 19th century.

Although the tiny shopping lanes of the Alcaicería are mostly filled with touristic souvenir shops, it is still a good place to purchase local artisanal products in ceramic, stained glass, wood crafts, etc.

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