Granada lies in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains in southern Spain. Its airport is just 17km outside the city but the budget airlines aren’t currently offering services there so Malaga is the nearest international airport. Many visitors to Spain believe that if there is only one place to visit then it should be Granada. The city has a population of 240,000 of which 80,000 are students so there is a vibrant atmosphere about the place. Apart from the University there is only one other major employer, the Alhambra Palace, which attracts over two million annual visitors and is key to a thriving tourism industry.
Whilst there are plenty things to do in Granada it is the Alhambra which will be the undoubted focus of your visit. Often referred to as “the jewel of Moorish Spain”, it is one of Spain’s major tourist attractions and anyone travelling to this part of the world simply shouldn’t miss it. Be sure to order Alhambra tickets or Alhambra tours before travelling as it does sell out on certain days. Overseas visitors can pre-book tickets online up to 90 days before your planned visit. You then collect the tickets from a machine at the Alhambra. There are regular excursions from the Costa del Sol to Granada with a number of collection points around Torremolinos, Fuengirola, Estepona and Marbella.
What to do in Granada
Here we have listed our top 10 things to do in Granada. There is much more besides these but this list should help you plan your trip
- Visit the stunning Alhambra Palace
- Tour the tapas bars around Plaza Nueva and Campo del Principe
- Get a spectacular view of the Alhambra from the Mirador de San Nicolas
- Wander the tiny streets of the Moorish Albaicín
- See a flamenco show in the caves of Sacramonte
- Take a day excursion into the Alpujarras
- Visit the Cathedral and Royal Chapel where the ‘Reyes Catolicos‘ are buried
- In winter have a day skiing in the Sierra Nevada
- Enjoy the magnificent festivals during Semana Santa (Holy Week)
- Attend the Granada International Festival of Music and Dance.
If you are only in Granada for the day to visit the Alhmabra Palace but have a little time left over here are a couple of suggestions of what to do.
- Walk down the hill to Plaza Nueva. C/Elvira is in the far left corner as you enter the square. Walk along there and up to the right if you want a taste of Morocco.
- Take a taxi to MIRADOR SAN NICOLAS in the Albaicin for the best panoramic views of the Alhambra. Have lunch either in the bar behind the church in Plaza San Nicolas or walk to Plaza San Miguel Bajo and eat at one of the terrace bars in that square.
Tapas Culture of Granada
First time visitors to Granada are surprised (and delighted) to find that the tapas culture thrives in this city. Not only are they good, they’re also free! Just order a drink and in most bars in Granada you’ll be given a tapa with it. No wonder so many Spanish students choose to spend their formative years here! Whilst the city isn’t noted for its culinary delights there are a number of fine Granada restaurants offering dishes created from local produce. For a lovely, romantic evening book a table at one of the restaurants in the Albaicín which have terraces overlooking the floodlit Alhambra.
When to Go
You can pretty much visit Granada at any time of year provided you are aware of the likely weather. Summers tend to get very hot whilst winters can be quite chilly although lovely blue skies are typical. The spring and autumn months are often idyllic. If you do visit in the summer try to tie your visit in with the Granada International Festival of Music and Dance when the city attracts performers from around the globe. Winter visitors can get a bus from the centre of the city and take to the slopes of the Sierra Nevada for a day of skiing.