Ancient palaces, quaint neighborhoods, picturesque viewpoints, and more...these are the BEST things to do in Granada, Spain. Don't miss these must-see sights and attractions!
Southern Spain is one of my favorite areas of Europe. The warm weather, incredible tapas, lush gardens, and busy squares make this a must-visit destination.
A few things that draw me to Granada again and again are not only the sights, food, and culture, but that this city feels safe, is walkable, incredibly clean and well-preserved, and the perfect place to stay busy or just sit back and relax.
The mix or Moorish and Spanish culture and long history make Granada a fascinating place to visit.
One of the most overwhelming parts of planning a trip is what to see and what to make a priority. I’ve researched and visited the top sights so you can take the guesswork out of how to prioritize your Granada itinerary.
You could easily fit these top 10 things to do in Granada, Spain on a quick 2 day trip or a more leisurely 3 day itinerary.
This map shows the TOP things to do in Granada, Spain. Click the icon in the very top left to see a list view of each pinned location. Click the top right button to enlarge the map. Click the star to save to your own Google Maps account. To access this map once saved (after clicking the star), open Google Maps (on your phone/computer/tablet), click the menu button, go to "your places", select "maps", and you will see this map listed.
- Blue - top sights and attractions in Granada
- Purple - tapas and churros in Granada
Before we go into the best things to do in Granada, let's discuss a few things first...
How many days in Granada, Spain are ideal?
Many visitors spend just one day in Granada. Or they do it as a day trip.
I don't advise this and recommend spending 2 days in Granada, Spain.
Granada is easily one of the most beautiful cities in Spain. Don’t rush this city and see the main sights in 1 day. It deserves time to wander the neighborhoods, enjoy a few lengthy meals, and take your time at the top attraction, the Alhambra Palace.
Save the Alhambra for your second day. Book the first time slot, arrive before it opens, and enjoy the palace at your own pace and have a little bit of time without the hordes of tourist groups.
Those that do Granada as a day trip will have a rushed visit and are forced to go in the late morning/afternoon (when it's the most crowded). You could easily spend four hours here...time a day tripper will not have.
Anything less than 2 days in Granada means you won't have time to truly experience the city. Yes, Granada is small; it's nothing like Paris, London, or Barcelona, but it packs a lot into a small space.
So, how many days in Granada do you really need? Two days and two nights...don't shorten it or you'll regret it.
If you'd like to slow down, enjoy the atmosphere, shop, and visit more tapas restaurants, then 3 days would be perfect.
How to get around Granada, Spain
Granada is entirely walkable. You can get to most sites within 20 minutes by foot (30 minutes for the Alhambra and Mirador de San Nicolas). I prefer walking as the city is clean and an enjoyable place to wander.
Uber is available in Granada. I usually use Cabify since it's cheaper and works the same as Uber.
If you're averse to hills, have bad knees, etc., you may consider taking a cab vs. walking. The trek to the Albaicin and Alhambra is particularly steep.
What's the best time to visit Granada, Spain?
The best time to visit Granada, Spain is spring and late fall; specifically April through early June and late September through November. March is also really nice if you're ok with cooler temperatures (40s and 50s).
Fall sees more rain than Spring. October and November are the rainiest months. April has the highest chance of rain in Spring, though it's still lower than in fall.
Granada has a higher elevation than other towns in the Andalusia region. This means the temperatures are more extreme: hot summers and cold winters.
My personal favorite times/months to visit Granada are April through May and early/mid-October. The weather is great and there are fewer crowds.
10 best things to do in Granada, Spain
1. Walking Tour
One of the best things to do in Granada to orient yourself with the city and learn the overall history
I often book a walking tour my first day in a new city to not only learn the history but also get my bearings. If there's a city where a walking tour is a must, I would say Granada is one.
Granada has a very interesting history and a good walking tour can bring that to light in a fun setting. It's also smart to ask your tour guide for suggestions on where to eat, see flamenco, shop, etc.
The walkability of Granada makes this a perfect city for a walking tour. You’ll see the majority of Granada sights during a 2 to 3 hour tour.
I did the Granada Essentials Tour with Cicerone and thought it was perfect. This used to be a small group tour but now is only offered as a private tour.
Note: most walking tours will take you through the Alcaicería Market. If yours does not, be sure to stop by. It’s right by the Cathedral and was originally a Moorish silk market. It now feels like a touristy souk but is still worth a quick stop.
2. Visit Alhambra and Generalife Gardens
One of the top attractions in Granada...a must-visit
The infamous Alhambra, the last and most beautiful Moorish palace, is at the top of the list for the best things to do in Granada, Spain. If you have an interest in palaces, Spain, or history in general, I’m sure you've heard of this sight.
It’s one of my favorite palaces and is one I've visited multiple times. The grounds are vast and the gardens are lush. The palace has been well preserved and offers a glimpse into the magnificence of Moorish architecture and design.
Admiring the intricate Moorish carvings and tilework covering entire walls and ceilings is worth the visit alone!
Purchase your tickets to visit the Alhambra as far in advance as possible (currently up to 3 months in advance). They do sell out.
When you purchase your Alhambra tickets you'll have to pick an entrance time. Be aware that they are very strict on the entrance time. A set number of people are allowed in the Nasrid Palaces, the main palaces, at a time.
Whatever you do, make sure you are in line for the Nasrid Palaces by the time marked on your ticket. The palace employees have no sympathy for late arrivals and will not hesitate to deny you entrance.
My advice is to pick the first time slot at 8:30 am and arrive by 8:15 am. Tour groups start to crowd the palace around 10:00/11:00 am.
There are several different types of tickets to purchase. Make sure to buy the Alhambra General ticket. This includes all the main sights of the Alhambra including the Nasrid Palaces, grounds, and Generalife for €20.
Guided tours and audio guides are also available if you really want to dive into the history. I followed Rick Steve’s self-guided tour and enjoyed going at my own pace.
Plan to spend at least 4 hours here.
3. Churros con Chocolate
We all know how popular churros con chocolate are in Spain. No matter which city I’m in while visiting España, I seek out the best spots to enjoy this regional treat.
Make sure to go in the morning or early afternoon as locals typically enjoy churros con chocolate for breakfast.
The best churros in Granada, and I’m talking the traditional thick ones, not the thin sugar-coated sticks we know in the US, are at Cafe Futbol, Churreria Alhambra, and Gran Café at Bib Rambla.
Churreria Alhambra and Gran Cafe at Bib Rambla are both located at Plaza Bib Rambla. This pretty square is a nice spot to explore and walk around but can also get a bit touristy.
Cafe Futbol, known for its authentic churros con chocolate since 1903, is located off a pretty square called Plaza de Mariana Pineda, just 6 minutes walking distance from Plaza Bib Rambla.
Try one or all three and let me know which you think has the best churros in Granada!
4. Albaicin – the Moorish Quarter
The Albaicin, or Albayzín, area is located to the Northeast of the city center and one of the most unique things about Granada.
This medieval Moorish quarter is known by its narrow winding lanes and white stucco buildings with ceramic tile rooftops.
Wandering this picturesque neighborhood is one of my favorite things to do in Granada, Spain.
5. Tapas and Flamenco at the Caves of Sacramonte
The Sacromonte district is compact and steep with homes built right into the cliffs. This is where Granada’s gypsy community resides.
The main street, Camino del Sacromonte, is where you will find many cave restaurants. Unfortunately, these have become quite touristy with high prices. Explore the streets above and below for a more authentic feel.
Sacromonte is one of the best areas to catch a Flamenco performance. Jardines De Zoraya is the most popular option for a reason.
The dancers, singers, and guitarists are true talent! You can feel the passion in their performance. The food is surprisingly good as well.
While there are many other Flamenco performances that feel incredibly touristy, Jardines De Zoraya offers an all-around wonderful experience.
6. Mirador de San Nicolas - Viewpoint
The #1 thing to do in Granada, Spain for photographers
When discussing the best things to do in Granada, Spain, Mirador de San Nicolas is sure to stun.
Bring your camera because this is where you'll find a panorama of the Alhambra Palace. Seeing this view for the first time is one of my most unforgettable moments in Granada.
Located in the picturesque Albaicin neighborhood, the walk to this viewpoint is as charming as the view is spectacular.
Most sites will recommend visiting Mirador de San Nicolas, aka Plaza de San Nicolas, at night. I have found the late afternoon, sunset, and evening to be incredibly crowded.
I prefer to go at sunrise or first thing in the morning. Seeing the Alhambra lit in the morning sun and enjoying the view in a peaceful calm is a memory that will last a lifetime.
If you have time, I recommend visiting at night too as the atmosphere is completely different. There is a spirited and busy feel in the square. Locals play guitar, tourists capture the moment on camera, and others take in the views with a drink in hand.
It is a climb to get to Mirador de San Nicolas viewpoint as it’s filled with many steps and uneven pebbled streets. If you don’t feel up to the exercise, grab a cab. Otherwise, wear comfortable shoes and enjoy the walk.
7. Tapas Crawl
You can't discuss the best things to do in Granada, Spain without the mention of tapas!
Do as the locals do and start late, around 9:00 pm. Pick a lively square or street that piqued your interest while exploring earlier and hop from bar to bar enjoying a sangria and tapas or two at each spot.
Some of my favorite streets/squares to do a tapas crawl are Carrera del Darro, Plaza Nueva, Calle Elvira, and Calle Navas.
Some of the best tapas restaurants in Granada that are casual and well-priced are La Botilleria, Bodegas Castaneda, and Los Diamantes.
Here are some Granada Tapas tour options if you want to save yourself time researching options:
8. Cathedral and Capilla Real
The Granada Cathedral is considered a Renaissance church but has elements of Gothic and Baroque styles as well. The church was built over a destroyed mosque and is located right in the city center.
It comes as a dramatic surprise as you round the corner and see the entrance. Which is almost hidden by all the surrounding buildings.
Tickets are €6 for the Cathedral and €11 for both the Cathedral and Royal Chapel. An audioguide is included through an app.
The Royal Chapel, Capilla Real, holds the remains of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. The treasury holds historic items like Isabella’s prayer book and crown, a box that is rumored to have been given to Columbus filled with jewels to fund his journey, among other items. The grand hall houses a collection of Queen Isabella’s paintings.
9. Monasterio de la Cartuja - Granada Carthusian monastery
One of the best attractions in Granada, Spain that isn't on everyone's itinerary
Because Monasterio de la Cartuja is just outside the city center, many tourists miss this monastery. It's actually very quick and easy to get to. Take a nice 30 minute walk to get there or hop on a public bus or taxi.
This monastery not only offers stunning views of Granada from its hilltop location but is famous for the dazzling Baroque interiors.
Entrance is €6 and includes a free audioguide.
The history of the Monasterio de la Cartuja gives an interesting look into the lifestyle of the Carthusian Monks.
Time to relax after your busy visit to Granada!
When researching the best things to do in Granada, Spain I bet visiting an Arab bathhouse was not on your list!
Hammams played a large role in the Moorish lifestyle. What better way to get a feel for this ancient culture than to take part in one of their rituals?
Hamman Al Andalus is the most luxury and well-known hamman in Granada. Go on a water journey through the different temperate water rooms, take a leisurely steam, and end with a blissful massage.
I hope this list of the best things to do in Granada, Spain helped with your itinerary planning. Moorish palaces, soulful Flamenco performances, insane viewpoints...this destination has plenty to keep the average visitor busy for two days.
Best hotels in Granada, Spain
Luxury hotels in Granada, Spain:
- Hotel Palacio de Santa Paula, Autograph Collection - I always book Marriott properties direct to work towards status and for loyalty perks
- Seda Club Hotel
- Hotel Hospes Palacio de Los Patos