The fascinating culture and way of life in Andalusia have shaped the perception of Spain around the world; when you think about flamenco music, bullfighting, afternoon siestas, delicious tapas, religious fervor, beautiful women, colorful street parties, and stylish architecture, you can get a good idea of some of the best things to do in Granada.
In other words, this is a place that already lives in your mind before you arrive, and this is great because you will not be disappointed. We will review the best activities you can do in Granada, but there’s a good chance that you will find even more once you get there.
What to do in Granada? Best 25 things to do in Granada
With all the above in mind, and to answer the question of what to do in Granada, here are 25 ideas to get you started:
1. Visit the Alhambra
Of all the things to do in Granada, this one is an absolute must. Let’s say that you are in Granada for a business trip that only lasts a day; the best thing you can do in this case would be to make time to visit the majestic Alhambra, one of the most visited cultural attractions in Spain.
There are four structural sections: the Alcazaba fortress, the Nasrid Palace, the Generalife gardens, and the Medina administrative complex. You should give yourself a few hours to visit all sections, and you will need tickets to do so except for the Alcazaba, which you can actually tour on your own for free.
Speaking of tickets, which cost less than 15 euros for regular admission, you should know that they can be a bit difficult to obtain because of high demand.
Don’t be surprised to find out that you cannot book tickets online from the Alhambra’s official website weeks in advance; your best bet is to get them from tour operators because they receive them in bulk from the municipal managers.
Something else to remember is that this attraction can get very crowded, thus making the early morning hours the best time to arrive. You may have to stand in line to enter the palace, but it will be worth the wait; an even better option would be to book a tour that allows you to skip the line.
2. The Cartuja Monastery
When you are contemplating what to do in Granada, be sure to put this religious landmark at the top of your list. Construction of this monastery dates back to the 16th century. This monastery is one of the finest examples of spanish Baroque style.
3. Walk Through the Narrow Streets of Albaicin
When visiting the aforementioned Alcazaba fortress, you will have the same vantage point that ancient Moorish soldiers had, and you will likely notice the gorgeous Albaicin neighborhood, which looks even better when you walk through its labyrinth of narrow alleys.
The residential architecture of this community is not only charming but also incredibly maintained. It is easy to get lost here, which is why a guided walking tour is highly recommended; plus, guides can take you to hidden palaces, chapels, and mosques.
4. Visit the Old Jewish Quarter
As previously mentioned, religious tolerance has been a strong aspect of the Granada heritage, and the Realejo neighborhood is a good example. Sephardic Jews have lived in this community for centuries, and they have done so in relative harmony with their Muslim and Christian neighbors who reside in other districts of Granada.
The Old Jewish Quarter is located near the Alhambra, and it has been immaculately preserved by many generations of Hebrew faithful. If you are into street art, you should know that Realejo is the home of Raúl Ruiz, a legendary graffiti artist whose murals are prominent in this neighborhood, across Europe, and in the Americas.
5. Walk Through Carrera del Darro
Carrera del Darro is a residential boulevard considered by many to be among the prettiest streets in the world.
This ancient district is connected by three pedestrian bridges over the Darro River, and it features historic landmarks such as the Santa Catalina Convent and the Arab public bathhouses.
The impressive and old-fashioned architecture is exquisite, the landscaping is immaculate, and the view of the Alhambra is imposing.
6. Visit the Granada Cathedral
When you think about what to do in Granada, you will not want to skip a free visit to the downtown district and its imposing cathedral, which happens to be the first Renaissance church built in Spain, and where you can appreciate an extensive art collection.
Next to the cathedral is the Royal Chapel, which holds the remains of the Catholic monarchs whose commissioning of naval expeditions resulted in the discovery of the Americas and the birth of the Spanish Empire.
See also: Where to stay in Granada
7. The Home of Federico Garcia Lorca
One of the most celebrated poets of Spanish literature was born just outside of Granada, in a small farming village called Fuente Vaqueros. You can visit Garcia Lorca’s family home, which has been renovated into a cultural museum, by arranging private transportation from Granada.
The collection of manuscripts is impressive, and the original furniture looks as if it was made yesterday. The museum is closed on Sundays and regional holidays.
8. Arab Tea Shops at Caldereria and Elvira Streets
Just adjacent to the bazaar district, Caldereria Nueva is a pedestrian street that adjoins with Elvira, and this is where you can savor many aromatic teas along with pastries from the Middle East.
9. Electric Bike Tours of Granada
If you are pressed for time during your visit to Granada, booking an electric bike tour is a smart way to see most of the city in less than three hours. Aside from all the landmarks cited above, you can also climb the forest hills of Granada where you can get a better view of the Alhambra and all the city districts.
The Silla del Moro overlook is one of the best viewpoints of Granada, and it is perfect to capture sunset images to share on Instagram.
10. The Abbey of Sacromonte
Michelle Obama, the former First Lady of the United States, insisted on visiting this historical landmark while visiting Spain with her daughters in 2010, and she came away very impressed.
The Abbey of Sacromonte dates back to the year 50 AD; it was founded by Saint Caecilius of Elvira, a Christian Arab who was one the apostles tasked by Saint James with bringing the teachings of Christ to the Hispania region.
This is where the Lead Books of Sacromonte, a series of religious metallic tablets preaching tolerance, are kept; at one point, these tablets presented a mystery because of their confusing Latin and Arabic writings and drawings.
11. The University Botanic Gardens
The academic legacy of Granada is underscored by its public university, which happens to be the only European institution of higher learning with two campus locations in the African continent. The University of Granada is spread across the city in five campuses: Centro, Fuentenueva, Cartuja, Aynadamar, and Armilla.
A visit to the Botanic Gardens at the main campus near the city center is one of the pleasant things to do in Granada; you can find more than 60 tree species in this green oasis, and the aromatic herbs and flowers attract many birds and butterflies.
12. Mirador de San Nicolas (Viewpoint)
The topography and architecture of Granada makes this city an ideal place for overlook structures; there are a few to enjoy, but the most emblematic is located in the Albaicin neighborhood.
The Mirador de San Nicolas provides an incredible view of the city and the Alhambra, and it is one those things to do in Granada that you should not skip because of the many outdoor cafes and taverns where you can enjoy drinks and tapas al fresco while listening to live Flamenco guitar performances.
Spending a sunny afternoon at the Mirador de San Nicolas is something that you will never forget. Sunsets are just magical here.
13. Enjoy a Zambra Flamenco Night
Of all the things to do in Granada, this one is a must. The Sacromonte caves are home to Flamenco bars where zambra culture is preserved with nightly performances. Since you will be sitting inside a small cave, you will be very close and side-by-side to the musicians, dancers, attendants, and their family members.
You do not want to miss out on the overly festive atmosphere that zambra injects, and you will be expected to participate with rhythmic clapping. If you are a fan of rhythm guitar playing, you need to hear and feel what these musicians are capable of.
See a Flamenco Show in the Sacramonte caves – Book here
14. The Caves of Sacromonte
One of the best things to see in Granada is the Sacromonte neighborhood, which was once a network of rocky caves that facilitated construction of ancient stone structures. Groups of Romani people settled in Granada about six centuries ago, and many families made their homes in the caves of Sacromonte.
Only a couple of caves are historically preserved these days; most of them have been transformed into Flamenco performance spaces, and this is an excellent opportunity for tourists to experience the gypsy heritage of the Andalusian region.
Moreover, you can actually spend a night in a cave that has been converted into a fancy bed and breakfast lodge, but you will have to book your stay weeks or maybe months in advance.
15. Take the Granada Tourist Train
Granada is a highly pedestrian city with accessibility in mind. Everything you can see in Granada can be enjoyed on foot, but you can also hop on a special train that caters to visitors.
This train does not travel on tracks; it wheels across the Albaicin district and other popular landmarks. Families traveling with children, elderly visitors, and tourists with disabilities will certainly appreciate this affordable city tour.
16. Taste the Regional Cuisine of Granada
Andalusian gastronomy is known throughout Europe, but the recipes and ingredients of Granada are more diverse and delicious thanks to the wonderful clash of Roman, Sephardic, Arab, Nasrid, and Castillian cultures.
The cured hams from the Alpujarra farms are legendary, and the original pionono cakes were first baked here in honor of the visit by Pope Pius IX. There are many restaurants worthy of visiting, starting with Chikito, but you are better off arranging a tour so that you do not miss out on lesser-known local spots.
17. Learn About the Life of the Catholic Queen
The reign of Isabella I of Castilla was one of the most transformational and polarizing for Spanish society. Under the Catholic Queen, the Moors were defeated and the Americas were discovered.
Granada was a last stand for the Moors; the Queen made it a point to ride into the city in 1482 and declare a bloody conquest that lasted the entire decade.
Once the city submitted to her rule, Queen Isabella decided to relocate and die here. To learn more about the life of the Catholic Queen, taking a tour of the Captaincy Fort, the Cathedral, the Royal Chamber, and the Servants of St. James Convent can be enlightening.
18. Shop the Moorish Bazaar of Alcaiceria
The narrow streets of the Alcaiceria district form a souk where you can find dozens of charming shops filled with crafts, ceramics, souvenirs, clothing, novelties, treats, figurines, and surprises. Bargaining with shopkeepers is the norm; in fact, they openly encourage it.
19. Visit the Castril Palace
From the outside, this small Renaissance palace looks pretty but not necessarily impressive. Once you step inside, however, you will not only be amazed by the ornate interior design but also by the extensive collection of ancient artifacts dating back to the Punic Period before the arrival of Roman expeditionary forces.
20. Visit the Home of Manuel de Falla
One of the most revered composers in the history of Spanish music spent many years of his life in Granada. Manuel de Falla was born in 1876; he spent his childhood in Cadiz, studied in Madrid and would later settle in Granada where he incorporated aspects of Andalusian folklore into his classical works.
This master composer left behind quite a few mementos of his life as a renowned artist, and you can appreciate them at the home where he completed opus pieces such as Atlantis and Nights in the Gardens of Spain.
21. Enjoy Coffee and Pastries
By virtue of its Moorish heritage, tea has long been the preferred hot beverage of Granada; in recent years, however, a gourmet coffee trend has been taking over the city.
Of all the things to do in Granada, enjoying a perfectly brewed cup of espresso, latte, cappuccino, or American coffee is one the most affordable thanks to the very reasonable prices you can find at cafes near the Plaza Nueva district. The bread and pastries are baked in the European and Arab styles.
22. Tour the CajaGranada Museum
Located on Avenida de La Ciencia, not far from the Garden City district, this museum keeps special collections with a strong focus on Andalusian artists.
The CajaGranada Foundation has amassed one of the most impressive art collections in Spain, and the curators have put together special sections where visitors can get to know the culture of Andalusia through multisensorial experiences.
23. Visit the Islamic Madrasah
In 1349, the Sultan Yusuf I of Granada ordered the construction of a school of philosophy, science, mathematics, and ethics. Being a lover of architecture, Yusuf I did not settle for the Moorish style of the time; he insisted on incorporating Baroque touches, and the result is a splendid structure that has been carefully maintained for centuries.
These days, the Madrasah is home to the Fine Arts faculty of the University of Granada.
24. People Watching in Calle Elvira
Granada Centro is the nightlife center of the city, and this is where you can find trendy pubs, dance clubs, and outdoor cafes perfect for the timeless custom of getting to know the locals by watching them.
Andalusian culture is generally stylish; women enjoy being feminine and looking great, and men are known to be well-dressed. This is a good part of the city to enjoy tapas, the complimentary snacks served with every beverage, and they are prepared with a flair that combines Moorish, Sephardic, and regional cuisines.
25. Ancient and Modern Arabian Baths
You have two options with regard to Arabian baths in Granada. Ancient bathhouses dating back to the 11th century are located along the scenic Carrera del Darro; these are the oldest bath structures in Spain, but you also have an updated version that includes spa services and massage therapy.
The Hammam Al Andalus baths are located at the foot of the Alhambra fortress, and they feature gorgeous architecture plus a very calming atmosphere.