20 Amazing Things to Do When Visiting Granada, Spain

written by local expert Jane Elmets

Jane always knew she wasn't destined for a desk job... She has travelled all over the world and is passionate about noodles, sloths and her hiking boots! When she isn't busy adventuring around the world, you can find her reviewing travel gear and dishing out travel tips to all the places she's visited.

There are few cities in the world as special as Granada, a place bursting at the seams with history, culture, and some of the best food in the world. From the show-stopping Alhambra to the charming barrios throughout the city, Granada’s magic is neverending, and you can feel it as soon as you set foot on your first cobblestone street.

If you’re searching for things to do in Granada, this list has everything you could ever hope for and more. Keep reading for the best sites to visit, viewpoints, tours, attractions, places to eat, and more!

Tour the Alhambra

big fortress in front of mountains and blue sky

As one of the best things to do in Granada, it’s no wonder that the Alhambra is the most visited monument in the city and one of the most visited in all of Europe

So what exactly is this massive structure? Well, in short, it’s a palace, a summer home, a fortress, — essentially, a small, beautiful enclosed city all in one.

The Alhambra is a thrilling picture of Moorish rule in Spain which lasted more than 800 years from the 8th to 15th century. While the Alhambra isn’t quite that old, it was constructed for the first time in the 9th century, and then lavishly redone during the 13th and 14th centuries. 

This massive complex was home to the Nasrid sultans during this time, and they really outdid themselves when it came to the Nasrid Palaces, which have some of the most intricate interiors in the world. 

Eventually, the Alhambra fell under Spanish rule and was remodeled in Renaissance, Catholic style. You can see evidence of this in the transformed interiors and the church which was originally a mosque.

One of the best ways to experience all that the Alhambra has to offer is by taking a guided tour! This tour lasts three hours and includes skip-the-line tickets to both the fortress and the neighboring gardens. And with more than 2 million visitors each year, you’ll be very happy to not have to wait in a long queue. 

Whatever you do, we recommend book your tickets to the Alhambra in advance because they typically sell out fast!

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Wander Through Generalife

Sitting just next to the Alhambra, you’ll find the Summer Palace, or Generalife. This area is made up of the most stunning gardens imaginable, with flowing water, brightly planted flower beds, and small ponds.

Generalife was meant to offer sultans living at the Alhambra some respite from the blazing Andalusian summers. You can practically imagine Moorish rulers following the same paths that are here today, ducking under whitewashed arches and lounging under leafy trees. 

One of the best parts of a visit to Generalife is the view you’ll get. From the north and south sides of the garden, you’ll be able to look out over the former Arabic area, Albacin. Take your time and enjoy, Generalife can’t be missed!

In terms of tickets, you can purchase a combined Generalife and Alhambra pass that will grant you access to both monuments. However, if the Alhambra tickets are sold out, you can also buy standalone tickets to the gardens. 

Chill Out at Carmen de los Martires Gardens

Before making your way back down to town from the Alhambra, be sure to stop by the Carmen de los Martires Gardens. While almost everyone who comes up the hill is headed for the Alhambra, this charming green space is one of the most lovely places to chill out in the city.

There are plenty of flowerbeds, lots of small ponds, and little paths for wandering on. It’s a great place to seek shade in the stark heat of summer, so pack a picnic and get ready to enjoy!

While at Carmen de los Martires, head for the tower sitting in the middle of the gardens and climb to the top for a spectacular view. 

The best part? This area is generally lacking people so you may have the place all to yourself!

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Visit the Granada Cathedral

cathedral with blue sky behind

One of the best things to do in Granada is to visit the city’s Cathedral, looming over the city with its mishmash structure. 

The Granada Cathedral took more than 180 years to build, with constructing beginning in 1518. Since it took so long, you can see a wide range of styles in its construction, from Gothic to Baroque to Renaissance. 

The original plan for this house of worship was to have twin towers standing at 80 meters high. However, only one was started and it was only halfway completed. Regardless, you can still see the half-finished tower soaring high above the city.

Visitors are welcome inside the Cathedral, where you can admire brilliant stained glass windows, sculptures, and paintings on either side of the chapel. 

Admire Royal Tombs at the Royal Chapel

Just beside the Cathedral is the final resting place of two of the most important rulers in Spanish history: Isabella I and Ferdinand II.

In 1504, the Catholic monarchs ordered the construction of the Royal Chapel for their burial, and it was subsequently built. As they died before it was completed, they were buried somewhere else and then moved to the Royal Chapel once it was finally finished.

Several other monarchs were also laid to rest here, but were later moved to El Escorial by Philip II. The only ones left in the chapel were Isabella and Ferdinand, along with their children.

The tombs inside are absolutely remarkable, and were designed by Italian sculptor Domenico Fancelli. It’s certainly worth a visit, and you can even take a guided tour of the chapel in conjunction with the cathedral.  

Hunt for Street Art in Realejo

Tucked away in Granada, you’ll find Realejo, the city’s old Jewish Quarter. It’s certainly one of the most charming places to wander around, with plenty of hidden streets, empty squares, and interesting buildings.

One of the coolest things about Realejo is that selected walls are covered with works of art by Raul Ruiz aka El Nino, a local spray paint artist. Go hunting for his unique scenes depicted on neighborhood walls and corners. It’s a real local treat!

Realejo is also one of the best places in Granada for tapas, so be sure to stop in a bar or two for a delicious afternoon snack. 

Explore Albaicin

white washed buildings sitting between trees on a hill

Exploring the former Arab Quarter, Albaicin, is definitely one of the best things to do in Granada! Sitting high on a hill across from the Alhambra, it’s full of narrow cobblestone streets and dramatic Moorish architecture.

In Albaicin, you’ll find plenty of whitewashed walls and little squares tucked away. What’s noteworthy is that it really brims with energy, especially in the spring and summer months. 

There are important landmarks to visit in this part of the city like the Palacio de Dar al-Horra, a beautiful Moorish palace. It was once the home of the mother of the last Moorish king in Granada, and features gorgeous rooms surrounding a central courtyard.

If you’re looking for something fun to do in Albaicin on a Saturday morning, head to the flea market in Plaza Larga to find little treasures!

In Albaicin after the sun goes down? It’s a great place to catch a local flamenco show and soak in the sounds of the classical Spanish guitar.

Take in City Views from Mirador de San Nicolas

Tucked away in Albacin is one of the best viewpoints in all of Granada: Mirador de San Nicolas. From the top of the viewpoint, you have unbeatable views of the Alhambra and the Generalife, with Granada lying below and the sprawling Sierra Nevada mountains behind.

This is one of the main tourist attractions in the city, especially around sunset — and with good reason! When visiting the mirador, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, declared that he had seen the “most beautiful sunset in the world.” 

No matter when you visit, there are bound to be tons of tourists taking in the sights from above, so prepare yourself for crowds and be careful of pickpockets… but that said, it’s 100% worth it!

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Watch Flamenco in a Sacromonte Cave

white cave turned into home with table in front and bed in back

Another stunning neighborhood to visit in Granada is Sacromonte, the gypsy quarter of the city. 

Technically it’s still a part of Albacin, but takes up the northern corner of the neighborhood. Here, you’ll find homes carved into the side of white caves that have been occupied since the 15th century. These little cave dwellings are also infamous for holding flamenco shows that last late into the night, so be sure to catch a show for the most insane acoustics ever!

There are lots of other cool little places that locals have claimed as home, made from all sorts of scrap material instead of the professionally built houses near the city center. Remember while visiting to be respectful, especially when it comes to taking photos, as people really do live here.

If you love the idea of exploring Granada’s barrios, consider taking a walking tour of Sacromonte and Albacin with a local guide.

Go Canyoning at Rio Verde Gorge

If you’re hoping to get out of the city for the day and enjoy some of the natural beauty surrounding Granada, head out to the Rio Verde Gorge for some fun-filled canyoning! You’ll meet in Otivar, a quick hour drive from the center of the city. 

The Rio Verde Gorge is the perfect spot for adventure activities and some fresh natural air. The canyon has different sections suited to different experience levels, so even if you’re a complete beginner, there’s still something for you here!

You can choose the section of the Rio Verde you want to conquer, or opt to cover the entire canyon. No matter what you choose, you’re in for an adrenaline-filled day.  

Soak in an Arab Bath

As the city was once ruled by the Moors, you can find traditional Arab baths, or hammams, throughout Granada. They’re architecturally beautiful and hold a large piece of cultural heritage within their walls.

While some of the baths are only open for visitors to look around, there are many that are still fully functional and perfect for a soak after a long day of walking. 

This visit to Hammam Al Andalus Granada comes complete with an hour-and-a-half in hot, warm, and cold baths, as well as a 15-minute massage. Sign me up!

Grab Lunch Around Plaza Nueva

pastel colored buildings with blue sky and clouds behind

As the oldest square in Granada, a visit to Plaza Nueva is a must. 

At one time, Plaza Nueva was among the most important places in Granada and was the prime location for tournaments, bullfights, and other games in the city.  Here, you’ll be wowed by historic buildings like the Royal Chancellery and the House of Pisa. It’s also the main access point to Albacin and other areas of Granada as it’s pretty much the center of the city. 

Today, you can find lots of yummy tapas bars and cafes around Plaza Nueva as it’s a charming place to enjoy the Spanish sunshine. 

One of the best places to eat in the area is Bodegas Castaneda, one of the oldest tapas bars in Granada — and one of the most well-loved, too. Be sure to enjoy a glass of vermouth among locals and munch on some succulent jamon. This is one of the best local hangout spots around!

Snap Some Pictures Along Carrera del Darro

Beginning at Plaza Nueva, you’ll come across Carrera del Darro, the most beautiful street in all of Granada. Carrera del Darro is lined on both sides with 16th and 17th century buildings that spring up from the banks of the river, the facades curved with plants and budding flowers. 

It’s certainly one of the most photogenic places in Granada, especially during spring and summer, perfect for an afternoon stroll at golden hour. Carrera del Darro is also particularly beautiful at night, as the twinkling lights bounce off the river and create quite the glittering scene. 

As you walk along the banks, you’ll be able to see the Darro River flowing freely below you, passing under two of the oldest bridges in Granada, before arriving in Albacin. There are lots of shops, bars and restaurants along the way, so if you’re feeling a little peckish, sit down at one of the terraces and enjoy the views over a cold drink or a bite to eat!

Go Treasure Hunting at Alcaiceria Market

Back when Granada was under Moorish rule, this area housed the Great Bazaar, the main gathering place for merchants to sell their silks, spices, and other goods of value. 

Today, this strip is home to the Alcaiceria Market, the central place for souvenirs from Granada. While at first glance it may seem like the ultimate tourist trap, there are actually tons of local handicrafts sold here, such as Moorish tableware, gorgeous ceramics, colorful fabrics and inlaid wooden furniture. 

The market is open Monday to Saturday from 10.00am to 9.00pm. On Sundays, the market is closed between January and March but open until 3.00pm throughout June and July.

Insider Tip: The Alcaiceria Market is notorious for pickpockets so be aware of your belongings and take everything out of your back pockets!

Check Out Museo de Bellas Artes de Granada

circular structure with pillars and openings around a central courtyard

For a hefty dose of culture, head to Granada’s fine arts museum to learn about the city’s history, heritage, and art scene over the years. Founded in 1839, this museum was actually the first public museum to open in all of Spain. 

Today, it holds more than 2,000 items, with the focal point being religious art. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the Burial of Christ by Jacobo Florentino and works done by local artists like Alonso Cano and Mariano Fortuny. 

You can find the museum on the ground floor of the Palace of Charles V. There are nine rooms laid out in chronological order, beginning with the end of the 15th century and ending with contemporary art. 

The museum is open everyday except for Mondays and public holidays.

Take a Walking Food Tour

Let’s be real: it’s likely that half of the reason you’re in Spain is to eat, and if that’s the case, I don’t blame you one bit.

To make the most of Granada’s food scene and all of the delicacies waiting for you, take a walking food tour to see and taste the best of the best. 

On this tour, you’ll stop by several local establishments, ranging from family-run restaurants to lively tapas bars to true foodie hot spots, eating all along the way. Try locally-made cheese and wine, ham from the mountains, a dessert that’s been in Granada since the 1850s, and a whole lot of treats in between.

Besides just eating, you’ll get to learn about the city’s food history and culture and how different religions and groups of people influence the tastes Granada has today. It truly doesn’t get much better than this!

Trek Through Sierra Nevada National Park

mountains with blue sky and very blue lake in the middle

For some fresh mountain air while staying in Granada, head to Sierra Nevada National Park to hike around a bit and enjoy some stunning natural scenery.

The park is located about an hour and a half from the center of Granada and will offer you a complete change of scenery from city life. Here, you’ll get huge grassy expanses sitting at the foot of mountains, rocky paths that climb higher and higher, and some of the most beautiful mountain views you could imagine.

There are tons of trails that lead through the park, all ranging in distance and difficulty. 

If you don’t feel like hiking, opt for this six-hour jeep safari through the Sierra Nevadas instead! You’ll stop in gorgeous villages, travel through forests, and even have a drink at a panoramic mountain restaurant! Plus, you’ll be picked up wherever you’re staying so you don’t need to worry about any sort of transportation. 

Read More: Best Hiking in Spain

Paraglide Over Snow Capped Mountains

Seeking a thrilling way to see the Sierra Nevadas? Have a tandem paragliding adventure at 1,300 meters! 

You’ll depart from Plaza Nueva, and then travel to the Sierra Nevadas where you’ll meet your pilot and learn all there is to know about paragliding. Then, you’ll take off on a 20-minute flight where you’ll soar high above this UNESCO Biosphere, taking in all the sights from above. 

There’s no better way to see the lush river valleys or massive pine forests of the area. You’ll even have a glimpse of the largest peak in the park: the Mulhacen! Keep your eyes open for exotic birds and local flora and fauna; I can promise you won’t be disappointed with what you see.  

Enjoy a Day Trip to Alpujarra

white washed buildings with rugs hanging out front and blue sky behind

Just outside of Granada lie tons of scenic villages in the Alpujarra region. While it’s hard to get there without a car of your own, this guided tour ensures that you get to see the best of the surroundings, even without your own transportation.

Leaving from the center of Granada, you’ll head south to Lanjaron, the first city in the Alpujarra region. After wandering around the quaint little town, you’ll travel to Pampaneria, which is one of the highest cities in Spain and all of Europe, offering exquisite views of the valley below. 

Next you’ll hit Bubion, a small Roman city filled with narrow streets and whitewashed houses, and then to Capileria, the most picturesque of the villages in the region. 

The entire time, you’ll be accompanied by a local guide who will show you the ropes and explain the significance of each place. Plus, you’ll have an unparalleled look into local life. What could be better than that?

If you’re trying to get out of Granada and off the beaten tourist track, this is an incredible day trip to take.

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Take an Electric Bike Tour

Attempting to see an entire city can feel daunting, especially without a car, but what if there was another way to tour all of Granada?

This electric bike tour gives you the option to see Granada in comfort and style by cycling around the city and stopping at different landmarks along the way.

There are four options offered on this bike tour: the first takes visitors through Albaicin and Sacromonte to explore the enchanting gypsy neighborhoods; the second makes its way through all of Granada’s neighborhoods to hidden places your tour guide knows well; option three is to hit the forest trails on the outskirts of the city to take in stunning views of the Granada and monuments below; and finally, option four is a ride at sunset to the very top of city — how magical is that?

If you’ve never ridden an electric bike before, no worries! You’ll have a small training session to get you comfortable before setting out on a two to three-hour bike tour.  

This is definitely a different, fun way to experience Granada!

Whether you’re a history buff, outdoor fanatic, true foodie, or just looking for a dazzling place to vacation, Granada is the place to be. Once you set foot here, you’ll quickly realize why this city is one of the most charming places in all of Spain. 

Need tips on where to stay? Check out our guide on Where to Stay in Granada for some recommendations!

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