Granada is a great and ancient city blessed with Moorish heritage which dates as far back as 700 years.
The city is located in southern Spain’s Andalusia region. Beautifully mapped at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, Granada boasts distinguished medieval architecture which is traced to its Moorish occupation.
Filled with so many historic sites, there are quite some things to do in Granada, places like Alhambra in Granada still have courtyards, palace, and gardens where the Emirs of Granada spend the summer seasons.
What makes Granada peculiar from other old cities in the world that transformed into modern cities is that the streets of this old Moorish city is laid out the same way it was during the Medieval times.
Things to do see Granada include the cave dwellings of the historic gypsy neighborhood known for its flamenco shows and the historical streets of the city.
There is also the Sierra Nevada National Park, a place of beauty, for a fun vacation, here are the best things to do in Granada Spain.
Things to Do in Granada
1. Royal Chapel
This is one of the top tourist sites in Granada situated next to the Granada Cathedral, the Royal Chapel is famous for the burial ground of two of Spain’s most powerful rulers Isabella I and Ferdinand II they were both Catholic Monarchs.
Isabella I and Ferdinand II were the rulers who completed the Christians reconquering of Spain from the Moors at the end of the 1400s.
Most tourists who visit the city often add to their bucket list of Granada activitis a visit to this beautiful tomb made from alabaster, it was designed by the great Italian sculptor Domenico Fancelli.
You will also find the tombs of their successors like Joanna of Castile and Philip I, as well as that of their grandson, Miguel da Paz the Prince of Portugal who died in infancy
Alcaiceria was where Granada’s Great Bazaar was held during the Islamic days.
During the Baazar, merchants from over Spain came to Alcaiceria with goods like spices and silks along the streets. Now you will find in this area a single passageway filled with souvenir shops with Some of the shops having more interesting items in them than some others.
In these shops, you will find souvenirs such as Fajalauza Ceramics, Moorish-style earthenware painted blue by hands, and green motifs of plants, all of which tell a lot about the history of Granada and the region entirely.
Also, you can purchase a terrace which is just inlaid furniture along with other wooden items decorated beautifully with special patterns.
I’ll advise this place to be the last you visit before leaving Granada because souvenirs have great significance especially when they are just bought before one leaves a city.
You will find Sacromonte close to Alhambra and towards the East of Albayzin, this is one of the major neighborhoods in Granada.
After the Catholic Monarchs reconquered the city, Sacromonte became home for the gypsy community that resided in the city.
Sacromonte is situated amid pines and cactuses on the slopes of Valparaiso, you will still find some of the 16th-century homes made by the settlers in rocks. As you pass through these rock dwellings, do well to observe that not even two cave houses are the same, yea, they are all unique.
You will also observe that the dimensions used in making the cave houses are determined by the position the rock was before it was hewed. You might like to take a picture or two in this area, so do well to come along with a camera.
4. The Bañuelo
Among the top historic places in Granada frequented by tourists is the Bañuelos, some bathhouses on the street of Carrera Sen Darro.
Viewing from the outside, these baths don’t look spectacular, but as you walk into these bathhouses you will be overwhelmed.
Unfortunately, The Bañuelo here are very few, though it wasn’t like this originally.
Before the 16th century, there were lots of bathing establishment in the city, most of them were destroyed after the re-conquest because these houses had reputations which can be likened to what is obtainable in a brothel.
The bathhouses that remained till this day survived because they were situated underneath a private home built during the time the city was taken.
While you check out these bathhouses pay attention to the designs used in the buildings, you will be fascinated by the architectural styles used in making the columns and walls of the bathhouse most of which are synonymous with Roman and Visigothic architectural style.
Also, notice how the chambers have star-shaped openings in their ceilings to enable light to enter the house.
A visit to Alhambra is one of the top things to do in Granada.
Alhambra is an enchanting place which is a combination of summer retreats, castle, palace, and an enclosed town. This place of wonder was built between the 1200s and 1300s by the Nasrids who at that time ruled the Emirate of Granada in the last phase of the Muslim control in Andalucia.
After the Christians reconquered, it became the royal court of Isabella I and Ferdinand II, the two Catholic Monarchs. As you walk from one royal chamber to another, and from one serene courtyard to another, you will be really amazed by the sights you meet.
Don’t forget to come with a camera, you might wish to take a picture of the six outstanding palaces in this place.
6. Generalife Gardens
One of the best places to visit in Granada is the Generalife Gardens which covers a large area of space with a massive outlook which might take you over half a day to explore.
A place of beauty, Generalife Gardens is best visited during the spring season, this is because, during that time of the year, the gardens are more lovely, filled with special fragrance and also with colorful flowers.
Some of the features of the garden include colorful flowerbeds, geometric pools and fountains, trimmed hedges and topiaries, and some other beautiful structures.
While you are in the garden, also check out the Generalife Palace located at the crest of the hill where the Emirs spent their summers under the shade.
In conclusion, this place is an area of comfort, you also get to enjoy its coolness thanks to the fountains here which cools the air as their waters evaporate.
You will spot Albayzin while you climb up the hill towards the north from the Plaza Nueva.
Albayzin is recognized as part of Granada’s UNESCO site this is for the fact that it was the quarters where the Moorish population who decided to stay in Granada lived after the city was reconquered by the Christians.
Also known as the Arab quarters, this is a place frequented by many tourists as a result of the captivating architecture in this part of the city.
In this area, you will find churches, which were initially mosques built by the Muslims before they were expelled.
You will also notice that the streets look like a medina as it has a tangle of tight alleys with tall townhouses that are painted white.
You are free to take pictures of the Moorish tiles painted with hands that adorn the walls in this area.
Albayzin is an interesting area of Granada to visit worth adding to your list of things to do in Fayetteville.
8. Granada Cathedral
Granada Cathedral is the second-largest cathedral in Spain in general built at the beginning of the 16th century on the spot where a Granada’s mosque once stood.
Since it was erected during an architectural transition season, more than one architectural style was used in building this cathedral.
For instance, its main structure and interior follows the renaissance architectural style, while the foundation is gothic.
Nonetheless, It is an impressive combo by Deigo de Siloé who his efforts have earned him a stand in the architectural world.
Some of the features of the cathedral that you will find amazing include the main chapel, the stained glass windows, sculptures, and paintings in the Cathedral.
9. Corral del Carbón
A place worthy to be on your bucket list of things to do in Granada, Corral del Carbón is the oldest existing monument in the area that was constructed during the Nasrid Dynasty.
This structure was built as a warehouse and also a shelter for merchants by the Emirs during the 1200s and just like the Arab Baths, Corral del Carbón was for public use.
It required no payment for its use and was quite an important structure in those days, especially for traders who traveled from one city to another selling their wares.
When they traveled from afar to the nearby Alacaoceria, they stopped in this house to rest for the night before continuing their journey the next day.
When you get to Corral del Carbón, you will be welcomed by a beautifully designed double-arched gate, you will be led to a central courtyard to find the lodgings where the travelers rested, currently used as offices for Granadas’s orchestra.
You can be a part of the plays and flamenco shows held in the courtyard occasionally during summer evenings.
10. Granada Charterhouse
Granada Charterhouse is a beautiful monastery situated north of Albayzin.
When you get to Granada you can catch a bus to the monastery, but if you won’t mind trekking through the city’s bustling alleys, you can get here by foot as it is only a 20 minutes walk.
The construction of the monastery started in the 1500s immediately after the city was reclaimed from the Moors and took 300 years before it was completed.
As expected of a building that took three centuries to build, the Granada Charterhouse is a class of its own, It is one of Spain’s most valued and most visited masterpiece.
Outside of the monastery, you will find a peaceful cloister, with rows made in the 1600s using Doric columns, you will also find rooms in the courtyards decorated with paintings of martyrs who were slain for what they believed.
The sacristy is also a wonder worth beholding, this is located in a dome painted by the great Antonio Palomino, he was a famous 17th-century baroque master.
11. Science Center
Located in the historic downtown of Granada, a visit to the Science Center is one of the best things to do in Granada.
The Science Center is a modern attraction recently built in the city, you can get to this center by taking a 15 minutes walk towards the south from the middle of the city.
During a visit, you will spot two main buildings, the “Macroscopio” which has a diversity of exhibits such as the “Journey into the Human Body” and another which tells of the achievement made by the Al-Andalus Islamic scientists.
There is also the Foucault’s Pendulum Building dedicated to mechanics, physics, and chemistry.
The Center also has a planetarium that puts on shows all through the day using 110 mirrors to project what the night sky looks like on a star-filled night.
12. Plaza de San Nicolas
Plaza de San Nicolas is a square situated in the Albayzin district – just in front of the Church of San Nicolas.
This plaza has in its background the best views of Alhambra and that of the Sierra Nevada.
After climbing up and down the hills in the area, you can rest for a while on one of the benches made available in this Plaza.
13. Nasrid Palaces
The Nasrid Palaces are the most popular places in Alhambra made up of a lot of buildings and courtyards which were constructed in such a way that they look like a glowing garden.
There are limits to the number of persons allowed into the palace in one day, so do come on time.
Some of the best places to check out in the palace includes the Lion Courtyard which has an intricate design, the pond, and also the famous oratory of the Arrayanes Courtyard.
This makes one of the things to see in Granada, perfect for your Granada bucket list.
14. Carmen de los Martires Gardens
One of the best things to do in Granada is a visit to Carmen de Los Martires Gardens, this is a place of beauty and serenity in Alhambra, it is one of the city’s most attractive green spaces.
Since most visitors of Granada head straight to the Nasrid Palace, the garden is rarely filled with guests.
Some of the features of Carmen de Los Martires Gardens include small ponds, flowers, and a leafy walkway. In the summer, the walkway is shaded from the much sun with beautiful flowers creating a romantic atmosphere that is perfect to go on a walk with the one you love.
Another interesting thing about this garden is the fairytale tower which sits in the center of the garden. You can climb up the small spiral staircase of the tower to get an overview of the whole garden.
You might have come across about tapas, and that it is very much a part of everyday life in Granada.
While in the city you can visit any of the bars in Granada between 1 pm to 4 pm and also between 9 pm and midnight, order for a glass of wine or beer while you enjoy a free tapa from the bar’s menu as part of the deal.
The tapas you will be asked to choose from can be anything from Patatas bravas to olives and Jamon Serrano, there are also small sandwiches and deep-fried calamari.
Some of the bars in Granada you could check out includes Bar Avila on Veronica De la Virgen and Bar La Buena Vida situated in Almiceros.
16. Sierra Nevada National Park
Amongst the top things to do in Granada is to visit the Sierra Nevada National Park, this is a national park situated just behind Granada’s eastern suburbs.
This park has the highest peak in Iberia ( i.e. the Mulhacén whose height is 3,478) and also the best southernmost ski resort in Europe. If you wish to get to these majestic mountainscapes from the old center of Granada, it will take just half an hour of exploration.
As you travel along this path, you will be amazed by how the vegetations change from scrubs of the plain to juniper bushes, oaks, and wild olive trees as you get to the mountainscapes.
On getting to the park you will find Scots pines in the woodland, Wild cats and boar lives in this section of the park, therefore, it is not advisable to wander so deep into this particular section of the park.
Sierra Nevada National Park has a ski station, frequently visited by skiers from December to April, therefore if you enjoy skiing, you can visit the park at that time of the year.
17. Carrera del Darro
Carrera del Darro is a street in the Albayzin District which follows the course of the little river Darro as it flows through Granada.
If you are visiting Granada with your loved one, and you plan on going on a romantic walk, Carrera del Darro is one of the best places in the country to have that walk.
The street is not too wide, but two persons can walk side by side. As you take a stroll, enjoy the beautiful scenery around you, the vegetation on the bank of the river, and the river makes quite a view.
Also, pay attention to the renaissance buildings which are what is left of the old Moor city with many of them still intact.
This makes what to do in Granada for a fun outdoor time, do consider for your Granada bucket list.
18. Bar La Fragua
Located in Albaicín, Bar La Fragua is one of the best bars in Granada and the number-one stop for tapas in the city.
As you buy a beer from this restaurant, you will be given a tapas menu to select one of your choice.
The drinks there are cheap, A glass of wine is about €1.60, you will also be given lots of free food after purchasing that glass.
From the restaurant, you will can watch the natives of this city go about their business, hence a place to watch the world go by.
19. Palacio de Dar al-Horra
One of the cool things to see in Granada is the Palacio de Dar al-Horra, it is one of the top architectural attractions in Granada, this elegant structure was once a Moorish Palace.
It was the residence of the sultana Aixa, the mother of Muhammad XII ( also known as Boabdil to the Spanish) who was the last Moorish King of Granada.
Aixa was said to have bitterly rebuked her son for losing Granada when they fled the city in the year 1942. The name of the palace “Palacio de Dar al-Horra” means “The home of the Honest” when translated.
Some of the features of the palace includes rooms and quarters, a central courtyard, a pool, and a veranda. You will also find the parts of what was formerly an extensive orchards and gardens.
20. Granada Museum of Fine Arts
Granada Museum of Fine Arts is a leading art museum that contains more than 2,000 classic works including sculptures, religious paintings of importances, and other stuffs dating as far back as the 16th century.
Most of the collections in Granada Museum of Fine Arts serves as a reminder of how the Catholic reconquered Granada and their attempt to stamp their religion in a place formerly ruled by the Moors for over eight hundred years.
Among the notable artists whose works can be found here, you will find the works of the local artist Alonzo Cano who also designed the Granada’s Cathedral.
This makes what to do in Granada for art lovers, do consider for your checklist of things to do in Granada, Spain.
21. Bar Pibe
Bar Pibe is a bar located on a busy street in Sacromonte open for you to stop-by as you explore the Sacromonte.
What makes Bar Pibe unique in the area is its ability to retain a local and homely feel though it is at the center of Sacromonte.
Drinks at the Bar Pibe are cheap and are served along with tapas which you can enjoy as you stare through the terrace of the bar to get the amazing views of Alhambra.
You will find the views of the area so enchanting, do come along with a camera to capture this wonderful sight.
22. Abadia del Sacromonte
You will find the Abbey of Sacromonte in Sacromontee just above Granada’s gypsy quarter, the Abbey is one of the main attractions to Sacromonte.
Abadia del Sacromonte though now an abandoned structure was built by Archbishop Pedro s Castro y Quiñlnes in the 17th century.
It is believed that this Abbey stands at the final resting place of Saint Caeciluis who was Granada’s first bishop in the 1st century A.D. and a martyr.
The Abbey is located so far above the city, its stillness and solitude makes the visitors wonder if there were invisible beings here.
A tour around the Abbey cost around €4 and it takes you through the narrow spooky Holy Caves that are close to the Abbey and most importantly, gives you access to the interior of the Abbey.
Realejo is one of the city’s most charming neighborhoods, it is an old Jewish quarter, with streets filled with attractive spots.
There are many attractive spots in this place with the most spectacular among them being the Iglesia Santo Domingo, this is one of the most obscure churches in Granada and without doubt one of the finest.
You will find works of art on the dilapidated walls and buildings in this neighborhood. Most of these spectacular works are artwork by Raul Ruiz, also known as El Nino, a local artist.
24. Bodega Castañeda
When you are done exploring the wonders in Ralejo, head down to the nearby central square of Plaza Nueva where you will find Bodega Castañeda.
Bodega Castañeda is the oldest and also one of the most loved tapas bars in the area mostly filled up with both Spaniards and tourists.
Here you can order a delicious local drink that is of a decent price one of which is the vermouth. The waiters in Bodega Castañeda are quite experienced and friendly.
This makes what to do in Granada for some relaxation.
25. Casa Julio
Just a little distance away from Bodega Castañeda is the Casa Julio, a restaurant just tucked away in a short alleyway off Plaza Nueva.
Casa Julio is known by tourists as a specialist when it comes to tapas of fried fish. The restaurant is mostly unpredictable, no one knows what time they open or close for the day, If you are lucky to find them open, you can visit to get a taste of their tapas.
At this restaurant, you can also enjoy a very delicious plate of calamari, freshly prepared, succulent on the inside but very crispy on the outside.
The restaurant also serves a plate of cold meat gambas along with a wedge of lemon, they also have a drink menu offering Alhambra beers and several wine selections.
You can enjoy any meal you pick from the menu along with a drink that matches it. Keep in mind that you might not get a seat inside the bar as a result of its low sitting capacity and small space.
Nevertheless, you can sit on the several tall circular tables provided by the restaurant for their patrons in the alleyway just outside.
26. Los Diamantes
Another tapas spot in Plaza Nueva is the Los Diamantes, known by the locals and the tourists as a fried fish specialist and a great tapas spot.
A visit here makes one of the top things to do in Granada, Spain.
Unlike what’s obtainable in most restaurants in Granada, Los Diamantes is beautiful decorated, painted with a crisp white color, and beautifully organized.
There is a branch of Los Diamantes located in Calle Navas, this is a noisy environment, however, it makes one of the best places to visit. You can also visit another branch at Plaza Nueva which is more orderly, tidy, peaceful and quiet most times.
27. Casa Federico Garcia Lorca (Huerta de San Vincente)
Casa Federico Garcia Lorca is a revealing collection of sketches, documents, and photographs, you will find this collection in a park on the southern edge of Granada, named after the city’s most famous son, Federico Garcia Lorca.
Federico Garcia Lorca, born in the year 1898 was one of the most important Spanish writers that lived in the 20th century.
The house where the collection is kept was where the poet was born and also where he spent his childhood.
Federico Garcia Lorca was murdered at the beginning of Spain’s devastating Civil War which span for three years (1936-1938 ). Though no one knows where he was buried, it is assumed that it is somewhere in the city’s official cemetery.
Granada hosts its annual feria every June, towards the second week or first week of the month, if you are planning your visit within this period, activities here brings lots of fun things to do in Granada.
This week-long celebration takes place on a very big fairground known as Recinto which is situated on the outskirt of the city.
Though the Feria held in Granada is not as big as that of Feria de Abril held in Seville annually, it is also fun and welcomes everyone.
During the Feria, you will find women dressed up in beautiful flamenco dresses, trajes de gitanas and lots more, the celebration also comes with lots of drinks.
One of the drinks you should try out during the Feria is the rejito which is just a delicious combination of lemonade and Manzanilla sherry.
Some of the entertainments showcased during the Feria includes bullfights in which some of the best matadors in Spain participates in.
29. Carthusian Monastery
Carthusian Monastery is situated close to Granada and it is a place worth taking a few hours to explore.
This is a place of historic importance, a look at the interior of the church will make you wonder if this humble Carthusian Monastery is not the most beautiful in Spain.
Some of the interesting features of the monastery is it’s Baroque stucco walls and ceilings.
Carthusian Monastery is situated outside the city and away from its noise, this and more makes it a very suitable place to relax or meditate after a hectic day.
This makes what to do n Granada, Spain for those who are fascinated by historic architecture.
30. Paseo de Los Tristes
Paseo de Los Tristes, when translated means the Walk of the Sad One, it is one of the beautiful routes that run through Granada.
The route, Paseo de Los Tristes got its name from the fact that it was used during funeral processions because it leads to an old cemetery on a hill located in the city.
Today, a walk through this route will take you along the Carrera del Dorro which is in the valley just below Alhambra. Paseo de Los Tristes also winds up along the river ending at the Corral Del Carbron.
If you prefer an early morning stroll while the city is still waking, you will find the stroll along Paseo de Los Tristes peaceful and relaxing.
31. The Miradores of Granada
You will find quite some Miradores in Granada, these are tower or lookout points in most of the hills in Albacycin, exploring them makes one of the fun things to do in Granada, Spain.
The most popular among these Miradores is the Mirador de San Nicolas which Bill Clinton described to have “the most beautiful sunset in the world”.
It also has some of the best views of the Sierra Nevada and the Alhambra mountains. If you wish to check out Mirador de San Nicolas, you will find it just behind El Huerto de Juan Ranos restaurant.
Note that it is always filled with tourists and locals who wish to take in the views of this wonderful scenery.
If you plan on capturing the view with your camera, make sure you visit the mirador on time to secure a place with a good view or angle.
Explore other parts of Spain during your vacation in Granada, here is a list of the best things to do in Ibiza for a fun time in this tourist magnet.
Plan a Trip to Granada
Granada is one of the oldest cities in the world, dating as far back as the first century, filled with lots of historical tourist attractions, it is not surprising that this city is frequently visited by many.
If you wish to get a clear picture of exactly how it was like to live in the old era, an era of no technology, then Granada should be top on your list of places to visit.
You can always fall back to this guide as you prepare for your trip to Granada.