If you are planning a trip to Andalusia, it is very likely that you include Pomegranate in your itinerary and it is much more likely that thinking of Granada you are thinking "Alhambra". You're right, the Alhambra is undoubtedly the first thing that should come to your mind (it's exceptional) but Granada doesn't have only that.
Meanwhile, if you are wondering how many days it takes to visit Granada, I will answer you immediately: a weekend is the minimum but sufficient.
If you decide to follow my advice and dedicate at least 2 days in Granada, this guide will help you make an itinerary to get the most out of your visit.
FREE TOUR IN GRANADA
I found that Civitatis, offers completely free tours of Granada (and many other cities too) with an English guide, but places are limited, so take advantage of it now.
- >> Find the details at this link.
Granada encompasses all the best of Andalusia but it is also different from all other cities in southern Spain.
Granada is an ancient fortress, located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, and was a Muslim stronghold for 800 years until 1492, when it was reconquered by the Catholics.
The years of Muslim rule have nevertheless left an indelible mark on the city: Granada maintains the influence of its Islamic past in an enchanting fusion of Moorish and Spanish architecture with its narrow streets, bright colors and friendly people.
I put the things to see in two days in Granada without any expectation that you follow them to the letter. The order of days is just my preference, but you can easily see the things I recommend in the order you want.
Also, I don't like to see everything in a rush, I think the beauty is also "getting lost every now and then" and wandering around aimlessly. However, I do not dwell too much and get to the point: let's see the best things to see in Granada in 2 days!
- Day 1, morning: Alhambra
- Day 1, afternoon: El Albayzín
- Day 1, evening: Tapas tour
- Day 2, morning: Sacromonte
- Day 2, afternoon: Hammam Al Andalus
- Day 2, evening: Flamenco Show
- More things to do and see in Granada
- Practical information
- When to go
- How to get there and how to move around Granada
Day 1, Morning
Well, probably the first thing you'll want to see is its "pearl" right?
More than 2,5 million tourists from all over the world visit Granada every year just to see "her", the main attraction, theAlhambra Palace, described by the Moor poets of the time as “a pearl set in emeralds”, in reference to the color of the buildings and the vivid green of its lush gardens.
Although it is called the Alhambra Palace, in reality the Alhambra is not a palace, but a whole complex divided essentially into 3 main parts: the Nazerios Palaces, Generalife andAlcazaba.
It was built during the 1200s and 1300s for the Nasrids, who ruled Granada in the last centuries of Muslim control in Andalusia.
After the "Reconquista" it also became the royal court of the Catholic Monarchs, Isabella I and Ferdinando II.
Il morning it is in my opinion the best time to visit the crown jewel of Granada as you will avoid most of the tourists who tend to go in the afternoon.
Especially if you go in the high season make sure you buy tickets online much earlier because they sell out weeks in advance and you may arrive at the on-site ticket office and not be able to enter. You can buy tickets both from the official website and from partners through one of the following links:
- Tickets from official site of the Alhambra
- Ticket with audio guide in English from Civitatis
- Tiqets skip-the-line ticket with audio guide in English
If, on the other hand, you like to visit the Alhambra with a real guide, I suggest you take a look on this private tour with an English guide di Civitatis (leading Spanish agency for tours in Spain of course, read HERE my full review).
If you want to know more I suggest you read my post about visiting the Alhambra and 6 solutions if tickets are sold out.
Day 1, Afternoon
Di Dziewul /
La visita all’Alhambra it lasts from 3 to 4 hours (but if you want you could stay there even longer) so, if you enter at 8/9 the time I recommend, when you leave it will be lunchtime. There aren't that many places near the Alhambra to eat, so head to the Albayzín neighborhood (also called El Albaicín),a tangle of narrow alleys with whitewashed townhouses.
With its narrow streets and well-kept traditional houses, the neighborhood has retained its old charm and is the ideal place to discover theMoorish architectureThis is where the Moorish population who wanted to stay in Granada after the reconquest settled and it is impossible to ignore the influence on the architecture of this captivating part of the city.
In Albayzín neighborhood there are various things to see among which you absolutely must not miss:
House of the Chapiz
These two historic homes belonged to Moorish families from Granada who converted to Christianity during the reconquest.
In the upper part of the house there are offices that cannot be visited, but it is worth taking a look at the garden with the splendid view of the Alhambra and Albayzín and two pretty patios.
You can also check out the library if you are keen on Islamic culture.
You will feel like you have stepped back in time by entering these XNUMXth century Arab baths: from the street they may look like nothing but the baths at number 31 of the Carrera del Darro they are a real rarity.
By javi_indy /
El Bañuelo are among the best preserved Arab baths in Spain: in fact they are one of the few establishments saved from the destruction of the Catholic Monarchs (who destroyed them because they considered them similar to brothels) because they were located under a private house.
The bathrooms remained intact, they were restored in 1918 and declared a national monument and are definitely worth a visit for the exquisite architectural style with the octagonal holes in the roof that served as a natural ventilation system.
This small museum of local history it is housed in a XNUMXth century Moorish house which later became a Christian convent.
After the visit, take the Cuesta del Chapiz to admire incredible views of the Alhambra at sunset. With this route, you will also arrive at the enchanting promenade of the Paseo de los Tristes along the river Darro, one of the most romantic streets in all of Europe.
In Kiev.Victor /
Day 1: Evening
Tapas, Tapas, Tapas
The thing I generally do (and what I recommend here on my blog) to get the most out of my travels, is to combine the tours of historical sites with real experiences to be able to "dive" even more into the local tradition.
Granada has a reputation for being one of the best destinations to try the infamous Spanish tapas. After all, after a whole day wandering here and there, in the evening you will be hungry and no visit to the city is complete without having tasted them at least once.
So, on the night of your first day, give up looking for a table in a restaurant for dinner and opt for a tapas tour instead!
Most of the bars in Granada maintain the tradition of bringing you free tapas with every drink: if you order a beer, a glass of wine or even a soft drink, you will receive a small plate of food. With each subsequent drink you order, you get another plate of food.
By zarzamora /
All of this essentially means that you can have an entire meal for the price of a few beers.
In any case, if all this is not enough to feed you, you can order a half portion or a whole (respectively media ración or ración in Spanish) of a house specialty.
Another thing to keep in mind when go hunting for tapas (tapear in Spanish) is to not feel annoyed if the bar is very busy and noisy. Most bars may have a handful of free stools, however, if they are well-known and popular bars, many of the club's patrons are likely to remain standing. If you want to live a truly "local" experience, enter the order of ideas to eat (and drink) standing up!
Also in this case Civitatis offers a evening tour with tapas tasting.
Day 2, Morning
Di Chris De Bug /
Very close to Albayzín there is another district rich in history: the Sacromonte. Nestled in the hills, the Sacromonte is perhaps best known for its cave houses.
Historically Sacromente was the neighborhood of the exiles: Muslims who took refuge to live in caves after being expelled from the Albayzín or gypsies who settled here when they were expelled from all over Europe. The Jews of Granada also moved to this neighborhood, as did some Christians who refused to adapt to the rules imposed by the Catholic monarchs.
Sacromonte was therefore a refuge of peaceful coexistence between different cultures, forced to live in conditions that are not exactly easy and still today, hosts those who live a more alternative lifestyle.
Also, even though most people live in proper homes today, there are still many cave dwellings further up the hills. These caves have no running water or electricity and people have to get water from a municipal tap near their homes.
Day 2, Afternoon
Hammam Al Andalus
Hammam Al Andalus
Even if we travel to get to know, we are still on vacation right? So why not indulge in an afternoon of relaxation and massages at theHammam Al Andalus about 5 minutes walk away from Plaza Nueva?
This hammam in Arabic style offers a relaxing "journey into the water" through cold and hot pools, all in an extraordinary setting that will make you feel like you are in Moorish Granada (sorry, no photos!).
One recommendation: if you decide to do it make sure you book at least 2 days in advance because they are always full of people and you may not find a place.
You can book the visit to the Andalus Hammam + massage at this link
Day 2 evening
flamenco show a Sacromonte
Complete your visit to Granada with another must-see activity: a authentic flamenco show. The best flamenco shows in Granada can be found in the cave houses of Sacromonte, and if you attend a show, your perception of this Spanish art form will be completely turned upside down. Here, in fact, flamenco is called zambra, and traditionally it is danced barefoot.
Head to the Los Tarantos Caves for one of the best and most authentic shows (you can book it HERE). After all, you can't spend 2 days in Granada without knowing one of the most famous and passionate traditions of the city!
More things to see and do in Granada
In your kavalen/
The itinerary I have put you up to here is the one that includes the highlights of a visit to Granada, but there are many other things to see and do if you still have time and you want to "enrich" it with more.
Panorama dell'Alhambra from the Mirador de San Nicolás
There are many viewpoints in Granada with fantastic views of the Alhambra, but the most famous is the Saint Nicholas' lookout, located in the heart of Albayzín (where I advised you to spend the afternoon of day 1, so you can enjoy an exceptional panorama).
Curious fact: the Mirador de San Nicolás became famous for a mistake. It owes its worldwide "fame" because Bill Clinton declared that from here he had seen "the most beautiful sunset in the world". The truth is that Clinton was referring to the San Cristobal viewpoint!
The Mirador of San Nicolás still offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Alhambra. Although the exterior of the Alhambra is austere (according to the Muslim architectural style), the views are incredible and the atmosphere that is created with the flamenco musicians gathering at sunset, make this view another lively and characteristic place to visit during the 2 days in Granada.
Once upon a time there was the Grand Bazaar of Granada, where merchants called customers to see their silks and spices arrived from far away.
What remains today, of that place full of charm, is a single passage full of shops selling tourist souvenirs, but if you are looking for something that truly represents Granada and Andalusia, look for the Fajalauza pottery, Moorish-style terracotta, hand-painted with blue or green plant motifs.
Among other typical things you also find the taracea: inlaid furniture and other decorative objects made of wood, with wonderfully intricate patterns.
Granada Cathedral and Royal Chapel
In Kiev.Victor /
Although I have not included it in the itinerary, the Cathedral of Granada, or Ccathedral of the Incarnation (Catedral de la Encarnación) is one of the must-see things in Granada.
Built on the foundations of the mosque of Granada in the early XNUMXth century, this magnificent building is the second largest cathedral in Spain and is the largest expression of a Renaissance church in the whole country.
Next to the Cathedral don't miss the resting place of two of Spain's most important rulers, la Royal Chapel.
The Catholic Monarchs, Isabella I and Ferdinando II are buried here: their beautiful tomb is of alabaster and was designed by the Italian sculptor Domenico Fancelli.
You can visit the Cathedral and the Chapel on your own or take part in a guided tour.
When to go
Surely the best time to visit Granada it is in spring - early summer (May and June) or early autumn between September and October. July and August are some of the busiest months and it can also be very hot and very humid.
Moreover, avoiding the summer months, you save a lot because in summer the prices literally rise and you risk paying even 40% more on hotels and various attractions.
If you can, I suggest you go to the period of the Feria (Feria del Corpus en Granada) held between the second and third week of June: you will be able to see the women still dressed in traditional flamenco dresses and you will be able to try the local drink, a mix of sherry and lemonade.
How to get there and how to move around Granada
At Benny Marty /
If you go on the road you probably arrive in Granada by car and therefore you are not interested in the plane option.
Granada has an international airport located 20 minutes by car from the center, therefore the most comfortable and fastest way to reach the city center is the taxi or with a private transfer.
Welcome Pickups (which I love and always use) also offers the transfer from the airport to the center.
If you decide to take a taxi at the airport without booking it first, please note that there may be a queue and you should have to wait a bit. Also check that the taxis are official and have shown their ID card.
There are also company buses Coaches José González, they are much cheaper but also slower (about 45 minutes).
You can buy tickets on board directly (3 euros) and the station is right outside the terminal. Ask your hotel first which stop you need to get off at.
Granada is very easy to get around on foot, however, the walk to Sacromonte and Albayzín is uphill, if you don't want to walk there is always the bus option: The C30 and C32 go up to the Alhambra. The C32 also goes up to Albayzín and the C34 goes to Sacromonte.
There's a Hop On Hop Off tourist train which can take you to the Alhambra and Sacramonte. The first leaves at 9:30 am and the last one is at 19:30 pm, and they pass through the center every 20 minutes. The cost for one day is € 8 and € 12 for two days.
Where to sleep in Granada
In my last post on how to visit the Alhambra I have already recommended you some great hotels, mostly positioned near the palace or in the neighborhood of Albayzín.
For this reason, here I will give you other choices, more central because they are more comfortable to move around. The center of Granada, in addition to being very nice with its narrow streets, puts everything at your fingertips and everywhere you will find restaurants, tapas bars and clubs open even until late at night.
Some of the best options of accommodation in the center of Granada I'm:
Hostal Verona: Probably the best of the cheapest choices, this lovely family-run hostal offers rooms that have a private bathroom, air conditioning, a patio and free Wi-Fi. The hotel does not serve breakfast in the morning, but it is really easy to find a few bars within walking distance to have it.
MY TOP CHOICE
Gar Anat Hotel Boutique: a small and unique hotel located in a 17th century palace, skilfully restored and located in the heart of the historic city.
My favorite choice: Gar Anat Hotel Boutique
Eurostars Catedral: a 4 * a stone's throw from the Cathedral of Granada and one of the best choices in the city. Gym, sauna, Turkish bath and breakfast buffet are just some of the first-class services that the hotel offers.
Carmen de la Alcubilla del Caracol: Housed in a typical Granada house, this delightful mid-range hotel is a 10-minute walk from the Alhambra and a stone's throw from the Albayzín neighborhood. One of the best value choices in Granada.
The House of the Trinity: a nice hotel in the center of Granada with rooms equipped with private bathroom, air conditioning, flat screen TV with international channels and soundproofing. Staff can welcome you 24 hours a day at the reception and Wi-Fi access is free.