Madrid and Barcelona are must-see stops in Spain, but Granada become’s the favorite Spanish town for most visitors – it’s where you’ll find the mighty Alhambra complex and the buildings and gardens built by the Moors from the 13th to the 15 century.
The most magnificent city of the Andalusia Peninsula, Granada was the last Moorish kingdom in Spain. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985 for its unique cultural heritage.
And it’s in Granada that you can see the influence of North African Islamic cultures in its old city and narrow streets and its Moorish architecture and Alcazaba.
The Alhambra is considered the greatest examples of Islamic architecture outside of Arabia. It is one of Europe’s most important and impressive sites and it’s important to book a ticket as early as possible.
The Alcazar, the royal palace (Casa Real), and the palace used by the sultans in the summer (the Generalife) are together an unforgettable architectural experience.
The name “Granada” comes from the Arabic word “al-Qarqaa”, meaning “the white town”. This refers to the whitewash that covered the buildings during the Moorish period.
The delights of the city are endless, and if you have a few days, make sure to visit the Arab Baths (El Banuela) and the old Moorish district, the Albaicín with its narrow lanes and many miradors.
When the day draws to a close visitors head to Granada’s many miradors to take in the sunset over the Alhambra. Once the sun goes down, it’s time to grab a drink and some tapas.
Granada’s tapas scene is a little more old school than other cities in Spain, with more generous portions being the norm. Head away from the main attractions for the best finds.
Being a college town, nightlife here is among the best in Andalucia with the party generally getting underway after 10 or 11pm. For those of us who have done the early shift at the Alhambra dinner and a soak at the bathhouse may be more appealing.
Accommodation in Granada ranges from luxury properties on the grounds of or surrounding the Alhambra to boutique hotels in the old town. For a unique experience, choose a traditional property in the Albayzin. If you are staying more than a few days, there is a good supply of apartments. Cheaper rooms can be found in Cuesta de Gomerez or the Cathedral.
Getting around Granada is easy – while most of the attractions you will have on your itinerary are within walking distance of the city center, there are many ways to get around Granada.
The narrow streets of the old town are served by minibusses. Most buses cost about 1.20 per ride and you can buy your ticket when you board. There are three main routes that visitors will use (C1, C2, and C3) that will take you to the Albayzin, Sacromonte, and the Alhambra.
Buses run frequently throughout the day and night. They are easy to find and usually have English signs on them.
Taxis are plentiful in Granada. Most taxis will only charge a flat rate per trip. Taxi drivers may not speak much English, but they will try their best to communicate with you. They may not be able to drop you off directly at the door of your hotel or apartment, as some streets are too narrow for cars.
Most visitors arrive in Granada by bus or train and a taxi is the best way to transfer to the old town. There is an airport 10 miles from the center with taxis (€35) or the local airport bus meeting the few daily flights.
The average time travelers spend in Granda is between one and three days, although a week is perfect for slow travelers who enjoy soaking in local culture. You will find the best Granada itineraries to help you plan your visit.
Where to go next
Continue your holiday travels in Spain. After Granada, the most popular destinations are Barcelona, Madrid, and Córdoba.