From relaxing spa treatments to historical neighborhoods and stunning views, there are a ton of memorable things to do in Granada, Spain.
This fabulous Spanish city in Andalusia has a wealth of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim history is home to incredible architecture, food, and views. I mean views for days, guys.
How do I know this?
Because once worked at a hostel in Granada — an experience that made me learn the city very well (and quickly I may add) and all that it stands for.
Granada is Spanish music floating out of open windows, it’s the smell of paella cooking, it’s the feeling of enjoying a glass of Sangria on a hot day, it’s Flamenco dancing in crowded squares, and it’s the hustle and bustle of centuries-old bazaars.
So whether you’re a history buff, love the great outdoors, or just want to stuff your face with tapas, here are my picks for the 20 best things to do in Granada, Spain.
Let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
- 20 Best Things to Do in Granada, Spain
- #1 – Visit the Alhambra Palace
- #2 – Get Lost in the Albaycin
- #3 – Have Coffee/Tea in the Sacromonte Caves
- #4 – Take a Self-Guided Street Art Tour in the Realejo
- #5 – Check out Joe Strummer Plaza
- #6 – Visit the Mirador de San Nicolas
- #7 – Wander the Generalife Gardens
- #8 – Relax in a Hammam (Arab Baths)
- #9 – Have a Tea/Hookah Break
- #10 – Plan a Fun Night Out
- #11 – Shop on the Alcaiceria
- #12 – Explore the Tapas Scene
- #13 – Stroll the Carrera del Darro
- #14 – Visit the Granada Cathedral and Royal Chapel
- #15 – Go to a Flamenco Show
- #16 – Hike in the Sierra Nevada Mountains
- #17 – Visit the Science Park
- #18 – Check out the Granada Charterhouse
- #19 – Relax in Plaza Nueva
- #20 – Visit the San Jeronimo Monastery
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20 Best Things to Do in Granada, Spain
#1 – Visit the Alhambra Palace
Perhaps the most famous thing to do in Granada, Spain, the Alhambra Palace is the crown jewel of Andalusia and one of the best examples of Moorish architecture.
What was once a small fortress, the original Alhambra Palace was constructed on top of Roman fortifications in 889 AD before being re-built to its current iteration by the Moors in the 13th century.
While maybe not one of the most unusual things to do in Granada, Spain, The Alhambra Palace is easily one of the most beautiful structures in the world and is a must-see on your visit. It is a prime example of Moorish style and a key remnant of the Nasrid Dynasty.
Just remember to buy your walking tour tickets for the palace and the gardens well in advance (I’m talking months), as this site is a hotspot and tickets tend to sell out.
🔥 Tour alert! Taking a tour is undoubtedly the best way to see the Alhambra. I recommend this 3-hour Alhambra Ticket and Guided Tour with Nasrid Palaces as not only will you get priority access, but you’ll also be guided through the famous Nasrid Palaces, the Patio de los Leones courtyard, and get access to the Generalife.
#2 – Get Lost in the Albaycin
The old Arab quarter, the Albaycin (or Albayzin, as it was known under Muslim rule) is a district in Granada situated between the hill of the Alhambra, the Sacromonte Caves, the hill of San Cristobal, and Elvira.
The district dates back to the 11th century and features the same layout as it did when it was constructed. Here, the cobblestone streets are narrow, hilly, and maze-like.
While you walk through this area, I recommend making a point to explore Paseo de los Tristes, which translates to “walk of sorrows.” A truly incredible route in the city, it will take you past churches, palaces, museums, and other notable attractions.
Getting lost in this district is super easy to do, and even after a few weeks here I had to guess how to get to my hostel. That said, you’ll love just wandering around, just saying hello to the local stray cats, and admiring colorful baskets of flowers hanging out of windows while you get a serious butt-busting workout.
🔥 This Albaicin and Sacromonte 2.5-hour walking tour is the perfect way to see the attractions. A local guide will teach you about Moorish architecture, take you to the caves, and give you a run-down of the Albaicin quarter.
#3 – Have Coffee/Tea in the Sacromonte Caves
Also known as the “Gypsy Caves” (their words, not mine), the Sacromonte Caves in Granada are located on the Valparaiso hill and border the northeast side of the Albaicin district.
The caves were carved into the hillside back to the 15th century when a large group of Roma settled here. Later, the Valparaiso hill became a designated holy mountain as it was believed the hill was home to the remains of the patron saint of Granada, San Cecilio. The name “Sacromonte” translates to “holy mountain”.
To get to the caves, you’ll have to hike up the hillside on foot from the Albaicin. It is a pretty steep climb, so I recommend coming prepared with good shoes. Alternatively, you can take the 34 or C2 bus to Sacromonte from Plaza Nueva.
The first night I was in Granada I was taken up to the Sacromonte Caves to have a special coffee/tea concoction made by one of the cave residents, Galai, who was originally from Senegal. Not only did our host give us a tour of his cave (which was complete with a television and beer fridge), he pulled out chairs for us to watch the sun go down over Granada while we drank.
The drink was somewhat bitter but belly-warming and rich.
To have this same experience in the Sacromonte caves, go to Makuto Hostel in the Albayzin and ask if they still include this stop on their free walking tour. I lead this tour when I worked in Granada and got to know Galai during my time here.
#4 – Take a Self-Guided Street Art Tour in the Realejo
One of the best things about Granada, Spain is that art is everywhere you look, and that’s especially true in the Realejo district.
A traditionally Jewish barrio, the Realejo is absolutely covered in murals and artwork — some with political messages and many just for the sake of art.
In particular, much of the street art in the Realejo has been done by one of the city’s best-known artists, Raul Ruiz, also known as “El Nino de las Pinturas (the kid with the paintings)“.
Plus, wandering around this neighborhood will give you unreal views of the Sierra Nevada.
🔥 For a deeper dive into the Jewish Quarter, this Realejo 2-hour walking tour is a great choice. It’ll take you through the Alhambra forests and past churches, monasteries, and notable homes.
#5 – Check out Joe Strummer Plaza
Did you know that Joe Strummer from The Clash was a huge fan of Granada, Spain?
I mean, if you’re a Clash fan and have listened to the song “Spanish Bombs”, you probably figured out there was some sort of connection.
“Spanish songs in Andalucía, Mandolina, oh mi corazón. Spanish songs in Granada, oh mi corazón.”
In fact, the connection between Joe Strummer and Granada is so strong that the city named a plaza after him in 2013, which can be found right beside the Realejo district. What’s more, artist Raul Ruiz then spray-painted a mural featuring Strummer in the plaza to pay tribute. There’s also a small plaque at the plaza depicting the honor.
If you’re a Clash fan in Granada, it’s a must.
Joe Strummer Plaza Address: Cta. Escoriaza, 31, 18009 Granada, Spain
#6 – Visit the Mirador de San Nicolas
One of the best things to do in Granada, Spain, the Mirador de San Nicolas has arguably the best views of the Alhambra in the whole city.
In a word, this viewpoint is incredible. When you go up to Plaza de San Nicolas (I recommend going at sunset, it adds to the experience), not only will you be surrounded by beautiful music and merchants, but you’ll also get an unreal view of the Alhambra Palace, the city, and the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
I had been in Granada for maybe 5 minutes before I was taken up to the Mirador de San Nicolas by two lovely people who owned a hostel in the Albaicin. The featured image in this post was taken at Mirador de San Nicolas.
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#7 – Wander the Generalife Gardens
Located just uphill from the Alhambra Palace, the Generalife Gardens were once a country estate of the Nasrid Dynasty and are one of the oldest intact Moorish gardens of their kind.
What was once a place of leisure for the kings of Granada, the Generalife Gardens were built in the 13th century and are technically separate from the Alhambra, despite being close in proximity.
Located on the hill Cerro del Sol, the gardens went through quite a few changes during the Christian and late Muslim ruling periods though are still characterized by their beautiful landscaping, pathways, and plant diversity.
I loved grabbing a book or journal and heading to the Generalife Gardens. Such a peaceful atmosphere!
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#8 – Relax in a Hammam (Arab Baths)
What are essentially Arab baths, Hammas in Granada are a tradition that has existed in the city since the days of Muslim rule, and are some of the oldest in Spain.
In fact, Granada is home to three Arab baths that provide massages, aromatherapy treatments, and many rooms with different temperature pools. Hammams are great for relieving stress, relaxing, activating blood circulation, and more.
Be sure to book your Hammam visit ahead of time, as depending on the time of year can get quite busy.
🔥 I recommend booking your bath ticket in advance with this Hammam Al Andalus with an Optional Massage experience. You’ll get access to the steam rooms, be served traditional teas, and relax in the ambiance.
#9 – Have a Tea/Hookah Break
One of the most unique things to do in the Albaycin district especially, visiting a traditional Moroccan tea house is a great way to relax for a few hours.
Of course, the tea houses in Granada are usually hookah houses as well, and though I would never tell you to hit up a shisha hookah (probably for liability reasons), I will say that it’s an authentic Granada experience.
Personally, I paired a classic mint tea with a watermelon-flavored shisha and it blew my mind. They also provided cake. No regrets.
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#10 – Plan a Fun Night Out
If you’re heading to Granada from a Western Country, getting used to the party schedule will take a minute — nights out tend to start around midnight and can easily stretch out to 7 or 8 in the morning.
That said, the nightlife in Granada is truly legendary and if this is up your alley, then you won’t regret the schedule. A couple of the best nightclubs in Granada include Mae West Granada, Club Effect, RocknRolla Underground Club, and Boogaclub.
Generally, my group hung around the hostel drinking Sangria until around midnight, and then we would head to a happening bar – either Spanish or Arabic. Then, when 2 am rolled around, we would head to the club. And by ‘club’ I mean funky dance bar called Booga that played hits through the decades.
I would usually call it a night around 5 am, although the more strong-willed would continue on until 7 or 8.
#11 – Shop on the Alcaiceria
Home to the Great Bazaar, the Alcaiceria is the perfect place to find souvenirs, hand-made items, tiles (fajalauza), Arabic silks, and spices during your stay in Granada. The Bazaar was originally constructed during Moorish rule and was one of the few customs to survive the Christian takeover.
The Alcaiceria is brimming with goods, and in my experience, the streets tend to become quite busy with tourists and locals. Take it slow and remember to haggle!
#12 – Explore the Tapas Scene
In my opinion, one of the best reasons to come to Granada, Spain is to experience the extraordinary tapas scene firsthand.
Tons of bars in Granada offer tapas and to get one, all you have to do is order a drink. Menus at these restaurants tend to be sparse so be sure to ask the server or go up to the bar to hear the tapas options.
Granada is one of the few cities in Spain to still offer traditional tapas, making it a truly unique experience in the country.
🔥 Want to really become one with the Granada food scene? Then check out this highly rated Granada food walking tour. It’ll take you to the best family-run businesses and tapas bars where you’ll learn all about different cultural influences on the area.
#13 – Stroll the Carrera del Darro
For the perfect way to spend a relaxing hour or two, head down to the river and take a walk along the Carrera del Darro.
An incredibly picturesque cobblestone street, the Carrera del Darro runs along the entire left bank of the Darro River and is lined with cute bars, restaurants, bridges, and shops. The name comes from Latin words — Darro meaning “gold” and Carrera meaning “street”.
This is one of the most beautiful walks in Granada and will give you views of the Alhambra Palace, take you past Arab baths, and give you access to patios.
When I walked the Carrera del Darro in the spring, locals were spreading out on the banks to suntan and play card games and the flowers were in full bloom.
Just be aware of the characters who like to wander on this strip. There was definitely a naked guy walking up and down the Carrera del Darro and nobody batted an eye. I love that people are so open in Granada, but I’m just mentioning it here so you’re just… aware.
#14 – Visit the Granada Cathedral and Royal Chapel
Visiting the Granada Cathedral and Royal Chapel are two of the most architecturally relevant things to do in Granada.
The Granada Cathedral is a Roman Catholic structure that was built on top of Granada’s primary mosque after the fall of the Nasrid dynasty. The cathedral took over 180 years to build with the foundations having been laid between 1523 and 1529.
The Cathedral contains the kneeling effigies of Catholic monarchs, Isabel and Ferdinand by Pedro de Mena y Medrano, and the busts of Adam and Eve by Alonso Cano.
As for the Royal Chapel, this gorgeous structure was constructed in the 16th century by Enrique Egas and is the resting place of two notable Catholic Monarchs, Isabel of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon.
Although it’s an increasingly secular state, Christianity (and religion in general) is a big deal to Granada’s customs.
Having traveled to around 15 different countries in Europe, I have to say that while I’m not religious, Cathedrals have been some of my favorite visits — the architecture is always astounding and the vibe is on point.
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#15 – Go to a Flamenco Show
Known as one of the birthplaces of the Flamenco dance, Granada is the perfect destination to take in a performance.
Though found pretty much all over the city, some of the most popular places to see Flamenco in Granada are Zambra Maria la Canastera (up in the Roma district of Sacromonte), El Tabanco, La Casa del Arte Flamenco, Jardines de Zoraya, and Pena la Plateria.
You can either book yourself a table at a popular Flamenco bar, or you can do what I did and hang out in front of the Cathedral for a while. The Flamenco eventually just showed up.
🔥 For a Flamenco experience in Sacromonte, check out this Flamenco Show at Cuevas Los Tarantos. It’s highly rated, features well-known artists, and is 75 minutes long.
#16 – Hike in the Sierra Nevada Mountains
Located right next to Granada, Sierra Nevada National Park is a stunning natural landscape and the perfect place to visit in Granada for nature lovers.
Some of the best Sierra Nevada hikes include Cumbre Verdes (located just a 10-minute drive from Granada), Sierra Huetor, Guejar Sierra, and the Dilar Valley.
🔥 If you don’t want to hike alone then check out this Los Cahorros de Monachil Canyon Hiking Tour. It’ll take you past waterfalls, pools, and through tunnels and over bridges.
#17 – Visit the Science Park
For an indoor change of pace during your stay in Granada, visiting the Science Park — a museum-like center with more than 70,000 square meters of interesting exhibits.
Opened in 1995, Granada’s Science Park is an interactive science center and museum that includes exhibits relating to astronomy, optical illusions, the human body, nature, mechanics, and more. Additionally, the facilities feature a Biodome, restaurant, cafe, and rest area.
#18 – Check out the Granada Charterhouse
Also known as the Monasterio de Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion, the Granada Charterhouse is a monastery and one of the most prominent examples of Spanish baroque architecture.
Founded in 1506 (with construction beginning ten years later and lasting for 300 years), the Charterhouse is a truly striking building with grandiose displays and intricacies. The building includes a tabernacle, a church, a sacristy, and a large collection of paintings.
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#19 – Relax in Plaza Nueva
The oldest square in Granada, Plaza Neuva was created next to the Darro as a way to discreetly bridge the river.
Back in the day, this was a popular place for bullfights and public executions, but it’s now filled with bars, restaurants, and hotels.
Some of the popular sites in Plaza Nueva include the Royal Chancellery, the Fountain of the Bull, and Santa Ana Church.
#20 – Visit the San Jeronimo Monastery
Opened in 1504 and built in a Renaissance style, the Monasterio de San Jeronimo is a Roman Catholic monastery founded by Catholic Monarchs Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon. It was built during the last stage of the Reconquista and all the stones used during construction were salvaged from the Arab gate of Elvira.
The monastery’s first courtyard has 36 arches with shields and the initials of kings and other prominent people whereas the second courtyard has arches in a traditionally Gothic style. That said, the shining jewel of the monastery is the sacristy, which was built in Spanish Baroque style.
That’s it for my top 20 things to do in Granada, Spain!
I’m so excited that you’re visiting Granada, as it’s one of my favorite cities in the whole world and I absolutely love the blend of Christian, Jewish, Moorish, and modern secular culture.
What are some of your fave things to do in Granada, Spain? Let me know in the comments!