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Granada, Spain: A Mesmerizing Oasis That Will Leave You Speechless

Welcome to one of the most enchanting cities in all of Spain – Granada! Located in the heart of Andalusia, Granada is a place where history and culture seamlessly intertwine, creating an irresistible tapestry of experiences. From the awe-inspiring Alhambra Palace to the bustling streets of the Albayzín, this city is a testament to Spain’s rich and diverse heritage. Join me on a journey through Granada, discovering its hidden gems, savoring its cuisine, and immersing ourselves in its vibrant atmosphere. Your journey through this Andalusian gem is going to be a memorable adventure with the help of this Granada travel guide.

I’ve had 2 days to explore Granada since it was only a part of my 2-week Andalusia trip. Based on what I’ve experienced, I think that you should totally add Granada to your Andalusia road trip. Spend a few days here relaxing, wandering the beautiful streets, eating free tapas, and soaking up the chilled way of life. Granada has something to offer for every type of traveler. It’s a city that seamlessly blends its Moorish past with its vibrant present, creating an atmosphere of enchantment that you’ll carry with you long after you’ve said adiós. Granada awaits, ready to captivate your senses and steal your heart.

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Exploring the Alhambra: A Crown Jewel of Moorish Architecture

No visit to Granada is complete without a pilgrimage to the Alhambra. This UNESCO World Heritage site is the epitome of Moorish and Islamic architecture, featuring stunning palaces, tranquil gardens, and intricate tilework that will leave you in awe. As you wander through the Nasrid Palaces, imagine sultans and princesses who once called this place home. The Generalife Gardens offer a peaceful haven with stunning views of the city below, making it the perfect spot to appreciate the grandeur of this historical masterpiece.

alhambra nasrid palace

Alhambra is certainly one of the most magnificent buildings I’ve ever seen! The huge Moorish castle was built in the 1200s by the founder of the Nasrid dynasty. The Moorish architecture is something that makes it so special to me. The palace is built from beautiful red stone – in fact, the Alhambra in Arabic means red, and this is probably how the Alhambra got her name.

Travel tip: Remember to book your tickets to the Alhambra well in advance, as they often sell out quickly.

🎫 You can get your Alhambra tickets here. Don’t forget to bring the ID or passport to show before you enter.

Consider getting tickets that include a guided tour to gain deeper insights into its history.

alhambra

🚗 Getting to Alhambra: the Alhambra is located on top of a hill, so you might prefer using public transport, although it is within walking distance from the city centre. You can take one of the minibuses C30/C32- they leave from Isabel Catolica Square.
Bus C32 continues its journey, so be careful not to miss your stop – “Alhambra – Generalife 2”.
You can buy a single journey ticket directly on the bus.
If you prefer walking, there’s a pleasant walk that takes less than 30 minutes.

Visiting Alhambra can take around half a day, but there are plenty of interesting things to do in Granada, Spain. In this Granada travel guide, I will show you things worth visiting besides Alhambra.

The Albayzín

A stroll through the Albayzín neighborhood is like stepping back in time. Its narrow, winding streets are a labyrinth of white-washed houses adorned with vibrant flowers. The Albayzín is the place to savor traditional Andalusian cuisine, shop for handmade crafts, and immerse yourself in the city’s unique atmosphere. No visit to the southern Spain is complete until you have visited one of Andalusia’s most unique neighborhoods, the charming Albayzín.

This Moorish quarter is one of the many reasons why Granada should be on your travel radar. Even if Albayzín is only the part of Granada, it feels like you’re in a completely different city. The strong Muslim influence of the past centuries can be felt here. Albayzín is the former Arabic quarter and this streets are calling to be explored. The best way to get to know this lovely neighborhood is to explore on foot and just get lost in the streets.

Many of the building’s balconies are filled with flowers and there are multiple glimpses of the Alhambra from many of the plazas in Albayzín. Don’t forget to visit the Mirador de San Nicolás for that iconic view of the Alhambra against the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada mountains. It’s a must for any visitor!

mirador de san nicolas

Catedral de Granada

The Catedral de Granada is located in the center and is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. Like many of the cathedrals in Spain, it was built on top of a mosque after the period of Reconquista. Its exterior structure is Gothic. The inside of the church is Renaissance on a Gothic floor plan.

There’s a fee to enter the cathedral – €5 per person, including audio guide. The ticket to the Cathedral includes the visit to the museum.

granada cathedral

Attend a flamenco show

Granada is known as one of the birthplaces of flamenco. Experiencing this passionate and soul-stirring art form here is a must. Numerous venues across the city host intimate flamenco performances that will leave you spellbound. From the fiery footwork to the heartfelt cante (singing) and the expressive guitar playing, Granada’s flamenco scene captures the essence of Spanish culture.

The gypsy neighborhood of Sacromonte is an ideal place to experience the raw emotion and rhythmic beats of this captivating art form. There are numerous venues where you can watch flamenco shows, from intimate caves to larger theaters.

If you’re lucky, you might stumble upon an impromptu street performance, where a guitarist, singer, and dancer come together to create an unforgettable moment of pure Andalusian passion.

A taste of Granada – Tapas Culture

One of the most delightful aspects of dining in Granada is the tapas culture. They often serve you a complimentary tapa, when you order a drink at a local bar. It can range from simple olives to elaborate dishes like patatas bravas and fried fish. It’s the perfect way to sample a variety of flavors without breaking the bank. For a more extensive culinary adventure, head to the historic bodegas or local restaurants, where you can savor traditional Andalusian dishes like gazpacho, salmorejo, and the famous piononos for dessert.

Granada’s cuisine is a fusion of diverse influences, creating a mouthwatering array of flavors. The city is renowned for its tradition of serving a free tapa with every drink in bars and restaurants.

Granada day trips

If you have some extra time, consider taking day trips from Granada. The nearby Sierra Nevada mountains offer opportunities for hiking, skiing, and breathtaking views. Additionally, you can explore the caves of Sacromonte, which are known for their unique underground dwellings and intimate flamenco shows. My Granada travel guide doesn’t include the day trip reviews, because I haven’t been on any. There wasn’t enough time to go on a day trip, but I would love to explore the Sierra Nevada. The next I’ll be there, I’m going to Sierra Nevada for sure.

Getting there & getting around

Granada was a first stop on my Andalusia trip. I flew to Malaga and took a direct bus from Malaga airport to Granada. From Granada, I’ve continued my journey to Almeria, Cordoba, Cadiz, Sevilla, Nerja & finally Malaga for a flight back home.

Granada has good air and ground connections that provide easy access to the city by various means of transport: plane, bus, train, car and taxi. In this Granada travel guide, I’m focusing on plane, train & bus travel. I used a taxi only one time, on my first day in Granada. We were already traveling for more than 24 hours and we arrived pretty late, so I really wasn’t in the mood to take the bus. In fact, I had no idea which one should we take, so we just grabbed a cab. The ride from the bus station to the city centre (we were located just behing the Granada Cathedral) was about 10€.

By plane

Granada Airport is 20 km from Granada and has very good communications with the capital but it doesn’t have many international connections. The nearest airport with a better range of international flight destinations is Malaga.

From Malaga Airport to Granada there are a few buses daily, with the last bus at 22:45. If you arrive later, you will have to spend the night in Malaga or take a taxi/rent a car to Granada. There are many more buses from Malaga bus station to Granada. You need to take a bus from Malaga airport to Malaga bus station. This one runs every 30 minutes and it takes only 30 minutes to reach the station.

🚌 A bus ticket costs a little less than 15 EUR and you can buy the ticket online on Alsa. The ride will take about between 2.15 to 2.30 hours.

🚆If you prefer the train, you can also take the C1 Cercanías train from Malaga Airport to Malaga Maria Zambrano train station (train with destination Fuengirola-Málaga Centro Alameda), where you can take the train towards Granada. The last train departs at 20:25.

By bus

Granada is connected by bus with the other Spanish cities, most principal towns along the Mediterranean coast and several international destinations. They are an option for travelers with limited budgets, as the traveling time is usually long. Trains are more comfortable and faster. I have used the bus service for the shorter rides, but mostly I’ve been using the train.

The Granada bus station is called Estación de Autobuses de Granada. It is located to the west of the city, in the Avenida de Juan Pablo II. If you are going to the city center, you should take the 33 bus line. This one will drop you off near the Cathedral.

By train

Spain has a large and constantly expanding rail network. You can reach Granada from Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, or other cities in Spain.

Granada train station is in the heart of the city. At the moment of writing in 2023, the expansion of the train network is currently preventing the arrival of the train to Granada. You can still buy a ticket to Granada, but your trip will be divided into two parts – the first, made by train to the Antequera-Santa Ana station, and the second, made by bus, between the station of Antequera and the station of Granada. Renfe is operating the bus service. The buses are synchronized with the arrival of the trains, so everything goes smoothly.

I’ve tried to explain things in this Granada travel guide, but always check the official carrier website for up-to-date news before you travel.

Best cafés & restaurants

There is a ton of great cafés and restaurants in Granada. I wish that I had more time there so I could try more delicious things. As someone who loves flavours and a touch of the oriental, I found my satisfaction in the Albayzín area. Let me show you some of my favorites:

  • Teteria La Oriental: they have a great coffee & tea selection and delicious sweets
  • Grillo: the best ice cream in Granada
  • Caravan Coffee & Tea Shop: a cute, cozy, little coffee shop in the heart of the Moorish quarter
  • Samarcanda: Lebanese restaurant that is one of the best in the Albayzín area
  • Los Diamantes: best seafood tapas in town!

Granada is a place where every corner has a story to tell. As you navigate its cobblestone streets, gaze upon its architectural wonders, and savor its culinary delights. You’ll find yourself immersed in a world of history and culture that is unlike any other. This Andalusian gem has a timeless beauty that will leave an indelible mark on your travel memories. So, pack your bags and set forth to discover the splendor of Granada. You won’t be disappointed. I highly recommend staying more than just 2 days in Granada if you have enough time to do so!
¡Vamos a Granada!

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