When it comes to show-stopping attractions, Granada City is certainly a must-stop when you’re visiting Spain. It may not be as bustling as Barcelona and Madrid, but there are certainly a ton of iconic sights you would fall in love with. From its intricately built palaces and cathedrals to its famous flamenco bars, there is surely no shortage of things to do in Granada.
As the site of one of Spain’s jewels Alhambra, Granada is a Spanish city located in the southern part. Its location at the foot of the majestic Sierra Nevada mountain range makes it a perfect escape to indulge yourself in a fascinating experience with nature. Around 2 million tourists visit the former Moorish rule every year. With that number, Granada must have surely amused visitors over the years with its rich past as made evident by its age-old taverns.
The likes of Granada is perfect for wanderlusts who love to go back in time. Relics and structures dating back to centuries ago makes it a beautiful old-town feel. However, there is more to Granada than its history. Here are the 10 best things to do in Granada, Spain:
Visit The Great Alhambra Fortress
You can’t go to Granada and skip the fascinating Alhambra Palace, an ancient hilltop fortress built in the 13th century. Considered as Granada’s most-visited attraction, the Alhambra creates an amusing skyline overlooked from the lower grounds.
This masterpiece owes its fame to its noticeably cultural significance, combined with its intricate architectural design. It was declared a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site.
The famous palace complex rose to its might during the medieval and Islamic periods of Granada. It is one of the greatest relics of the Islamic tribe Moors, who ruled in Southern Spain between the 8th and 15th centuries. Taking the highlight are the fortresses built by the Nasrid kings, the last Moorish rulers. These palaces showcase the last surviving examples of Nasrid intricate arts and styles in its walls and columns.
When taking a tour in Alhambra, be sure to bring some extra battery for your camera and phones. Every corner offers a picture-perfect view; you would not want to miss a photo! Among the must-visit sites inside this palace complex are the religious buildings of Parador de Granada and Iglesia de Santa María de la Alhambra and the enthralling Palacio Nazaríes and Torre de la Vela (Watchtower).
Take A Walk Tour At Albaicin
A must-see for travelers, the Albaicín is among the most picturesque spots in Granada City. Walking along its narrow streets and taking a tour of its captivating landscape will surely steal your heart. If you’re at the Alhambra, you can have a perfect bird’s eye view of this ancient neighborhood!
This enchanting village in Granada is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It had once served as the quarter of the Arabs during the Moorish rule, sitting at the defense of walls.
When visiting, be sure you to wear sports shoes if you choose to walk through long steep hills leading to viewpoints. Well-preserved and whitewashed houses offer you stunning views and an old-time atmosphere.
Don’t miss out Mirador de San Nicolas when visiting the Albaicín. This spot is located at one of the highest points of the formerly Arab neighborhood and has been a favorite spot for travelers who want to spend a good time at the plaza’s restaurants and bars. You can also witness some gentle flamenco on a guitar in the streets!
Lingering in the restaurants and bars isn’t the best way to spend your time in Albaicín. Consider checking out the 16th-century Church of St. Nicolás and the shrine of San Cecilio, the city’s patron saint. Mirador de San Nicolas also offers you the best buys if you’re looking for souvenirs and local products!
Also, this hilltop plaza is the best place to witness panoramic views of Granada, including the majestic Alhambra fortress and the mountains beyond it.
Get A Refreshing Tour At Generalife Garden
The Generalife, one of Alhambra’s top-visited gardens is a go-to for travelers seeking a light-feel tour. Derived from the words “garden of the architect,” there are surely some magical touches to expect. Generalife isn’t just a place to enjoy plants and pleasant surprises in the heart of Granada’s enchanting district, but it also gives tourists a sensuality of a place that was once home to an Arab architect. The Patio is your place-to-go when you want a connection to the Arabs.
Do not be deceived. Generalife was also inhabited by Christians at the later stage of its development. This is evident in the West Gallery found in the eastern part of the gardens. So whether you’re looking for a spiritual escape or a place to enjoy patios, terraces, fountains, and gorgeous gardens and roses, Generalife is a perfect getaway for you!
Relish The Beauty Of The Granada Cathedral
Experience Spanish Renaissance by visiting the Granada Cathedral, also known as Cathedral of Santa María de la Encarnación or simply Cathedral of the Incarnation. The cathedral rose from its glory after Christian Spain overruled the Moors in the 15th century. Queen Isabella built the cathedral as a monument of defeating the Islamic Moorish rule in South Spain.
With its impressive architecture and ornate interior, the cathedral stands to its might as one of the largest cathedrals in the world. Today, the Granada Cathedral of Incarnation is one of the top locations for tourists visiting Granada.
The structure features a richly decorated facade and sculptures. By looking at its intricate designs, you will see that its builders never ran out of ideas. The cathedral is a living monument of Spain’s medieval art, from its foundation in the Gothic Style to its development in Renaissance style.
Entrance arch pillars, apostles’ and Catholic Monarch’s statues, massive pillars and double aisles, artistic pillars, and interesting paintings and sculptures have made the cathedral the best catch for tourists who love to travel back in time while contemplating on a one-of-a-kind structure. Today, the Granada Cathedral is considered the first Renaissance cathedral in Spain and the second-largest cathedral in Spain, next to Seville Cathedral.
Check Out Capilla Real In Granada Cathedral
While the Granada Cathedral stands as an icon of Roman Catholicism in Granada, its much-adorned chapels and mausoleums have also been attracting as much as tourists. Inside the cathedral are chapels built over the past centuries in different styles. The most popular among them is the Capilla Real (Royal Chapel).
Visiting the Capilla Real will cost you a separate fee from your cathedral visit. Here, you will experience the grandeur of the Catholic Monarch, hosting the site of the tombs of the Catholic Monarch – the Tomb of Ferdinand and Isabella. The chapel was built between 1505 and 1517 in the Isabelline style of architecture and art.
Architectural features of the Capilla Real include its top-rated Carrara mausoleum and the 16th-century stained-glass windows. Paintings and artworks, including Rogier van der Weyden’s Pietà and Botticelli’s Christ on the Mount of Olive’s painting, are among the attractions inside the chapel.
Artifacts and collections from the ancient Monarch are also on display for the curious travelers. This includes the polychrome wood figures of the Catholic Monarchs in prayer by Felipe Vigarny, King Ferdinand’s sword, and Queen Isabella’s crown.
Visited The Less Visited Palacio de Dar al-Horra
After the Alhambra, the Palacio de Dar al-Horra is a perfect example of Moorish-style palaces from the Medieval period. Visiting the famous Albaicin means you also have the opportunity to pay a look at the Palacio de Dar al-Horra, which is located at the top-hill of formerly Arab neighborhoods in the Spanish city of Granada. “Dar al-Horra” means “Home of the Honest.”
The palace was built in the 15th century and was originally the official residence of the Aixa, the mother of the last Moorish sultan before the Catholic Monarch’s conquest. After the conquest, the palace became a monastery for a religious Catholic congregation.
Among the notable attractions inside the palace are the usual Moorish architecture and art styles, refreshing gardens and pools, and several religious inscriptions.
Take A Break At Bar La Fragua
Escape for a fun experience to Bar La Fragua, the best bar in Granada, Spain. It’s a place to be when you’re looking for real drinking experience in this Spanish city. It’s also the best find for tapas and short snacks while you take a break from sightseeing!
Interestingly, a drink of your choice (Cerveza or wine) entails you eat tapa, too, a favorite Spanish appetizer and snack. Whether you’re a vegetarian or not, you’ll fancy something in their all-in menu! Just tell them what kind of diet you’re on and expect the best from this famous bar cafe! Did I say you only get to spend 2€ for a drink and a tapa?
Bar La Fragua is located at the narrow streets of Granada, adding to the spirit of the place!
Shop At La Alcaicería (Arab Spice Market)
The Arabs for centuries have still been quite a part of Granada despite being overruled by the Spanish Monarch. Yet, one of the conclusive evidence is the La Alcaicería or the Arab Spice Market along the Calle de la Alcaicería. The market originally stretched between Plaza Nueva and Plaza Bib-Rambla, but the La Alcaicería is what remained of the place’s rich history and culture.
La Alcaicería represents the traditional Arab Souk and was a revision of the old Moorish market the caught fire in 1843. Today, it is more commonly known as Granada’s Big Bazaar where locals and tourists visit to buy spices, silks, and other goods. Like many other places in the world, La Alcaicería is Granada’s top place for tourists who want to buy souvenirs and local products, so you can’t go to Granada and skip this place!
Be In Awe Of The Granada’s Museum Of Fine Arts
Now time for art enthusiasts – the Granada’ s Museum of Fine Arts is a perfect place to show the splendor of centuries-old paintings and other artworks. It is the first public museum in Granada.
The museum was first established in 1839. However, it moved from one location to another until it was finally brought to the Palace of Charles V in the Alhambra complex. According to official sources, Granada’s Museum of Fine Arts has over 2,000 items for exhibits.
Most of the exhibits in the museum are religious artworks and paintings from the monasteries and convents that flourished after the Moorish rule and under the Catholic Monarch from the 15th to 20th centuries.
The museum has four sections: Renaissance and Mannerism Styles, Baroque Styles of Granada, 19th-century painting in Granada, and 20th century to the Avant-garde. Among the notable artworks displayed inside the museum are those from Sánchez Cotán, Alonso Cano, Machuca, Mariano Fortuny, and José María López Mezquita.
Take A Break At Granada Science Park
Visiting the Science Park is a great way to take a break from the old-town feel. It lets your kids experience the wonder of science with hundreds of exhibits and displays. Located just outside the center of the city, the Science Park is a must-stop for tourists who brought their kids with them!
Perhaps the most popular inside the Science Park is the “Journey into the Human Body.” This section takes visitors into an interactive guide on how mankind originated, according to evolution that is. It also shows how the human body parts work. Achievements of Al-Andalus’s Islamic scientists are also on display for viewing.
The other main section is located at the Foucault’s Pendulum Building where exhibits related to physics, chemistry, and mechanics are on display. Here, you will see antique cars and other early valuable discoveries and inventions.
There are surely a lot of things to do in Granada, Spain. This list only presents you with the top-rated and most-visited attractions. However, visiting the less popular places will also give you valuable insights into the city’s history and culture without the crows. Also, be sure to have extra space in your bag for a handful of beautiful souvenirs. I hope you’ll have a splendid getaway to Granada, Spain!