Whichever way you choose, by train or car, and from any direction: When you approach Granada, you can already perceive from afar the majestic Sierra Nevada, crowned with the highest peaks of the peninsula, the ancient Moorish fortress city, whose magic can still be felt in its streets, squares and monuments.
It is probably a mixture of factors: its unique location, its Moorish heritage, its charming neighbourhoods, its enormous cultural and monumental legacy.
But not least its street life, its Tapas Bars, and the very high percentage of young population as it is one of the most coveted university cities in Spain, with its consequent very lively nightlife.
Impossible not to be enchanted.
Table of Contents
Granada is a city for walking
Whether you arrive in Granada by car or by train, it is best to discover the city on foot. Basically, for two reasons: Everything worth discovering is located within a fairly small radius in the old part of the old city walls. But take into account that there are a lot of hills.
Secondly, the city has in recent years made a lot of efforts to reduce traffic in the city centre and it is not possible to enter by car or drive in many areas.
Below is a link to the car parks in the city centre. Park comfortably and walk, it’s the most sensible thing to do. And don’t worry about going hungry or thirsty: Granada is the city of tapas.
Tapas in Granada
Granada is the world’s queen of Tapas. Yes, no exaggeration. So before presenting its rich cultural legacy etc., let’s cover this basic need, shall we?
The Tapa is typical and original from Granada. There are several theories about its origin. It consists of a free bite to eat with your beer, wine or soft drink.
And by snack we mean any tasty delicacy that this region has to offer, vegetables, meat or fish. Eating Tapas in Granada is an experience in itself. Not only have you had lunch/dinner with a few beers, but you also immerse yourself in the rich street life of Granada and its people.
No need to worry about where to go, Granada is the Andalusian city with the most bars per capita. Just let yourself be carried away walking through the streets of the city centre. However, here is a link to some of the best Tapas Bars in Granada.
What to see in Granada
The Albaicín is the old Moorish quarter of the city. It occupies an entire hill opposite the Alhambra, with narrow alleys, hidden squares, whitewashed houses, heady aromas of jasmine… and lots of slopes. It is a neighbourhood where you can easily get lost literally and figuratively.
Plaza Nueva remains a focal point of the city, strategically located between the Albaicín, the Alhambra and the Realejo.
Our Insider Tip
There is nothing better than dropping into Café Lisboa and watching the street life.
As we said, you can spend a whole day just discovering the Albaicín.
Be prepared to climb steep hills. But the climb to the upper Albaicín, a world apart and with a life of its own, will be worth it.
Climbing up to the upper Albaicín via the Cuesta Del Chapíz from the Paseo de los Tristes.
The upper Albaicín is like a village in itself. There is a lot to see there.
Like the Arco de las Pesas and the old wall, which leads to Plaza Larga, the heart of the upper Albaicín.
Our Insider Tip
Bar Aixa, where locals and foreigners alike have been gathering for decades for breakfast and tapas.
Nearby is the very popular Mirador San Nicolás with fabulous views of the Alhambra. We introduce you to it below in Vantage points.
If you go deeper into the upper Albaicín and away from the more crowded streets, you will come to the Sacromonte, the gypsy quarter par excellence. This neighbourhood is known for its cave houses and its great nightlife of flamenco “tablaos flamencos”.
Here is also one of the most beautiful (and least crowded) viewpoints in Granada, the Mirador de la Vereda de En Medio, you can find it below in Vantage points.
We are slowly starting to move away from the hustle and bustle of the city, always with the Alhambra on the adjoining hill.
Abadía del Sacromonte
If you keep walking, you will reach the Sacromonte Abbey from where you can enjoy unique views.
Our Insider Tip
Pilgrimage of San Cecilio at the Sacromonte Abbey. A colourful open-air festival on the first Sunday in February in honour of the patron saint of Granada. After mass, hundreds of people gather at the foot of the Abbey to share music, beans and salted bread.
El Realejo is the old Jewish quarter located at the foot of the Alhambra. In recent years it has become one of the most popular and cosmopolitan areas of the city.
Not only are there many bars and street life, but this neighbourhood is also home to a large number of beautiful palatial buildings and churches.
From the upper part of the Realejo you can walk along less frequented paths to the Alhambra.
Plaza Bib Rambla
One of the oldest squares in Granada, very close to the Cathedral. In this square there are usually many activities throughout the year and also a nice Christmas market.
Street Market Plaza de la Romanilla
Do you want to see a real street market and buy fresh fruit and vegetables at reasonable prices? Then don’t miss this daily street market at Plaza de la Romanilla next to the Cathedral.
There are also plenty of Cafés where you can have a drink and watch life go by in the streets.
Monuments in Granada
Granada is a UNESCO city full of beautiful monuments and buildings from many periods and styles.
To list them all, we would have to compile a separate guide (and there are already many such guides). And you may have already noticed that here we provide you with information that is perhaps a little different than on most websites, as we know many of these places personally.
You don’t have to walk a lot to come across the cathedral of Granada, an impressive monument that blends Gothic and Renaissance styles.
- At this link you can find visiting hours and entrance tickets.
Probably no tourist travels to Granada without visiting the Alhambra, Al- Hamrat, the red castle for the reddish tones that its bricks acquire at sunset.
Although today one of the most touristically exploited monuments and bearing a very high number of visitors, it still conveys a special beauty and magic of centuries past of the Nasrid Kingdom, the last Moorish kingdom on the peninsula.
Our Insider Tip
International Festival of Music and Dance in the Generalife Gardens: The Generalife hosts ballets and dance companies at the Festival Internacional de Música y Danza during Granada’s summer nights in June and July, a pure delight!
Vantage Points in Granada
One of the great charms of Granada are its vantage points (Miradores). Some are more popular and very frequented, such as the Mirador de San Nicolás, and others hidden away in alleyways, but they always offer magnificent views of the city, the Alhambra and the majestic Sierra Nevada as a backdrop.
Mirador San Nicolás
This viewpoint located in the upper Albaicín offers a panoramic view of the Alhambra with the Sierra Nevada in the background and the city at its feet. It is usually very busy at all hours.
Mirador Placeta de Carvajales
One of our hidden favourites. You have to lose yourself a little in the alleyways to get to this small, cosy square that offers a different view of the Alhambra.
Mirador Ojo de Granada
This viewpoint is located in the lower Albaicín and offers beautiful views of the city centre and the Cathedral.
Mirador de la Lona
This viewpoint is also located in the lower Albaicín, a few metres from the previous one, with views of the city and the Cathedral.
Mirador de la Vereda de en medio
Another of our favourites. To get there, you’ll have to go into the upper Albaicín and from there towards the Sacromonte.
The atmosphere there is totally different, away from the hustle and bustle of people and cars and with magnificent views of the Alhambra and the typical whitewashed cave houses.
Mirador de San Cristóbal
High up on the old road to Murcia and very close to the heart of the upper Albaicín, this viewpoint offers magnificent views over the city.
One of the completely free marvels that we can enjoy in Granada in the winter months are its absolutely spectacular sunsets.
As the city is located on several hills, we only have to get a bit of altitude and go to one of the viewpoints for example to enjoy the magnificent colourful spectacles in the sky.
Culture & Nightlife
The range of culture and nightlife on offer in Granada is enormous. This is also partly due to the fact that it is one of the most popular university cities in the country, with one sixth of the population being university students.
- Here you find info about cultural events, as well as a fairly comprehensive guide to night life and clubs in Granada.
- At this link you can sign up for a guided tour of unexplored places in Granada: Granada Secreta
Climate in Granada
The climate in Granada is dry Mediterranean and has nothing to do with the mild climate we have here in Malaga.
You could say that in Granada there are basically two seasons: summer and winter. Spring and autumn pass quickly and almost unnoticed and give way to either very hot or very cold weather.
In winter it can reach 0ºC in the mornings. However, when the sun comes out, it can reach almost 20°C at midday, before dropping rapidly in the evening. A good coat is advisable, but with a light shirt underneath.
Summers in Granada are scorching. From mid-June until well into September, the city experiences very high temperatures, often reaching 40ºC.
In fact, during August Granada is practically empty and everyone who can, escapes to the coast. Those who endure, are gifted with the deliciously intoxicating aromas of night blossoming jasmine and lady of the night on purely Andalusian nights.
How to get to Granada
By Car & Parking
From Malaga you can reach Granada comfortably by motorway in an hour and a half. In other words, we don’t necessarily have to stay there overnight and can plan a day trip.
However, due to the enormous wealth that the city offers in every aspect, we recommend staying at least one night to have enough time to savour it all, literally (remember, Granada is the queen of Tapas!).
As mentioned before, Granada is a city to be discovered on foot. Because of this and many traffic restrictions, it makes the most sense to park in a public car park in the centre and from there continue on foot.
Our Insider Tip
For people who don’t want to walk too far, there is a public car park in the upper Albaicín, the San Cristóbal car park. The best car park to visit the Albaicín without climbing too many hills.
Interactive Map Parking Downtown Granada
Granada’s central train station is just a 20-minute walk from Plaza Nueva in the heart of the city.
Granada can be easily reached by train from Malaga, Seville, Almeria and Madrid.
From Malaga there are AVANT trains (journey time about 2.5 hours) and AVE trains (journey time 1 hour 11 min or 1 hour 39 min depending on train).
The cheapest return options are around €26. While the most expensive AVE options are around €60.
Interactive Map What to see in Granada
If you have more time, it’s worth taking the car and driving up to this National Park, which is also home to Europe’s most southerly ski resort.
- Discover Sierra Nevada, you´ll love it.
And last but not least, speaking of Granada, we cannot fail to mention the Alpujarra, located on the southern slopes of Sierra Nevada.
A region of abundant water, clean air, winding roads, valleys with microclimate, white Moorish villages, excellent gastronomy and a very special magic that you can only discover if you live slow Travel. 100% recommended!
- Discover the Alpujarra in this article.
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