Things to do in Granada

Must-see Granada attractions

Capital of the last Moorish kingdom on the Iberian Peninsula. Home to the magnificent Alhambra palace. Backed by the stunning Sierra Nevada mountains - Granada is a great place to come for history, culture and natural attractions.

  1. Be awed by The Alhambra
  2. Throw yourself into flamenco
  3. Roam a royal chapel
  4. Shop the old silk bazaar
  5. Tuck into tapas
  6. Be amazed by science
  7. Explore Sierra Nevada

But that’s not all. This Andalusian beauty also serves up unforgettably tasty tapas, fragrant Moroccan food, and the best flamenco shows in Spain. All of which means a trip here will satisfy all your senses and leave you with a longing to return.

In collaboration with
Rough Guides

1. Be awed by The Alhambra

Taking its name (“The Red One”) from the walls that rise above the Río Darro gorge, The Alhambra is an awe-inspiring complex of fortress towers, palaces and summer gardens, and it’s certainly seen some history in its time. Constructed as a fortress in AD 889, it was rebuilt in the mid-13th century by the Emirate of Granada, converted into a royal palace in 1333, and made Ferdinand and Isabella’s Royal Court in 1492. Easily one of the best things to do in Grenada (and the whole of Spain, for that matter), you’ll need at least half a day to explore it, longer if you want to check out both museums.

Best for: history, views and mind-blowing architecture.

Don’t miss: Patio de los Arrayanes, with its myrtle-encased pool, arcades and marble columns.

2. Throw yourself into flamenco

Given that flamenco originated in Andalusia, it’s no surprise that Granada is a hotspot for pulse-quickening performances of this expressive dance form - percussive footwork, intricate arm movements and hypnotic hand-clapping. For an emotive, intimate experience, get down to Zambra María la Canastera at the foot of The Alhambra. Located in the cave María herself once lived in (now a performance space and cosy cathedral of flamenco art), seeing a show here gives Granada holidays a whole lot of passion and pulse.

Best for: stirring the soul.

Don’t miss: the tapas tasting menu at Zambra María la Canastera before the show

3. Roam a royal chapel

Blending late Gothic and early Renaissance architecture to grand effect, the Capilla Real (Royal Chapel) is the mausoleum of the Catholic Monarchs, with the tombs of Fernando and Isabel taking centre stage. The architecture and art on show here are exquisite, with the Sacristy-Museum exhibiting paintings by Flemish, Italian and Spanish masters.

Best for: right royal history.

Don’t miss: Granada cathedral. To be honest, you can’t miss it - it’s right next door and massive.

4. Shop the old silk bazaar

Once a Moorish bazaar bustling with stalls selling Arabic silks and spices, today Granada’s Alcaicería area remains a colourful maze of narrow streets, with plenty of places to pick up souvenirs – from hand-painted ceramics and glass lamps, to jewellery. Back in the day, this bazaar had inns for merchants to sleep in, and patrolling watchmen looking out for looters. For a taste of how things used to be (without the looting), head to Plaza Bib-Rambla, where you can still buy Moroccan herbs, spices, and silks.

Best for: souvenir shopping.

Don’t miss: Corral del Carbón – built in the 12th century, it’s the oldest Moorish monument in town.

5. Tuck into tapas

The old Moorish district of Albaicín is the perfect place to head for food, its maze of narrow streets and staircases leading to tonnes of off-the-beaten-track tapas joints you’ll crow about for years to come. What’s more, most Albaicín eateries come with a side serving of unforgettable views. Make your way to romantic, rustic Mirador de Morayma for tasty traditional food in a stunning - and legendary - setting (Princess Morayma apparently lived on this site). For a moreish Moroccan menu, try Restaurante Arrayanes – their kefta (meatball) tagine is a taste-bomb of zesty flavours.

Best for: atmospheric eating.

Don’t miss: Mirador San Nicolás for views of The Alhambra with the snow-capped Sierra Nevada looming in the background.

6. Be amazed by science

Families with young kids wondering what to do in Granada should definitely visit the Granada Science Park. Covering a whopping 70km², its Macroscopio building takes visitors on a journey into the human body, while the Techno-Forum Pavilion uncovers art and tech innovations, with interactive exhibits aplenty (don’t miss the chance to climb inside the giant kaleidoscope). Head to Foucault's Pendulum Building to explore mechanics, physics, chemistry and geology through yet more interactive displays, or the Planetarium for interstellar shows. If that’s not enough, the vast green space outside is home to an astronomy garden, tropical butterfly house and an observation tower with viewing terrace.

Best for: science geeks and kids.

Don’t miss: the birds of prey displays.

7. Explore Sierra Nevada

With the highest peak on the Spanish mainland, the dramatic, rugged Sierra Nevada National Park will thrill nature lovers with its expanse of sheer-sided gorges, snow-covered slopes, glacial lakes and rushing rivers. Popular with hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders and skiers, it’s also home to a huge range of flora and over sixty species of bird, among them masses of birds of prey (golden eagles, Bonelli's eagles, peregrine falcons, griffon vultures and kestrels). While walking, watch out for Spanish ibexes - mountain goats with distinctive curly horns – and snuffling wild boars.

Best for: outdoor adventuring.

Don’t miss: visiting Bubión to pick up beautiful handmade rugs, and Lanjarón for wine and healing spa waters.

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