Let’s be honest, the real reason you visit Granada is to see the Alhambra. It's such an incredible place, that many will travel from the other side of the world just to get a glimpse of it. And while the city may not be very large (population of 220,000), it has a lot of charm.

Looking out from the Mirador de San Nicolas in the Moorish Albaicin neighborhood you can see the old city below and across the way, the Alhambra Palaces with the Sierra Nevada mountain range in the background. It is one of Europe’s most magical places.

Patricia Palacios, co-founder of España Guide
España Guide Co-Founder
Patricia is an engineer turned content creator who for over a decade has been helping travelers navigate her native Spain. In addition to her own website, her tips and recommendations have been featured on BBC Travel, CNN, El País & Lonely Planet, just to name a few.

This article might include affiliate links, allowing us to earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Check our disclosure page for more info.

Patricia Palacios, co-founder of España Guide
España Guide Co-Founder
Patricia is an engineer turned content creator who for over a decade has been helping travelers navigate her native Spain. In addition to her own website, her tips and recommendations have been featured on BBC Travel, CNN, El País & Lonely Planet, just to name a few.

This article might include affiliate links, allowing us to earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Check our disclosure page for more info.

Top 5 Things to Do in Granada



Alhambra Palace - one of the top things to do in Granada, Spain
Alhambra Palace - one of the top things to do in Granada

The sumptuous complex of the Alhambra is a symbol of Granada and its golden era, as well as one of the best examples of Moorish architecture in the world. Although the original fortress has existed since the 9th century, it wasn’t until the 13th century that it became the crown jewel of the Nasrid dynasty.

Patio de la Acequia in the Generalife of the Alhambra of Granada (Spain)
Generalife inside the Alhambra Palace

Today, visitors have the opportunity to wander through the watchtowers, palaces and gardens where sultans and kings lived and where European history was made. The complex is enormous and there is a lot of history to take in.

For that reason, we definitely recommend to take part in a guided tour to make the most of your visit to the Alhambra.



Moorish neighborhood of Albaicín in Granada, Spain
Albaicín Moorish neighborhood - Granada

Granada’s Moorish neighborhood, known as Albaicín (or Albayzín) is located on the hillside across from the Alhambra and together form a UNESCO world heritage site.

Formed by narrow winding streets that stretch across the steep hillside, the Albaicín still maintains the charm and the layout of the medieval Moorish quarter that it once was. At the highest peak of its golden age during the Nasrid Kingdom (13th - 15th centuries), the Albayzín had over 40,000 inhabitants and 30 mosques.

However, after the reconquest of Granada in 1492, it slowly entered a period of decline – the mosques were torn down to build churches and, in less than a century, the Moors were completely expelled.

The main thing to do in the Albaicín is to simply get lost wandering through its quaint streets and end up at the famous Mirador de San Nicolas (free access). This popular look out point offers astonishing views of the Alhambra, especially beautiful at sunset time – but also especially busy!

Carrera del Darro in Granada's Albaicín neighborhood, Spain
Carrera del Darro - Granada

A few other attractions in the Albayzín that might be of interest:

  • Moorish bath el Bañuelo (7€ entrance fee, incl. access to Casa Horno de Oro and Dar Al-Horra Palace) – Visit the ruins of an 11th century Moorish public bath, which constitute some of the oldest and best preserved Arab baths in Spain.
  • Casa del Chapiz (2€ entrance fee) – Discover its unexpected beautiful gardens featuring incredible views of the Alhambra making for a very romantic atmosphere.
  • Calderería Nueva (free access) –  Nicknamed Granada’s “mini Morocco,” this touristy street is full of tea houses, Moroccan restaurants and souvenir shops.

* Extra tip: the city minibus line C31 makes a 20-minute loop through the Albaicín neighborhood. It leaves Plaza Nueva every 15 minutes and a ticket costs about 1.40€. You can get off at the top of the Albaicín neighborhood or stay for an entire round.



Caves in the gypsy Sacromonte neighborhood in Granada – Spain
Gypsy neighborhood of Sacromonte - Granada

Granada’s Sacromonte neighborhood is home to the city’s gypsy community who settled in Granada after the Christian reconquest in 1492. It is probably the city’s most picturesque neighborhood, where houses are actually caves that have been dug into the hillside.

Although Sacromonte’s origins are unclear, we do know that cave dwelling gained momentum in the 16th century. It was then that Granada’s Jews and Muslims were expelled from the city and mixed in with the gypsies in Sacromonte, which was a marginalized area outside of the city walls and its control.

The Sacromonte’s gypsy community is also renowned for its flamenco traditions. There are many flamenco performances every night. Although quite touristy, it is still a very unique and recommendable experience to see a flamenco show in a Sacromonte cave.

Cave in the gypsy Sacromonte neighborhood in Granada, Spain
Interior of a cave in the Sacromonte neighborhood - Granada

If you are interested in having a look inside a cave, keep an eye open while wandering through the area and you will see some locals offering access to their cave for 1€ - 2€.

As another alternative, at the top of the hill there is an open-air folk museum dedicated to Granada’s unique gypsy cave-dwelling tradition called Museo Cuevas de Sacromonte (5€ entrance fee).

* Extra tip: the city minibus line C34 makes a loop through the Albaicín and Sacromonte neighborhoods. It leaves Plaza Nueva every 30 minutes and a ticket costs about 1.40€.



Flamenco dancers in a Sacromonte cave - Granada, Spain
Flamenco dancers in a Sacromonte cave - Granada

Flamenco is a passionate ancestral art that has become an expressive form of Andalusian folklore. Not only has it been popular for centuries, but still today it plays an important role in local culture. It is part of festivities, traditions and every day life. It’s in their blood!

Granada is one of the main hubs for flamenco and, more specifically, its gypsy community in the Sacromonte neighborhood. If you are interested in flamenco, then experiencing a flamenco show in Granada is a must. For more information, check out our Where to see flamenco in Granada page.



The cathedral, one of the top things to do in Granada, Spain
The cathedral, one of the top things to do in Granada

The massive Granada Cathedral (6€ entrance fee) is Spain’s second largest church after Sevilla’s. Its construction started at the beginning of the 16th century and took almost two centuries. That is the reason why so many different styles can be found in the building.

While the main structure is mostly in Renaissance style, its foundation is Gothic and the last altars and some finishes were done in Neoclassical and Baroque styles.

Granada’s Royal Chapel (6€ entrance fee) is the city’s top Christian sight. Although it is smaller and less architecturally impressive than the cathedral, it has much more historical significance.

The Royal Chapel houses the tombs of the Catholic Monarchs, Isabella and Ferdinand. As the last Moorish capital to be reconquered, Granada became a symbol of their victory and it is where they chose to be buried. Their impressive tombs were carved out of Italian marble in the 16th century in Renaissance style.

However, there are actually four tombs in the Royal Chapel. Isabella and Ferdinand are accompanied by their successors: their daughter Joanna the Mad and her husband Philip the Fair.

* Extra info: Although the Royal Chapel is actually a chapel adjoining the cathedral, the entrances (and ticket prices) are separate.

More Things to See in Granada



Views of the Alhambra from the San Nicolas lookout in the Albaicin, Granada
Views of the Alhambra from the San Nicolas lookout

The Mirador de San Nicolás is Granada’s most famous lookout. It is located in the Albaicin neighborhood, in the hillside in front of the Alhambra. If you want to have some amazing views of the Alhambra, especially at sunset, then this spot is a must.

However, due to its fame, San Nicolás is usually quite busy and gets particularly packed at, you guessed it, sunset time. The crowd is made up by a mix of tourists, hippies, gypsies playing flamenco music and artisans selling their crafts.

Although visiting the Mirador de San Nicolás is definitely one of the top things to do in Granada, if you want to escape the masses, we recommend you to check out some of the other lookouts in the city:

  • Higher up the hill than San Nicolás is the Mirador de la Cruz Rauda. This local favorite viewpoint looks over the Albaicin while still encompassing the gorgeous Alhambra in the view.
  • Just west of the Albaicin, the Mirador de San Cristobal offers an incredible panoramic view of the city, with the medieval defensive wall in the foreground.
  • Located at the foothill of the Alhambra, the Mirador de la Churra offers a beautiful close up view of the moorish Albaicin neighborhood.


Carrera del Darro in the Albaicín neighborhood in Granada, Spain
Carrera del Darro in the Albaicín neighborhood

Carrera del Darro is one of Granada’s oldest streets and, to this day, still one of the busiest. Tourists flock this street all year around, attracting performers, vendors, beggars, etc.

However, while in Granada, it is still a must to enjoy this romantic walk next to the Darro river, starting at the Plaza Nueva and ending at the Paseo de los Tristes, with the imposing Alhambra at the top of the hill on the one side and the Albaicín neighborhood on the other.

There are also several bridges connecting Carrera del Darro with the neighborhood of the Churra, at the foot of the Alhambra hill.

In addition, you will find various places of interest along the Carrera del Darro, such as the Moorish bath el Bañuelo (7€ entrance fee) and the Archaeology Museum (free for EU citizens, 1.5€ others).

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Interior of the Al-Andalus hammam in Granada, Spain
Hammam Al-Andalus - Granada

After a long day visiting the Alhambra or wandering up and down the Albaicín and Sacromonte neighborhoods, you will feel like you need a break. The perfect place to disconnect and truly relax in Granada is the hammam Al-Andalus.

As soon as you cross the door, the beautiful setting and relaxed atmosphere will make you forget about the hassle and bustle of the city and transport you into another world where you can enjoy this relaxing Arabic tradition to the fullest. Every detail is taking care of, the ambience is perfectly set with chill music and candles – even the clothing of the workers matches the atmosphere!

Access to the hammam is done in 90-minute slots and the number of people is limited to about 12 people per pass, so it never feels crowded. With that being said, access to the hammam gets booked up quickly and it is usually needed to book at least one day in advance.

There is one cold pool, one warm pool, two hot pools, a steam room, hot stones and a lovely relax room serving traditional tea. But to get the full experience you should also book a massage.



Tray of delicious piononos pastries in Granada, Spain
Delicious piononos pastries in Granada

Piononos are a sweet pastry that originates from Santa Fe, a small town next to Granada. This delicious little treat is made up of a thin layer of pastry covered in syrup and rolled into a cylinder shape, which is then topped off with toasted cream. Although there are many variations, the basic ingredients are eggs, sugar, flour, cinnamon and rum.

Traditional piononos are small and can be eaten in just a couple of bites. Locals often have them as a dessert after a meal or as a snack together with a coffee in the middle of the morning or afternoon.

You will find bakeries and cafés selling piononos all over Granada. Businesses are proud of their piononos and they will often claim to have “the best in town.” Who really has the best piononos? There is only one way to find out… by trying them all!

*Interesting fact: The name “pionono” is a tribute to a 19th century pope called Pope Pius IX, which in Italian is “Pio Nono.”



Narrow street in the Alcaicería Market in Granada, Spain
Alcaicería Market – Granada

Granada’s Alcaicería was originally the city’s Grand Bazaar with over 200 shops filled with silk and other precious goods (spices, salt, etc.), stretching from Plaza Nueva to Plaza Bib-Rambla. Silk was so valuable that the market had ten armed gates and its own guards!

The Alcaicería survived the Christian Reconquest, but it was shut down a century later when the Moors were forced to leave the city. Unfortunately, a fire in 1843 destroyed what was left. What we see today is a much smaller replica built in neo-Moorish style in the late 19th century.

Although the tiny shopping lanes of the Alcaicería are mostly filled with touristic souvenir shops, it is still a good place to purchase local artisanal products in ceramic, stained glass, wood crafts, etc.



Calderería Nueva street in Granada, Spain
Calderería Nueva street in Granada

Located on the western edge of the Albaicin neighborhood, the Calle Calderería Nueva is famous for its large variety of tea shops. In Spanish, it is actually known as “calle de las teterías” (“street of the tea shops”).

As soon as you step on Calderería Nueva, you will feel as though you have been transported to Morocco. Although a bit touristy, it can be the perfect stop after a long day of sightseeing. Take the opportunity to enjoy a traditional Moroccan tea accompanied by a sweet bite – the pistachio one is our favorite!

Check out also the nearby Calle Elvira (which borders with the newer city center) and the surrounding narrow winding streets. This charming area is full of souvenirs shops and actually some of the best restaurants and tapas bar of Granada are very close by.

But if you want to use the opportunity to try Moroccan food, we recommend the Arrayanes restaurant, which was one of the first Moroccan restaurants to open up in Granada back in 1996.



Very ornate ceiling at the Madraza Palace – Granada, Spain
Ceiling at the Madraza Palace in Granada, Spain

Inaugurated in 1349 by the Nasrid King Yusuf I, the Madraza Palace was Granada’s first university and functioned as a school of Muslim studies. It was built at the heart of the city, right next to the main Mosque at the time (now the Cathedral) and the Alcaicería, which used to be Granada’s commerce hub where silk, gold and other goods were traded.

Today, the Madraza Palace belongs to Granada’s university and its patio can be visited for free. You can also pay 2€ to join a 15-min guided visit that includes the impressive prayer room, richly decorated, and the gentlemen’s room (“Salón de los Caballeros”) which is upstairs and houses a splendid Moorish framework from the 16th century.

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