Hill-topped sceneries, vibrant reminiscences of three cultures and madness of tastes encase the true essence of the city of Granada. Long gone Moorish influences made their way through time and still linger at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, enriching the style of Granada. You will be charmed by the ever-present pomegranates figures which appear at every step and there’s a good reason for that – the Spanish word “Granada” actually means “pomegranate”.
What’s the best time to visit Granada?
Granada is worth visiting any time of the year, no matter the season. Gifted with the Mediterranean climate, Granada pampers its guests with hot summers and mild winters, so no wonder the city is filled with tourists most of the time. Winters are mild reaching 7°C average daytime temperatures. If summer is your cup of tea, you might enjoy visiting Granada when daytime temperatures are around 25°C. However, if you look for the golden mean, autumn or spring will work best for you, with mild weather, slight rainfalls and wind.
Granada is the main scene for many cheerful holidays or “fiestas”, what they’re called in Spanish. Among the most popular ones are “Día de la Cruz” (i.e. The Day of the Cross) which takes place on May 3rd and Corpus Christi, a whole week of celebrations and artistic performances bustling all over the city soaking in floral decorations. The fiesta of Corpus Christi usually occurs at the beginning of summer.
What’s good to know about Granada?
The history of Granada starts back in the 5th century BC when the Romans governed the region and made it a Roman Iberian settlement called “Elibyrge” until 711 when it was taken under Moorish control due to the Umayyad conquest of Hispania. The Moor rule favored harmony among various religions and increased the cultural and economic progress of Granada. Many actual attractions in Granada date from this period. It wasn’t until the 15th century that the Moorish Kingdom of Granada fell to the Roman Catholic monarchs as part of the Reconquista, ending the freedom of religion and ethnicity.
One day in Granada Itinerary
Follow this guide and make the most of your trip even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do during your one day in Granada.
Explore Alhambra palaces and fortress
No trip to Granada should miss the mesmerizing Alhambra palace and fortress complex, considered a 13th century inheritance from the Nasrid dynasty. Alhambra is the central figure of Granada, one of the most visited sites in Spain and it was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site. After passing the Puerta de las Granadas (Gate of Pomegranates) a whole medieval world spreads in front of your eyes – the Plaza de Nazaríes (The Royal Complex) or Nasrid Palaces, the fortified and military area of Alcazaba and the Generalife gardens, each packed with many astounding monuments.
You will be overwhelmed by the beauty and grandeur of the Palace of the Lions (Palacio de los Leones), Court of the Myrtles (Patio de los Arrayanes) or Ambassadors’ Hall. Following a recommended tour of Alhambra, you will find yourself wandering through the bright and luxuriant gardens of the Generalife, another collection of monumental constructions.
Just like the poem delicately carved in Arabic in the flamboyant walls of the Hall of the Two Sisters, you couldn’t agree more that:
“The columns are so beautiful in every way,
That their success flies from mouth to ear:
The marble throws its clear light, which invades
The black corner that blackens the shadow;
Its highlights iridescent, and one would say that
They are, despite their size, pearls.
We have never seen such a blooming garden,
With a sweeter harvest and more scent.”
View Albaicín from the top of Alhambra
Since you already made it to the top of the Al-Sabika Hill, the settlement of the Alhambra palaces, why not indulge in the marvelous panoramic view that spreads in front of your eyes? Soak in the mesmerizing cypress trees, reddish roofs and unparalleled skies.
You simply cannot miss the intriguing glimpses of Albaicín, the Arab Quarter which was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1984. Albaicín is an area where Nasrid and Renaissance architecture still dwells. Along with the rich repertoire of monuments, the vibrant atmosphere of Albaicín will take you back in time. If you are not tight on time, you might give it a go and wander through the immersive streets of Albaicín neighborhood.
Visit the Botanical Garden of the University of Granada
Should you need to take a break and cool a little bit, the Botanical Garden of the University of Granada is right on your way to the next attraction. Take a quick stroll through the lush botanical garden which hosts a wide collection of trees.
Jardín Botánico is a wonderful ambience for both amateur and experienced painters visiting Granada for immersive painting workshops to boost their artistic expression and catch glimpses of inspiration.
See Monasterio de San Jerónimo
Just like every single spot in Granada, the Roman Catholic Monasterio de San Jerónimo is a place filled with history. Built in the purest form of Granadan Renaissance and topped with complementary decorations, the monastery was founded by Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand II in 1504, while Reconquista was coming to an end.
The sturdy exterior of Monasterio de San Jerónimo treasures an oasis of peace and an orange tree garden fenced by two cloisters.
Visit Granada Cathedral
At only 20-minute walking distance from Alhambra and its rich Arab heritage, you will find Granada Cathedral, the next stop in your Andalusian odyssey. Also known as the Cathedral of the Incarnation, Catedral de Granada is a monumental symbol of Christianity, erected after the Catholic King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile took Granada back from its Muslim rulers during the Reconquista. Putting an end to the era of the Emirate of Granada, the Catholic conquerors started the construction of the cathedral by early 1505 with the completion of the laborious work in 1561.
The style was later classified as Isabelline (also known as Castilian late Gothic), in honor of Queen Isabella I. Granada Cathedral is an impressive creation, both on the outside and inside. The grandiose façade just prepares its guests for the marvelous architectural details that are hidden inside. You will be amazed by the flourishing Spanish Renaissance style entwined with Baroque elements. If you are interested, there’s an option to take a 2-hour tour for further presentation of the Cathedral.
Visit the Royal Chapel of Granada
Just as impressive as Granada Cathedral, there’s the Royal Chapel of Granada, which can be found a stone’s throw away. The Royal Chapel of Granada is another symbol of the faith and cultural heritage of the city. It was originally built as an integrated part of Granada Cathedral and today it hosts the graves of King Ferdinand II of Aragon, Queen Isabella I of Castile and Renaissance sculptor Domenico Fancelli. The chapel includes the Sacristy-Museum with an important selection of artworks, most of them related to Queen Isabella I.
Wander through the streets of Realejo, the Jewish Quarter of Granada
It is important to get a taste of all the cultures and religions that contributed to the overall style of Granada. A trip to Granada should not skip a dive in the old Jewish neighborhood of Muslim Granada, Garnata al-Yahud (i.e. Granada of the Jews). The narrow streets of Realejo hide many gems – Mirador de la Placeta Puerta del Sol, a special window to Granada’s landscapes, Santo Domingo Church, Casa de los Tiros Museum (The Museum of Arts and Traditions in Granada), to name some.
Realejo is also the setting to many vibrant graffiti, blending perfectly with the buildings and their powerful history. Here you can find picturesque restaurants and taverns lying in the shade of whitewashed historic houses.
Indulge in the Andalusian cuisine
Let Granada find its way to your heart through the stomach. Delight your tastes with traditional Andalusian cuisine. The specialties seem endless and they’re all worth trying. You will have a hard time deciding whether you want Tapas, Jamon Asado (roast pork), Castillas (pork ribs), Boquerones (anchovies), Paella, deep fried baby squid, and the list remains open at Bar Avila.
Make sure you try the local beer or wine alongside whatever specialty (or specialities) you eventually settle on.
Get lost in the colorful Alcaicería
Alcaicería is the famous Arab bazaar where you can treat your sight with miscellaneous colors, fabrics and embellishments and even buy a souvenir to remind you of your day trip to Granada.
Catch the sunset
If you are lucky enough to visit Granada when the city is hosting celebrations – Festival de Granada or one of the many fiestas – you might end your Granada itinerary in a memorable way for sure. Lively performances, music and bright floral installations are guaranteed.
Where to stay in Granada?
Anacapri is an 18th century house based in the heart of the old town of Granada. The entire building was carefully restored to suit current needs, but it preserved the charm of other eras. As soon as you enter the hotel, you won’t be able to determine what made you fall in love with this place. Could it be the exquisite style, the ever-present attention to details or the comfort that it astounds with?
Fully equipped with all one might need while travelling, Reyes 59 is a centrally located apartment which comes packed with a balcony overlooking the city. The apartment is less than 1 km from the main attractions of Granada, and it can easily host up to 4 people.
Bright and Elegant 3BR Exclusive Retreat
If you are dependent on the heartbeat of the city and modern with a touch of luxury is your thing, then Bright and Elegant 3BR Exclusive Retreat is perfect for you. The interior design of the hotel is an eclectic mix while preserving Granadan elements such as tile floors, pieces of art and the old-style windows, gateways to the urban scenery behind them.
Extra day trips from Granada
A trip to Granada can engage you in many unexpected ways. A boundless setup for inspiration, Granada hosts many painting workshops for both amateur or experienced painters with art tours’ duration ranging from two hours to a couple of days.
Granada preserves the roots of the Spanish culture of flamenco. You can easily find passionate flamenco performances in intimate bars and restaurants while enjoying tapas and sipping a glass of local wine.
There are various activities taking place in the vicinity of Granada. You can find Costa Tropical, the coastline of the province of Granada, an only one-hour drive south of Granada. Costa Tropical is the land of bold activities where you can get off the beaten path with scuba diving or intense canyoning sessions.