Granada is rich with history and spectacular architecture dating back to the Moors and Romans thousands of years ago. It’s always been a city at a crossroads, where culture and ideas from North Africa and Europe collide. The city is still heavily influenced by its Moorish roots and you will smell hookahs, couscous, and incense everywhere you go.
I loved visiting Granada. It’s was an incredible experience and I can see why so many people visit. There are countless museums, monuments and statues worth seeing and exploring, which are perfect for the budget-minded traveler. Granada is one of my favorite cities in Spain.
This travel guide to Granada can give you everything you need to know to eat well, save money, and see the best sights the city has to offer.
Table of Contents
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Top 5 Things to See and Do in Granada
1. Explore the Sierra Nevada
2. Visit the Alhambra Palace
3. Take in the view at Paseo de los Tristes
4. Watch a Flamenco Show
5. Admire the Granada Cathedral
Other Things to See and Do in Granada
1. Take in sunset views at the Mirador de San Nicolas
Located in the cute Albaicin neighborhood of Granada, you’ll find lots of cute houses and small souvenir shops here. The Mirador de San Nicolas is the best spot in the city for a panoramic viewpoint, especially at sunset. With an incredible view of the Alhambra, it’s a great way to end the day.
2. Check out Casa del Chapiz
These two 16th century mansions form one giant complex. Built in the Moorish architectural style, the building complex includes a library and central courtyard and garden. Like many places in Granada, it’s another spot to take in a unique view of the Alhambra in the distance. Admission is €2 ($2.50 USD).
3. Soak in a hammam (Arab bathhouse)
There are several hammams (Arab bathhouses) in Granada. These are modern spas reconstructed in the style of the ancient Moorish baths that were once common in Granada. Entry is usually around €20 ($22 USD).
4. Visit the Banuelo
This is an ancient Moorish bathhouse. The Banuelo lies at the base of the Alhambra and was part of a private house. The ruins date back to the 11th century and, with octagonal & star-shaped skylights that cast intricate light patterns around the building. Admission is free on Sundays, or you can visit any day with an Andalusi Monuments ticket which provides entrance to four different monuments located in the Albacín neighborhood for €5 ($5.50 USD), including the Palacio de Dar al-Horra, Corral del Carbón, and the Casa Morisca.
5. Wander through the Albaicin
The Albaicin is the historical Moorish quarter of the city and the oldest neighborhood of Granada. A walk through here, with its narrow, winding streets of whitewashed buildings and characteristic Medieval architecture, will take you back to the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada dating to the 1200s. There are several monuments and historical sites in the Albaicin, including the Bañuelo, Casa Morisca, Palaci ode Dar al-Horra, and Corral del Carbón. The Andalusi Monuments ticket provides entrance to all four for €5 ($5.50 USD) total.
6. Take a cycling tour
There are several bike companies running day tours through Granada’s top sights. A guided bike tour from Baja Bikes is €32.50 ($35 USD). Andalusia is a popular cycling destination and many enthusiasts even choose to cycle between cities; a guided 7-day tour between Seville and Granada can cost up to €1,300 ($1,400 USD).
7. Visit the Monasterio de San Jeronimo
A visit to the 16th century Monasterio de San Jerónimo is beautiful, thanks to its impressive Renaissance-era architecture and large nave. The building has beautiful stained glass windows, but even more impressive is the detailed painting of the interior in Spanish Baroque style. The monastery is still in use, but is open for visits for €4 ($4.30 USD), or for a guided tour each Sunday at 11am for €7 ($7.50 USD).
8. Hang out in Plaza Nueva
Just a short walk from the Granada Cathedral, Plaza Nueva is a bustling pedestrian plaza with a lot of restaurants, bars, and shops. Surrounded by buildings in classic Andalusian style, including the Royal Chancellery and the House of Pisa, it’s a good spot to sit and people-watch or grab a snack of fresh fruit from any of the market vendors.
9. Shop & snack at Mercado San Agustin
One of the municipal markets in Granada, the Mercado San Agustin is a convenient spot to shop for fresh fruit and vegetables. In the central area near Granada Cathedral and Plaza Nueva, the indoor covered market also has some small tapas stalls where you can buy meats, cheeses, olives, and other light foods for a cheap lunch.
10. Take a food tour
Granada is very much a foodie city; the rich fusion and blend of Spanish and Arabic cultures makes for a unique local cuisine. Spain Food Sherpas offers a nearly 4-hour tour through Granada’s best food spots with tapas tastings and a full meal included. A single adult ticket is €65 ($71 USD).
Granada Travel Costs
Hostel prices – There are dozens of hostels in Granada, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding accommodation. Hostels are cheap and plentiful in Granada. Rooms cost between €12-22 ($13–24 USD) for a dorm room or a private ensuite room in a hostel will be between €35-50 ($38-54 USD). Off-season prices are the same if booked online, but you may be able to get a discount when walking up to a hostel.
Campgrounds with all the amenities are available just outside the city, as well. A simple plot to pitch a tent is about €13 ($14 USD).
Budget hotel prices – Some budget hotels start at just €30 ($33 USD) per night for a double room, though most are in the €40-60 ($44-65 USD) range. Even in the budget range there are many nice hotels available (even some with pools!), though there are also a few run-down places you’ll want to avoid. Make sure you read the reviews before you book. In the off-season (winter), prices remain about the same.
There are several Airbnb options in Granada. A shared room in an Airbnb (like a hostel dorm) are €10-22 ($11-24 USD) per night even in peak tourist season, while a private room is between €17–27 per night ($19-29 USD). An entire apartment goes for between €31-42 ($33-45) per night. Winter prices tend to be higher, about €27-42 ($29-45 USD) per night.
Food – You can eat very cheap in Granada, especially with so many tapas bars offering free food with drinks. Cheap tapas and meals are available at small restaurants for around €6-13 ($6.50-14 USD). That will include about 3 or 4 tapas, or a burger is about €8 ($8.70 USD). If you want wine included, expect to spend about €18 ($16.60 USD) per meal. A single glass of wine, beer is usually just €2-3 ($2.15-3.20 USD) in a casual tapas bar. Cheap food like McDonald’s and Maoz cost around €6 ($6.50 USD) for a small combo meal.
Because of Granada’s reputation as a foodie hotspot (thanks to its rich cultural history), there are any number of good quality restaurants, and most are very affordable. A meal in a nice restaurant will set you back around €24 ($26 USD). Set menus at more fine dining establishments are anywhere between €30–€38 ($33-41 USD) and some even include a drink.
If buying groceries, a week’s worth of food will cost you between €30-40 ($32-43 USD). For local foods and fresh produce, check out the local municipal markets and produce vendors in the plaza.
Backpacking Granada Suggested Budgets
If you’re backpacking Granada, expect to spend about €38 ($40 USD) per day. This budget will cover a hostel dorm, public transit, street food, and cooking your own meals, and mostly free attractions. If you’re traveling during the shoulder season, you can reduce this budget by a few dollars each day for accommodations.
A mid-range budget of about €83 ($90 USD) will cover staying in a private Airbnb room, eating out for most of your meals, public transit, and about one paid attraction each day.
On a luxury budget of about €240 ($260 USD) or more per day, you can get an excellent four-star hotel, eat at nice restaurants, have some drinks, and take a few taxis. You’ll also enjoy a tour or a few attractions. The sky is the limit!
If you come in the low season, you’ll save at least 25% on hotels.
You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages – some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in USD.
Granada Travel Guide: Money Saving Tips
Food, drinks, and tours can add up in Granada if you aren’t watching your spending carefully, though there are plenty of ways to take advantage of free things to do. If you want to save money when visiting Granada, here are some of my suggestions on how to do so:
- Eat cheap – Many casual dining restaurants and bars will give you free tapas if you are buying drinks. It’s common to barhop to take full advantage of the free tapas. Order one drink at a place and enjoy some snacks before heading to another.
- Get the Granada Card – If you plan on taking full advantage of the tourist activities and attractions in Granada, the Granada Card offers discounted access. Tickets include up to 17 different monuments, plus provide free trips on the public transportation for 5 consecutive days. The Granada Card costs between €35.50-42 ($38-45 USD) depending upon how much you plan to visit and can bee bought online.
- Buy your own alcohol – While drinks are hardly expensive at bars and restaurants in Granada (and Spain as a whole), you’ll save yourself a lot of money if you buy your own beer and wine. Many hostels have large courtyards, and some even have swimming pools, so it’s sometimes just as cheap and convenient to hang out in your hostel than at a bar.
- Couchsurf – Couchsurfing is a great way to save money on accommodation while also getting some insight from the locals. While hostels aren’t too expensive in the city, this is still the best way to save money.
- Go on a free walking tour – This is one of my favorite ways to get to know a new place, and you can’t beat the price! Walk in Granada is the most popular walking tour. Just don’t forget to tip your guide!
- Enjoy the outdoor public spaces – Granada’s Plaza Nueva is a hotspot of activity day and night, and between the bars, restaurants and shops that line the plaza and the for vendors and street buskers, it’s a great spot to hang out for free. The people-watching is great (there are many street buskers and artists) and the side streets around it offer some great opportunities to wander and explore.
Where to Stay in Granada
Popular with students and backpackers, Granada has a lot of different accommodation options. Many hostels even have small rooftop pools. Here are some of my favorite hostels in Granada:
How to Get Around Granada
Granada is smaller-sized city, so you won’t have too much trouble walking most places during your stay, though there is also a public bus network
Bus – There are multiple bus lines operating in Granada, and a single ticket costs €1.40 ($1.50 USD) no matter which line for a single ride. The credibus travel card (also called a bonobus card) can be bought on some buses or from many of the sidewalk kiosks. The travel card is available for €5, 10, or 20 ($6-22 USD) which cuts the price of a bus ticket by 30% to just €0.82 ($0.90 USD) per trip.
Bicycle – Granada does not have a city bike system like Malaga or Seville do, but bike rentals are possible from a number of different rental shops. Rentals start at about €12 ($13 USD) for the day.
Taxis – Taxis in Granada start at €1.50 ($1.60 USD) here with an additional €0.82–1.04 ($0.90–1.13 USD) per kilometer. A taxi from the airport to the city center is generally about €30 ($33 USD).
Uber – For many years, Uber was not available in Granada, but it’s becoming increasingly popular, especially for airport pickups.You can save $15 off your first Uber ride with this code: jlx6v.
When to Go to Granada
Granada has a higher altitude than other Andalusian cities like Malaga on the coast or Seville, so it doesn’t get quite as hot as them. That means summer is often the best time to visit, when the weather is warm, but not too hot. July and August are the hottest months when temperatures can be as high as 94°F (35°C) during the day, or 60°F (15°C). The summer is also very dry with little rain or opportunities to cool down.
The winter months (December-February) are wet and cold with temperatures between 35°F and 56°F (2°C and 13°C).
Plan a trip for May or June when the city’s many gardens are in full bloom. Semana Santa holy week (usually in April) isn’t as popular in Granada as it is in nearby Seville, but it still draws in large crowds for the colorful procession
How to Stay Safe in Granada
Violent crime is rare in Granada so that won’t be a problem, but, like other Spanish cities, there is a problem with pickpocketing and petty theft, especially in the major tourist areas at night. There are some tourist scams, especially because many of the tourist attractions require tickets well in advance, so make sure you buy your ticket from a reputable provider.
Some people report feeling unsafe in the Albaicin area at night, though as long as you stick to the main streets and avoid wandering dark, unknown roads alone, you should be fine.
Always trust your gut instinct. If your hotel is seedier than you thought, get out of there. Make copies of your personal documents, including your passport and ID. Forward your itinerary along to loved ones so they’ll know where you are.
As a general rule, if you don’t do something at home, don’t do it in Granada!
The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. You can use the widget below to find the policy right for you:
Granada Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources
These are my favorite companies to use when I travel around Granada. They are included here because they consistently find deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the ones I use the most and are always the starting points in my search for travel deals.
- Momondo – This is my favorite booking site. I never book a flight without checking here first.
- Skyscanner – Skyscanner is another great flight search engline which searches a lot of different airlines, including many of the budget carriers that larger sites miss. While I always start with Momondo, I use this site too as a way to compare prices.
- Airbnb – Airbnb is a great accommodation alternative for connecting with homeowners who rent out their homes or apartments.
- Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there, with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
- Couchsurfing – This website allows you to stay on people’s couches or spare rooms for free. It’s a great way to save money while meeting locals who can tell you the ins and outs of their city. The site also lists events you can attend to meet people (even if you’re not staying with someone).
- Booking.com – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have a no money down policy, great interface, and the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
- Eurail – If you are going to Europe and taking a lot of high speed or long distance trains, get a rail pass. I’ve used a rail pass three times and saved hundreds of dollars each time. The math just works.
- Intrepid Travel – If you want to do a group tour around Europe, go with Intrepid Travel. They offer good small group tours that use local operators and leave a small environmental footprint. If you go on a tour with anyone, go with them. And, as a reader of this site, you’ll get a discount when you click the link!
- The Man in Seat 61 – This website is the ultimate guide to train travel anywhere in the world. They have the most comprehensive information on routes, times, prices, and train conditions. If you are planning a long train journey or some epic train trip, consult this site.
- Rome 2 Rio – This website allows you to see how to get from point A to point B the best and cheapest way possible. It will give you all the bus, train, plane, or boat routes that can get you there as well as how much they cost.
- FlixBus – German based Flixbus has routes between 20 European countries with prices starting as low €5 ($6 USD)! Their buses include WiFi, electrical outlets, and up to three 3 free bags.
- BlaBlaCar – BlaBlaCar is a ridesharing website that lets you share rides with vetted local drivers by pitching in for gas. You simply request a seat, they approve, and off you go! It’s a cheaper and more interesting way travel than by bus or train!
- World Nomads – I buy all my travel insurance from World Nomads. They have great customer service, competitive prices, and in-depth coverage. I’ve been using them since I started traveling in 2003. Don’t leave home without it!
- EatWith – This website allows you to eat home cooked meal with locals. Locals post listings for dinner parties and specialty meals that you can sign up for. There is a fee (everyone sets their own price) but this is a great way to do something different, pick a local’s brain, and make a new friend.
Granada Gear and Packing Guide
If you’re heading on the road and need some gear suggestions, here are my tips for the best travel backpack and for what to pack!
The Best Backpack for Travelers
Straps: Thick and cushy with compression technology that pulls the pack’s load up and inwards so it doesn’t feel as heavy.
Features: Removable top lid, large pocket at the front, hydration compatible, contoured hip belt
If you want something different, refer to my article on how to choose the best travel backpack for tips on picking a pack and other backpack suggestions.
What to Pack for Your Trip
- 1 pair of jeans (heavy and not easily dried, but I like them; a good alternative is khaki pants)
- 1 pair of shorts
- 1 bathing suit
- 5 T-shirts
- 1 long-sleeved T-shirt
- 1 pair of flip-flops
- 1 pair of sneakers
- 6 pairs of socks (I always end up losing half)
- 5 pairs of boxer shorts (I’m not a briefs guy!)
- 1 toothbrush
- 1 tube of toothpaste
- 1 razor
- 1 package of dental floss
- 1 small bottle of shampoo
- 1 small bottle of shower gel
- 1 towel
Small Medical Kit (safety is important!!!)
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Antibacterial cream
- Hand sanitizer (germs = sick = bad holiday)
- A key or combination lock (safety first)
- Zip-lock bags (keeps things from leaking or exploding)
- Plastic bags (great for laundry)
- Universal charger/adaptor (this applies to everyone)
- LifeStraw (A water bottle with a purifier)
Female Travel Packing List
I’m not a woman, so I don’t know what a woman wears, but Kristin Addis, our solo female travel guru, wrote this list as an addition to the basics above:
- 1 swimsuit
- 1 sarong
- 1 pair of stretchy jeans (they wash and dry easily)
- 1 pair of leggings (if it’s cold, they can go under your jeans, otherwise with a dress or shirt)
- 2-3 long-sleeve tops
- 2-3 T-shirts
- 3-4 spaghetti tops
- 1 light cardigan
- 1 dry shampoo spray & talc powder (keeps long hair grease-free in between washes)
- 1 hairbrush
- Makeup you use
- Hair bands & hair clips
- Feminine hygiene products (you can opt to buy there too, but I prefer not to count on it, and most people have their preferred products)
For more on packing, check out these posts:
Granada Travel Guide: Suggested Reading
Don Quixote, by Miguel De Cervantes Saavedra
Don Quixote had become so enamored with reading tales of chivalry that he decides to be a knight himself. With his faithful squire, Sancho Panza, they roam the world together in a series of adventures and misadventures – including mistaking windmills for giants. Is Don Quixote a wise fool, or a madman? This book from Cervantes is considered the world’s first true novel, and it has been delighting people for 400 years!
For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway
Back in 1937, Ernest Hemingway went to Spain to cover the civil war for an American newspaper. This book is the result of his experiences there. It’s about Robert Jordan, an American in the International Brigades tied to an antifascist guerrilla movement in the mountains. It’s one part love story, and other parts about significant moments in the war – including El Sordo’s last stand, and the demise of La Pasionaria. This is considered one of Hemingway’s best novels, and the best literature to come out of the war. It’s a must-read.
Winter in Madrid, by C. J. Sansom
This book about life in post-Civil War Spain is an international bestseller, and for good reason. After the war is over, Madrid is completely in ruins – and the Germans are moving in, although General Franco denies Hitler’s request to lead the country into another war. Along comes a spy for the British Secret Service, sent to earn the confidence of an old school friend/shady Madrid businessman named Sandy Forsyth. There’s also an ex-nurse with a mission all her own. This book is a thrilling read, but it also gives us a sense of history unfolding as the story does. It’ll keep you on your toes.
Ghosts of Spain: Travels Through Spain and Its Silent Past, by Giles Tremlett
After the Spanish Civil War ended, Spaniards kept quiet about the whole affair – calling it “the pact of forgetting.” But then a discovery of mass graves filled with victims of Francisco Franco’s death squad came to light, and the pact was broken. In this beautiful book, Tremlett sets out on a journey around Spain and through its history to better understand what kept the Spaniards quiet for so long. It’ll give you some amazing insight into the country.
Driving Over Lemons: An Optimist in Spain, by Chris Stewart
Here’s your comedic relief to all that Civil War literature. Chris Stewart had set his eyes on El Valero for maybe two minutes before handing over a check – and then all he had to do was explain to his wife that they were now the happy owners of a remote sheep farm in Alpujarra Mountains in Southern Spain. Despite being overrun with olive, lemon, and almond groves, the farm is clearly lacking in other areas – like running water, and electricity. There’s not even much of an access road. Then there’s Pedro Romero, the previous owner who just won’t leave. Thankfully, Stewart’s eternal optimism pushes them through, and along the way he’s enchanted by the gorgeous landscape of the mountain range and the people he meets along the way. (Maybe not Pedro, though.)
Granada Travel Guide: Related Articles
Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on Spain travel and continue planning your trip: