Set in the historic Andalucia region, with the impressive Sierra Nevada as a backdrop, Granada is a city with lots of character. Located in southern Spain and surrounded by beautiful countryside, the sun is always shining on this historic city, so you have the time to wander around and discover the sights on your Granada holiday in 2017.
With a melting pot of cultures and rich history that’s reflected in its Moorish architecture, holidays in Granada will open a window into the past. From the Moors to the Jews and Christians, this small city is extremely cosmopolitan. Starting with the unmissable Alhambra Palace, whilst taking in the city’s ornate gardens, you’ll be charmed by its individuality.
The coast is only an hour away and the neighbouring cities of Malaga, Córdoba and Seville are on your doorstep. Up in the mountains above Granada are Los Pueblos Blancos, the white towns of Andalusia. The quaint white houses with flat roofs are authentically Spanish, and are a great starting point for hikes between the villages of Pampaneira and Bubion.
At a glance
- Currency: Euro
- Language: Spanish
- Time Zone: GMT +1
- Average flight time: 3h 15m
When to go
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Granada is best explored on foot. Down the cobbled streets and through the tranquil plazas you will find an abundance of must-see sights.
The most iconic building in Granada is the 1,000-year-old Alhambra Palace. As one of the best examples of Islamic architecture in Europe, the UNESCO-awarded Alhambra is a splendid palace that sits high above the city. As the legacy of Muslim rulers, the palace is the most popular attraction in Granada and consists of two other palaces, Generalife and Albayzín that have spectacular courtyards and gardens.
Bath houses were central to life in Granada and some of their remains are still evident in the city. El Bañuelo has been designated a National Monument and stands gracefully with its smooth stone archways, charming tiles and elegantly carved sky-lights. The ancient Arabic bath complex, which dates back to the 11th century, can be found in the Carrera del Darro but sadly you can’t bathe there these days.
Wine and Dine
Granada’s gastronomy reflects the tradition of Arabo-Andalusian cuisine, with the use of Arab spices mixed with the local Spanish produce from the mountains and the coast. Seafood and fish features on many menus, as the sea isn’t that far away from the city.
From hidden tea shops, kebab shops on every corner, to lively tapas bars, you’ll have a brilliant choice of places to eat and drink on your Granada holiday. In the Pedro Antonio de Alarcon, you’ll find wall-to-wall tapas bars that also serve delicious sangria. It’s good to know that when you order a drink in one of the city’s bars, tapas is also included, so you will get to taste your way around Granada whilst enjoying a glass of wine or beer.
For a typical Granada meal, try the local delicacy, habas con jamón made with ham cured in the nearby mountains. At the Mirador de Morayma restaurant housed within the Albaicín, you can enjoy a mix of local and Moorish cuisine alongside views of the Alhambra.
Granada is a child-friendly city. Its pedestrianised streets and welcoming cafés and restaurants all cater for families, so you don’t need to worry about appropriate places to go on your Granada holiday. As you’ll be on Spanish time, expect long lie-ins, lazy breakfasts and lots of siestas for the children. Embrace the local pace as Spanish children tend to stay up late with their parents.
To cool off from the heat, a day trip to the coast is a must. With watersports galore and long stretches of beach, there’s something for everyone. Plus, there are a few water parks in the area for an energetic day out.
Granada’s Science Park is a great place to take the whole family, as it offers interactive fun and education for all ages. With indoor and outdoor exhibitions, like the Observation Tower, Tropical Butterfly Garden and The Planetarium, you’ll all enjoy hours of fun.
Action and Adventure
If you love nature, holidays to Granada will spoil you with numerous outdoor wonders. From hikes up rugged trails in the Sierra Nevada during the summer, or skiing down the mountains in winter, there are routes to suit every level. You may want to see Granada’s surrounding terrain in a 4x4, travelling through picturesque villages and the forests of Andalusia.
Alternatively, you could hire a mountain bike and descend the high peaks of Sierra Nevada Biosphere Reserve down to the spectacular valleys surrounding Granada to Guejar Sierra. For the more adventurous holidaymaker, you can paraglide from 1,300 metres into the valley of Cenes de la Vega.
If you’re a water baby, then head to the coast to experience the best of the watersports. In the warm Mediterranean Sea you can join a paddle surf and kayak tours, or learn to sail a catamaran on a two-hour course. What better way to enjoy the sea?
Life's a Beach
Although you won’t be right next to a beach on your Granada holiday, the nearest beaches are only an hour south of the city. Known as the Costa Tropical, the coast of Granada features pebbled or white sand with calm crystal-clear waters that stretch out to the Alboran Sea.
Popular with holidaymakers, Peñón de Salobreña has a long, coarse-sanded shore with stunning blue waters that touch a small island off the beach. Perfect for swimming, this beach has a good range of facilities so you and the family can relax and have all-day fun in the sun.
The cove of La Rijana beach in Castell de Ferro is a great base to discover some of the best snorkelling and scuba diving spots due to the crystal-clear waters. The untouched pebble beach is very peaceful and protected by rocks, and also loved by the locals.
Award-winning La Herradura beach in Almuñecar offers astonishing views of the Sierra de la Almijara. The beach has dark sand and is the ideal spot to spend your holidays in Granada.
As you’d expect, Granada’s nightlife is lively and varied. Since the city has a huge student population, it’s very busy come nightfall. As with the rest of Spain, Granada’s nightlife doesn’t really start until midnight and finishes when the sun comes up, so it’s always good to pace yourself.
The youngsters tend to flock to Calle Pedro Antonio which is lined with bars and clubs, however the best of Granada’s bar scene can be found in the districts of El Centro, El Albaicín and El Realejo.
On one of the city’s busiest streets, Calle Elvira is the club Granada 10, a former movie theatre. Filled with character, you can dance the night away to pop and dance music. For an authentic Granada evening, watch a flamenco performance at Jardines de Zoraya in the Albaycín neighbourhood and absorb the passionate sounds of the Spanish guitar and flamenco singer. Or you could head to Bodegas Espadafor, the traditional Granadine bar that serves delicious local wine and features murals and wine barrels that add to the atmosphere.
Walking around the delightful Granada is a romantic experience in itself. The meandering, cobbled streets lined with old white-washed houses and orange trees, coupled with the concealed squares overlooking the Alhambra, along with the backdrop of street music make it one of Andalucia’s dreamiest destinations. Stunning gardens, impressive mountain views and restaurants with private terraces are also on offer for holidaying couples.
Situated next to the famous Alhambra are the Carmen de los Martires Gardens, one of the most romantic public spaces in Granada. This serene garden is a haven for lush plants, trees and little ponds. As it’s never very busy, you can wander around this open space in privacy. At the centre of this oasis is a small fairytale-like turret that offers a very romantic viewpoint of Granada, up its spiral staircase.
For any couple taking a holiday in Granada, you will not want to miss the Museo Cuevas del Sacromonte. The flecked blue and white caves are gypsy dwellings, as well as being the city’s best flamenco spot, and offer outstanding views of the Alhambra.
Immersed in culture and ancient history, there’s so much to discover in Granada. If you are looking for quintessential Spain, then you’ve found it. From a Moorish citadel, hillside pueblo blancos, ancient monuments and bath houses, Granada will give you a taste of its exciting past.
Not only is the city home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Alhambra Palace, but it’s also the centre of literature, too. Ladrón de Agua, now a plush hotel, has a historic library with rooms named after local poets, which you’re free to roam around.
To truly experience life in Granada, you need to visit during June and July when the International Music and Dance Festival hits the streets. Theatre companies, and flamenco dancers and singers fill the streets to celebrate Spanish arts. This colourful festival is the perfect place to absorb the culture and simply dance in the streets.