The Alhambra: crowning the city of Granada, this stunningly decorative fortress-palace complex is one of Spain’s most instantly recognisable sights.

But it’s also the country’s most visited tourist attraction – and as such probably needs little in the way of introduction (and promotion).

So let’s concentrate instead on some of the lesser-known wonders that this fabulous city has to offer. Here then is our pick of the top things to see and do in Granada – that aren’t the Alhambra…

1. The Albayzin

Albayzin neighbourhood Granada

For centuries, Moorish and Christian traditions coexisted harmoniously in Granada, and the Albayzin neighbourhood is a beautiful and atmospheric relic of this enlightened past.

The Alhambra and the Albayzin look across at one another, with each view being just as magnificent as the other. Meander through the narrow cobbled streets, pause in squares to admire the view or stop for a tapas and a cool drink.

Why visit:

Revel in the Moorish and Andalucian style that can be discovered around every narrow corner or small square. Take in the view and drink champagne overlooking the Alhambra Palace – El Huerto de Juan Ranas has a great terrace. (Calle Atarazana Vieja, 6.)

Tapas stops:

Taberna El Beso. Moroccan food in the surroundings of a beautiful little palace. The owner also has a small collection of antiques and objets from Morocco for sale. (Cuesta de San Gregorio, s/n, 18010 Granada.)

Higher in the Albayzin is Casa de los Mascarones. It’s a little rough and ready, but offers great tapas with a very local Albayzin feel. (Calle Pagés, 20, 18010 Granada.)

Bar Kiki and Cafe Gabriel are two other favourites – see our guide to restaurants in Granada if you’re looking for further recommendations.

2. Palacio Dar al-Horra

Keyhole wndow at Palacio Dar al Horra

Deep in the Albayzin, this mini palace often gets overlooked. Once the home of Aixa, mother of Boabdil, the last Moorish king of Granada, it has magnificent views of the Albayzin and only takes a short time to visit.

The best way to visit Palacio Dar al-Horra is to buy a ticket to the Andalucian Monuments: Tickets.alhambra-patronato.es. This includes Palacio Dar al-Horra, Corral del Carbón, Bañuelo and Casa Morisca (Calle Horno de Oro). You can also buy tickets at the entrance of Palacio Dar al-Horra – it closes between 14.30-17-00hrs. (Callejón de las Monjas Albayzin, s/n, 18008 Granada.)

3. Cathedral & Capilla Real

Cathedral of Granada

If you’ve got more than a passing interest in Spanish history a visit to the Capilla Real, where the Catholic Kings Isabel and Ferdinand are buried, is a must.

The first Renaissance church in Spain, the mighty Granada Cathedral also forms part of the sample complex and can be visited alongside the Royal Chapel. (Calle Mariana Pineda, 21, 18009 Granada.)

Tapas stop:

To the rear of the Cathedral is the fresh food market, San Agustín. Here La Picatería is a great bet for a spot of tapas. (Plaza de San Agustín, S/N, 18001 Granada.)

4. Plaza Bib Rambla

Flower filled square in Granada

Granada doesn’t have a plaza mayor (a main square) per se, but Plaza Bib Rambla more than ably fills the role.

As the first square of Granada, Plaza Bib Rambla has survived a long and varied history… from markets, jousting, bull fighting, religious processions and even executions, this square has seen it all. Now there are flower stalls, restaurants and street entertainers. Much more civilised.

Tapas Stop:

La Telefonica, just off the square. (Calle Arco de las Orejas, 1, 18001 Granada.)

5. Go Shopping

A memento or two from your travels is always a must. But what should you buy in Granada?

  • Spices & tea: Not to be missed are the Moroccan-style tea shops and souvenir shops along Caldereria Nueva, close to Calle Elvira. In the lower part of the Albayzin, it’s a great place to buy some tea, spices or North African cakes.
  • Ceramics: Granada (and Andalucia) has a long history of decorative ceramics, dating all the way back to the 15th century. You’ll notice decorative tiles throughout the city. The blue and green pomegranate design (‘granada’ means ‘pomegranate’ in Spanish) on vases and plates are a traditional decoration and make for a lovely gift. Ceramics are still produced in the city today at Fajalauza. (Calle Fajalauza 2, Albayzin Alto.)
  • Leather: 5V Valverde is a speciality shop from yesteryear dealing in handmade leather shoes, boots and bags. Exquisite quality, one of the best cordwainers in southern Spain. (Calle Reyes Católicos, 32, 18009 Granada.)
  • Jewellery: A great option for giftables is Platonica (Platonicajoyeria.com). Locally designed and made jewellery, some influenced by Nasrid culture. (Carrera del Darro, 8, 18010 Granada.)

Tapas stop:

Taberna 22 is a sunny little spot with a great atmosphere at the end of Caldereria Nueva. The tapas is, well… basic. But it’s on one of the main thoroughfares from the centre of Granada to the Albayzin. (Plaza San Gregorio, 29, 18010 Granada.)

After choosing your winter boots at 5V Valverde, stop at Casa de Vinos La Brujidera. (Calle Monjas del Carmen, 2, 18009 Granada.)

Near Platonica, for tapas try La Tabernilla del Darro. (Puente de Espinosa, 15, 18010 Granada.) For a drink (after 20.00hrs) go to Huerto del Loro. (Cuesta de la Churra, 4, 18009 Granada.)

6. water & granada – a tour

Water feature in formal garden in Granada

Water is a constant in the architecture of Granada, from shallow channels that cool houses to elaborate, babbling fountains. A tour is the best way to travel deeper and understand the inventive and intellectual complexity of Moorish water traditions in southern Spain.

On this tour you’ll take in sights such as the Aljibe del Rey (a well) and the Bañuelo (Arabic bath house). Contact our concierge for bespoke tours.

7. Rodriguez Acosta Foundation

Rodriguez Acosta Foundation

While you’re up on the Alhambra hill, if you love architecture this carmen (a house with garden in Granada) is definitely worth a visit.

Owned by artist Rodriquez Acosta and built between 1916 and 1930, the building itself is an eclectic mix of styles, but the gardens and tunnels are absolutely fascinating.

It’s worth bearing in mind that some tickets for the Alhambra include entrance to this lesser-known museum. During summer 2022 the museum has been closed for works; a new open date is to be confirmed. (Callejón Niño del Royo, 8, 18009 Granada.)

8. Corral del Carbón

Back in the city centre, head to the Corral del Carbon. This building dates back to the 14th century, when it was used as an inn for merchants of the silk trade, but over the years it’s had many uses.

There would have been hundreds of these buildings in Spain but, sadly, very few still stand today. For this reason it has great historic significance and is an excellent example of a Moorish construction in superb condition.

Entrance is free and it’s open from Monday to Sunday from 9:00 to 20:00. (Calle Mariana Pineda, 21, 18009 Granada.)

Tapas Stop:

Asador Corrala del Carbon – a characterful bar and restaurant; stop for tapas, not a meal. (Calle Mariana Pineda, 8, 18009 Granada.)

9. Botanical Gardens

The Jardin Botanico de la Universidad de Granada is a small botanical garden in the centre of the city under five minutes’ walk from the Cathedral.

As botanical gardens go it’s perfectly pleasant enough, but it’s in a lovely corner of town and you can stroll through the university building, too. The area has a student feel, with a great selection of vintage clothes shops and fun tapas stops. (Calle Escuelas, n, 18001 Granada.)

Tapas (or cocktail) stop:

Humo El Origen (Calle Escuelas, 2, 18001 Granada) or Lemon Rock, for a buzzy live music vibe (Calle Montalbán, 6, 18002 Granada).

10. The Science Park

A great stop for kids is Granada’s Parque de las Ciencias. It easily keeps little minds busy for a day with indoor/outdoor attractions, interactive play for all ages, and a biodome with animals. Closed Mondays. (Avenida de la Ciencia, s/n, 18006 Granada.)

11. Flamenco

Cut Granada and it bleeds flamenco. And at the heart of that flamenco heritage is Sacromonte, a neighbourhood of cave houses just on the outskirts of the Albayzin.

Sacromonte is famed for the ‘Zambra’ style of flamenco. This raw form of dance is often performed barefoot and is thought to have its origins in Morisco dance.

Where to see flamenco in Granada?

Although Granada has this deep flamenco heritage, catching some of the real deal first hand can be a little harder.

Our three picks to see flamenco are: Jardinesdezoraya.com, Laplateria.org.es and Casadelarteflamenco.com.

12. MAKE FOR A Mirador

Square with Views of the Alhambra Palace

With its skyline spectacularly crowned by the Alhambra Palace, Granada was always going to be a city that’s about the views.

Mirador San Nicolas and Placeta Cristo Azucenas are two large squares in the Albayzin neighbourhood with uninterrupted views of the Alhambra. Hang around as the moon rises from behind the Alhambra and watch as it changes colour from ochra to terracotta.

13. San Juan de Dios Basilica

San Juan de Dios Basilica

This church is one for Baroque fans. With its intricate frescoes, it’s one of the finest examples of the architectural style to be found anywhere in Andalucia. (Calle San Juan de Dios, 19, 17, 18001 Granada.)

14. Sacromonte Abbey

Sacromonte Abbey

This impressive abbey is right at the end of the Sacromonte neighbourhood, an interesting (if slightly tiring) walk from the Paseo de los Tristes.

The cloisters of the abbey are often the venue for live music events, and we’d definitely recommend a visit if you can get your hands on tickets. For events: turismo@abadiasacromonte.org. (Camino del Sacromonte, s/n, 18010 Granada.)

Outside of Granada: Granada Province

15. La Cartuja

Another outstanding example of Spanish Baroque architecture, the Cartuja monastery is just a short drive outside Granada city. (Paseo de Cartuja, s/n, 18011 Granada.)

16. Rio Verde

Canyoning in a river in Granada

About an hour’s drive to the south of the city, Rio Verde is an exceptional canyoning spot. A guide is necessary as wetsuits, ropes and protective equipment are needed.

Recommended guide: Localexperiences.es.

17. Las Alpujarras

Hidden away along incredible winding roads, this collection of 25 white mountain villages was once pretty much cut off from the outside world.

Trevelez, the highest municipality in Spain, is 1476m above sea level and located at the foot of Mulhacen, the highest mountain in mainland Spain. Other Albujarras villages of note are Soportújar, Lanajaron and Pampaneira.

18. Skiing

Skiers skiing in Spain

At the height of a sultry Granada summer it can be hard to believe that the winter might bring snow. But you can ski in the nearby Sierra Nevada mountains from December to April. See our full guide here.

19. Lecrin Valley

While it may be less well-known than the nearby Alpujarras, in our opinion this collection of 17 villages is more beautiful. They may not have any obvious gimmicks or the fame and visitors that come with it, but they also go about their rural business relatively untouched by tourism.

20. Montefrio

National Geographic named this pretty town as having one of the best views in the world – and who are we to argue?

It’s got an atmospherically ruined Moorish castle and an impressive church, while just outside the town is Las Peñas de los Gitanos, which is home to some excellent examples of Megalithic constructions.

21. Alhama de Granada

This strikingly handsome old town is perched precariously on the edge of a gorge. It’s famed for its natural spa baths just outside the town (rather more medical than luxury) and has a great walking route through the gorge if you like to stretch your legs.

22. Vereda de la Estrella

And while we’re talking about walking… there are an awful lot of great hiking routes in and around Granada. One of particular note, La Vereda de la Estrella, is from the village of Güejar Sierra: a 10km linear hike, with a gentle slope, which climbs over the Genil River to the Sierra Nevada.

For more information about where to eat in Granada, see our guide here. For villas in Granada province, see our collection.


Ben Cooper

A head-over-heels hispanophile, Ben is a one-time travel editor at Rough Guides, DK Travel, ELLEuk and Red Online.

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