Do you want to visit Granada and you only have a weekend? Don't worry, I will help you to have enough time to visit the must-see places such as the Alhambra, the Albaicin and Sacromonte neighborhoods, the Royal Chapel and the Cathedral, the Plaza Nueva, some flamenco shows, and of course some tapas bars, because not everything is walking in this life!
Surely, after 2 days of sightseeing, you will want to come back and enjoy all there is to see and do in Granada. And the fact is that this Spanish city, above all others, has that special ability to conquer the heart of each of its visitors.
Day 1: Tour of the Alhambra, the Plaza Nueva, the Paseo de los Tristes and the Albaicín quarter
Visiting Granada takes time, as it is an absolutely incredible city, full of history and charming corners. Wear comfortable shoes, because you are in for a long day of walking.
Tour the Alhambra to know all its treasures
Perhaps one of the most imposing attractions in all of Spain, the Alhambra is truly a place of dreams.
Home for centuries to the Nasrid kings, this complex is a testament to the majesty of the Muslim empire in Spain, as it is one of the most beautiful examples of Moorish architecture still standing.
Its fountains, tiles, columns and gardens, as well as the detailed work in every corner of the complex, make it truly unique.
But you are probably wondering how long the visit to the Alhambra lasts. Although it is so vast that it seems like a city in itself, its main places can be visited on your own in about 3 or 4 hours if you hurry a little, of course.
Keep in mind that to see the Alhambra in detail you would need about 6 or 7 hours, that is to say, to have practically most of the day, which will leave you no time to visit other attractions in the city. So take it as just a first glimpse of this amazing place. I assure you: you will want to come back.
In our tour of this Nasrid paradise you cannot miss the Patio de los Leones, the walled city (the Alcazaba), the Generalife gardens and the Nasrid Palaces, because you cannot leave the Alhambra without enjoying all these wonders.
If you want to go directly to the most interesting points and, at the same time, receive information about what you are seeing, it is highly recommended to hire a guided tour of the Alhambra.
Although if you are a little tight, here I tell you how to get free or discounted tickets for the Alhambra. And I also leave you some tips for visiting the Alhambra for you to keep in mind, both in this and in your next visit.
A break in the Plaza Nueva
After touring the Alhambra, a little less than half an hour walk from the entrance, is the Plaza Nueva, an ideal place to rest a moment and drink something cool, while appreciating the imposing buildings around it.
The Plaza Nueva is the main and oldest square in all of Granada, so its name does not seem entirely accurate... if there is anything this square is not, it is new.
It has witnessed many moments in the history of Andalusia. Bullfights and even executions used to take place here.
In front of the square are the Palace of the Royal Chancery and the Church of Santa Ana, both with their mixture of Renaissance and Mudejar styles.
Today it is a relaxed and very central place where you can have a beer and continue your tour of the city, since from there you can start your visit to the Albaicín and Sacromonte, through the beautiful Carrera del Río Darro, an undulating and picturesque stone path that runs along the river of the same name.
The Carrera del Darro would merit an article in itself. This beautiful cobblestone promenade, with its beautiful and historic stone and stonework bridges (14 in total) is definitely one of the places to see and enjoy in the city of Granada.
It is also one of the places that has been less modified over the centuries, it has been preserved almost intact, so walking along it will make you feel part of Andalusian history.
Walk through the most romantic corner of Granada: the Paseo de los Tristes (Walk of the Sad)
Before arriving at the Albaicín neighborhood, and located in the Darro Valley, you will come across the most pleasant street in Granada: El Paseo de los Tristes.
Its original name was not that, but since it was on the way to the cemetery of San José, the people of the city ended up calling it Paseo de los Tristes.
From there you can see some of the vegetation of the Alhambra and some of the beautiful stone bridges over the Darro River.
Undoubtedly one of the most bohemian and romantic walks in Granada, its small streets and bars make it a charming place, impossible to miss on a 2-day visit to this beautiful city.
But before continuing to the Albaicin neighborhood, it will be time for lunch. In this area there are many restaurants to sit down and recharge your batteries. If the weather is nice you can enjoy a sample of the food of Granada in one of the many outdoor terraces.
I especially recommend the restaurant La Ruta del Azafrán, located on the Paseo de los Tristes. With a view of the Alhambra and a menu for all tastes and palates, you won't find a better option.
Visit the Albaicín neighborhood
Now yes, after eating like a king (or queen), the road continues to El Albaicín, the oldest neighborhood in Granada.
Declared a World Heritage Site in 1994 by Unesco, due to its great beauty, the Albaicin is one of the most beautiful examples of medieval Muslim-Spanish architecture, making it a must-see.
Perhaps there is not enough time for an in-depth visit of the neighborhood, but you should definitely stop by the famous Casa de Zafra, the only Muslim house before the Catholic kings. Declared an Asset of Cultural Interest and Historic-Artistic Monument, it houses the Albaicín Interpretation Center.
The Casa de Zafra is located in the lower Albaicín, off the Paseo de los Tristes.
Enjoy the best views of the city at the Mirador San Nicolas and the Mirador de La Vereda de Enmedio
What you have to keep in mind when touring this neighborhood is that, beyond the inescapable points, its charm lies in walking through its medieval streets, finding unexplored corners, its beautiful and traditional Granadian cármenes and viewpoints, such as San Nicolas or La Vereda de Enmedio.
From these viewpoints you will be able to contemplate the sunset over an Alhambra already lit in reddish tones. This is one of the most typical postcards of the city, although I recommend arriving with some time, as they tend to fill up with people.
Nothing better than ending the day in the neighborhood with the most personality of the city. In any of its restaurants you can try the typical Andalusian food, dishes like almond soup, Salmorejo or Patatas a lo Pobre, are already classics.
Although if we have to talk about classic dishes of the region, the fried eggplants with honey can't be compared to anything. Try them and then tell me about them.
Day 2: Royal Chapel and Cathedral of Granada, tapas bars, Sacromonte neighborhood and Flamenco Night
If you found the first day in Granada amazing, wait until you see what I have in store for you on this second and final day. We will stroll through its historic center and taste some of its most deeply rooted traditions: flamenco and tapas.
Visit the historic center, the Cathedral and the Royal Chapel
Start your second and last day in Granada with a visit to the old town. There, in addition to a layout of streets that seem frozen in time, you will find the imposing Cathedral of Granada, and next to it the Royal Chapel.
After the Cathedral of Seville, this is the largest in Spain and the first built in Renaissance style. Next to it is the Royal Chapel, in which rest the remains of the Catholic kings, Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon. In addition, the main altarpiece is a true marvel and an example of Spanish art.
Although it does not have the fame of the Alhambra, I recommend a visit to the Cathedral of Granada. Tickets start at 5€ and include an audio guide through an app.
Both the Cathedral and the Royal Chapel are architecturally imposing, and inside you can enjoy many works of art by Granada-born Alonso Cano, as well as other breathtaking details.
In front of the Royal Chapel you will find La Madraza, a building from 1349 that served as the first center of higher studies in theology, mathematics, medicine and law. Today this building can be visited, since it is used as an exhibition center for the University of Granada.
Visit one of the living monuments of the city's Muslim past: La Alcaicería
During the 14th century this network of streets was one of the most important commercial centers of Granada. In this ancient souk you could buy delicate silks, spices and hundreds of other products.
Nowadays, the Alcaicería has become a must to get to know a little of Granada's Arab past, so you can't miss it.
Although the original Alcaicería was totally destroyed by a major fire that took place in 1843, its reconstruction respected the original architecture, with neo-Arabic and romantic style. Today it preserves the charm and colorfulness of the first one. Definitely a place to see on your 2-day visit to Granada.
It's time to enjoy some good tapas
So much walking makes you hungry, and there is nothing better in those cases than sitting on a terrace to enjoy a good portion of tapas. I recommend Bar La Riviera, with a wide variety of tapas and an unbeatable atmosphere. Or the classic Los Manueles, which serves tapas since 1917! All homemade and of excellent quality.
As always the tapas are free, you only have to pay for the drink. Don't leave without trying the croquettes... they are truly a dream.
With only 2 days you can only have a small idea of how tasty everything is here, and for your next trip I recommend you to hire some of the best tapas tours in Granada, a tour of the most delicious bars and restaurants in the city, especially for those who like to delight with the flavors of Granada.
Visit the Sacromonte neighborhood, the birthplace of flamenco
The Sacromonte neighborhood is, together with the Albaicín, one of the most emblematic places in Granada.
It is said that one of the most traditionally Spanish musical styles was born here: flamenco. Although a flamenco singer or dancer would say that flamenco is not a musical style but a way of life.
Located high up, overlooking the Alhambra and the Albaicin, Sacromonte was originally a gypsy suburb, where the most traditional and picturesque houses are the so-called caves. For centuries the gypsy community took refuge in these humble cave-houses.
This curious mixture of cultures, gypsy, Spanish and Muslim, gave birth to the zambra mora, the most typical flamenco of Granada.
Today, the most famous caves are the Cueva de la Rocío and the Cueva de María la Canastera, both dedicated to flamenco shows. In other times the shows were more spontaneous and improvised, nowadays shows are put on for the tourists who come to Sacromonte in search of the most traditional flamenco.
Don't miss a visit to the Cuevas del Sacromonte Museum, ideal to learn a little more about the history of the neighborhood, the gypsy culture and the birth of flamenco as the suffering voice of an entire people.
Enjoy an authentic flamenco show
After touring the Sacromonte neighborhood, you're sure to be in the mood for some flamenco. On this second and last night in Granada, there is nothing better to say goodbye to the city with pure gypsy dancing and singing.
Being one of its cradles, there are many tablaos or centers where you can listen and see good flamenco in the city.
In the Sacromonte area you have the tablaos I have mentioned (Cueva de la Rocío and Cueva de María la Canastera). In other areas of the city you can find shows of excellent quality, highly recommended, such as the tablaos La Alboreá and Casa Ana, with artists of the best level.
My advice is to choose among some of the best flamenco shows in Granada, and let yourself be conquered by its lively spirit.
In case you didn't know, in 2010, Unesco declared flamenco Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This is a way to ensure the preservation of this expression so typical of the identity of Andalusia and Spain.
We have reached the end of our journey and we are sure you have been left wanting more. If you are still not ready to go back to your hotel, here are some more ideas, these are 10 things to do in Granada at night, because the nightlife of the city beats strongly, you'll see.
How to get around the city of Granada?
Granada is a relatively small city, especially in the downtown area, so it is very easy to walk to any of the points I have mentioned in this article.
From the Alhambra to the Cathedral you have about 20 minutes, and from the Cathedral to the Albaicin neighborhood another 5 minutes. In addition, the city is ideal for touring it this way, since by bus or car you could not enjoy the environment or stop to feel part of the place. Besides, Granada is a real nightmare to park.
The steepest streets with their nooks and crannies and viewpoints are perfect for getting lost and discovering the charm of the city. Of course, if you have any health problems, you can get on the bus 2 in Plaza Nueva and get off in the upper part of the city.
What is the best time to travel to Granada?
Definitely the best time of the year to visit this beautiful city is in the autumn and spring months (March to June and September to December), since the winters are very cold and the summers are quite stifling, with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius.