There is always something to see and do in Granada, the Nasrid capital and birthplace of flamenco, tapas and, of course, the Alhambra. Luckily, you'll be in the city for four days and you'll have time to see not only the must-sees, but also those hidden treasures that are well worth a visit, such as the Paseo de los Tristes.
As I understand that sometimes organizing the itinerary can be overwhelming, I have prepared a proposal for you to squeeze the most out of each day. You will visit the quintessential neighborhoods of Granada, such as Sacromonte and Albaicín, as well as historic buildings (not only the Alhambra, but also the Cathedral, with its Royal Chapel, or the Royal Monastery of San Jerónimo). Do you have everything ready?
Day 1: A stroll through the historic center of Granada
The first day in Granada I recommend you to dedicate it to visit the emblems of the historic center of the city, such as the Cathedral or the Royal Chapel. It is an area where everything is close by, so you can walk around while discovering these historical treasures.
Start the day at the Plaza de Isabel la Católica
The place from which the best tours of Granada start is the Plaza de Isabel Católica. You won't have any trouble finding it, as it is right in the center, between Gran Vía and Reyes Católicos streets. In its center there is a fountain with a sculpture commemorating the agreement that Columbus reached with the monarchs and that would end with the conquest of America.
In addition to appreciating the square, I recommend a quick visit to the church, which belongs to the Convent of the Barefoot Carmelites. Inside you can contemplate a famous sculpture of the Holy Family made by Alonso de Mena.
Take a visit to the immense Cathedral of Granada
Just a two-minute walk from the Plaza Isabel la Católica is the Cathedral of Granada, a must-see. It was built by order of the queen over an old mosque in the city. You will be amazed when you arrive and see its size, as it is one of the largest in Europe.
During your visit to the Cathedral of Granada you must not only admire its facades, but also its interior.
It costs about 5€ to enter and it is worth it to understand why it is considered one of the great jewels of the Spanish Renaissance. Pay special attention to its stained glass windows and its organ, which has been there since the 18th century.
Step inside the great mausoleum of the Royal Chapel
The Royal Chapel of Granada is part of the Cathedral, so you can enter with the same ticket, which costs about 5 €.
However, there is so much to see that it could be considered a completely independent visit. The most remarkable thing is that the Catholic Monarchs and their descendants are buried there.
The tombs of Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon are two great works of art; designed by Domenico Fancelli, they were made of the finest Italian marble. Beyond these tombs, there are many other works of art, especially gold and silver work.
Take a stroll and have a bite to eat in the Alcaicería
After visiting the whole monumental complex of the Cathedral of Granada, including the Chapel, you may be hungry. A good place to eat is the Alcaicería street, just a three minute walk away.
Since the 14th century it has been a large market. Today, in addition to silks, handicrafts and silverware, there are also restaurants and tea shops serving Arabic food.
After lunch, take a walk through the Alcaicería, which is like an open market. Through its stores you can learn about the culture and history of the place, which was the great souk of Granada.
Enter the Madraza, the first university of Granada
Before ending the day, I suggest you visit the Madrasa of Granada, which is next to the Alcaicería and the Cathedral.
This building housed the first university of the city during the Nasrid period. In fact, its name comes from the Arabic "medersa", which means school.
Today you can visit its interior, which with the conquest of Granada at the hands of the Christians became baroque. The entrance costs about 2 €.
Although there are many objects that have been lost or destroyed over the years, you can still see remains of the Arab construction, as is the case of the mihrab (the oratory). It is also recommended that you go upstairs to the Knights' Hall.
Before ending the day, pay a visit to the Corral del Carbón
You may not have heard much about the Corral del Carbón, but I promise you that when you go you will not regret visiting it. This place has had many functions since its construction in the 14th century: coal warehouse, wheat market, merchants' lodging, neighborhood house... Nowadays it can be visited for free.
The Corral del Carbon is a Moorish construction, so it has Arab elements (such as the horseshoe arch at the entrance). What is most striking is the ceiling, whose vaults are beautifully decorated with muqarnas.
Get to know Granada's nightlife
When you leave, I encourage you to enjoy the evening atmosphere of the historic center of Granada, when the buildings you have seen throughout the day are illuminated and around them people dine or have a drink.
Depending on your age you will find different areas to enjoy a last drink. Younger people can go to Pedro Antonio de Alarcón street, center of the bustling university nightlife.
If you prefer something quieter, you should go to one of the bars on Elvira Street or go to the area near the Plaza de Toros.
Day 2: Discover the secrets of the Alhambra
I don't think you can wait much longer to see the famous Alhambra of Granada, so spend the second day discovering the whole enclosure (which is not small) and the surrounding area.
Enter the interior of the Alhambra
My advice is to book a guided tour to see the Alhambra in Granada. It is a huge palace complex with a lot of history; think that it was founded in the thirteenth century by the Nasrid dynasty, but in the late fifteenth century, with the conquest of the Catholic Monarchs, it underwent many modifications.
Another recommendation is to buy tickets to the Alhambra in Granada in advance, as there are always many visitors and usually sell out.
They cost approximately 14 € and also include the visit to the Nasrid Palaces, whose access is somewhat restricted and marked by strict schedules.
Take a stroll through the Generalife Gardens
You cannot leave the Alhambra without visiting the Generalife of Granada, the former summer palace of the Nasrid dynasty.
Access to this place is included with the general admission (approximately 14 €), but it is better to consider the visit as a different one and dedicate a specific time to it.
Beyond its ostentatious interior, what is most striking about the Generalife are its gardens, full of aromatic plants, fountains, ponds, acacias... In addition, from this area you can see the Alhambra and the city of Granada.
Eat in the surroundings of the Alhambra
Before leaving, I recommend eating near the Alhambra. There are several tapas restaurants, as is common in Granada.
Maybe the price is a little more expensive, I will not deceive you, but think that many of these places have unparalleled views of the Nasrid palace and its gardens.
Moreover, there are restaurants near the Alhambra that, in some way, are also part of it or of the history of the Nasrid dynasty and the Catholic Monarchs. For example, the Parador de Granada was a convent built by order of the monarchs, or La Mimbre, which is in the middle of the forest.
Walk down from the Alhambra to Paseo de los Tristes
Don't let the name of this path fool you, it is a very beautiful place and you have to go there. It is located about 15 minutes down from the Alhambra, just across the Aljibillo Bridge.
From the Paseo de los Tristes you will have incredible views of the palace, so stop to take some good pictures.
So why the name? The funeral processions used to pass through this place on their way to the cemetery. Today what stands out is its fountain, from the early seventeenth century, and an old building that belonged to a noble family.
Say goodbye to the Alhambra from the Mirador de San Nicolás
Years ago Bill Clinton went up to the Mirador de San Nicolas and said that from there he had seen the most beautiful sunset, do you want to check it out?
You will get there in 10 minutes from the Paseo de los Tristes, crossing the Albaicín neighborhood. After climbing a few steps, you will be able to see part of the city of Granada from the top and, above all, the Alhambra with Sierra Nevada behind it.
When you get tired of the views, I recommend you take a look at the Church of San Nicolas, which is located in the square. It is a temple of Mudejar and Gothic styles; it is free to enter.
Day 3: A tour of Sacromonte and the Albaicin
During your third day in Granada get ready to visit the Sacromonte and Albaicín neighborhoods, where tradition, culture and history run through every street. They are also incredible places for a good tapas tour, you'll see!
Start the day with a visit to the Great Mosque of Granada
The day starts at the Great Mosque of Granada, which is located in the Albaicin neighborhood, near the Plaza de San Nicolas.
Entry is free and will allow you to see the main building, the gardens and the Center for Islamic Studies, where historical documents and texts on Islam are collected.
Keep in mind that it is a religious building and, although they follow an open door policy, respect is important.
When you are inside, make sure you take a few minutes to contemplate the wooden panels, on which episodes from the Koran were carved.
Stroll through the streets of the Albaicín
When you leave the Great Mosque it is time to stroll through the neighborhood in which it is located, the Albaicin.
This district has always been considered almost like a different city but within Granada. You will be surprised by its slopes and narrow streets, but also by the small houses between large palaces.
What will also catch your attention is that there are many churches, but beware, these were formerly mosques. Although the Muslims who had always lived in the Albaicín were eventually expelled, their cultural and artistic heritage can still be appreciated today.
Take a delicious tapas tour of the Albaicín
In addition to strolling through its streets, in the Albaicín you can take one of the best tapas tours in Granada. You've been in the city for a few days, so you will have already realized that with every drink you pay for in a bar (which costs about 2€) they serve you a tapa, and with three or four like that, you end up eating.
Well, the Albaicín is the right neighborhood to make a route and taste the best gastronomy of Granada. In addition, this culinary tour has a guide who explains the cultural aspect of it all.
Discover the tradition of Sacromonte
Just a 15 minute walk from the Albaicín will take you to another of Granada's most traditional neighborhoods: the Sacromonte.
Here the mountains, rivers and religions have mixed over the years. Strolling through its streets is synonymous with finding a mosque, but also a synagogue and many caves.
Perhaps the caves are familiar to you, because they are the great emblems of Sacromonte. They have been inhabited by gypsy families, although nowadays they are open to visitors. If you want to go into them, I recommend you to go to the Caves Museum ( approximately 5€/entry).
Feel the emotion of flamenco with a show in the Sacromonte
The Sacromonte neighborhood is also well known for being the birthplace of flamenco. In fact, in many of the caves there are flamenco shows in the evenings.
Flamenco is much more than dance, so it is almost obligatory that you do not leave Granada without seeing it live.
If you want to go to a flamenco show in Granada, I highly recommend you to do it in Sacromonte. The coexistence of cultures has also made itself felt in this art form; Muslim elements have been added to the original gypsy zambra, which makes the result even more exciting.
Day 4: Say goodbye to Granada by getting to know some of its hidden treasures
The fourth and last day in Granada I recommend you to dedicate it to those places that may not be so well known but are equally interesting. In addition, to finish the trip, I have a very relaxing plan for you.
Visit the Royal Monastery of San Jeronimo
The Royal Monastery of San Jeronimo is located near the Cathedral of Granada, between the neighborhoods of Realejo and San Ildefonso.
It was the first Christian temple built in the city after the conquest. You can visit it inside for about 4€, something I recommend to observe its decoration and baroque architecture.
Inside you will go directly to the Main Chapel, where there is a large Mannerist altarpiece that, thanks to a recent restoration, looks impeccable. However, there are other elements that are no longer there due to the looting by the French.
Feel like you are entering the city again through the Elvira Gate
Part of the Monastery of San Jeronimo was built with the Arab stone of the Puerta de Elvira, which is just a 10 minute walk away, in the Plaza del Triunfo in Granada. This gate was built in the 11th century by the Zirid sultans. Cross through it just as the citizens did years ago to enter this area of the city.
The door is as the standards of Arab architecture. It has a horseshoe shape and at the top there are battlements. The pity is that very possibly there was a second door, although it has not arrived at the present time.
Taste the Arab tapas of Elvira Street
With your back to the Puerta de Elvira, turn right to enter the Calle Elvira and eat. This time the tapas you will taste will be a little different, since in this area there are restaurants and bars that serve Arabic food, such as shawarmas or typical sweets.
In addition to eating, in Calle Elvira you can appreciate, once again, how the Arab and Christian cultures mixed centuries ago. It is also a good place to buy souvenirs before leaving.
Discover the most beautiful promenade of Granada on the Carrera del Darro
Continuing along Calle Elvira you will end up at Carrera del Darro, your next destination.
It is a good place to go after lunch, as it runs along the left bank of the river and there is a relaxed atmosphere. Brick and stone bridges and, in the distance, the Alhambra will appear, so you can say hello one last time.
The Carrera del Darro is one of the most beautiful walks in the city, perhaps because it has been maintained in very good condition, including the bridges, for centuries. On your tour you will also find historic buildings and several Arab baths, where I suggest you make a stop.
Finish the day and the trip by relaxing in a hammam
After four days walking around Granada, it is possible that now what you need is to rest and relax for a while. There is no better place to do it than in an Arab bath.
In the Carrera del Darro and its surroundings there are several to choose from. The experience usually consists of a body treatment and a relaxing session for approximately 65€.
The best hammams in Granada are those that have kept the Arab traditions; using aromatic oils and taking care of the decoration and the rooms, they create a unique experience between steam baths and massages. You will leave like new and you will put the finishing touch to your trip to the Nasrid city!
Getting around Granada
If you follow the itinerary I have proposed for your four-day trip to Granada, you will not need to take the car or public transportation, as all distances are within walking distance.
However, if your hotel is a bit far away you may need to take the bus to get to some of the neighborhoods and, above all, to the Alhambra, which is on the outskirts.
Luckily, there is a good city bus service in Granada whose frequency and routes you can check on their website. Lines such as the C30 connect the city center with the Alhambra and the C31, C32 or C34 pass through the Albaicín and Sacromonte neighborhoods which, depending on where you are staying, may be a bit far away.
A summary of your 4-day tour in Granada
So that you can have a more schematic view of your four-day itinerary in Granada, I leave you this table where you have the essential information. Enjoy your trip!
- Day 1
- Visit the Plaza de Isabel la Católica
- Visit the Cathedral of Granada
- Enter the Royal Chapel
- Have a bite to eat at the Alcaicería
- Visit the Madraza
- End the day in the Corral del Carbon
- Day 2
- Visit the Alhambra
- Stroll through the Generalife and its gardens
- Have lunch in the surroundings of the Alhambra
- Arrive at the Paseo de los Tristes
- Contemplate Granada from the San Nicolas viewpoint
- Day 3
- Visit the Great Mosque of Granada
- Stroll through the Albaicín
- Take a tapas tour of the Albaicin
- Discover Sacromonte
- Attend a flamenco show
- Day 4
- Visit the Royal Monastery of San Ildefonso
- Cross the Elvira Gate
- Have a bite to eat in Elvira Street
- Stroll along the Carrera de Darro
- Relax in a hammam
I'm looking forward to hearing from you about how the trip went and what were your favorite moments of this four-day trip in Granada.