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10 Things to Do in Granada at Holy Week

Granada is one of the most interesting cities in the south of Spain and during Easter it becomes an excellent tourist destination for the variety of plans it offers. I invite you to learn about some of them to enjoy your trip.

Keyvis Montilva

Keyvis Montilva

10 min read

10 Things to Do in Granada at Holy Week

Holy Week in Granada | ©Josep Maria Viñolas Esteva

The city of Granada is one of the most visited corners of Andalusia both for its historical importance and for the existence of architectural treasures such as the Alhambra. At the same time, there is the fact that the best things to see and do in Granada change a bit during Holy Week, as religious traditions and the exploration of certain sites become the real protagonists of these dates.

To facilitate the decision making that will help you organize a good trip, I have taken it upon myself to find out what are those activities that you can not miss during Holy Week in Granada. Therefore, I advise you to keep reading so you do not stay without knowing about the places you can not miss on your way through this beautiful city.

1. Participate in the main processions

Holy Week Procession| ©Anna & Michal
Holy Week Procession| ©Anna & Michal

The processions are the most characteristic activity of most Spanish cities during Holy Week. Those of Granada are distinguished from the rest of the country both by the traditions that are part of its route as well as by the costumes worn by the Nazarenes of the different brotherhoods that make up these urban marches.

No matter what day you visit the city of Granada during Holy Week, you are sure to encounter at least two different professions. Although specifically between the night of Holy Thursday and the early morning of Good Friday there are different brotherhoods that group together to start the processions that commemorate the death of Jesus Christ.

Among all the processions , the procession of the brotherhood of El Silencio is distinguished by the fact that the whole city is in darkness while a single drum marks the march of this Catholic step through the different streets of Granada. It happens in the early morning of Good Friday, but there are other alternatives such as that of the brotherhood of Cristo de Los Gitanos that takes place in the early morning of Wednesday.

You have to know that all these processions are part of the plans to do in Granada with children because they are family events suitable for people of all ages. You also have to know that the streets are usually full of people and therefore it would be advisable that you participate in a private historical tour in the center of Granada. Especially if you do not want to miss the main buildings and monuments before participating in these processions.

Book the tour of the center of Granada and the Albaicín

2. Visit the cathedral accompanied by a guide

Granada Cathedral| ©Gotardo González
Granada Cathedral| ©Gotardo González

The Cathedral of Granada is a Renaissance-era building that stands out for its stained glass dome as well as for being a building that captures people's attention, which is no mean feat in a city with such interesting architecture as Granada. Clearly, this site is one of the best things to do during Holy Week because it is the main Catholic church in the city.

Visiting this site will be a bit complicated during Good Friday as well as Easter Sunday, since the large number of processions that usually take place in the city head to this site at some point in their route. Therefore, the best thing you can do to visit the cathedral of Granada with peace of mind is to opt for a guided tour in one of those schedules that are available during less crowded days of Holy Week.

Most likely both the morning of Holy Thursday and Monday and Tuesday will be the best dates to devote the time you want to both the cathedral and its surroundings, as it is located in an area that also has architectural wonders worthy of being known among which highlights the Palacio de La Madraza and the famous Elvira Street.

Visit the Royal Chapel and the Cathedral of Granada

3. Easter is a good time to visit the Alhambra

The Alhambra| ©Pepe Serrano
The Alhambra| ©Pepe Serrano

Another of the unsuspected and very beneficial aspects of Holy Week in Granada is the fact that these days are one of the best times of the year to visit the Alhambra. This is due to the fact that this complex of palaces and gardens that dates back to the time of the Muslim occupation within the Iberian Peninsula is not part of the Catholic attractions of the city.

You have to know that the best way to tour this site is through a guided tour. Especially for the fact that it is a place with a significant historical importance in which each brick has a very specific meaning that you could be missing if you do not have the support of a specialist in this place.

You should also keep in mind that such guided tours to the Alhambra for a family group usually include a tour of the Generalife, which is another Muslim palace dating from the same period and has a wide expanse of gardens that has an importance and beauty just as significant as the Alhambra. As both sites are located next to each other, it is possible that in less than 5 hours you can complete this visit and return to your tour of the city's Catholic attractions.

Book a guided tour of the Alhambra and the Generalife

4. Taste the typical dishes of the Holy Week in Granada

Food fair and Roscos fritos (fried doughnuts)| ©PhotoLanda
Food fair and Roscos fritos (fried doughnuts)| ©PhotoLanda

Holy Week represents a reconfiguration of many people's eating habits because during Lent there is a tradition that the consumption of animal meat such as beef and pork is forbidden. This throughout history has allowed communities to develop specific recipes for this time of the year and, for this reason, the typical dishes of Grenadian gastronomy that you might find during Easter are not the same as the ones you will find during the rest of the year.

The Easter stew with its base of cod, chickpeas and spinach; the fried donuts with white sugar and lemon zest and cod with tomato are just some of the typical recipes of this time of the year that you cannot miss during your visit to Granada.

Anyway, you should keep in mind that the best tapas tours in Granada are a good way to enjoy this culinary exploration of the typical dishes of Granada's Holy Week. This is due to the fact that this type of tours usually focus on typical Andalusian restaurants that will surely have this type of preparations in their menu because it is Lent.

5. Take a tour of the Sacromonte caves on the night of Holy Wednesday

Sacromonte Caves| ©jose luis naussa
Sacromonte Caves| ©jose luis naussa

The Sacromonte neighborhood with its respective caves is one of the most visited places in Granada. It is a mountainous terrain where the gypsy communities have been developing for centuries, since the 15th century to be more precise. The place is characterized by the style of its houses as well as for having a direct link with the cultural origin of flamenco in Granada.

On the other hand, you should know that during Holy Wednesday one of the most interesting processions of the Catholic cultural agenda of Holy Week takes place. The procession of the Christ of the Gypsies arrives to this area in a part of its route with the intention of lighting bonfires that illuminate the night just in the places where the caves that historically have been occupied as homes by these gypsy communities were located.

If for some reason you can't be part of this night procession on Holy Wednesday, you should still know that a guided tour of the Albaicin and Sacromonte neighborhoods is something you shouldn't miss. In fact, if you have the opportunity that the tour is at night then you should take advantage of it, as you will be able to enjoy the true essence of this place. That while enjoying a flamenco show along the tour.

Book a guided tour of the Albaicin and Sacromonte by night

6. Stroll through the cemetery of Granada

Granada Cemetery| ©mertxe iturrioz
Granada Cemetery| ©mertxe iturrioz

Believe it or not, the cemetery of Granada is one of the great attractions of this city. During Holy Week it becomes a site worth visiting both for its low tourist influx and for the direct connection it has with the history of Catholicism in this city. It is also influenced by the fact that there are usually more frequent guided tours that explain the importance behind some of the tombs of this site.

You have to take into account the fact that Granada is a city that throughout its extension has burial sites of extremely important people in Spanish history. Among them are the tombs of Isabel the Catholic and Juana the Mad in the chapel of the Cathedral of Granada.

You should also keep in mind that the cemetery of Granada has played a significant role in other episodes of Spanish history and one of them was during the Franco dictatorship, because the truth is that the data published by the University of Granada indicate that there were about 5000 executions in this area. For this reason the cemetery is an asset of cultural interest to the city and is part of its main tourist attractions, especially in reflective dates of spiritual character as Easter.

7. Going out for drinks is a nighttime entertainment option

Glass of wine| ©Marco A. Gómez
Glass of wine| ©Marco A. Gómez

Granada may be a tourist destination for those who are making Catholic pilgrimages during Holy Week, but at the same time it is a favorite area for those who are looking to escape their cities to enjoy themselves in a southern Spanish location. Exactly for this reason, going out for drinks to experience party nights during Holy Week is something you should not miss if you are interested in this type of plans.

The area of Las Gabias and the area known as Zona de los Reyes Católicos are the favorite places to enjoy the terraces and the favorable climate that defines Holy Week in Andalusia, although you have to know that these are neighborhoods for more adult and moderate plans. On the other hand, Calle Elvira and the Realejo neighborhood are the epicenter of the hippest and most diverse nightlife when it comes to nightlife in Granada.

Likewise, no matter what kind of night you want to experience, you have to know that going out for a few drinks after dinner is a recommended plan in Granada during the whole Holy Week. This even during Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

8. Excursions to the Sierra Nevada are a great success during this season

Sierra Nevada| ©Pepe Serrano
Sierra Nevada| ©Pepe Serrano

Getting out of Granada to enjoy the natural attractions close to the city is a very popular plan among locals, as well as those who have enough time to explore all the attractions of this part of Andalusia. For this reason, an excursion to Sierra Nevada is something you should take advantage of if you like the idea of spending an afternoon hiking while exploring one of the most beautiful mountain ranges of the entire Iberian Peninsula.

Getting to this natural area from the center of Granada is not something complex, since there are different transportation alternatives, as well as different guided tours that will facilitate the logistical planning of the experience. But the truth is that if you have no idea how to get to the Sierra Nevada from Granada and you feel that you could get confused in the process, then it is preferable that you bet on the accompaniment of a specialist guide in the region.

This is something advisable if you take into account that the price of these guided tours is usually quite similar to what you would spend paying for tickets on your own if you do not book well in advance.

9. Do not hesitate to take an excursion to Seville

Seville| ©strafefox
Seville| ©strafefox

Seville is the true protagonist of Holy Week in Spain and this has to do with the number of people who come to this city to witness the magnificent processions, as well as the peculiar aesthetics of these centuries-old Catholic marches. It is easy to travel to Seville, as it is only a couple of hours away.

If your visit to Granada during Holy Week is long enough for you to spend one of these days on an excursion to the outskirts of the city, then you cannot miss Seville. Especially because it is a tourist destination that is part of the best excursions and guided tours from Granada throughout the year and at Easter it becomes essential for the importance of its traditions.

This short trip could also be done on your own, but the problem is that you will have to deal with public transport systems that will be with a very significant influx of people. Mainly because Spanish and foreign tourists will be trying to get to both Granada and Seville to enjoy their events that are part of the cultural framework of Semana Santa.

10. Take the opportunity to see some flamenco if you can

Flamenco Show| ©Uri Bruck
Flamenco Show| ©Uri Bruck

Flamenco is as culturally significant in Granada as it is in Seville and other Andalusian towns. In fact, within this city, there is a totally unique musical and interpretative current of flamenco called La Zambra. It is a version with direct influences from the gypsy world and is characterized by barefoot dancing as well as long skirts accompanied by castanets.

For your convenience there is the fact that Holy Week is a very busy time for tourists in the city. Because of this, some of the best flamenco shows in Granada usually do several performances over several dates to capture as many visitors as possible.

The gypsy neighborhood of Sacromonte is an ideal place to experience a night full of Granada-style flamenco. Although in the historic center of the city there are plenty of nightclubs where this musical genre is the real protagonist.

Enjoy a flamenco show in the heart of Granada