Spain Guide


Granada Tourist Attractions Things to Do

The prime daytime tourist attraction of Granada is the awe inspiring Alhambra Palace which should be top of your list of places to visit. But the city has many more historic sites and places of interest including its delightful old Arab Jewish Quarter, the cave dwellings of El Sacromonte and some fascinating museums and art galleries.

If you're travelling at the height of the summer, it's a good idea to book your ticket for the Alhambra in advance as visitor numbers are restricted and this is one of the most popular day trips for tourists holidaying on the Costa del Sol. Even though you may find yourself sharing its delights with up to 8,000 other visitors during the day, the Alhambra will still make you feel as though you've taken a magic carpet ride into the Tales of the Arabian Nights.

The staggering beautiful Moorish architecture and intricate decoration of the interior walls will take your breath away. This was the citadel and royal residence of the Arab sultans in the dying days of the Moors' golden era in Spain. It took centuries to build the fortress, royal palaces and town which together comprised the Alhambra. It was one of the great wonders of the world in its it still is in the 21st century.

You'll need at least one full day to take it all in the palaces, the Alcazaba fortress, the beautiful courtyards and the Generalife where the sultans and their wives used to retreat from the turmoil of the main royal residences. You can even see the former royal bath house with the chamber where the sultan would recline on silken cushions while his wives danced naked to the music of blind musicians. Legend has it that he would thrown an apple to the wife he desired for the night.


Be sure to pay a visit to the ancient Arab Jewish quarter, the Albaicin, which sits astride the hill top opposite the Alhambra. After being used as a fortress by the Iberians and Romans, this is where the present day city of Granada was founded in the 11th century by the Moorish Zirid Dynasty. It's a delightful labyrinth of narrow, cobbled streets, plazas, alleyways and ancient mosques converted into Christian churches. The scent of jasmine and roses wafts from the interior walled gardens (known as "carmenes") of the whitewashed houses. The Plaza de San Nicolas is the highest point of the Albaicin and is the place to go for the most magnificent views of the Alhambra. The whole area has been declared a world heritage site by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation).

The caves of the Sacromonte hill, on the northern edge of the city, were home to the gypsies until they were moved into low cost housing on the outskirts of Granada. These days they attract busloads of tourists who come to see the famous flamenco shows performed here.

The 16th century Gothic cathedral contains the Royal Chapel (the Capilla Real) with the mausoleum of King Ferdinand and his Queen Isabella who ousted the Moors from Spain at the end of the 15th century. The cathedral museum has some priceless works of art and historic exhibits including the crown and scepter of Queen Isabella.

The city has a wealth of other museums including the former home of celebrated writer and artist Frederico Garcia Lorca who was born in Granada and murdered by Franco's forces at the start of the Spanish Civil War in 1936.