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Granada in One Day: What to See & Do

Planning a Granada day trip? Get everything you need to know for a perfect one day in Granada, including practical info on how to see the best of the city!

By Liza S. | Updated 30 Jan 2024 | Granada | Cities | Login to add to YOUR Favourites Favourites Icon or Read Later

This article has been visited 33 times Granada Cathedral Granada Cathedral

Granada Cathedral

Welcome to our guide on experiencing the best of Granada in just one day! Nestled at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains in Spain, Granada is a city where rich history and modern vibrancy meet. This article is your key to unlocking the wonders of this Andalucian gem in a time-efficient and enjoyable manner, if you only have one day to see the best of Granada.

We'll guide you through Granada's must-see attractions, from the majestic Alhambra to the charming streets of Albaicín, and offer practical tips to make your one-day visit as smooth and memorable as possible.

Whether you're a first-time visitor or a returning admirer, our guide is designed to ensure you don't miss out on what Granada has to offer. Get ready to explore the best of this city's culture, history, and culinary delights in just one day!



Is One Day in Granada Enough?

So, you're thinking about a day trip to Granada? Great choice! But you may be wondering if it’s worth it visiting Granada in one day…

First up, the good stuff.

Planning a Granada day trip? You've got to be laser-focused. This means prioritizing the main highlights – the stunning Alhambra, the quaint streets of Albaicín, and those can't-miss local markets. If you're hopping around Andalucia and time is of the essence, a day in Granada is like a quick dip in a pool – refreshing and memorable, even if it's brief.

Now, for the other side of the coin. Granada isn't just any old city; it's a melting pot of Moorish and Spanish vibes, and honestly, it deserves more than a whistle-stop tour. There's so much beneath the surface that you risk missing if you're just breezing through.

Ever heard of Granada's flamenco shows at night or its legendary tapas tours? These are the experiences that linger in your memory, and you might have to skip them on a day trip. Also, let's be real – nobody likes to feel rushed, especially in a place as laid-back as Granada.

Some spots, like the Alhambra, deserve a good chunk of your time to really take it all in.

So, what's our verdict?

One day in Granada is absolutely doable and definitely enjoyable -- even if just to visit the Alhambra, which is, in my opinion, one of the best attractions in all of Spain. But if you can swing it, staying a bit longer lets you soak up all those Granada vibes – the history, the food, the people.

Whether it's a quick visit or an extended stay, one thing's for sure – Granada's going to charm your socks off and leave you planning your next visit before you've even left!



Getting to Granada

Alhambra in Granada Alhambra in Granada

Alhambra in Granada

The best way to visit Granada on a day trip is when you’re already based in Andalucia. The city is well-connected to others in the region through the rail system and buses, making it easy to spend the day in Granada.

If you’re further afield in Spain, such as Madrid to Barcelona, then I suggest spending at least one night in Granada.

By Plane

If you're coming from outside Spain or from a far-off Spanish city, flying might be your best bet.

Granada has its own airport, Federico García Lorca Granada-Jaén Airport, just about 24 km (15 miles) west of the city. It's a small but handy airport, connecting to several major cities in Spain and a few European destinations. Flights from major Spanish cities like Madrid or Barcelona take about 1 to 1.5 hours.

Once you land, you can hop on a bus or grab a taxi, and you'll be in the heart of Granada in no more than half an hour. The airport bus takes around 45 minutes to the city centre and costs about €3. Taxis are faster but pricier, typically around €25-30.

If you’re flying to Granada, it’s best to stay the night in the city to give yourself more time to enjoy the city.

By Train

The best way to get to Granada from other Andalucian cities is by train. The city is well-connected, with frequent connections from places such as Seville and Malaga. There are also direct trains from Madrid (3-4 hours) and Barcelona (6-7 hours).

I’ve taken the train to Granada and found it very comfortable. That said, the journey to/from Barcelona is quite long and it’s not practical for a day trip.

Train prices can vary widely and it’s best to buy your tickets in advance to secure the best price. You can check schedules and prices on Renfe.es and tickets are typically available up to 90 days in advance.

If you’re arriving in Granada by train, it’s a pleasant 20-25 minute walk to the historic centre. There are also city buses that will drop you off at Gran Via (Buses 25 and 33), close to the Cathedral and the heart of the historic centre. The bus ride takes about 10-15 minutes.

By taxi, it’s just 10 minutes to the centre and it costs around €8-10.

By Bus

Buses are another great option, especially if you're coming from a nearby city. Buses might take longer but offer a wider range of departure times and can be a more budget-friendly option.

Companies like ALSA run frequent services.

The Granada bus station is a bit further out. You can take Bus 33 to Gran Via, from which you can transfer to the C32 bus to get to the Alhambra. The journey to the centre takes about 20-25 minutes. If you take a taxi, it’ll cost about €12-15.

If you’re getting to Granada via public transportation, I suggest using a platform like Omio where you can compare travel times, schedules, and costs to find the best way to get there.

Simply input your travel dates below to get started.




By Car

For the ultimate flexibility, renting a car is a great way to get around Andalucia.

The roads in Spain are excellent, and the drive is picturesque, especially as you approach the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Just remember, parking in Granada can be a bit of a hassle, especially near the city centre. Free parking is almost impossible to find so I recommend finding paid parking to save time. Look for parking spots just outside the centre or consider using a park-and-ride service.

Travel Tip: Renting a car gives you the ultimate freedom to explore Andalucia at your own pace. Click here to compare car rental prices. (You’ll be surprised at how affordable it is in Spain!)

Getting Around Granada

Navigating Granada during your day trip is easier than you might think!

On a day trip to Granada, you’ll mostly be focused in the historic centre of the city. Most of Granada’s key attractions, like the Alhambra, the Cathedral, and the Albaicín district, are within walking distance of each other. Strolling through the narrow, cobblestone streets is a delight, offering a lovely experience of the city's vibrant culture and history.

This area is very walkable but be warned that some areas are steep and the cobblestoned roads can be uneven. It’s best to wear comfortable footwear and be ready to clock in those steps!

You can walk to the Alhambra entrance but you may also want to consider taking public transportation if you’re short on time or you don’t fancy the thought of walking uphill. Taking a taxi to the Alhambra is the most convenient option and it can be worth the cost if you’re travelling in a group.

Alternatively, there’s the C32 bus that goes directly to the Alhambra. They are specially designed for the steep ascent to the hill where the Alhambra is located. The C32 bus run every 10-15 minutes and can be caught from various points in the city centre, including Plaza Nueva and Gran Via. A single ticket costs about €1.40.

Walking through Granada lets you absorb the city’s atmosphere, but the well-connected public transport is there to give your feet a rest when needed.

Granada in One Day: Suggested Itinerary

All right, let’s dive into the perfect Granada day trip itinerary. Below, I’ll list my top 3 Granada attractions that should be on every visitors’ list.

I recommend seeing the Alhambra first but if you’re unable to get morning tickets, then feel free to switch the order in this itinerary as needed.



The Alhambra

The number one reason to make a day trip to Granada is, of course, to visit the Alhambra so undoubtedly, it is the top thing to do in our one-day Granada itinerary.

Imagine a fortress turned royal abode, standing majestically since the 9th century. The Alhambra is a testament to the Moorish rulers who once walked its corridors. But it's not just about Islamic art and architecture. After 1492, when the Catholic Monarchs took over, a fusion of Renaissance styles blended with its original design, creating a unique blend of East and West.

You get to admire the intricate craftsmanship of Islamic tiles, the tranquil ambience of its courtyards, and those iconic, gracefully arching doorways. The panoramic views from here, overlooking Granada and the Sierra Nevada, are simply stunning and offer a perspective that ties the city's history and natural beauty together.

It's a bit of history, a bit of art, and a whole lot of "wow". It’s actually my favourite historic monument in Spain.

I cannot stress this enough: buy your Alhambra tickets in advance! This UNESCO World Heritage Site is immensely popular and you don’t want to get to Granada, only to find that there are no tickets available.

And yes, tickets do sell out - often in advance. So the moment you’ve nailed down the date for your Granada day trip, I highly recommend buying your Alhambra tickets immediately to avoid disappointment.

The second popular question we get is whether to see the Alhambra independently or to book a tour.

It really depends on personal preferences. Some travellers prefer the freedom of exploring a monument on their own and taking their time. Others prefer learning about the history of a place with a local guide and getting more context about the place they’re visiting.

I’ve done It both ways and while I loved spending more time in each room and area and getting to explore on my own, I have to say that a guided Alhambra tour is a fantastic way to really dig into the history of the palace complex.

So, if your schedule permits, do consider taking an Alhambra tour! Another plus of a guided tour is that it usually takes about 3 hours, leaving you more time to discover the rest of Granada.

If you see the Alhambra independently, be sure to allocate about 3 to 4 hours to see the entire palace complex, including the Generalife. Of course, you can spend an entire day there (I’ve spent 6 hours!) but on a Granada day trip, you’ll want to see more than just the Alhambra.

For an in-depth guide to visiting the Alhambra (including our suggested route if you visit on your own), click here.

Important Tip:: Be sure to bring your passport/ID with you as you will need it to enter the Alhambra!

Albaicin Neighbourhood

Albaicin Albaicin

Albaicin

On a one-day visit to Granada, you can’t miss the city’s oldest neighbourhood, Albaicin.

After your Alhambra visit, I suggest exiting through the Mimbre, next to Fuentepeña, and walking down Cuesta del Rey Chico which will lead you to the Darro river and the historic streets of the Albaicin.

Prefer to rest your feet? Take the C32 bus that will take you to Albaicín. Plus point: the bus stops at Mirador de San Nicolas, one of the highlights of the neighbourhood!

By now, you’re probably famished from exploring the Alhambra so it’s time to sit down and enjoy some local food. Here are 3 suggested restaurants:

  • El Trillo Restaurante: Nestled in the heart of Albaicín, El Trillo is known for its enchanting garden setting and a menu that artfully combines traditional Andalusian dishes with modern culinary flair.
  • Carmen Mirador de Aixa: Offering stunning views of the Alhambra, this restaurant serves up a fusion of classic Granadan cuisine and contemporary touches, making for a memorable dining experience.
  • La Porrona: A vibrant and authentically local spot, La Porrona is famous for its generous tapas portions and lively atmosphere, perfect for experiencing Granada's tapas culture at its best.

Post-lunch, wander through Albaicín's narrow, winding streets. Each corner here tells a story, reflecting the area's Islamic past with its preserved Moorish layout. You’ll never know what you’ll find: a lovely viewpoint, an old church, quaint little shops, cute cafes and teahouses.

Here are some highlights of Albaicin:

  • Carrera del Darro: One of Granada's most charming streets, Carrera del Darro is lined with historic buildings, quaint cafes, and offers a romantic stroll along the river.
  • Mirador de San Nicolas: Head here for arguably the best views of the Alhambra. This viewpoint is popular and almost always crowded… but with that view, it’s no surprise. Be sure to pop into the church behind the plaza or the mosque on the corner; both are beautiful.
  • Plaza Larga: A lively square that encapsulates the essence of Albaicín, Plaza Larga is bustling with local markets, vibrant cafes, and a true sense of Granada's daily life.

I’m also fond of Calle Calderería Nueva which is a narrow alley filled with souvenir shops and teahouses.

If you want some inspiration for your exploration of the Albaicin, check out our self-guided walking tour of Granada which includes Albaicin.

Granada Cathedral and Alcaicería Market

If you have the time, head on over to the third place on our Granada one-day itinerary: the Granada Cathedral. From Calle Calderería Nueva, continue on until you arrive at Gran Via and cross the street - you won’t miss the big dome of the city’s cathedral.

Granada Cathedral is a masterpiece of Spanish Renaissance architecture and its imposing façade and beautifully detailed interior are not to be missed. Just beside the cathedral is the Royal Chapel, where the Catholic Monarchs, Isabel and Fernando, are laid to rest. This historic site offers a glimpse into Spain's regal past and the significant role Granada played in it.

There’s a small entry fee to enter the Cathedral and a separate fee for the Royal Chapel. The Royal Chapel is especially popular with Spanish tourists so you may find that there’s a long line to enter. If so, simply enter via the Cathedral where you can get a combined ticket.

Once you’re done admiring the cathedral, go around the corner to the Alcaicería Market.

Once the grand bazaar of Moorish Granada, today’s Alcaicería is a vibrant market known for its colourful array of souvenirs, spices, and traditional crafts. It’s the perfect place to pick up a unique memento from your trip.

You may also want to explore the side streets off the main thoroughfares, where you'll find smaller markets and artisan shops offering authentic local products, from ceramics to hand-woven textiles.

Still feeling energetic? Just a short walk away lies Plaza Bib-Rambla, a lively square with cafes and restaurants. It’s the ideal spot to rest your feet and do some people-watching.

Insider Tip: Craving a sweet treat after all that walking? Just a few minutes walk from the Cathedral, you’ll find a small family-owned shop that specialises in Basque cheesecakes. It’s called La tarta de la madre de Cris and it’s just divine!

If You Have the Evening in Granada…

Sacromonte Sacromonte

Sacromonte

If you have to leave Granada by late afternoon, it’s likely that the three places above will be more than enough to fill up your day.

But if you still have the evening in Granada to savour, then you’re in luck! As the day winds down, it’s the perfect time to experience the city's stunning sunsets and vibrant culinary scene.

If you’re in Granada when the sun sets, I highly recommend saving your visit to Mirador de San Nicolás for this magical time of day. You’ll get an unforgettable panorama of the Alhambra with the Sierra Nevada mountains in the backdrop, bathed in the golden hues of the setting sun.

Granada is famous for its tapas, and exploring the city’s tapas bars in the evening is a must-do. Each bar has its own specialty, and in many places, a drink comes with a free tapa, allowing you to sample a variety of local dishes.

Start at Bodegas Castañeda, known for its traditional atmosphere and delicious montaditos. Then, head to Los Diamantes for their famous fried seafood tapas. Finish at Bar Poë, where the international-inspired tapas are a local favourite.

If you're in the mood for a more upscale dining experience to end your Granada day trip, Restaurante Chikito offers a blend of traditional and contemporary Andalucian dishes in an elegant setting. For a romantic dinner with Alhambra views, Carmen de Aben Humeya provides a picturesque dining experience.

Don't forget to try some local sweets like piononos or churros con chocolate, perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth as you enjoy the lively evening ambiance.

Another great way to spend an evening in Granada is with an authentic flamenco performance in Sacromonte.



One Day in Granada: Practical Tips

Visiting Granada in a day can be a whirlwind of experiences. Here are some practical tips to help you make the most of your trip:

  • To maximise your time, start your day early, especially if you plan to visit the Alhambra, which can get quite crowded by mid-day. The Alhambra opens at 8.30am.
  • The Alhambra is Granada's most popular attraction. Ensure you have your tickets booked well in advance as they often sell out quickly or book a guided Alhambra tour.
  • You’ll do a lot of walking, especially on cobbled streets in areas like the Albaicín. Comfortable shoes are a must.
  • Granada can get quite warm, especially in the summer. Carry a water bottle, which you can refill at various public fountains.
  • While many places accept credit cards, some smaller shops and bars in the Albaicín might only take cash.
  • Be aware that some shops and restaurants close in the afternoon for siesta.
  • When in Granada, remember that most bars will serve a free tapa with each drink you order. It’s a great way to taste local cuisine without breaking the bank.
  • Like in many tourist destinations, be mindful of your belongings, especially in crowded areas.
  • Check the weather forecast and dress accordingly. Summers can be hot, while winters might require a light jacket.

With these tips, you’ll be well-prepared to enjoy everything Granada has to offer, even in a limited time frame.

Granada Day Trip: Recommended Activities & Tours

Here’s another reminder to buy your Alhambra tickets or book your Alhambra tour in advance. I’ve heard too many stories of visitors getting disappointed that tickets are sold out for their visit!

Here are some other top activities and tours in Granada that you may enjoy on your day trip:

Granada Day Trip: Guided Experiences

While it’s relatively easy to plan your own day trip, if you prefer an easy book-and-go experience, then a guided day tour is the way to go. You can enjoy your day in Granada without worrying about transportation, tickets, or getting around.

Check out these guided Granada day trips:

  • Visit Granda from Seville on this day trip that includes tours of the Alhambra and Albaicin, with 1-hour of free time to wander around on your own.
  • Coming from Malaga? This full-day day trip to Granada includes a tour of the Alhambra and free time to explore the city on your own.
  • This Granada day trip from Costa del Sol offers 10 different pick-up spots along the coast, free time in the city, and a guided Alhambra tour for a perfect day out.

A Day to Remember in Granada

As your day trip in Granada comes to a close, you’ll find that this city leaves a lasting impression. From the majestic Alhambra to the winding streets of the Albaicín, Granada is a stunning city that’s just oozing history and charm.

Today, you’ve witnessed the grandeur of Moorish architecture, tasted the local cuisine, and absorbed the lively atmosphere of this Andalucian gem.

While a day trip can only scratch the surface of what Granada has to offer, it's enough to captivate your senses and leave you yearning for more. Chances are, like most of us who visit this beautiful city, you’ve fallen in love with it just like we did.

I hope this guide has helped you plan an amazing day trip to Granada… and hopefully you’ll return to discover more in this enchanting city. Buen viaje!

More on Granada

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Recommended Spain Travel Resources

Travelling to/around Spain and need some help? Here are our favourite travel resources.

We usually use Booking.com to look for hotels or apartment rentals. Lots of choice & you can unlock more discounts with their Genius loyalty programme!

To research transportation options around Spain, we like using Omio. It’s an easy way to compare different modes of transport and prices in one place.

Renting a car gives you the ultimate freedom to explore Andalucia at your own pace. Click here to compare car rental prices. (You’ll be surprised at how affordable it is in Spain!)

For last-minute holiday deals, check out Expedia UK.

Looking for things to do? Viator has a huge catalog of activities and tours across many cities in Spain. We also love Get Your Guide!

Guruwalk is our favourite platform to find the best free walking tours in a city.

For money transfers or spending overseas in foreign currency, Wise is our favorite borderless banking service (we love their debit card that's without fees!).

Travel insurance is a must to protect against emergencies and unexpected incidents. Get a quote from SafetyWing here.

For an easy way to stay connected on the road, get an eSim from Airalo. It's affordable and, best of all, you'll be connected the moment you arrive!




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