What to do in 2 days in Granada, Spain
Atualizado: 5 de mar.
Granada Alhambra, as seen from the Generalife Gardens
Granada is one of the towns I find most fascinating in Spain and even in all of Europe.
I've been there twice, the first time on a solo trip in the late 90's, with a backpack on my back and a very tight budget. It was incredible and, apart from a few photos on 35mm film, the days I spent in Granada left me with an immense desire to return.
But as my travel wanderlust is too long for a single lifetime, the return to Granada had been postponed over the years, but eventually it has finally arrived. And in the most special way possible: with my husband and daughters. It was the first time for the three of them in Spain and they loved the country.
Here is our complete itinerary through Andalucia, a region in Southern Spain that was under Moorish rule from the 8th to the 15th century, which gives it a unique atmosphere, a mix of styles and influences revealed in architecture, art, culture and cuisine and in monuments such as the Alhambra Palace in Granada, the Mezquita in Córdoba and the Real Alcazar in Seville.
Pateo de los Leones, Nasrid Palaces, Alhambra.
How long to stay in Granada
Granada deserves at least 2 full days of your trip. If you have a few more days, the better.
When I went there in the 90's, I spent 2 full days in the city. But the second time, we were only in Granada for 1 and a half days - we arrived after lunch and wandered around the central area of town, and the next day was all about making the most of the Alhambra. The next day, we left for Cordoba. I would have liked to have stayed an extra day to enjoy it at a slower pace - if you can, I recommend it.
We were there in July and I warn you: it is very hot. The air is dry, the sun is strong, insanely strong, and the heat is insane. Get ready. Don't forget your hat, sunscreen and always have a bottle of water with you.
Generalife Gardens, Alhambra.
How to visit the Alhambra
It doesn't matter if you've already seen one or thousands of photos and videos of the Alhambra, you will be impressed when you enter the gardens and palaces. I dare say that the more photos and videos of the Alhambra you've seen, the greater the emotion you'll feel when you're finally there.
The Alhambra complex includes several buildings, towers, walls, gardens and a mosque, but it is the intricate stone carvings and decorative elements, the delicate filigree work, the magnificent tiled ceilings, the graceful arches and the serene courtyards of the Nasrid Palaces that will leave you speechless.
The palace complex is enormous and reserve at least 4 hours to get to know its gardens, rooms and "pateos" (courtyards). We spent practically the whole day there - as our entry time was at noon, so we visited the Generalife Gardens in the morning, stopped for a mini-picnic and visited the Nasrid Palaces in the afternoon.
Be prepared: whatever the time of year, it will be crowded. If it's summer (like when we were there) bring with you lots of patience and just forget about wanting to take a photo alone at Pateo de Los Leones.
The Alhambra is made up of two main parts, the Generalife Gardens and the Nasrid Palaces.
It is possible to visit only the Gardens, or the Gardens and Palaces. I obviously recommend getting to know both. Here is the link to purchase tickets, with all information on prices, schedules and accessibility.
When we rented our Airbnb, our host warned us that it was necessary to buy Alhambra tickets in advance. The day he sent me the message, I checked the website and the dates that we would be there were still not available. Time passed and about 2 months before the trip, I remembered to buy the tickets. There was no more availability. Every day for weeks I checked the website (link here) and nothing, there were simply no tickets. But the trip was already booked, so we went anyway.
On the day we arrived in Granada, we went to the box office, hoping to be able to buy tickets in loco, but nothing. There was no availability. I was devastated, how could it happen, having traveled so far and not being able to visit the Alhambra? The attendant, seeing our (my) despair, informed us that at midnight spare tickets were released for the next day, tickets that travel agencies had reserved and had not sold.
Well, at 23:50 we were online, refreshing the page, until, punctually at 00:00 we got it! When the purchase was completed, at 0:03 am, there were no more tickets available.
Entrance to the Nasrides Palaces is scheduled (it was even before the pandemic) and the entry time is strictly controlled, it is not possible to get in the Palaces a minute before and (I believe) nor enter late.
Don't wait to buy your Alhambra tickets at the last minute. Please don't go through all the trouble we've been through. As a last resource, in case you couldn't get a ticket, there are always available with tours like this one. And, of course, don't be late for entry to the Nasrid Palaces, the line usually forms well in advance.
UPDATE: from what I researched on the site (link here again), it is now possible to buy tickets up to one year in advance. On the date of publication of this post, there was low availability (with some days sold out) for the next 4 weeks, with normal availability for the following periods. Anyway, as soon as you know which days you will be in Granada, buy your tickets.
Whichever way you visit the Alhambra, I recommend taking the audio guide (it's available in many languages), it's very helpfull and you get to know the history not only of the Alhambra but of the entire region.
So here we go, the suggested Granada itinerary!
Granada in 2 days (or 1 and 1/2 days)
- day 1: visit the Alhambra and Generalife Gardens. At night, stroll through the Albaicín neighborhood (don't miss the Carrera del Darro) and, if you're feeling up to it, watch a flamenco show or regional music.
- day 2 (or half a day): visit the Granada Cathedral and the Royal Chapel, stroll through the Sacromonte neighborhood and have dinner (or lunch) there. Watch the sunset from the Mirador de San Nicolas (but be awere that the place will be packed).
Granada in 3 days
Add to your itinerary a visit to the Basilica de San Juan de Dios and the Cartuja Monastery (Monasterio de la Cartuja) and/or Monasterio de San Jerónimo, and take the opportunity to walk and enjoy the neighborhoods of Sacromonte and Albaicin, and also around Plaza Bib-Rambla, and enjoy the cafes and teterias (tea houses), wandering through the streets.
It is also worth including a stroll at the Garden of Carmen de los Martires, located near the Alhambra.
Granada in 4 or more days
More time to stay in the area? I have two suggestions: you can stay in Granada for a few more days, enjoying every corner of the city, re-visiting the Alhambra and its Gardens, enjoying the teterías, restaurants and charming bars.
Or you can take advantage of these days and enjoy the Sierra Nevada. Located about 40km from Granada, easily accessible by car or bus. If you're visiting in winter, enjoy all the structure for skiing, snowboarding or sledding, and in summer it may be a nice place to cool off from the insane heat of Grenada.
Where to stay in Granada
On this trip, we've chosen to stay in an apartment in Barrio del Realejo, which had an excellent location, with easy (but steep) walking access to the Alhambra.
If you prefer staying at a hotel, there is no shortage of options in Granada. My choices would be the Carmen de la Alcubilla del Caracol, a small hotel, in a historic house with a spectacular view of town, and the Casa Morisca Hotel, also in a historic house (is it an impression or do I love hotels in historic houses?). A slightly budget friendly option would be Hotel Párraga Siete, in a central location, close to several bars and restaurants.
Here is the post with our complete itinerary in Andalucia, take a look.
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