You may have not heard of Granada, Spain, but if you are travelling to Spain a stop in Granada is a must. Even though two days is a short time to explore such a wonderful city, we will guide you through the best way to spend your 48 hours in Granada, indulging in local tapas, getting lost in the historic neighbourhoods of Albaicin and Sacromonte, taking in a flamenco show and visiting the star of the city, the Alhambra Palace and Generalife gardens.
Granada is an ancient Muslim stronghold, nestled at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Andalucía, Southern Spain. It was a Muslim stronghold for 800 years until the reconquest of Spain when it was reclaimed by the Catholics in 1492. The city bears the influence of its Islamic past with its narrow streets, Moorish doorways and tranquil gardens with fountains and water features.
More than 2.5 million tourists from around the world visit Granada yearly to see the star attraction, the Alhambra Palace, described by Moorish poets of the time as “a pearl set in emeralds”, this is a reference to the colour of the buildings and the vivid green of the surrounding gardens lush with roses, oranges, flowers and myrtle.
The enchanting fusion of Moorish and Spanish architecture and the charm of the narrow city streets will be sure to leave you wanting more and planning your next trip to Granada. This guide is perfect for those who only have 48 Hours in Granada – A 2 Day Itinerary. We will show you what to do in Granada, where to stay, what to eat and how to get around, whether its a weekend in Granada Spain or just a quick trip.
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The Best Time to visit Granada
The best time to visit Granada is in May and June or September and October. Here you will find milder weather as the summer can be sweltering in the city and very humid. July and August are some of the busiest months and it is best to avoid them.
By coming in Spring or Autumn you will encounter fewer crowds (though Granada has tourism all year around) and excellent weather around 25 degrees celsius, accommodation prices will also be lower and you can save up to 40% of what tourists pay in July and August by going out of season!
If you travel in the second week of June, you can experience the authentic vibes of the annual feria celebrations in Granada, this alcohol-fueled, week long party takes place at a fairground just outside the city. Here you can see women dressed in the traditional flamenco dresses, dancing and playing music all day long and try the local feria drink of rebujito, a mix of Manzanilla sherry and lemonade. It is a party to remember, as long as you don’t drink too many rebujitos!
How to get around Granada
Granada has its own international airport so it is possible to arrive by plane, the airport is situated 28 minutes by car to the city centre so you the quickest way to the centre is by taxi.
There is a TALGO slow train from Madrid to Granada that takes around 5 and half hours. Most people choose to take the bus as it takes less time and is cheaper. You can take buses from Malaga to Granada and it costs around €11.43 for the 90 minute journey. There is an international airport in Malaga or alternatively you can travel to Malaga by high-speed train from Madrid or other cities.
It is easy to get around Granada on foot, however, the walk to Sacromonte and Albaicin can be a bit of an uphill hike, if the walk is not for you there is always the option of red minibuses. If you prefer to walk a map or GPS will be handy, as the streets do not follow straight paths.
Alternatively, there is a Hop On Hop Off Tourist Train that can take you all the way up to Alhambra Granada and Sacramonte. It starts running at 9:30 am and the last train is at 19:30 pm, with trains passing through the centre every 20 minutes. The cost for one day is €8 and €12 for two days.
Things to do in Granada Spain
There are a lot of unmissable things to do in Granada and here is our list:
Go souvenir shopping in Alcaiceria
Once upon a time, it was the location for Granada’s Islamic bazaar where merchants would call out to attract buyers to view their wares in the network of small streets, selling silks and spices from afar. Today, there remains a single passageway full of souvenir shops selling tourist souvenirs and Moorish hand-painted earthenware or Fajalauza ceramics. You can also pick up beautifully handcrafted wooden décor is inlaid with intricate patterns, emblematic of the Islamic past of the city.
Take a stroll in the historic village of Sacromonte
Sacromonte is the home of Granada’s gypsy community; it is situated on the steep slopes of Valparaiso and the houses were hewn out of the rock face of the slopes of the hill in the 16th century. These cave houses are unique in construction and adapt to the difficult terrain of the hillside. If you want to see authentic gypsy flamenco, this is the place.
For one of the best-known flamenco caves in Granada, take a trip to Los Tarantos, Cueva los Tarantos, Camino del Sacromonte 9. This dimly lit cavern which dates back to 1972 is a perfect place to get into the spirit of flamenco, also known as duende. Here the style of flamenco is Zambra, which is the regional style from Granada, typical of Gypsy weddings. Prices start from €26 per person for the show and a drink.
If you want to see the most spectacular views of the Alhambra from Sacromonte you can stop off at Bar Pibe, Camino del Sacromonte 41, a terrace with a panoramic vista of the city. Here you can sip on a glass of wine to the chorus of crickets and birds in the surrounding trees and though it is a popular destination, drinks here are as cheap as they are the rest of town.
Sip on a vermouth at Bodegas Castañeda
Near the central square of Plaza Nueva you can find on of the most beloved tapas bars, Bodegas Castañeda, Calle Almireceros 1- 3, which is a household name in Granada. Here you can enjoy the heady flavours of vermouth, the local drink of choice. Though you may see a few tourists, the majority of patrons are locals and the bar retains its authentic atmosphere of a local tapas bar.
Get free tapas with every drink
Granada is one of the few places in Spain where you get free tapas with every drink you order! In many of the local bars you will find large portions of food given away for free with every beer or drink you order and you may find that you won’t even need to have dinner as you will be so full from all the tapas!
Don’t be deterred by the poky, crowded and noisy local bars, these are the best places to try authentic tapas. Though you may be tempted to bar-hop, the best thing to do in Granada is to pick a bar and stay there for a while, the free tapas gets better and better with each drink you order, though by the end you may be a little too tipsy to notice!
One of the most popular tapas spots in Plaza Nueva is Los Diamantes, a fried fish place popular with locals and tourists alike. You can visit the original bar is situated in Calle Navas nearby, which is so small that you normally have to shout your order from the entrance but this is half the charm of the authentic tapas bars of Granada.
Other mythical authentic tapas bars to visit are El Reventaero, situated in Camino de Ronda, which will fill you up with just three tapas or Casa Julio on Calle Hermosa 5.
Take a stroll on Carrera del Darro
Visit Granada’s prettiest street that winds down the Albaicín along the Darro riverbank, here the river passes under the two oldest surviving bridges in Granada and you can transport yourself to the past by walking along the worn stone walls covered in blossoms in spring and summer.
Catch the sunset from the Mirador de San Nicolas
One of the most popular places to see the Alhambra and to watch the sunset, you can visit this viewpoint easily on foot. Be aware that it is quite popular with tourists and tends to be packed at sunset.
Chill out in a Hammam
After a long day of walking around you can relax your tired muscles at the opulent Arabian baths of Hammam Al Andalus. You can submerge yourself in the soothing warm waters of the thermal baths, relax in the steam room or even indulge in a massage. Prices for the Hammam start from €35 per person for 1.5 hours in the baths.
Places to visit in Granada
Alhambra and Generalife
Without a doubt this is the star attraction of Granada, and no visit to the city would be complete without a trip to this UNESCO Heritage Site. The palace was built during the 1200s and 1300s for the Nasrids, the rulers of Granada in the final centuries of the Muslim stronghold and was captured in the “Reconquista” of Spain and the Catholic Monarchs, Isabella I and Ferdinand II established their royal court there.
The Alhambra consists of Moorish palaces, lush gardens and tranquil ponds and you can easily spend three or four hours just in the gardens of the palace. Remember that you must book your entrance in advance, as tickets are limited and often booked out months in advance. Tickets are divided into two turns, morning and afternoon and that the ticket times cannot be changed.
The Nasrid Palaces are enclosed and therefore it is advisable to arrive 30 minutes to an hour before your entrance time and be prepared for long queues despite having obtained your ticket in advance. The best time to visit is first thing in the morning around 9:30am to avoid the crowds.
The tickets to the Alhambra can be purchased with Generalife entrance included and prices start from €14 for adults, these beautiful gardens full of landscaped rose bushes and views of the palace are well worth visiting, you can also see the Alcazaba and the amphitheatre-like fortifications of Charles V’s palace.
The Cathedral of Granada
The Cathedral of Granada was built on the site of the Great Mosque and the Royal Chapel is the final resting place of the Catholic Kings. Tickets to the Cathedral can be easily obtained at the entrance and there is no need to advance booking, tickets cost €5 including an audio guide.
Visit the Bañuelo
The Arab baths from the 11th century are some of the most complete and well-preserved Arab baths in Spain and are situated just at the foot of the Alhambra palace. These baths were one of the few establishments saved from the destruction of the Catholic Kings because at the time they had a reputation much like that of brothels. The baths remained intact because the building on top of it was a private home and they were restored in 1918 and declared a national monument. Entrance is only €2.50.
Where to stay in Granada
There are a few excellent hotels at reasonable prices suitable for budget travellers. Here is a selection of the best budget hotels in Granada:
Santa Isabel La Real – Stay in a genuine 16th century home in the picturesque neighbourhood of Albaicin. The charming hotel is cosy and rooms are decorated in a classic style, the basic rooms look out onto a courtyard and the superior rooms have views of the adjacent Santa Isabel La Real Convent. Prices start at €89 in low season and €119 in high season.
Gar-Anat – This contemporary and stylish budget hotel was built upon a 17th century hostel for pilgrims. There is a central courtyard with a fountain and a modern tinkling wishing tree decoration. Prices start from €63 a night.
Sercotel Gran Hotel Luna de Granada – For a budget luxury hotel with a swimming pool, thermal pool, Turkish bath. The only downside is that it is outside of the historic city centre. It is a short 15 minutes walk from all the tourist spots and is a perfect place to wind down and relax in the modern part of Granada. Prices start from €65 a night in low season and €110 in the high season.
Palacio Cabrera Lillo – This hotel constructed in an old palace from the 1820s offers modern apartments overlooking a traditional style courtyard. Little details such as a complimentary bottle of wine as a welcome gift make this place very charming. Prices start from €63 a night in low season and €78 in the high season.
Tours to do in Granada
There are various options for tours from Viator
- A Granada Tapas Tour starting from €35.20 per person for 2.5 hours of walking around the city, savouring the local flavours.
- Tropical Coast and Caves of Nerja Tour from €60 per person. A 10 hour trip along the coast and to explore the caves of Nerja, which were inhabited by humans since 25,000 BC.
- Sierra Nevada Day Trip in a Four Wheel Drive from €55 per person for a half day tour around the mountains and villages of Sierra Nevada.
48 Hours in Granada
Start your day with a visit to Granada Cathedral and people watch in Plaza Bib Rambla and take a stroll the Albaicin neighbourhood, you can also catch the sunset at Mirador de San Nicolas. Afterwards, join a local tapas tour to see the best that the city has to offer and jostle through the crowds in the tiny local bars, sampling the various Spanish tapas on offer.
If you still have any energy left, take in a flamenco show to experience the flair and passion of this Gypsy traditional dance.
Wake up early and head to the Alhambra Palace and explore the Generalife gardens and feel transported to another era of history, after relaxing in the gardens its time for lunch and you can stop at Sacromonte to visit the cave houses to have lunch around there.
After having a stroll around the streets of Alcaiceria and picking up some choice souvenirs you can relax your tired and aching legs by dropping into the Hammam for some well-earned relaxation in the warm Arab baths and perhaps enjoy a massage, the perfect way to end your 48 hours in Granada.
Recommend budget tours in Granada
- Alhambra, Nasrid Palaces, Generalife and Alcazaba Private Tour in Granada
- Skip-the-Line Alhambra and Generalife Guided Tour
- Private 3-hour Tour to Alhambra
- Private Tour: Alhambra and Generalife
- Guided Tour of the Alhambra from Malaga
- Small Group Food Tour in Granada
- Authentic Granada Tapas and History Experience with Local Guide
- Las Alpujarras Full-Day Tour from Granada
- Arabian Baths Experience at Granada’s Hammam Al Ándalus
- 1.5 Hour Flamenco Show in a Cave-Restaurant in Granada
- Granada Essential Must-Do Tour
- 4WD Sierra Nevada Safari Tour in Granada
- Tropical Coast and Caves of Nerja Day Trip from Granada
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