Visiting Granada - What to See and Do
(Federico Garcia Lorca Granada Jaen Airport GRX, Spain)
Thanks to a long and prosperous history as both a Spanish and Moorish stronghold, the city of Granada
is filled with stunning Muslim art, traditional Baroque and Renaissance architecture, and a thriving heritage. Although it is a popular tourist destination, this city is never usually overcrowded. This makes the sightseeing opportunities for tourists much more accessible than those of larger cities like Barcelona
Stretching back more than 2,500 years, the city of Granada has undergone a plethora of changes over the last few centuries. Even today, modernisation has begun to blanket this former medieval city. Nevertheless, a string of historical treasures still prevail as the city's main attractions. These include the Cathedral of Granada, the Alhambra and the ancient structures of El Albayzin. Panoramic sights of the cityscape are best viewed from Palace City, otherwise known as the Alhambra.
The large student population in Granada means that nightlife is reliably cheap. Spend a few hours after dark in one of the local bars, where free tapas is served with drinks. A family day out is possible at the Parque Acuático Aquaola, and for a unique experience, head to the Plaza del Toros - the city's principal bullfighting stadium.
Ten things you must do in Granada
- Granada Cathedral is Spain's second-tallest cathedral. However, the height is one thing, but the Renaissance-dominated interior makes this 16th-century structure the pinnacle of any sightseeing tour of the city. Once inside, look up towards the brilliantly designed Capilla Mayor sanctuary, with its delicate art works and finishings. A trip to Granada won't be complete until this fascinating site has been explored - inside and out.
- Complete with royal tombs, an onsite museum, beautiful altar and eye-catching artwork, the Royal Chapel is always a frontrunner for Granada's attraction of the year. King Ferdinand II, Queen Isabella I and their heirs are buried here. The museum of the Royal Chapel boasts plenty of interesting royal artefacts relating to the life and death of the entombed monarchs.
- Even though much of ancient Alcaiceria had been destroyed centuries ago, it is still a fascinating shopping district. The winding alleys and narrow streets are filled with artisans and merchants selling some interesting (and some not so interesting) merchandise. However, it is the Muslim architecture on display that really adds a little flavour to this shopping arcade.
- The Alhambra is often viewed as Granada's main tourist attraction. This part palace, part fortification, part medieval government site attracts thousands of eager tourists a week. With landmarks like the Alcazaba, the Palace of Charles V, the Nasrid Royal Palace and the gardens of the kings, the Alhambra is the most photogenic landmark in Granada.
- Fall into a world of ancient Muslim influence at Albayzin. Standing upon a hill overlooking much of the city, this district was once a fortified town, thriving during the Muslim reign of the city. Today, a plethora of sites await tourists, including the Mosque of Granada, the San Jose Church, the Hammam el Banuelo and the Plaza Larga.
- The district of Sacromonte can be explored on foot in a matter of hours. However, those hours will be filled with amazing landmarks. The primary reason why tourists visit this gypsy influenced district is for the stone white cave dwellings and 17th-century abbey. Visit the Sacromonte Museum to explore the history of the district.
- Located in the southern reaches of Granada, the inspiring Santo Domingo Church is a 16th-century religious edifice with sparkling attractions, both inside and out. The soothing stone portico entrance is only the beginning. The premier attractions inside the church are the high ceilings and beautiful artwork within the chapel.
- Even though the river-canal Rio Genil may not be the most beautiful waterway in Spain, the promenade that lines part of its banks is a grand location for relaxation. Cafés and restaurants are intertwined with parks and gardens, making this spot an ideal 'chill-out' venue for rejuvenating tourists.
- The heat that bears down on Granada's cityscape can be softened at the Parque Acuático Aquaola. This large water park is the most visited, non-historical site in the city. Complete with a huge artificial wave pool and an assortment of thrilling slides, Aquaola is a great destination for family fun or cooling down in the city.
- Visiting families will have a ball at the Science Park (Parque de las Ciencias). There is actually so much to see that tickets are valid for two days, and should be used this way. The historic science collections that were brought to Spain by Arabian settlers provide a particular highlight. Also of note, a popular bird show is held daily, adding further interest.