There’s no doubt Granada is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain, and possibly even in the world. Its history and mixture of cultures can be felt in every corner of the city, its well-kept white streets are full of light, and the cuisine is like nothing else you’ve tasted before. Discover the best ways to spend 2 days in Granada, Spain, a magical city that you must visit on your route through Andalusia!
Granada is one of my favorite cities in the world, which means a lot coming from someone like me. Although I was born in Seville, I’ve been consumed by wanderlust since childhood. My desire has always been to fly as far away as possible, to the point where I’ve been more drawn to such exotic destinations as Iran, India, and Turkey than my beautiful homeland of Spain.
The tradeoff for being abroad all the time is that I’ve missed opportunities to travel more in my native country. Having said that, if there’s one city in Spain that I love enough to have returned to a thousand times, it’s Granada.
There must be something special about Granada if the Moors and Christians fought over it for centuries. Its history and mixture of cultures can be felt in every corner of the city to this day. Its well-kept white streets and terraces are full of light, and the cuisine is like nothing you’ll eat anywhere else. In short, it’s virtually impossible not to fall in love with Granada, one of the most beautiful cities in Spain for sure!
So if you come to Andalusia, you must spend at least a weekend in Granada. Not sure where to start? Here’s everything I recommend you do and see during your 2 days in Granada!
Best Things to Do in 2 Days in Granada, Spain
01 | Visit the Alhambra
Visiting the Alhambra is like traveling to the past, for here you’ll get to experience the splendor of Al-Andalus to the fullest. You need to know the Alhambra is not just a monument, but a complete citadel with palaces, gardens, and even a military fortress.
Even if you’re only spending 2 days in Granada, you should dedicate almost a whole day to the Alhambra. Keep in mind that more than 7,000 people visit the citadel every day, so you’ll need to buy your tickets to the Alhambra months in advance.
The Alhambra was the residence of the Nasrid dynasty until it was conquered by the Catholic Monarchs in 1492. Today, the Alhambra is a masterpiece of Muslim art in Europe and the second most visited monument in Spain after the Sagrada Familia.
The Alhambra is full of secrets, so to know its history in depth, I recommend taking a guided tour:
02 | Get Lost in the Albayzín
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Albayzín (or Albaicín) is the most famous district in Granada. And with good reason: every corner of Granada’s Arab quarter is overflowing with history. Although its steep slopes are hard to climb, it’s worth getting lost in the neighborhood’s narrow white streets, which are tastefully decorated with colorful geraniums.
The Albayzín was populated by the Moors and later by the Moriscos (Muslims who converted to Christianity) until they were expelled from Granada in the seventeenth century. All the churches in the Albayzín today were mosques once. All the mosques were immediately converted into churches after the arrival of the Catholic Monarchs in 1492. Today, there’s only one mosque in the Albayzín, which, despite the Muslim history of the district, was built in 2003.
The Albayzín has a fascinating history, so I highly recommend a guided tour:
03 | Go Out for (Free) Tapas
There are very few places where you can eat Spanish food as well and cheaply as in Granada. Most restaurants in Granada include free tapas with each drink, which can be anything from a hamburger to fish or even a plate of paella! Needless to say, I doubt you’ll go hungry in Granada!
Some of the best tapas bars in Granada are Carmela, Los Manueles, Casa Torcuato, Bodegas Castañeda, and La Porrona.
04 | View the Alhambra from the Mirador de San Nicolás
There are many viewpoints in Granada with fantastic views of the Alhambra, but the most popular is the Mirador de San Nicolás, located in the heart of the Albayzín. Fun fact: this place became internationally famous after Bill Clinton said that from this viewpoint, he had seen “the most beautiful sunset in the world”. (Clinton was actually talking about another viewpoint near this one: the Mirador de San Cristobal, which is also a must-see in Granada.)
The Mirador of San Nicolás offers some breathtaking panoramic views of the Alhambra. Although the exterior of the Alhambra is austere (according to the Muslim architectural style), the views are incredible and the atmosphere you will find in the viewpoint, where flamenco musicians gather at sunset, make this viewpoint another lively location you must visit during your 2 days in Granada.
05 | Go for a Walk Down Paseo de Los Tristes
From the Carrera del Darro, you can walk down the Paseo de los Tristes for some stunning views of the Alhambra framed by the Darro River. Although its name evokes sadness, it’s hard to feel anything but happiness as you walk down one of the most beautiful streets in the world!
06 | Visit the caves of Sacromonte, the Gypsy neighborhood
Very close to the Albayzín is another neighborhood rich in history: El Sacromonte. Historically, this was the neighborhood of the exiles: Muslims who hid in caves after being expelled from the Albayzín and gypsies who settled in Granada after being rejected throughout Europe. Jews in Granada also moved to this neighborhood, as did some Christians who refused to adapt to the rules imposed by the Catholic Monarchs.
Because Sacromonte was located outside the city walls, it served as the perfect refuge for Granada’s outcasts and became a haven of peaceful coexistence between cultures.
This cultural melting pot also inspired the birth of flamenco, which is characterized by fusion. Today, Sacromonte is famous for its caves, the gypsy population, and the flamenco. There’s no better place in Granada to see a flamenco show!
07 | Visit El Carmen de los Martires
Cármenes are the traditional houses of Granada, also declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although they’re technically Christian houses, almost all their aesthetic elements come from Muslim architecture. Note that to be considered a cármen, a house must have a garden and a view of the Alhambra.
The history of the cármenes goes back to the seventeenth century: when Muslims were expelled from Granada, Christians took their abandoned houses in the Albayzín. Because these houses were usually small, they were often built close together.
There are two cármenes you can visit for free: Carmen de los Martires, which is next to the Alhambra; and Carmen de la Victoria in the Albayzín. Carmen de los Martires has a huge park with beautiful gardens, lakes, and majestic peacocks, so I definitely recommend you visit that one first!
08 | See the Street Art in the Realejo
Granada attracts many tourists with its monuments, but another lesser known attraction of the city is its street art. One of the best neighborhoods in Granada to see urban art is the Realejo, where the modern paintings blend well with some of the oldest streets in the city. It’s the perfect mix of old and new!
Where to Stay in Granada
The best neighborhoods to stay in Granada are El Albayzín and the Center. El Albaicín for being the most beautiful neighborhood in Granada, and the Center because of the comfort it offers. Here you have a selection of the best places to stay in Granada:
- El Albaicín
If you want to sleep in the most iconic and beautiful neighborhood in Granada, do not think twice and stay in El Albaicín. Here you have a few options:
Apartamentos Turísticos Alhambra – These beautiful apartments in El Albaicín have a pool and two terraces with views of the Alhambra.
Hotel Casa Morisca – This hotel offers unique accommodation within a noble dating back to the end of the . All the magic of the Alhambra reflected in Morisco houses and can be enjoyed here.
Hotel Casa 1800 – Another wonderful hotel in a restored 16th-century building. It offers free afternoon snacks, and a typical Andalusian patio.
Smart Suites Albaicin – M accommodation in Albaicin.
- El Centro
If you prefer comfort and having everything handy, you should rather stay in the Center of Granada. With its narrow and cute streets, it is also one of the most beautiful areas of the city. Some of the best accommodation options in the Center of Granada are:
Gar Anat Hotel Boutique – This is a small and hotel from the 17th-century, skillfully restored and set in the historic city center.
Room Mate Leo – This design hotel has a with great over and the .
Hotel Párraga Siete – This hotel is set in a charming 19th-century building in the old town. It offers stylish rooms and an à la carte restaurant.
Hotel Alhambra Palace – If you want to indulge, this hotel is just outside the ’s ancient walls, offering over the city of features stylish rooms with Moorish-inspired décor.
Getting Around in Granada
The train station in Granada has been out of service for years due to renovation, so if you’re coming to the city from Andalusia or Madrid, your best bet is to take a bus.
From the Granada bus station, take Bus 33 to the center of town. The price of the trip will be €1.40 in cash or €0.83 with a transport card (Credibus). A card can be purchased directly on the bus.
Because it’s a small city, getting around Granada is easy. Of course, if you want to avoid the steep slopes, you can always take the bus. The C30 and C32 go up to the Alhambra. The C32 also goes up to the Albayzín, and the C34 goes to Sacromonte.
Although Granada is small enough to get around in a weekend, its rich history and numerous attractions will ensure you’ll never get bored of this wonderful city. It truly is a must-visit destination in Andalusia and one of the greatest treasures of Spain! So what are you waiting for? Start planning your two-day trip to Granada today!