Nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains in Spain's Andalusia region, you'll find Granada- one of the most interesting cities I've ever visited. You can practically throw a stone to Morocco, so naturally there is tons of Moorish influence peppered all throughout the city (my favorite bits? the architecture + the cuisine).
While you could easily spend weeks exploring all it has to offer, we were able to cover the most important bases in just about 24 hours. No matter how long you decide to stay, here are some of the must-see attractions in Granada
1. MARVEL AT THE LAVISH ALHAMBRA PALACE
It’s no secret that Al Alhambra is the most popular attraction in Granada (and one of the most popular in all of Spain.) Not only is this beautiful complex the only Arab palace in all of Europe and the largest monument in Spain, but it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It beautifully exhibits the country’s most significant and well known Islamic architecture. Regardless of what you know about it’s rich history, you simply cannot miss the impressive vaulting and domes, intricate tile mosaics and so many other forms of architectural genius.
While you can freely roam the outskirts of the grounds, you'll want to buy tickets in advance to properly tour the entire palace (otherwise you'll be waiting in line for hours).
2. GET LOST IN THE NARROW STREETS OF EL ALBAYZÍN
This district of Granada has some of the most beautiful streets of the entire city (in my humble opinion). The windy, narrow roads are brimming with beautifully detailed architecture and seem to surprise you at every turn. This district is one of the oldest centers of Muslim culture in Granada and is also home to the famous Arab markets. Just stroll along Calle Alcaiceria and you'll find stalls that are bursting with spices, teas, silks and other unique goods. I gave into the tourist trap and paid a local a few Euro to paint a henna tattoo on my hand (which then stayed on for weeks). While we never made it over to this area at night, I'm told the hookah bars are incredibly lively and will surely entertain anyone looking for some good nightlife.
3. EXPERIENCE A PROPER HAMMAM AT HAMMAM AL ANDALUS
I was so upset I didn't get to experience a proper Turkish bath after my Istanbul plans fell through. Lucky for me I got to experience a Hammam, or a Middle Eastern variant of a steam bath, at Al Andalus. While we couldn't get too many photos of the grounds due to client privacy, these "baths" (or pools, really) where you go soak before getting a massage are incredibly ornate and impressive. It was incredible to sit + relax while admiring the intricate detail and beautiful design that went into all of the architecture. At Al Andus, we were served tea, were permitted to stay in the pool area (which had multiple room options for water temperatures and varying design) for up to an hour, followed by a 20 minute massage. It was such a unique experience and I highly recommend trying it out for yourself.
4. EMBRACE THE ARABO-ANDALUSIAN CUISINE (AND SANGRIA)
Some of my favorite cuisine from my entire trip abroad was in Granada. Not only do they have the traditional Spanish fare that I love (like jugs of sangria and tapas platters of manchego + jamón) but you’ll also find delicious Moroccan dishes served with incredible spices. My absolute favorite meal we ate was stumbling upon an idyllic courtyard in the El Albayziín area and ordering Moroccan chicken with pitchers of sangria (best of both worlds). I recommend finding someplace to eat near Calle Alcaiceria, as there are sure to be plenty of delicious Moroccan dishes to choose from.
5. WATCH THE SUNSET AT MIRADOR DE LA LONA
This was hands down one of the coolest things we did. Our host told us to head to Mirador De La Lona (also in the Albayzín area) before sunset to watch the sky light up over the city against the Sierra Nevada foothills. As you probably already know, photos never do a sunset proper justice, but it was truly an incredible experience and something you need to see for yourself!
Now that we've covered what to do, let's talk about what to pack. Most people (typically) visit Granada in the warmer months, so assuming that's you I would advise packing lightweight + breathable basics like a chambray shirt, linen pants, a light-weight scarf, a fedora, sundresses and some espadrilles.
There are so many amazing things to see and places to eat in Granada. If I haven't made it clear already, this city had an inexplicable wow factor that left me so impressed. If you're looking for a destination in Spain that's rich in history, diverse in culture and abundant in beautiful views, look no further than this wonderful city!
Have you visited Granada before? If so, let me know what you loved most in the comments below!
As always, thanks for stopping by friends! Have a great Thursday and stay tuned for some more travel content coming soon!