Are you going to visit the charming city of Granada? It is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain. I have been living in Granada for 7 years, so I can assure you that you will experience the best holidays there. But first, read the article and find what to know before coming to Granada.
If you are going to Malaga as well, check out the Ultimate Travel Guide to Malaga! Find the answers to the most popular questions about Malaga.
So here you go, the 10 things you should know before visiting Granada!
1. How to travel to Granada?
The first thing to know about Granada is how to get to the city. One of the options is to go by plane. There is a small Granada Airport (GRX) that has local connections to Madrid, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Melilla. To go to the city center, you can use a special airport bus, a train or a taxi.
I suggest using the airport transfer service Welcome Pickups. Pre-book your transfer from Granada airport for a reasonable price. All the drivers are locals fluent in English! Check the link below!
The airport of Malaga has international destinations, so its a better option for foreign travelers. Also, you can spend some time in Malaga! To go to Granada, take an ALSA bus from the airport. The buses to Granada leave every 1 to 2 hours. The duration of the trip is from 2 hours to 2.5 hours. The price is around 15 Euros.
You can also travel by train. Even though there is no high-speed train to Granada, traveling by train is fast and comfortable. Check the Renfe website for trains to Granada from other Spanish cities, such as Sevilla, Madrid or Barcelona.
For other tips to travel to Spain, check this out:
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2. Granada is one of the cheapest cities in Spain
Granada is a beautiful Andalusian destination and one of the cheapest cities to visit in Spain if you have a limited budget.
In Granada, you can go out for tapas, have a couple of beers and go out for dinner, for about 5 Euros. Also, in many bars, they offer you a big glass of beer for 1.50 Euros and mojitos for 3 Euros. Another thing to know about Granada is that many of the monuments and museums are of free entrance.
You can also save on accommodation; book one of the many lovely hostels in Granada and pay from 10 Euros for a night.
3. How to get tickets to the Alhambra?
The Alhambra Nasrid Palace is, without a doubt, the most precious monument in Granada. The palace is one of the most visited places in the whole of Spain! Because of its popularity, getting tickets to the palace can be difficult. The best thing you can do is to check the availability of the tickets as soon as possible. If you are lucky, buy the tickets and don’t wait for another day.
For spontaneous travelers or the unlucky ones, there are a few alternative solutions:
- Buy the ticket directly at the ticket office. The Alhambra puts on sale every day a limited amount of tickets for that day only. But, be aware that the tickets sell out very fast! For the best chance to get those tickets you should come to the ticket office early and wait in the queue. The ticket office opens at 8 o’clock. So, the early bird gets the worm!
- Get the Granada Card or the Gold Double. Both tourist vouchers include entrance to the Alhambra. It is possible that the general tickets have been sold out but remain on sale through one of these channels. The tickets are independent, so consider the possibility before giving up the visit.
- Get your Alhambra ticket through a private agency. In the worst-case scenario, you can try to get your ticket through a private travel agency. But, keep in mind that the price will be higher than the general admission. Also, in case of incidents, you will have to contact the reseller to solve the problem.
4. Granada is not only the Alhambra
After visiting the magnificent Alhambra, discover other highlights of the city. There are plenty of things to do in Granada, click here for inspiration.
For a full tour of the city, you need at least three days. Check my one-day in Granada itinerary, in case you have only a day for sightseeing.
You cannot miss the streets of Albaicín, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994. For breathtaking views of the city, go to one of the viewpoints at sunset. In the Albaicín neighborhood you will find plenty of Cármenes or typical houses in Granada with beautiful courtyards and fountains.
Also, walk the streets of Barrio del Sacromonte and the old Jewish quarter – Realejo. After doing this, you will already be in love with Granada.
5. Get the Granada Card
Even if you are not used to buying tourist vouchers, see what the Granada card has to offer. If you are staying in Granada for several days, consider getting the card. Get the Granada card and don’t worry about tickets to museums and public transport.
- You will have access to the most emblematic monuments of the city. Don’t worry about tickets to Alhambra, Cathedral and Royal Chapel, Monastery of San Jerónimo and Cartuja, Science Park, and Caja Granada Museum.
- You will get 9 public transport trips in the city.
- Save money. With the Granada Card, you will save 30% of the cost of buying each of the services included. It’s a great option if you love museums and want to save some money.
- Avoid queues. Forget about wasting time in queues at ticket offices. Safe a lot of time and go to museums with the Granada Card.
6. Forget about the car in Granada
Getting around Granada by car is not the best idea. The main downtown streets of Granada are for public transport only. Since the main tourist attractions are quite close to the center, the best way to move around the city is on foot. Besides, walking around the old town is the best way to discover its charms, traditional bars, and narrow streets.
Also, the public transport network connects all corners of Granada. For more information on public transport in Granada, check the next tip.
Leave the car parked in the outskirts, and go to the center by public transport.
Where to park in Granada? Here you go, the best areas to leave your car near the city center of Granada.
- Park your car near Parque de las Ciencias and the Caja Granada Museum. Then, take the main bus line and travel to the center in a few minutes.
- If you travel on the weekend, you can also try your luck and try to leave the car in the blue zone. From Saturday 2 pm these areas are free parking, so you won’t have to worry about your vehicle until Monday.
- The Alhambra is accessible by car, but I do not recommend it since you will have to leave the car in the most expensive parking lot in the city.
7. Public transport in Granada: how it works
Another thing to know about Granada is how to use its public transport system. Check out the most useful tips for traveling to touristic places:
- LAC. The main bus line runs through Granada from North to South. Its operation is similar to that of a metro. Tickets can be purchased at machines located at the stops and it is possible to access the bus through its four doors.
- Downtown Lines (C31, C34 and C30): Minibuses that connect the city center with Albaicín, Sacromonte and Alhambra zones. You can buy the ticket from the driver, the price of one trip is 1.40 euros.
- To go to the city center from the bus station, take a bus that stops at the same stop as the LAC line. Then, use LAC buses to travel where you want.
8. The tapas system in Granada
An important thing to know about Granada is that tapas are mostly free! Usually, you pay for a drink and get some tapas for free. It can be a sandwich, some meat in a sauce, or any snack. If you are in a tourist area, expect to pay more for your drink and get a bit more sophisticated tapas.
For saving some money, go to small bars outside the city center. These places are popular among students, so they offer drinks and food for a very good price. As in any city, the farther away from the main tourist areas you are, the better prices you will get in return.
But if you want to have a real tapas experience and discover every secret about them, join our Traditional Granada Tapas & Wine tour! You won’t regret it!
9. San Nicolás is not the only viewpoint
San Nicolas viewpoint is perfect for taking breathtaking pictures of the Alhambra. But it can be difficult to enjoy the view when the viewpoint gets crowded with tourists. Fortunately, there are other viewpoints in Granada where you can appreciate the beautiful panorama of the city.
- My favorite viewpoint of the city is San Miguel Alto. Climb to the highest viewpoint and enjoy the stunning panorama of the Alhambra, Sacromonte, Albaicín, and the whole city.
- A good view of the Alhambra in Albaicín is from Carvajales’ viewpoint. You will find this viewpoint while wandering the narrow streets of the Albaicín neighborhood.
- Another viewpoint in Albaicín is San Cristóbal. From this viewpoint, you can enjoy the view of the Alhambra, the Cathedral, Sierra Nevada mountains, and many monuments of the city.
- Watch the sunset from the viewpoint of El Ojo de Granada (The Eye of Granada). From here you can see the Cathedral, the roofs of the city centre and the valley.
10. Granada – a youthful university city
Granada is very popular among both Spanish and International students: affordable cost of living, beautiful architecture, and the Andalusian culture draw students to Granada. In fact, Granada has been the city with the most Erasmus students for several years.
There are lots of events at low prices in Granada. The competition of the leisure sector in Granada is high, so the prices are below the Spanish average. Watch an authentic flamenco show, party at clubs, or celebrate with the whole city at the festivals! You can’t get bored in Granada with so many activities.
Also, many faculties of the University of Granada are close to the old town, so the streets of Granada have a youthful atmosphere.
No one dares to deny that Granada has something that excites anyone. So, explore the city and bring home the best memories.
Don’t forget to check out the Andalusian travel blog. Find more places to visit, learn about the Andalusian culture, or try cooking some typical Spanish dishes!