Granada is that magical little city in Andalusia where history still shines proudly, everywhere you turn. The famous Alhambra sits atop a hill as it’s shining jewel and you’ll never get bored of looking up to see it there, wherever you are in the city.
Two days is the perfect time for Granada, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself booking a return trip, or perhaps, just never leaving.
How to plan your 2 days in Granada
Make the Alhambra your Day 1 priority; if you find you're drawn back on day two, resist the temptation to go again! There is so much more to see in Granada.
On Day 2, continue your march back into history throughout Granada’s past. With influences from many different cultures, you’ll see bathhouses and a chapel left over from centuries past.
Day 1 in Granada
The Alhambra is perhaps one of the most magical places in this world. All the praise you’ve heard still doesn’t do it justice. Spend your first day fully immersed in its courtyards, amongst its geometrical designs and flowering gardens. Alhambra is Spain's 2nd most visited place after La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.
First built in the 8th century then rebuilt and expanded by various rulers throughout the centuries The Alhambra, meaning ‘The Red One’ is the crowning jewel of Granada if not of all of Spain. The Alhambra is a combination of palace and fort and pays tribute to Moorish culture and design. With such beauty comes huge popularity. The high season sees nearly 6,000 daily visitors. If you can come in the off-season you’ll have more chance of a quiet moment.
Without a question, the Alhambra should be booked in advance, tickets do sell out and without advance booking, you may miss a chance to enter at all. €14 gives you access to the Alhambra as well as the gardens. If you do go in high season aim for the first visit in the morning or later in the evening for the quietest times.
There is certainly no use skipping the gardens on a visit to the Alhambra. Described as heavenly, a peaceful oasis and an earthly paradise. The Generalife gardens are truly astonishing. The entrance is included in your Alhambra ticket purchase. Give yourself time to relax and stroll, don’t rush the beauty.
What to see on Day 2
Royal Chapel of Granada and Cathedral
Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand had the chapel built over 500 years ago just next to the cathedral, it was built to be their final resting place. The atmosphere inside the white gothic cathedral is perfect. An audio guide is recommended to help you get all the information to really appreciate the history and architecture surrounding you. While just next to each other, entrance fees are separate for the two attractions. Entrance to the chapel is €4 with an audio guide included and the cathedral costs €5, also with an audio guide.
Look carefully as you walk down the street, the door to this old bath house isn’t very obvious and you might walk right past. These baths, about a thousand years old, built by the Arabs, are one of the few constructions of their kind that weren’t destroyed by the Catholic empire when it arrived. Restored in the early 19th century the bathhouse is nonfunctioning but retains its original splendor. The many rooms that used be an Arab hamam are just as impressive today as ever. Entrance is €2.50
Granada sees more tourists on a weekend
Granada is a beautiful destination and people from nearby areas know it, therefore weekend see higher tourist numbers. The being said there is also a large student population in Granada and they often go home on weekends. In high season, though, numbers are high throughout the week as well. The best time to visit is during the week ideally in low season if your goal is to avoid the large crowds.
Evenings in Granada
If you didn’t get enough of the Alhambra in the daylight hours you can buy a special evening ticket to see the palace lit up under the stars. It’s a special experience and comes highly recommended.
Alternatively, you can watch the Alhambra from afar as the sun sets and truly sets the red one ablaze. The Mirador de San Nicolas is a great place to watch it from before you spend the rest of the evening in the Albaicin quarter below.
Another very traditional experience in Granada is to see Flamenco dance. There are small shows throughout the city (Sacromonte quarter is popular) some more authentic than others. A professional performance is put on each year in the Generalife gardens throughout July and August. Check the online schedule for performances.
Spend longer in Granada if you can...
Two days isn’t enough time to fully embrace the Andalusian way of life. Andalusia is about relaxing, taking slow Paseandos (walks) through the city and chatting with neighbors. To achieve Andalusian perfection you simply need more time.
Tips for a 2 day visit to Granada
Where to stay in Granada?
Sleep as close to the Alhambra as you can get for a magical stay. In fact, it is even possible to stay inside the walls. However, just outside, only 400 meters away is the upscale Eurostars Washington Irving, the vibe there is quite posh and doesn’t have the romantic charm of the rest of Granada but it is a good option all the same. Alternatively, sleep with a stunning view across Granada’s valley to the Alhambra, in El Albaicin. The charming Santa Isabel La real is a great choice.
Walk or Bus around the city
Buses navigate the narrow city streets, a single ride costs €1 or a book of 9 tickets sells for €5.50. Attentively, taxis can be easily found and you shouldn’t pay more than €8 for most places in the city.
Absolutely book the Alhambra in advance and pick your slot. It can be booked online for your chosen day. If you miss planning ahead and arrive without a ticket you can buy a city pass which includes access to the Alhambra, you’ll end up paying more for it but you certainly can’t miss out on going.
City cards and Travelcards
The Granada Card is expensive at €37 and is only worth the purchase if you otherwise aren’t able to buy Alhambra tickets and didn’t book ahead. Transport can be purchased in booklets as mentioned above.
What about walking tours
Walking tours are a great way to see most of a smaller city like Granada. However, keep in mind that Granada is full of hills so you’ll want to have a fair level of fitness to keep up. You could also do a tour only of the Alhambra to get the real deal behind the enchanting place.
Granada’s HoHo option is a small train rather than a bus. There is one route which runs through the day and a second in the evening. This is a great option, especially for anyone who isn’t able to conquer the hills on their own.
Food and drink in Granada
Try Gazpacho for lunch, a cold tomato-based soup is an Andalusian classic for hot summer months. Bacalao, cod, is a basic meal staple and may be presented in a myriad of different ways. Also, keep in mind that Granada is one of the cities in Spain where a tapa is served with every drink order. A wonderful way to eat and drink your way through the day.
If you are with kids
All roads lead back to the Alhambra. Kids will no doubt enjoy the gardens, fountains, and mazes of rooms and arches. Its’ a wonderful area for kids to roam free and happy.
If you have curious minds amongst you head to Granada’s science park where the kids can see butterflies, journey through the human body and much more.
Places to consider visiting if you are a couple
Of course, the Alhambra.
Find a restaurant with a view in the Albaicin, look out across the valley as the Alhambra lits up and the sun sets. With a cocktail in hand. Try Restaurant El Trillo
On a longer trip
If you have more time to explore the area you should take it. One day in the Alhambra, at least another or two more for the rest of Granada and another will take you outside of the city. Aim for a minimum of four days if you want to visit the Alpujarra villages to see traditional Andalusia.