How to Spend 24 Hours in Granada
A City of Multiple Cultures
Offering everything from old-school tapas bars, monumental churches and graffiti art, Granada is home to a mix of Islamic architecture and Catholic history. Most popular is the Alhambra, a beautiful Islamic palace sitting proudly in the heart of Granada; a UNESCO world heritage site, drawing over 2 million tourists every year.
Granada has a special atmosphere unlike any other part of Spain. The people here come from a mix of cultures, each offering something different to the city. My grandparents used to own an apartment here, which I spent time at as a young child. Although I don’t remember my time here, returning as an adult felt both new and familiar all at the same time.
Getting to Granada
Situated at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountains, Granada is one of the few places in the world where you can find yourself both skiing in the mountains and sunbathing on the beach in the same day.
As we were driving around Andalusia, we arrived in Granada via Cordoba, which is roughly a two hour journey. With regular flights into Malaga airport, driving to Granada from here takes just 1.5 hours, with public transport also running direct from Malaga city centre.
24 Hours in Granada
I’m a firm believer in that you can do a lot in 24 hours, and Granada is no exception. There’s a good reason over 2 million tourists are drawn to Granada each year to visit the Alhambra. It’s definitely something that should be on your list for a high priority, but it does require some advance planning.
Tickets can often sell out months in advance, limited to just 6,000 tickets daily, demand often outweighs supply. There are some tickets available on the day but you can expect to wait hours before being granted access. The best option is to book online and print off your own tickets ahead of the visit. Even if you have bought passes online or over the phone and choose to collect the tickets in person, there are long queues to gain them.
9am - 1pm
With your advance tickets bought online for the Alhambra and Generalife, you’ll be up and ready for an early start to make the most of your allocated time slot. The early morning booking is the best time of day to explore before both the crowds and heat hits. There is so much to see in the Alhambra it’s worth dedicating some time to explore, before working up an appetite for some tapas.
Take a short walk down into the old town to grab a spot of tapas before the shops and bars close for siesta. Granada is a melting pot of cultures each offering their own unique twist on tapas. Our favourite was Bodegas Castañeda, packed with locals and offering an extensive selection of local meats, be sure to shout your order to be heard over the noise!
2pm - 4pm
Live life like a local for a while and enjoy the perks of a siesta. Find a shaded spot out of the heat of the mid-day sun to enjoy a glass of wine and read your book, or even take a nap after a busy morning exploring the Alhambra. It’s hard work being a tourist you know.
As sunset approaches, it’s worth taking a short hike up into the hills of Granada for the best view over the city and out towards the Alhambra. Begin heading into the Sacromonte neighbourhood. An area filled with winding roads and cave-homes that were once inhabited by gypsies, these offer impressive views across to the Alhambra. As you wind through the labyrinth of the Albaicin, home to narrow alleyways, cobbled streets and small plazas, at the top you’ll be rewarded by spectacular views from San Nicolas Square.
Time for more food? Oh go on then, you’ve earned it after that big hike up to the top of San Nicolas Square. Head to Farala for a contemporary take on traditional Spanish cuisine, including seafood, as well as catering for those with dietary requirements. They also offer a 6 course tasting menu if you’re feeling particularly hungry!
With the benefit of a siesta, you’ll be awake and ready to enjoy the nightlife of Granada. With countless bars open late into the night, you’ll be in good company with the locals and tourists alike here. Grab a blanket and a bottle of wine and sit outside to admire the stars as night draws in on an adventure packed day in Granada.
where we stayed
As we were travelling by car, we chose to stay somewhere that offered parking as well as being local to the historic city of Granada. Situated just outside the gates to the Alhambra, Hotel Alixares offered us just that. With Granada’s old town only 10 minutes walk away, it was the perfect retreat after a busy day exploring the hustle and bustle of Granada life, as well as having quick access to the Alhambra. Book now.