Granada is a fascinating tourist destination with a very expressive cultural and historic heritage. The city is lucky to have a wide range of monuments, landmarks and locations to discover. The whole planet knows the stunning Alhambra fortress or the Albaicin Moorish quarter, but Granada is also famous for its modern architecture, street art, colorful fiestas, and a unique culture of tapas bars.
This attraction definitely tops the list of Granada’s best sights. The original 9th-century citadel is the most large-scale monument in southern Spain preserved to the present day. While it was under the Moorish rule, the fort was massively rebuilt in the early 13th century. Its most highly valued sights are the 13th-century Nasrid palaces with lavishly decorated interiors.
The Generalife palace used to be a shaded getaway for the Moorish sultans especially popular during hot summers. The artistic flowerbeds, narrow paths, elaborate arches and whitewashed buildings convey a spirit of tranquility and reconciliation. The Generalife also offers great views of Albaicin, the city’s most impressive quarter.
Carmen de los Martires
The gardens of Carmen de los Martires is a great place to wander around once you get to the hill near Alhambra. The Gardens may suffer from being a neighbor of such a tourist superpower as the Alhambra fortress. They are very rarely flooded by tourists, but this is a huge mistake to deprive yourself of the chance to contemplate this beauty among ponds and shaded winding paths. Amidst the gardens Carmen de los Martires there is a romantic tower from where the whole city can be seen to advantage.
A tour of Granada would be unfinished without seeing its most notable Moorish neighborhood, Albaicín. This location in Granada is its heart and soul due to a maze of atmospheric cobbled streets, Plaza Larga with its atmospheric flea market, the scent of jasmine coming from the local squares, and a myriad of white houses. The main square of Albaicin is called Mirador San Nicolás. It is located uphill, so it takes some time and effort to reach it, but the visitors are rewarded with the best panorama of the Sierra Nevada and the downhill part of the city.
Palacio De Dar Al-Horra
This traditional Moorish palace belongs to Albaicín’s best, though often overlooked, architectural landmarks. It used to be the residence of Moorish sultans and kings of Granada. The palace has a pool and a courtyard; the building itself has three levels with lots of rooms, according to the architectural tradition of that time. The premises of the palace once used to be spacious gardens.
Bar La Fragua
If you are looking for a good place to stop for tapas, you need to visit Bar La Fragua in Albaicín. In the friendly atmosphere of this bar, you can enjoy some of the best local beers and wines. A dinner at this bar will be cheap but decent, and you will definitely experience the best of Albaicin’s lifestyle and charm.
Gypsy quarters often become vibrant attractions with a very distinctive culture. Sacromonte is no exception. It is noted for cave dwellers, random flamenco performances, and shelters from wood, glass, cloth, and rusty metal where some of the locals live with minimal conveniences. Getting to know this raw energy of a gypsy quarter, you can attend a staged flamenco performance at Venta del Gallo or drop in to Bar Pibe, which looks like a patio with a lovely terrace offering a great panorama of the Alhambra.
Abbey of Sacromonte
When in the 17th-century Archbishop Pedro de Castro ordered to build an abbey for seclusion and asceticism of monks and martyrs, he could hardly expect that the Abbey of Sacromonte would transfigure into a popular historical attraction. For a small sum of money, you can visit the interiors and take a tour of the Holy Caves.
Due to a long period of construction – over 180 years – Granada’s Cathedral combines the features of Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance architecture. Even today, the Cathedral stands unfinished: it was designed to have two 80-meter towers, but none of them was finished. Yet, the building has a recognizable façade and an awesome design, which proves to be enough to draw tourists.
Museum of Fine Arts
More than 2,000 religious and secular paintings are kept in the Museum of Fine Arts, making it worthy of a visit. The oldest samples date back to the 16th century and remind about the Catholic conquest that Granada, a Moorish territory, experienced at that time.
A lovely neighborhood and the Jewish quarter, Realejo is better to explore on foot. While wandering in the neighborhood, you will see the charming and obscure Church of Santo Domingo and the shabby walls displaying the street art works by Raul Ruiz, aka El Niño.
Carrera del Darro
Carrera del Darro is one of Granada’s most recognizable streets, running from the Plaza Nueva, along the banks of the Darro River and reaches Albaicín. It is famous for its medieval buildings with dilapidated façades covered with lush creeping plants.
Granada’s Moorish Baths belong to the oldest relics of this kind. Built in the 11th century, about a thousand years ago, they still have well-preserved intricate archways and exquisite domed ceilings, as though time is helpless in the face of this great manmade sample of architecture.
Feria is an annual one-week-long holiday, which is also held in other cities. In Granada, the festival takes place in June, when women put on their traditional flamenco dresses. Street flamenco performances and feasts fueled by lavish foods and drinks seem unstoppable.
Plaza Nueva is Granada’s main square surrounded by restaurants, terraced cafes, and tapas bars that are loved by tourists. Yet, the most atmospheric venues are Bodega Castañeda, Casa Julio, and Los Diamantes. Seafood, fried fish, tapas, meaty gambas, and Alhambra beer are just a few mouth-watering dishes and drinks that you ought to try when you happen to be somewhere near these hotspots.