Granada was part of an Andalusian round trip in 2019. This town is a must-visit place in South of Spain, with the beautiful, authentic old town on top of the hill, looking over to the amazing Arabic castle, the Alhambra. Prepare for an unforgettable experience with this travel guide to Granada!
Granada travel guide
Granada is located in Andalusia, at the feet of the Sierra Nevada mountains. The town is at the confluence of four rivers, by name Darro, Genil, Monachil, and Beiro. A breathtaking Andalus town, Granada is the capital of its province.
Granada is popular for many reasons! The first being the Arabic palace, the Alhambra, the Moorish old town of Albaicin, and also for the Rumbas, a Flamenco art form that’s spinning among the streets of the old town.
The history of Granada
This area was populated from thousands of years BC. It first went through the influence of the Roman Empire, and the Visigoths. In the 8th century, Granada went under the rule of the Umayyad Caliphate. Later, in the 11th century, the town was known as Granada of the Jews, as it was highly populated by them. In 1066 the city was again invaded by Arabs, and the ruler, as well as most of the jews, were massacred.
After this period, in the 11th century, the city overgrows the river Darro, including the Albaicin neighborhood and the Alhambra. It became part of the Almohad Caliphate in the 12th century.
Granada was considered a really powerful kingdom in this region across the next centuries, and it was considered a great metropolis of Andalusia. During the centuries, Granada was populated by more entities and religions, each living in a separate quarter. These were the Arabs, Berbers, Christians, and Jews.
In the 15th century the Spanish Christians, by name Ferdinand II of Aragon surrendered Granada to the Catholic Monarchs in 1492. After this, Granada began its journey of development under the Spanish crown.
Traveling to Granada
There are many different ways of how you can travel to Granada. Many visitors are renting a car and include Granada as a stop of their Andalusia itinerary. Besides renting a car, you can travel to Granada from Seville as well as from Malaga, with direct trains.
Considering the prices, the bus is the best option to travel around in Andalusia in usual. There are several buses, departing every hour from most towns and cities. If you’re looking for the most reliable company, I really suggest taking the ALSA buses, but from some destination, you can also travel with FlixBus here. Both options can be booked in advance online!
When to visit?
Hard question! I visited Granada in August, but this period is basically the hottest period in Andalusia! By hot I mean temperatures even between 35-40 °C during the day! Obviously it’s not all summer like that, but it can easily reach that heat! Just consider this before making decisions and picking your dates!
South of Spain, even though the heat is crazy, is mostly visited in the summer, due to its beautiful beaches and seaside towns and cities, such as Malaga or Cadiz.
If you’re looking for city breaks when you’re not forced to hide for the siesta hours during the day, I really recommend picking the Spring or the Autumn for your visit!
Albaicín is the previously mentioned medieval Moorish quarter of the city, built on the hill that’s facing the palace of Alhambra. The buildings in the neighborhood are completely white, with narrow streets and tiny alleyways around the district. One of the most fascinating parts is the tiny alleyways which lead up to the top of Albaicín. Again, all covered in white.
Albaicín is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994. This neighborhood is very popular for the numerous monuments from different ages dating from the 11th century.
Granada Travel Guide: Things to see in Albaicín
- Ziri wall – from the 11th century
- Alhacaba Towers – parts of the wall
- Church of San Miguel Bajo- on Placeta San Miguel Bajo
- Palace of Dar al-Horra
- El Bañuelo – an Arabic bath from the 11th century
- Plaza Aliatar – my personal favorite square
Albaicín is also really famous for its Flamenco artists that are performing around the neighborhood. We’ll soon get back to this, and the Plaza Aliatar!
Alhambra, the Arab palace complex
The top gem of any travel guide to Granada! The Alhambra is one of the main reasons you should visit Granada, and discover its history! Especially, if you’re at least half as much fascinated by the Moorish, Arabic, Jewish, Catholic, and Spanish mix of culture as I am!
On the place of the palace complex of Alhambra was a small fortress in the 9th century, which was ruined, and over the Nasrid Dynasty, it was rebuilt within the 13th century. The emir, Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar built it with some incredible Arabic details, which at some parts are still visible.
Alhambra was converted into a royal palace for the sultan later, in the 14th century. After the reconquest of Granada in 1492, the palace was extended and commissioned into a Renaissance palace, that also has some Mannerist, late Renaissance elements.
Today the Alhambra is considered one of the most important Arabic – Mudejar palaces in Spain, and it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1994. The Moorish poets called it a “pearl set in emeralds” and indeed, the Alhambra is an incredible masterpiece!
It’s located on the other side of the Darro river, facing the Moorish town of Albaicín. The vally near the river is magical, on one side the white town, on the other side the majestic palace of Alhambra.
If you’re planning to visit, make sure to book online, because it’s most likely to not find any available tickets on-site! I’m speaking of personal experience here!
You can get your tickets to Alhambra right here!
Check out this post on details, and getting tickets to Alhambra!
Flamenco in Granada
And here we are, the famous Spanish, well mostly Andalusian art form, the Flamenco. When you look up a travel guide to Granada, they might not include much about how the Flamenco is present in everyday life in the town!
Previously I have mentioned, that the Plaza Aliatar is my favorite square in Albaicín. Why?
It’s because of the Flamenco, and more specifically, the Rumbas!
In Granada, especially in Albaicín, there are many Flamenco, Rumbas artists strolling around the neighborhood, singing, and playing on guitars. It’s rare to not hear the music while you’re exploring the streets and squares of the beautiful neighborhood of Albaicín.
On the square I have mentioned previously, on Plaza Aliatar there’s a very popular restaurant, the Los Caracoles, as well as some other restaurants, where you can enjoy a great meal while listening to Flamenco, and soaking up the vibes of the Moorish white town.
You need to know about these artists, that they are usually stopping by for 1-2 songs, and passing to the next restaurant. The best part of this is that you can have performances all the time. One artist passes, the other one arrives. There are some artists, like the ones I wrote in my post with guitar play in Granada, who usually go in pairs. One is singing, the other one is playing on the guitar. Or they are both playing on guitars and singing.
Either way, this is an amazing, authentic experience you shouldn’t miss!
Where to stay in Granada?
If you’re looking for hostels, there’s the White Nest Hostel, at the feet of Albaicin, as well as the Oasis Backpackers’ Hostel Granada.
I hope this travel guide to Granada answered your questions and you’re inspired and ready to discover this amazing, authentic, white, and colorful town of Andalusia, Spain!