The Alhambra and beyond – a weekend in Granada

Granada, set in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains in southern Spain, is full of amazing Moorish heritage which dates back over 700 years. The pinnacle of this has to be the Alhambra – a compound of lavish palaces, ancient forts and stunning gardens.

The Alhambra has to be the main draw to visit the city, but there’s lots of other things to do here too. You can get through most of the sights in 2 days, but if you want to take your time, a long weekend is perfect to enable you to take in the history, the narrow streets and the amazing food.

So, what are the main attractions in Granada?

ONE. The Alhambra – The Alcazabar

The Alhambra is big. There are parts that are free to visit and then areas that aren’t. The parts that are free includes the Justice Gate, Arab baths, and Palacio de Carlos V. The three parts where you have to pay are the Alcazabar, the Palace and the Gardens. Most people try to do everything in a day, but we took our time and did it over two days.

Portico del Partel at the Alhambra 

Alhambra derives from ‘Al Qal’a al-Hamr’ which means ‘red fort’, and the Alcazabar is the oldest part of the site and was the fortress of the 11th century rulers. The views from here are amazing, across to the Sierra Nevada mountains in one direction, and out over the city in the other.

View from the fortress to the mountains
View of the Alcazabar

TWO. The Alhambra – Nasrid Palace

For this site, there is a strict entry time system so you need to book in advance, and not just arrive when it suits you. The Palace is well worth a visit, with it’s beautiful sutcco and tile work. Two of the main attractions are the Patio de los Arrayanes (Court of the Myrtles), with its serene fountain, and the The Patio de los Leones (Court of the Lions), dating from the reign of Muhammed V in the 1300s.

Courtyard of the Myrtles
Court of the Lions

THREE. The Alhambra – Generalife

This is the area of The Alhambra which is famous for its stunning gardens. All the gardens are planted to stimulate the senses. They looked and smelled beautiful: roses, orange blossom and other scents literally filled the air, and the colours, symmetry, fountains and settings were gorgeous.

FOUR. The Parador Hotel

The terrace of the Parador Hotel is a great spot for lunch or drinks, with overlooking views across the valley and towards the Alhambra palace’s ornate gardens. A great way to spend a couple of hours relaxing.

View from the hotel to Generalife

FIVE. Riverside walk

Strolling along the extremely narrow Carrera del Darro is a nice route for a walk alongside the ‘river’ (it’s more like a stream), and beware the traffic! At the end is a square where you can sit and eat outdoors and look up to the Alhambra looming over the town.

View from Carrera del Darro to the Alhambra

SIX. The Cathedral and Royal Chapel

As with a lot of other churches in the area, it was built on the site of Granada’s great Mosque. Construction began in the 1500s but wasn’t finished until the 1700s – what a building project! The Cathedral is full of huge pillars and a big domed roof, and Isabella and Ferdinand (monarchs whose marriage marked the unification of Spain) are buried in the Royal Chapel.

SEVEN. Albaicin

Declared a World Heritage Site in 1984, this area is lovely to walk around as it retains the narrow winding streets of its Medieval Moorish past dating back hundreds of years. You can work your way up to the Mirador San Nicolas for a view of the Alhambra. The streets are incredibly narrow!

View from Mirador San Nicolas

EIGHT. Pomegranates

Look out for the pomegranates! They are everywhere: on the street furniture, on drainpipes, on stone carvings, everywhere. The Spanish for pomegranate is ‘Grenada’ and the fruit has been adopted as the official symbol of the city.

The food in Granada is also definitely worth a mention. I particularly recommend eating at Sibarius in the Plaza Bib Rambla. The food was so good and reasonably priced that we went twice. The icecream is also delicious, and you can even find smurf ice cream in some shops!

Thanks for stopping by….I don’t know about you, but I’m really starting to struggle in lock down now. I can’t wait to get back to exploring and having the freedom to travel again. It’s scary not knowing how long this will last and what everything will look like when we are out of it!

7 Comments

  1. Is there a place more beautiful than the Alhambra in Granada? We had a chance to visit Alcazar of Seville and would love to go back to Andalusia to see more of its treasures. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 😀 Aiva

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    1. It’s just stunning isn’t it?! A beautiful part of the world… Although your Irish coastal and national park photos definitely give it a run for its money 😊 hope you’re doing OK in lockdown.

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