If you’re thinking about visiting Andalucia, then Granada is probably on your list of cities to see. We would recommend that you don’t miss it.
Granada has a beautiful setting, surrounded by the Sierra Nevada mountains. The city has a long history which is evident from its contrasting neighbourhoods and spectacular medieval architecture. We had two full days in Granada and decided to spend one of them at the Alhambra. This meant that we only had one other day to look around Granada. It’s rare that I don’t wish I had longer to spend in a new city and Granada was no exception! We tried to see as much as possible with two small children in tow.
If you’re planning on sightseeing in Granada then do consider buying the Granada Card – you’ll get free access to lots of attractions and some bus trips are also included (details in the link above). It’s also a useful way of getting full-day tickets to the Alhambra.
What to see in Granada with kids
Yep, another cathedral.
Entry was included in our Granada Card, and it’s right in the town centre so we thought we’d look in. It did have a very different feel to the other cathedrals we’d seen in Seville and Cordoba, so it wasn’t too much of a chore.
As with other Spanish cathedrals you’ll be treated to spectacular architecture and some beautiful artwork, especially in the handwritten books displayed. The ceiling above the altar was particularly striking – even the Cub thought it was pretty.
If you’re a history buff then you’ll find the Capilla Real interesting; some of the most famous Spanish monarchs are buried here, including Ferdinand and Isabella.
You can pick up an audio tour which was very informative, but I did let it wash over me. I think the kids’ version was better!
The Alcaicería and the Albaícin
Granada has even more of a Moorish influence than Seville and Cordoba. In parts, anyway. It’s quite a diverse city; the plazas feel very European, but just around the corner it’s almost as if you’ve stepped onto another continent.
Near the cathedral there’s a maze of narrow streets, the Alcaicería, lined with shops selling things like Arabic tea sets and lamps. These streets feel like a more sanitised and touristy version of souks in Morocco or Turkey. Still, lots of fun can be had poking about in the shops and drooling over the wares (if you’re a sucker for Arabic-style decor, like me).
Venture further into the former Muslim district, the Albaicín, and you’ll find lots of Arabic tea shops. We couldn’t resist getting lunch in one, although we decided that a water pipe wasn’t the best example to set for the kids.
Here we definitely felt as though we were outside of Europe. The Cub, a true magpie, was enchanted by all the sparkly lamps and tea sets. I feel a trip to Morocco coming on…
Plaza Mirador St Nicolás
You can get an incredible view of the Alhambra from the hillside opposite. To reach the best viewpoint you can walk up the hill through the streets of the Albaicín to Plaza Mirador St Nicolás.
Walk from the Plaza Nuevo along the riverside. The House of Zafra is included in the Granada Card and is conveniently on the way up the hillside. It’s a traditional home built around a central pool, and a great example of architecture from the 14th century. Unfortunately it was closing just as we arrived, although we were still able to have a quick peek inside.
Just don’t do this walk at the hottest part of the day, like we did. Melting, we sought refuge in a cafe opposite where we ordered some drinks and attempted to chill out for a bit. Afterwards, just next door, we found some delicious ice cream which we ate on the way back down to the town centre.
The evening is an ideal time for this walk; you can watch the Alhambra take on its red colours in the changing light as the sun sets.
Worn out by the heat of the city, that’s pretty much what we managed to see in Granada. It’s a shame we didn’t have longer as there is plenty more to see.
What we missed in Granada
There’s much more to see than the things we managed; the tourist information office in Plaza del Carmen was very helpful. The friendly staff there explained how to use the Granada Card and how to get to the included attractions. It’s worth popping in to get your bearings.
Things we had to miss out on included the Science Museum, which has lots of activities aimed at children. There are also a few more historical sights which have free entry with the Granada Card – there are two interesting looking monasteries and the Cuarto Real which is the former residence of Spanish queens. El Banuelo, the former Moorish baths, are also highly recommended.
And if the hot temperatures are getting too much for your kids, there’s a small water park located on the outskirts of Granada called Aquaola. It’s €16 for an adult and €10 for a child over 95cm tall.
Know before you go
Getting there and away
Granada is easily reached by car and train.
We travelled around Andalucia by train. Granada was our final stop on our itinerary after Cordoba. Part of the route was by a rail replacement bus service, but the change was easy and the bus ran on time. We left Granada for Malaga; again the route was easily done and all services were on time.
Granada also has its own international airport. When I planned our route the cheapest air fares by far were travelling to and from Malaga so if cost is an issue I’d recommend Malaga as your entry point to Andalucia.
What to eat in Granada
Granada is famed as one of the few places left in Spain where you will be offered free tapas when ordering a drink.
Good areas for finding tapas are Plaza Nueva and Plaza Bib Rambla near the cathedral, although there are many tapas routes you can take. We had some good tapas in Plaza Bib Rambla.
Otherwise, you can find pretty much any type of cuisine in Granada. As our kids are pretty picky we grabbed a pizza in a large touristy restaurant in Plaza Nueva. We also ate in our hotel which wasn’t amazing, but the kids were too tired for us to venture out again!
Where to stay in Granada
We stayed at Hotel Alixares. It’s just outside of Granada’s city centre, situated on the hill just behind the Alhambra, so visiting the Alhambra was straightforward. It did mean that we had a longer walk down into the city but this was through the Alhambra’s forest. Dense, green and cool, the walk was very pleasant but it’s a long walk for little legs.
You can take a shuttle bus from the Alhambra to the city if you’re not British (and therefore compelled to walk everywhere).
There are a couple of hotels inside the Alhambra itself, and of course there’s plenty of choice in the city centre.
Have you been to Granada with kids? What did you manage to see?