Is Granada Worth Visiting Without Alhambra? 13 Reasons To Visit

Is Granada Worth Visiting Without Alhambra? 13 Reasons To Visit

Are you wondering if Granada is worth visiting without Alhambra?

The answer is yes, it definitely is!

I have visited Granada six times and have been to Alhambra three times, and Granada is like my second home. Granada will impress you with its historical sites beyond the Alhambra, stunning gardens, beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites and authentic Andalusian cuisine.

In this guide, I will offer tips for discovering beautiful places and hidden gems in Granada, together with practical tips for planning your trip and making the most out of your time in Granada.

Let’s dive in!

View of the Palace of Charles V from the towers of Alcazaba in Alhambra complex.
View of the Palace of Charles V from the towers of Alcazaba in Alhambra complex.
Is Granada Worth Visiting Without Alhambra

When is the Best Time to Visit Granada?

I have visited Granada in all seasons, and I think the best time to visit is in late spring or early autumn. The worst time to visit is in the summer, due to the number of tourists and high temperatures, reaching over 40C regularly.

If you can’t choose when to visit, I’m confident you will still love your stay in Granada, you just need to prepare for the weather conditions.

Is Granada Worth Visiting Without Alhambra

13 Things to Do in Granada Without Alhambra

Granada is rich with history, culture, and vibrant street life that extends far beyond its most famous landmark. Here are some compelling reasons to visit Granada beyond the Alhambra.

Here is a handy map you can open on your phone with all the interesting sites and locations clearly marked, so its easy to follow when you’re exploring:

1. The Historic Albayzín District

The Albayzín (often spelled Albaicin) is a historic district of Granada that itself feels like a living museum.

Wander through its narrow, winding streets lined with traditional whitewashed houses. The area offers spectacular views of the Alhambra from various viewpoints, such as Mirador de San Nicolás. The atmosphere here, especially at sunset, is truly magical.

A word of warning: the streets in Albaicin are pretty old, mostly cobblestone streets, so keep that in mind and wear comfortable walking shoes. If you’re traveling with a baby, a stroller with wider wheels will tackle these better, or a baby carrier is a good option.

Sunrise at Mirador Saint Nicholas, Granada
Sunrise at Mirador San Nicolas in Granada.

2. Flamenco Shows in Sacromonte

Sacromonte, a neighborhood famed for its cave houses, is the heart of Granada’s Romani community and a fantastic place to experience an authentic flamenco show.

The intimate performances held in the caves combine passionate dancing, guitar playing, and singing, offering a deep dive into Andalusian culture.

Flamenco shows are available almost every night of the week, with limited performances in the winter season.

Flamenco at Cueva Los Tarantos, Granada
Flamenco at Cueva los Tarantos in Sacromonte cave.

3. Taste Free Tapas

Granada is one of the few cities in Spain where you can still get free tapas with each drink you order at most bars.

This makes bar-hopping an exciting and delicious way to explore the city. Each bar has its own specialty, from classic Spanish omelets to more inventive dishes like octopus or local cheeses.

Kiosko Las Titas in Granada, Spain
Free tapas with our drink in Granada.

4. Visit Granada Cathedral

Even without the Alhambra, Granada is filled with historical sites worth visiting. The Granada Cathedral is a stunning example of Spanish Renaissance architecture.

Don’t miss the Royal Chapel, where the Catholic Monarchs are buried. Get your tickets online in advance, they are quite popular.

Opening Times for Granada Cathedral: Mondays to Saturdays: 10:00 to 18:15 and Sundays: 15:00 to 18:15

Tickets to Granada Cathedral: 6 euros for adults, under 12 years old are free

Location: Gran Vía de Colón, 5, Centro, 18001 Granada


Get the tickets for the 5 important religious monuments in Granada here and save 35% on the total price.
the cupula at Granada Cathedral, Andalucia, Spain
Inside the Granada Cathedral.

5. Hiking or Skiing in Sierra Nevada

If you love nature and outdoor activities, the proximity of Granada to the Sierra Nevada mountains is a huge plus.

In winter, the Sierra Nevada is a popular skiing destination. During the rest of the year, it offers excellent hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking trails.

6. Vibrant Street Life and Festivals

Granada buzzes with life and activities. From the street art in Realejo to the bustling markets like Alcaicería, the original Moorish silk market, there’s always something to see.

Additionally, Granada hosts numerous festivals throughout the year, including the International Festival of Music and Dance and the colorful Corpus Christi festival.

7. Exploring the Gardens

Aside from the famous Generalife Gardens of the Alhambra, Granada is home to many other beautiful parks and gardens.

The Carmen de los Mártires offers lush gardens and a small lake, making it a perfect spot for a leisurely afternoon.

Fountain at Carmen de los Martires, in Granada, Southern Spain.
Lush gardens at Carmen de los Martires.

8. Relax in Arab Baths

Following a tradition that dates back to the Moorish times, Granada offers several hammams or Arab baths where you can unwind.

The most popular one of these – Hammam al Andalus, often beautifully tiled and atmospherically lit, provide a variety of services, including massages and aromatherapy. Hammam al Andalus is located right on Plaza Nueva at the beginning of Albaicin district.

9. Explore the Caves in Sacromonte

Sacromonte is known as Granada’s cave district and flamenco cradle. To this day, many people still live in the old caves carved into the side of the rocks. You can explore these yourself if you visit the Sacromonte Cave Museum, located high up on the hill in Sacromonte.

A few of these caves are also available to rent on Airbnb, and you can see them if you book a flamenco performance in a Sacromonte Cave.

Inside the cave in the Sacromonte Cave Museum.
Inside the cave in the Sacromonte Cave Museum.

10. Marvel at the Religious Sites

Granada is home to some of the most spectacular religious sites, my favourite one is the Basilica of San Juan de Dios, in the center of Granada. This Baroque masterpiece covered in gold will take your breath away!

Not far from the Basilica, you will find the Monastery of San Jeronimo, another beautiful historic site that’s well worth a visit.

Last, on the edge of Albaicin, there are two places worth your attention – the La Cartuja Monastery with its famous Sacristy, and up on the hills behind Sacromonte you will find Sacromonte Abbey with a small church hidden underground in the caves.

Basilica San Juan de Dios, Granada
Behind the altar at Basilica San Juan de Dios, Granada.

11. Taking Kids to the Science Park

Every time I go to Granada, I have to take my kids to the Science Park. We’ve been there so many times I lost count!

The park is not your standard museum, it’s an interactive place with huge outdoor space, observation deck, planetarium a small Biodome where monkeys run free, and themed exhibitions. The building itself is pretty spectacular, and every time we visit, a temporary exhibition are taking place, offering something new to see each time.

The tickets to the museum are very affordable, only 7 euros for adults, but you pay extra if you want to go to the Biodome or the Planetarium.

Buy your tickets online in advance here to avoid waiting in the line.

Opening Times: Tuesday to Saturday from 10 am to 7 pm, Sundays from 10 am to 3 pm, closed on Mondays and bank holidays.

Location: Avenida de la Ciencia, Granada

Science Museum of Granada, Spain
Science Park in Granada.

12. Exploring Tea Rooms

Another must do every time I go to Granada is visiting a tea room, my favourite is the Kasbah Teteria on Calle Caldereria Nueva, just off from Plaza St Ana in Albaicin.

This beautifully decorated teteria has a long list of exotic tea options, traditional Arabic desserts, and even belly dancers at the weekends.

My go-to is the Beduin tea, but they also have de-caffeine blends and flower teas. If you’re there, taste the pancakes with ice cream and local Granada liquor.

The other popular option is Teteria Banuelo, which has a nice outdoor terrace with Alhambra views.

La Teteria del Banuelo, Granada - Spain
The terrace at Teteria Banuelo in Granada.

13. Exploring Other Historic Sites

If you can’t make it to Alhambra, fear not. There are plenty of other historical sites that will keep you busy for days.

Casa del Chapiz is probably the closest you get to experiencing Alhambra without visiting -the courtyard layout is very similar and even some of the decorations are in Alhambra style. The other building closely connected to Alhambra is Palacio dal al Horra, also known as the Queen’s Home.

On the official website, you can buy the ‘Andalusian Monuments’ tickets, which will give you access to Queen’s Home and three other monuments at a discounted price. The other monuments are El Banuelo, Corral del Carbón, Bañuelo, Casa Morisca (C/Horno de Oro). I visited all of them apart from Casa Morsica, still on my list!

The Andalusian Monuments ticket is also available if you visit one of the monuments – I recommend starting with El Banuelo and then making your way through Albaicin to see the rest of them.

The ticket is valid for one day and you have until 5pm to see all the monuments, which shouldn’t be a problem at all.

Casa del Chapiz in Granada, Spain
Casa del Chapiz is on the edge of Sacromonte district.
Is Granada Worth Visiting Without Alhambra

How to Visit Granada

Granada has excellent transport connections to almost all big cities in Southern Spain. There are high speed Renfe trains connecting Granada with Malaga (only 1 hour), Seville, Cordoba and even Madrid.

Bus connections are also very good; I regularly take the local direct bus between Malaga and Granada. Buses are a great option for traveling from other cities in Costa del Sol, too.

The bus and train station in Granada is only about 10 minute taxi drive from the center of the city and the old town (Albaicin). If you’re driving your own car, I recommend staying somewhere central because the hotels and apartments in Albaicin have very limited parking options.

Day Trips to Granada from Southern Spain

Another great way to visit Granada is by planning a day trip from where you’re staying in Southern Spain.

Here is the great news: a day trip to Granada with a tour company also includes tickets to Alhambra, so you can still see the monument even if you can’t buy tickets online anymore.

It is usually the most convenient and also cheapest option to visit Granada and Alhambra, without the hassle of driving a car and navigating the local traffic.

The day trips are available even in winter, with free cancellation and the option to book now and pay later.

Check out the day trip options from Malaga, Seville, Cordoba and even smaller places on Costa del Sol like Fuengirola, Marbella, Benalmadena, Torremolinos, Estepona or Nerja.

The buses typically start in Malaga and collect passengers along Costa del Sol before heading towards Granada.

How Long Do You Need for Granada?

If you’re visiting Granada without Alhambra, I recommend allowing at least two full days to see the main sights.

Ideally, you would have 3 to 4 days to explore, to get the most out of your stay in Granada and to be able to explore at a slow pace.

Winter sunset from Mirador San Miguel Alto, Granada.
Winter sunset from Mirador San Miguel Alto, Granada.
Is Granada Worth Visiting Without Alhambra

One Day Itinerary For Granada Without Alhambra

Here’s a one-day itinerary that lets you soak in the city’s unique charm and lesser-known gems, even without visiting Alhambra.

Morning: Granada Cathedral & the Royal Chapel

Start your day in Plaza Nueva, a bustling square that’s perfect for a hearty Andalusian breakfast.

Grab a café con leche, or cafe solo (small black coffee) and some churros or a tostada with tomato and olive oil at one of the local cafés. Energized, stroll over to the Royal Chapel of Granada, just a short walk away.

This historical mausoleum holds the remains of Catholic Monarchs Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand II. The chapel is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture with a stunning collection of Flemish paintings and elaborate tombs. You can get the tickets online here.

Mid-Morning: Explore the Albaicín

After the chapel, head to the Albaicín, Granada’s old Muslim quarter.

This district is a UNESCO World Heritage site, characterized by narrow winding streets and whitewashed houses. Wander through the labyrinth of alleys and take in the stunning views of the city from the Mirador de San Nicolás. Don’t forget to grab a fresh juice or a Moorish pastry from one of the local vendors.

Lunch: Andalusian Tapas

For lunch, indulge in some authentic Andalusian cuisine at a local taverna. Try some classic tapas like patatas bravas, jamón ibérico, and local cheeses. Pair it with a glass of chilled sangria or a local wine.

Check out my favourite restaurants in Granada in this post.

Afternoon: Visit to Sacromonte

Post-lunch, make your way to the Sacromonte neighborhood, famous for its traditional cave homes which now serve as flamenco venues.

Visit the Sacromonte Abbey to delve a bit into the religious history and the gypsy culture that influences the area. The views of the Alhambra from Sacromonte are also spectacular, offering a different perspective on the iconic landmark.

Late Afternoon: Shopping at Alcaicería

Head back towards the city center to the Alcaicería, the ancient Moorish silk market. Now it’s a bustling bazaar that offers everything from spices and silks to handmade souvenirs. It’s the perfect place to pick up a unique memento of your trip. Stop for a drink at Plaza Bib Rambla, right behind the Alcaiceria.

Evening: Tapas and Flamenco Show

As the sun sets, find your way to one of Granada’s many tapas bars. Many bars in Granada offer a free tapa with every drink, so it’s a wonderful way to try different local specialties. After some tapas, end your day with a passionate flamenco show. The intimate setting of a Sacromonte cave makes for an unforgettable experience.

This itinerary skips the Alhambra but certainly not the spirit and charm of Granada. Enjoy your day soaking in the rich culture and lively atmosphere of this beautiful Spanish city!

City center in Granada with view of the Cathedral tower.
City center in Granada with view of the Cathedral tower.
Is Granada Worth Visiting Without Alhambra

Where to Stay in Granada

On all of my trips to Granada, I stayed in Albaicin because it’s the best location for exploring the city. You are just a stroll away from the main square – Plaza Nueva, where you will find restaurants, cafes, shops, taxi rank, mini buses going towards Alhambra or Sacromonte.

From the Albaicín, you are also within walking distance to many of Granada’s other attractions, including the bustling city center and the serene Generalife gardens.

Hotel Options in the Albaicín

1. Hotel Casa Morisca

Situated at the foot of the Alhambra, Hotel Casa Morisca offers an exquisite blend of Moorish architecture and modern comforts. The hotel is housed in a refurbished 15th-century building, featuring a tranquil courtyard and rooms with views of the Alhambra.

2. Palacio de Santa Inés

This boutique hotel is nestled in the heart of the Albaicín and dates back to the 16th century. The Palacio de Santa Inés retains much of its original charm and offers a picturesque setting with a view of the Alhambra from many of its rooms.

3. Hotel Casa 1800

This charming hotel in a traditional Andalusian house with a pretty patio was my first ever stay in Granada. It’s just 5 minute stroll to the river Darro, with spacious rooms and beautiful historic setting.

Hotel Casa 1800, Granada
Hotel Casa 1800 in Granada.

Tips for Booking Apartments

Granada is a popular destination year-round. To secure a good apartment in the Albaicín, especially if you want one with Alhambra views, you need to book a few months in advance.

Given the historical nature of the Albaicín, not all buildings may offer modern amenities like elevators or air conditioning. Always check what amenities are available and consider what you might need to ensure a comfortable stay.

Many of the apartments are higher up in the hills, which would mean dragging your luggage through the narrow cobblestone streets, as most are not accessible by car, so keep that in mind. If that’s a concern, look for apartments closer to river Darro at the bottom of the hill.

Staying in the Albaicín allows you to experience a more authentic side of Granada, away from the typical tourist paths. Whether you choose the comfort of a boutique hotel or the convenience of an apartment, you’ll find that this historic area offers a memorable backdrop to your Granada adventure.

Is Granada Worth Visiting Without Alhambra


I hope this article has convinced you that Granada is well worth visiting without Alhambra, and it offers plenty of experiences and exciting places to discover. As I already mentioned, I have visited the city six times, and it always surprises me with new places and beautiful discoveries.

If there is something specific you want to know to plan your trip, leave a comment below, and I will be happy to help!

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Save these images to your Pinterest profile so you can get back to the article later! Also don’t forget to check out my boards for the best photography locations in Granada, the best things to do in Granada and also other places to discover in Southern Spain!

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Lucia has been living on Costa del Sol since 2020, and through her love of photography and travel, she has been documenting the best places to see in Southern Spain and uncovering hidden gems only known to locals. All the articles on Viva La Vita are written based on personal experience and local expertise.

Hi, I'm Lucia

At Viva La Vita, I will help you to discover Southern Spain like a local!

I've been living on Costa del Sol since 2020, and fill these pages with first-hand insights, personal experience and practical tips that will help you plan a wonderful trip to Spain.

Make yourself at home and find the best places to explore in Andalusia and beyond.

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