If you’re staying in Malaga, you’re in luck – it’s the perfect location to explore the beauty of Andalusia and Costa del Sol. In this article, you will find detailed information on how to plan your Malaga to Granada day trip, with all the options available to you.
Best of all – as I live next to Malaga and have visited Granada four times already, I can share many practical tips and local insights you won’t find anywhere else.
Are you ready to explore your options?
Below you will find a detailed breakdown of all the different options to do a day trip from Malaga to Granada. If you prefer to book one with a tour company right away, I have included my recommended local travel company below – just click the link to see prices & availability.
At Glance: Your Options for Malaga To Granada Day Trip
There are four ways you can make this day trip – some more convenient than others. Here is an overview of each, followed by a detailed breakdown of each travel option.
LOCAL TOUR COMPANY DAY TRIP – usually the most convenient and cost-effective option, especially if you want to have a tour of Alhambra with a local guide. Tickets to Alhambra can be very hard to get on your own, no matter what the season, so this option guarantees you can get inside the palace on your trip to Granada. Click here to check the prices & availability for this day trip option.
DAY TRIP WITH RENTAL CAR – renting a car is easy and you get the best prices if you use Discover Cars, which I always recommend. The only thing you need to remember is that you should get your tickets to Alhambra as soon as possible as they tend to sell out really fast, and you don’t want to miss seeing Alhambra if you’re already travelling to Granada.
DAY TRIP WITH PUBLIC TRANSPORT – Malaga is well connected with Granada with buses and trains, which makes this also an easy alternative for exploring the city. It’s important to check your arrival times in advance to ensure you can get to your Alhambra tour on time, as the tickets have a dedicated time slot (read more below). You can quickly check bus options at Omio and train tickets at Trainline.
DAY TRIP WITH TAXI – for those who prefer private transport, getting a taxi or uber is also certainly an option. To get the best price for this trip, I recommend getting a quote from Get Transfer website which I used many times and they always give you the best prices available, especially for long-distance trips.
MALAGA TO GRANADA DAY TRIP
1. DAY TRIP WITH LOCAL TRAVEL COMPANY
The most popular option for this trip is to use a tour organised by a local travel company, which saves you from the hassle of driving a car and navigating the local traffic, or navigating public transport while getting to Granda.
Here are some of the advantages of using a local travel company for this day trip:
- convenient pick up and drop off locations in central Malaga
- runs 4 times per week, giving you lots of options to pick the day for your trip
- skip the line tickets to the Alhambra monument are already included in the price
- English-speaking guide for Nasrid Palace
- travel in a comfortable air-conditioned bus
- free time in Granada to explore on your own
- book online in just a few clicks – all you need is your ID and payment card
- the tickets to Alhambra are issued as personal ones and checked against the ID at the entrance, don’t forget to bring your ID with you for this trip
For this trip, I would recommend securing your spot as soon as you know the details of your stay in Malaga, as it’s very popular and it could be already sold out for the week you might be in Malaga.
IS IT SOLD OUT? If you check the day trip option below and you don’t see available dates anymore, you still have the option to go to Granada on your own, with a rental car or train/bus, BUT you should get your Alhambra tickets as soon as possible if you want to see the palace, as the tickets do sell out quite fast.
MALAGA TO GRANADA DAY TRIP
2. DAY TRIP WITH RENTAL CAR
If you are planning to rent a car for your stay in Malaga, it makes the most sense to make this day trip with the car. I have outlined the journey in the map below.
If you still haven’t found the perfect car rental place for your trip, I can highly recommend Discover Cars – I always get the best prices from them. They are an award-winning price comparison platform which sources price quotes from local and international car rental companies, giving you the best price possible for your trip.
Add your trip details below to get a quick car rental quote!
Pick up location: you can use the address of your hotel, or if you’re travelling directly from the airport, use the terminal address. They will park the car for you by the terminal building.
Return location: the search is set up by default, with the return location being the same as the pickup location.
Small print: on top of the search button, you will see a small note about the driver’s country of residence and age – make sure that reflects your residence and age so you get the most accurate quote for car rental.
ISSUES WITH CAR RENTALS AND SCAMS TO AVOID
Allow plenty of time before picking up and dropping off your car, especially if you have a flight to catch. Make sure you can deal with any issues without missing your flight.
Car defects: before you get into the car and drive off, check the contract for the car for any declared defects and inspect the car in person, taking photos of any issues you might spot that are not covered in the contract. Notify the member of staff to update the contract. Take a photo of the dashboard when you leave and arrive to have proof of the fuel levels.
Car equipment: it is a legal requirement to have a spare tire in the car, together with the yellow vest, medicine box, repair kit and safety triangles. Make sure you check them.
Petrol charges: if the company’s policy is to refund a full tank of fuel, make sure you know their rates before agreeing to this. Also, check if there are extra admin charges for fueling up the car if you were supposed to return it with full fuel.
Making complaints: if you have any issues with the company, ask for a complaints book – it’s a legal requirement to have it and to be able to use it. The book has three copies: one for the customer, one for the local authority and one for the company. If they would refuse to hand it over, you can call the police, and they will ensure you can fill it in.
Child seats: some car companies have accessive charges for child seats, so if you’re travelling with two kids, it can cost you hundreds of euros extra just to have a seat for your little ones. If this applies to you, and you don’t want to pay for seat rentals, you can always order some at amazon.es and get them delivered to your hotel or accommodation.
Navigation: a lot of companies use excessive charges for the use of GPS navigation when you really don’t need to pay for it. You can use many free app-based GPS navigations, which will work even without any data roaming.
DRIVING FROM MALAGA TO GRANADA
Travel options for the 131 km (81 miles) trip from Malaga to Granada are two basic routes:
Option 1: The first route goes through the mountains and heads up North, passing the village of Loja and entering Granada through Santa Fe area. This journey would take about 1.5 hours.
Option 2: You can also choose the drive along the coastline after Malaga and then head up North after Almunecar. I would suggest that this is probably the more picturesque route, with a few stopping options on your way (Nerja or Frigiliana would be a good stopover place). This journey, without stopping takes 1 hour and 48 minutes, so it’s slightly slower.
Estimated toll fees: these should be toll-free
PARKING IN GRANADA
This map will show you all the available parking locations in Granada.
HOW TO PLAN YOUR DAY TRIP
Here are a few things you should know:
- first of all, get your tickets to Alhambra well in advance before you get to Granada
- time your arrival in Granada correctly, giving yourself plenty of time to find parking space before you have to get to Alhambra (presuming you get the early morning tickets)
- check parking options in Granada in advance, especially so if you’re planning to get to Alhambra – in that case it may be much easier to park somewhere in central Granada and take a local taxi there
- Granada is pretty big, but you can fit in a lot in just a single day – check my recommendations below
- at the end of the article you will also find some useful tips for visiting Granada, and Alhambra in particular
WHAT TO SEE ONCE YOU GET TO GRANADA
Presuming you arrive in Granada early in the morning, here is my suggestion for your program:
MORNING: Visiting Alhambra, Alcazaba and Generalife Gardens. The palace grounds, Alcazaba and the garden are pretty extensive, you will easily spend 2 – 3 hours exploring them, if not more. Allow yourself plenty of time to see everything without having to rush to the next place.
LUNCH: take a break from exploring and venture out for a lunch with a view. I highly recommend a cute little restaurant hidden in the hills of the old town called Restaurante Mirador de Moryama. Alternatively, if you don’t want to climb the hill, you can just sit down anywhere in Paseo de los Tristes for a quick snack with a view (food quality is not excellent, but good enough for a quick snack).
AFTERNOON: explore the beautiful gardens of Carmen de los Martires, which are just down the hill from Alhambra. If you have time, you can visit El Banuelo, the oldest Arab baths in Granada, check out the Science Museum (if you’re travelling with kids they will love it), or venture inside the Granada Cathedral. If you have time in the late afternoon or early evening, I recommend booking a table at Restaurante El Huerto de Juan Ranas, which is just under the Mirador of St Nicolas, and has the most spectacular views of Alhambra.
MALAGA TO GRANADA DAY TRIP
3. DAY TRIP WITH PUBLIC TRANSPORT
If you are on a tight budget, this may be the most cost-effective option.
The only thing you need to remember is to check your travel connections early, and secure your tickets to Alhambra well in advance.
The entrance to the Nasrid palace has a dedicated time slot you can’t miss, so give yourself plenty of time when checking your bus or train arrivals in Granada.
MALAGA TO GRANADA BY TRAIN
I have travelled to Granada from Malaga two times by train, and the journey is very fast and comfortable.
I would recommend buying the tickets in advance and shopping around a bit – you get different prices for different days of the week and train times.
The train journey will vary depending on what train you take, the shortest journey is 1 hr 18 mins, and the longest is around 3 hours.
The price of the train ticket depends on the time of the year, the time of the day and the duration of the trip. The early morning trains or those with longer travel times usually are much cheaper, and tickets start as low as 20 euro per person, one way, but can go as high as over 50 euros one way.
MALAGA TO GRANADA BY BUS
Wanting to find a more convenient travel connection, I also tested the bus trip from Malaga to Granada, and for me, it was by far the most convenient way to get from Malaga to Granada.
First of all, you don’t have to change anywhere (unlike with the train where you have to change trains at Antequera St Anna station), and the journey always takes the same time – around 1.5 hours for a direct connection.
There are also slower buses with one-stop between the cities, and the journey with these takes a maximum of 2 hours.
The bus tickets are also considerably cheaper and the buses run more frequently compared to the trains.
You can get bus tickets from the bus driver, but buying them online is better to ensure you can get on the bus you want. If you check online, you can also see different prices for different connections and in most cases also choose a seat option.
MALAGA TO GRANADA DAY TRIP
4. DAY TRIP WITH PRIVATE TRANSPORT
The final option is the most costly one – a trip from Malaga to Granada would cost you between 140 euros to 160 euros, depending on the company and time of travel.
While it’s certainly not cheap, if more people are sharing the trip, it might be convenient and affordable.
You can get a quick travel quote by checking Get Transfer website.
Tickets To Granada Monuments
- Granada: Cathedral & Royal Chapel Skip the Line Tour
- Sacromonte Caves Museum Admission Ticket
- Granada: Muslim Monuments Entrance Tickets
Granada Experiences You Shouldn’t Miss
Granada: Sunset Walking Tour in Albaicín & Sacromonte – Take a 2.5-hour guided tour that offers the best panoramic views of Granada and the Alhambra.
Granada: Hammam Al Ándalus with Massage – Experience the relaxing sensation of a traditional hammam at a 1.5-hour session at Granada’s Hammam Al Ándalus.
Granada: Flamenco Show in La Alboreá – Experience a riveting flamenco show with the comfort of reserved seating.
Sacromonte: Flamenco Show at Cuevas Los Tarantos Tickets – Discover authentic Spanish culture at a top-quality flamenco show in Sacromontes’ Cuevas los Tarantos.
Practical Tips for Your Malaga To Granada Day Trip
Here are some of my tips for making the most out of your trip:
- Granada is pretty big and beautiful – if you have free time I would recommend exploring the Albaicin district and Sacromonte
- Granada is one of the last remaining places in Andalusia where you get free tapas with every drink, so do a bit of restaurant hopping and tapas tasting to enjoy this old tradition – I would recommend sitting down in any of the restaurants at Paseo de los Tristes so you can enjoy your drink with nice views of Alhambra
- Wear comfortable shoes for exploring Alhambra and the gardens, the complex is pretty big
- Don’t forget to bring your IDs with you when entering Alhambra – the tickets are issued against your ID number and they do check them as you get in!
- Take water with you to keep hydrated, especially in the summer months. There are some vending machines between the Nasrid palace entrance and the Alcazaba courtyard, that’s where the toilets also are
- No food is allowed inside the complex, you can have a snack in the courtyard between the Charles V palace and Alcazaba, there is also a small kiosk to buy coffee, drinks and snacks
- No backpacks are allowed inside the Alhambra complex (bigger than 40×40 cm), there are lockers near the vending machines but the number of available ones is pretty limited – please keep this in mind!
- Baby prams are also not allowed inside the complex, you will have to leave them in the luggage storage room
Malaga To Granada Day Trip: Frequent Questions
IS THIS TRIP SUITABLE FOR KIDS?
Yes it is! It should not be a problem even for smaller kids as the journey is not too long.
WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH MY FREE TIME IN GRANADA?
There is some free time in Granada included in this day trip, I think with the limited time you have, the best use of it is to take a stroll through the streets of Albaicin and take in the views of Alhambra from one of the higher points.
You can also sit down for a drink and enjoy the old custom of free tapas with every drink served. If you’re looking for restaurant recommendations, my favourite ones are in this article.
IS THERE A BARRIER-FREE ACCESS IN ALHAMBRA?
As far as I remember there isn’t.
CAN I DO THIS DAY TRIP ON A RAINY DAY?
You can easily see Alhambra even if the weather is not great, as most of the exploring is indoors. The only issue is seeing the Generalife gardens and the Alcazaba fortress.
I hope this article provided a good overview of what you can expect on this recommended online booking for a day trip to Granada! I hope you will enjoy this trip and will be keen to hear your feedback in the comments section.
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