How to Spend One Day in Granada, Spain: The Highlights Itinerary

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How to Spend One Day in Granada, Spain: The Highlights Itinerary

Granada is one of the oldest and prettiest cities in Andalusia.

Thanks to its location in Southern Spain, it is well connected to the coastline and other major cities like Seville or Cordoba, making it an ideal day trip destination for visitors.

If you’re planning a trip here, you certainly won’t regret it – Granada is well worth a visit, not just for a day trip.

I have explored Granada on a number of short and long stays, both in summer and winter, and put together this one-day itinerary to show you the highlights of what Granada has to offer.

All in just 24 hours.

I have also included tips for a couple of restaurants that will make your trip even more memorable.

Let’s dive in!

Granada, Spain
Albaicin, next to Darro river

How to See Granada in One Day

If you have only one day to explore, the most important thing is to book your tickets to Alhambra, to ensure you can get there on a specific day, and ideally in the morning.

If you’re traveling in the summer months, the tickets can get booked up weeks or even months in advance, so you can’t count on getting one just a few days before you decide to travel. There is also a limited number of tickets available each day, to prevent overcrowding.

Once you get that out of the way, you can plan the rest of your visit quite easily. The itinerary below is based on a morning Alhambra visit, but you can easily move the program around as you see fit to your own schedule.

ONE DAY ITINERARY WITH GRANADA HIGHLIGHTS

  • Morning: Alhambra Palace and the Alcazaba
  • Lunch at Restaurant Carmen St Miguel
  • Afternoon: Generalife Gardens and Albaicin
  • Evening: dinner or drinks at Restaurante El Huerto de Juan Ranas
Albaicin in Granada, Spain
Sacromonte District in Granada

Granada Monuments Tickets & Tours

Here are a few guided trip options for visiting the main sights in Alhambra. To check availability and prices please click on the link below.

Morning: Alhambra Palace and Alcazaba

Alhambra Palace

time required: 2 – 3 hours

Alhambra is one of the most popular monuments in Spain.

It consists of a few major landmarks – Palacio Nazaries, Palacio de Carlos V, Generalife Gardens and Alcazaba.

As you start your trip, the best place to begin is the Palacio Nazaries as that is the main attraction and gets busy the fastest. That’s also the only part of Alhambra where you need time-specific tickets to enter, and you need to be there on time otherwise you can’t get in.

The tickets are also valid for the gardens, which you can enter at a later point, or any time during the day by just showing your existing ticket.

You’re free to explore the complex in any direction you want and are provided a map by the entrance. Take your time and take in all the details!

READ MORE: Visiting the Alhambra in Granada

tickets office: book online here. Tickets are 14 euros per person, plus 7 euros for the gardens, Generalife and Alcazaba.

opening times: dedicated summer and winter opening hours, from 8.30am to 6pm in winter and 8pm in summer months. Check the schedule here.

location:

alhambra, granada spain
Courtyard of Lions in Alhambra
Alhambra in Granada, Spain
Ceiling details in Alhambra
Alhambra in Granada, Spain
Perfect symmetry in Alhambra palace

The Alcazaba

time required: 30 mins to 1 hour

The Alcazaba is often overlooked and overshadowed by the beauty of the intricately decorated palace with lush gardens, but for me, it was one of the highlights of the Alhambra visit.

It is true, that the building is pretty simple and not much of the original courtyard was preserved – but wait till you see the views!

Right by the entrance to the Alcazaba is a small coffee shop where you can enjoy a coffee or drink, while admiring the beautiful views.

The towers of the fortress are open for climbing and exploring – the most beautiful views were from the Watch Tower (Torre de la Vela) – you will spot it right away as it has huge bells & flags.

The Alcazaba is great to walk through and take some photos with the gorgeous views, so you won’t need more than 30 minutes to one hour.

READ MORE: Exploring the Alcazaba of Granada

Location: same complex as the Alhambra, right next to the entrance to Palacio Nazaries

Tickets: your combined ticket for Alhambra is valid here and checked by the entrance

The Alcazar of Granada
Tower views from the Alcazaba
The Alcazar of Granada
The inner courtyard view of Alcazaba
The Alcazar of Granada
Views of Albaicin from Alcazaba

Lunch: Restaurante Mirador Carmen St Miguel

Carmen St Miguel is a restaurant that’s fairly close to the Alhambra, so you can take a break here before you explore the Generalife Gardens.

Restaurante Carmen St Miguel combines traditional Mediterranean cuisine with an innovative approach using the freshest locally sourced ingredients.

And if that’s not enough, wait till you see the views!

The restaurant is beautifully layout out, and from almost all the tables on the terrace, you can enjoy the beautiful views, with snowy peaks of Sierra Nevada still visible in the distance. Crisp white table cloths, an innovative menu, and extensive wine will make you feel right at home.

Opening hours: closed on Sundays and Mondays, Tuesday to Saturday from 12:30 to 17:00 and from 20:00 to 00:00.

Menu: check online here

Location:

Best Restaurants in Granada
Best Restaurants in Granada
Best Restaurants in Granada

Afternoon: Generalife Gardens and Albaicin Old Town

Generalife Gardens

time required: 2 – 3 hours

In stark contrast to the Nasrid Palace with its elaborate ornamental decorations on walls and perfect symmetry anywhere you look, Generalife can seem a little plain and simple, but that certainly doesn’t take away anything from its beauty.

The gardens were designed as a relaxation place for the sultans and kings, and have undergone a lot of design and structural changes. The newest part of the gardens is outside the main Palace, right by the entrance – Jardines Nuevos.

As you walk through the gardens you can explore a variety of different plants, flowers and trees – all beautifully laid out and well-taken care of.

All that beauty is served with some spectacular views too!

READ MORE: The Generalife Gardens of Alhambra (full post with photos)

Tickets: if you got your combined Alhambra ticket, you can enter the gardens anytime during the day

Location:

Generalife Gardens, Granada Spain
Courtyard in the gardens
Generalife Gardens, Granada Spain
Views from the gardens
Generalife Gardens, Granada Spain
Generalife Palace

Albaicin District (The Old Town)

time required: 1 hour

Albaicin is the oldest, and by far, the most beautiful part of Granada.

Located at the edge of Alhambra, framed by the Darro river and Sacramonte district, it is worlds apart from the rest of the city. You can see the difference as soon as you enter the district, best explored from the end of Darro river near Plaza de St Ana (location on map here)

It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984 and perfectly captures the Islamic influence in the city with the many different transformations it went through.

Albaicin will impress you with its history well preserved in all the buildings, a number of monuments, and stunning views everywhere you walk. You can discover green carmens (gardens), pretty squares, narrow cobbled streets where you hear the residents chatting over lunch and watch the sun reflect on the Alhambra from one of the miradors.

Albaicin is best explored on a foot, and without a map – get lost in the cobbled streets and find hidden gems wherever you go.

Location:

albaicin granada
albaicin granada vivalavita 3
Albaicin in Granada, Spain

Evening: Dinner or Drinks at Restaurante El Huerto del Juan Ranas

It’s not often you come across a charming restaurant, in a spectacular spot, and one that’s not a tourist trap. Luckily, this is one of the exceptions to the rule, at least for me!

El Huerto de Juan Ranas sits just below the most popular photo spot in Granada – Mirador St Nicolas – but unlike the viewpoint, you won’t have to use your elbows to get into the prime spot to take a single photo.

The restaurant stretches over a number of terraces, each offering spectacular views of the Alhambra and just behind it the breathtaking and snow-covered Sierra Nevada mountain range. 

It’s certainly the most glorious way to finish your day of exploring Granada. Judge yourself from the photos below!

Opening hours: 12.30 to 22.30 each day

Menu: available online, but the website is currently under construction

Location:

El Huerto de Juan Ranas granada spain 12
Restaurante El Huerto de Juan Ranas, Granada
Restaurante El Huerto de Juan Ranas, Granada

Explore More in Granada

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My Stay at Hotel Casa 1800, Granada

Restaurante El Huerto de Juan Ranas, Granada

Restaurante Carmen St Miguel, Granada

Carmen de los Martires, Granada

Generalife Palace & Gardens, Granada

Best Restaurants in Granada: Great Food & Free Tapas

The Palace of Charles V in Alhambra, Granada

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13 Beautiful Photography Locations in Granada: Tips from a Local Expat

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Southern Spain Travel Tips

BEST CAR RENTAL

To rent a car, I highly recommend Discover Cars, an award winning price comparison site for car rentals.

BUS & TRAIN TICKETS

To get the cheapest bus or train tickets, take a look at Omio to find the timetables and prices.

LOCAL TOURS

Local travel companies offer many day trip options from almost all the destinations in Southern Spain. You can check them out here.

HOTELS

I have been using booking.com for all my trips in Spain and abroad, and it’s the best place to book your hotel.

LUGGAGE STORE

If you would like to leave your luggage behind to explore the city on your last day, you can use Radical Storage service, which lets you book luggage storage in all the destinations in Spain.

LOCAL SIM CARD

If you want to avoid surprising extra charges from your operator, you can use a service like Airalo, where you can buy digital packs for e-sim cards.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links – if you decide to book using one of the links, I will earn a small commission that helps me run this site. This is at no extra cost to you.

Southern Spain Travel Tips

Find Best Hotels

Find Hotels

I have been using booking.com for all my trips in Spain and abroad, and it’s the best place to book your hotel.

Find Car Rental

Find Car Rental

To rent a car, I highly recommend Discover Cars, an award-winning price comparison site for car rentals.

Book Your Tour

Local travel companies offer many day trip options from almost all the destinations in Southern Spain. You can check them out here.

Book Local Transport

To get the cheapest bus or train tickets, take a look at Omio to find the timetables and prices.

Find Cheap Flights

Get the best flight deals when you book early via Skyscanner.com

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links - if you decide to book using one of the links, I will earn a small commission that helps me run this site. This is at no extra cost to you.

Hi, I'm Lucia

The founder and writer of Viva La Vita, a blog about traveling in Spain.

On these pages, you will find many practical tips and recommendations from someone who lives in Spain and travels around Spain often.

Filled with my images and unique local perspective, I hope these pages will offer you plenty of inspiration, insights & ideas to plan a wonderful trip to Spain.

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