This former stronghold of Moorish Spain is full of romance and folklore. At the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, Granada sprawls over two large hills: Alhambra and Albaicin.
The University of Granada is one of the finest in Spain and as such there is a young lively crowd mixing well with the more traditional locals. Granada boasts one of the most magnificently positioned palaces in the world: the Alhambra, possibly Spain’s greatest attraction. Its as wondrous to behold from across the gorge, with the white peaks of the Sierra Nevada glinting behind in the sun, as it is to wander around marveling at its elaborate symbolic designs and stunning gardens.The city has a fascinating history, which is still evident today in Granada´s Jewish quarters and Arabian baths.
The name Alhambra comes from an Arabic root which means "red castle". Over the course of its varied history the palace has been home to a wealth of cultures: first Muslims, then Romans, Moors, Catholics and briefly even Napoleon’s troops.
Created originally for military purposes, the Alhambra was an "alcazaba" (fortress), an "alcázar" (palace) and a small "medina" (city), all in one. This triple character helps to explain many distinctive features of the monument.
Most people are happy to roam the Alhambra’s ornate halls and gardens unassisted but for those who are seeking a more immersive experience local tours can be arranged.
A friendly local guide will pick you up from an arranged meeting place, by air-conditioned minibus and then take you up the hill to the Alhambra. This means you can pass the entrance queues with your priority access ticket and walk around inside with your guide, as the history of this fascinating site is revealed to you through the head sets provided.
Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Alhambra is a treasure trove of Moorish architecture and you’ll see several of its wonders as you tour its highlights. Admire decadent rooms inside the Nasrid Palaces including the Hall of Ambassadors (Salón de los Embajadores) and Myrtle Courtyard (Patio of los Arrayanes), and marvel at the architecture of Pedro Machuca at the Palace of Charles V.
Step inside the Hall of Abencerrajes to gaze up at its star-shaped domed ceiling, and learn about the massacre that took place here during a 15th century banquet. You’ll also see Alhambra’s Royal Baths; plainly decorated, not ornate, in line with the belief that bathing was a religious requirement not a luxury.
After exploring the palaces, head to the Generalife Gardens to discover where the sultans and Moorish kings of bygone days once relaxed. Featuring abundant flora and distinctive water features, the gardens also comprise two further courtyards, which you’ll see, the Patio de la Acequia and the Patio de la Sultana.
At the end of your 2.5-hour Alhambra tour, your guide will drop you back at your starting point by minibus. To book a tour now click here.
Other things to do in Granada
The Alhambra may be the main attraction in Granada but there are plenty of other things to do and sights to see:
The Granada Carnival festival usually lasts about a week in the provincial capital and starts after Shrove Tuesday. It includes the usual singing contests that are held in theatres and other venues. There is also plenty of activity in the streets of Granada (a city that is famous for its "tapas" appetisers that accompany drinks at no extra charge), including a parade.
Walking, eating and drinking - follow the city's winding streets and happen across varied architecture and tempting local cuisine at your leisure.
Flamenco dancing: the best Flamenco shows are held at the Sala de Fiesta Alhambra garden on most nights at 10pm. Notoriously racy, Flamenco dancing is also accompanied by other traditional folk performance and guitar playing. Tickets are around €30 and include your first drink. If you are interested in learning to dance we can arrange this for you at Casa La Negra. Click here to visit our sister website Strictly Spain.