by Janis / 0 comments - Orginally published:9th July 2024

Basking beneath the Andalucian skies

We’re continuing our road trip adventures around Spain and have now arrived in the stunning city of Granada in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

After arriving in Bilbao from the UK on a Brittany Ferry, we have been touring down through the eastern backroads of Spain. We’ve visited Pamplona, Zaragoza, Teruel, the Palm Tree Groves of Elche, Murcia, Cartagena, and Mojácar.

Once we have topped up our historical cravings in Granada, we hit the road again and journey north and explore Toledo, Valladolid, Astorga, and Burgos.

We have previously visited Granada; however, we made the rookie error of not booking our Alhambra tickets in advance. Not this time; we were prepared and pre-booked our ‘Skip the Line’ tickets, so we were guaranteed a visit to the majestic Nasrid Palaces.

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Where is Granada?

How to get to Granada

- By Air
Start creating your own Spanish adventure and discover the delightful city of Granada for yourself.

If you’re flying into Granada, search for your flights in one easy place with This reliable travel search engine will scan for your favoured routes and chosen dates.

- By Car
You can either follow us by using Brittany Ferries and sailing to Bilbao or Santander, and taking your own car. Or fly to your desired destination, pick up your hire car after checking out RentalCars.Com and explore away.

Where to stay in Granada

Hotel Mercader de Seda

The Hotel Mercader de Sedas is centrally located, just a short stroll from the historic Old Town and many of Granada’s significant sights.

The hotel is a traditional Andalusian townhouse centered around an indoor courtyard. Our room was comfortable and clean. Breakfast for this hotel is offered at a nearby restaurant. Hotel Mercader de Sedas has a nearby underground car park; a daily charge is applied.

Alternatively, pop your dates in the search box and discover further options for all budgets.

Brief history of Granada

Stunning Moorish influences
The majestic city of Granada lies in the east of Andalusia. It is home to some of the most stunning Moorish architecture to be found in Spain.
A view of the Alhambra palace basking in the late afternoon sunshine in granada, andulucia, spain
Alhambra basking in the Andalucian sunshine

Granada’s rich history dates back many thousands of years, from the Iberians and Romans to the centuries of prominent Muslim rule. The fortified palace of Alhambra stands proudly overlooking Granada and represents one of the finest examples of Islamic architecture.

Granada was the last city to be reconquered by the Catholic Monarchs in 1492, so many of the Mudéjar influences remain throughout Granada. During the 16th century, Granada gradually became a Christian city, and many of Granada’s mosques were progressively converted into churches.

a market stall with four rows of spices and herbs on the street side in granada in andulucia, spain
Spice stall in Granada
After the Spanish Civil War ended in 1939, the Franco dictatorship ruled Spain. Only upon Francisco Franco’s death in 1975 did Spain become a democracy. Granada thrives as a cultural spicy melting pot today, and tourism has become a significant industry.

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Exploring the historic streets of Granada

A delight around every corner

Undoubtedly, the best way to explore any town or city is to don a pair of comfy shoes and head out on foot. Granada has a maze of pedestrian streets and lanes, and it is a joy to discover stunning architecture around almost every corner.

Our hotel was only a few minutes’ walk from the heart of Granada Old Town, so within no time at all, we were soaking up the hustle and bustle of Spanish city life.

The ornately decorated entrance to corral del carbón in the moorish style in granada, spain
Entrance to Corral del Carbón
interior courtyard of the corral del carbón in granada, spain
Courtyard of the Corral del Carbón

Within the south of the Albaicin quarter of Granada, we immediately stumble upon the Corral del Carbón, whose original name was al-Funduq al-Jadida.

This early 14th-century building was constructed during the Nasrid period and was once an inn or warehouse.

Beyond the striking façade is an open-air courtyard. This National Monument is located near the Alcaicería, which was once Granada’s central bazaar.

a narrow lane lined with shops selling local scarves, dress and other clothes in old granada in andulucia, spain
A couple walking down a narrow lane that was once the former arab silk market towards granada cathedral in andulucia, spain
Former Arab Silk Market

Just across the opposite lane is Alcaicería, a former Arab Silk Market. Through Granada’s Arab-Islamic era, a grand bazaar was located here during the Nasrid period. The market once contained 152 shops within its tiny lanes.

Unfortunately, the original marketplace was destroyed by fire in 1843; however, today, a bustling market is waiting to be explored.

There are so many incredible places to discover in Spain and I love planning road trips. I often use the DK Guides,

I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into searching for more

Discovering the colourful lanes of Granada

A treat along Calle Calderia Nueva
We loved meandering around the historic streets of Granada even though the heat was becoming rather scorchio. One particular road we enjoyed ambling along was the Carrera del Darro. This charming street ran parallel to the narrow Darro River and was criss-crossed with ancient bridges.
the ornate facade of the archaeological museum of granada on the historic carrera del darro in southern spain
Archaeological Museum of Granada
A statue to Mario Maya, a renowned male flamenco dancer, against the backdrop of the hills surrounding Granada.
Monumento a Mario Maya
Carrera del Darro was lined with amazing architecture, and many of the historic buildings had remarkable façades. Strolling along this lane, you also had the opportunity to see the Alhambra Palace from another viewpoint, as it sat high on the hilltop above.
the view from carrera del darro looking up to the alhambra palace in granada, southern spain
View below Alhambra Palace

Rather than heading back along Carrera del Darro, we wander up one of the tiny cobbled lanes, with teetering window boxes and wrought iron balconies high above. These delightful alleys lead up to the colourful street of Calle San Juan de los Reyes.

To our amazement, a tourist was attempting to drive along this road, I assumed they made it, but I expect it may have had a few scratches along the way.

the view along the narrow calle calderia nueva with is individual traders in granada, southern spain
Calle Calderia Nueva
the view along bustling lane of calle calderia nueva in granada, southern spain
Bustling lane of Calle Calderia Nueva
I’m so pleased we explored these streets as we eventually popped out at the top of Calle Calderia Nueva. This vibrant street is overflowing with souk-like shops and has the feel of a bustling North African bazaar.
the ornate facade of the superior court of justice of andalusia in granada, spain at night
Superior Court of Justice of Andalusia

Granada is an attractive city to stroll around of an evening with many of its historic buildings illuminated. One in particular was the Superior Court of Justice of Andalusia located in Plaza Nueva, in the building of the historic Royal Chancery.

There are so many adorable plazas and squares to seek out in Granada. Here are a few we explored; Plaza del Carmen, Plaza Isabel La Católica, Plaza de Bib-Rambla, Plaza de Las Pasiegas, Plaza del Campillo, and Plaza de la Trinidad.

Tourist Information

If you’re planning to explore Spain, ensure you check out the Visit Spain official tourism website. It's overflowing with helpful information covering every region of this beautiful country from north, south, east, and west.

A visit to the magnificent Alhambra Palace

A majestic fortress like no other
The Alhambra is an astonishing example of Islamic Architecture and one that has been admired and loved for centuries. The palace stands elegantly overlooking the cultural city of Granada and has played a significant role in Andalucía’s rich history.
A view across to alhambra palace and gardens in granada, under a deep blue sky, to the mountains beyond in southern spain
View across to Alhambra

The construction of Alhambra Palace and fortress began in 1238 by the first Nasrid Emir Muhammad I Ibn al-Ahmar. Alhambra is located on a prominent rocky outcrop with stunning views across the Sierra Nevada and was built upon a former 11th century palace.

Arrive as early as possible to visit Alhambra, as there is so much to discover within the ancient palace and gardens. Alhambra became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.

The entrance to the Nasrid Palace is around two-thirds of the way through the ancient complex; however, on your journey through, you are able to visit the Church of Santa Maria de la Alhambra. This church was built between 1581 and 1618 on the site of the former Alhambra Mosque.

Looking down on the collonaded interior courtyard within the palace of charles v in the alhambra in granada, spain
Within the Palace of Charles V

Next to the church is the grand Renaissance-style Palace of Charles V. Charles V, who visited Alhambra in 1526 and decided to convert sections of the Nasrid Palace into a Royal residence. You must step within the Palace of Charles V, as you’ll notice the roof of the circular collonaded courtyard was never finished.

It’s now time to visit the exquisite Nasrid Palaces. As soon as you step inside the palace, you are immediately struck by the intricate décor and attention to detail that were bestowed upon these magnificent rooms.

The tower at the end of the court of the myrtles reflected in the pond that runs the entire length of the alhambra palace in granada spain
The Court of the Myrtles
An intricate archway decorated with moorish inscriptions inside the alhambra palace in granada spain
Intricate décor throughout

The Court of the Myrtles is the central courtyard within the Comares Palace, and it is beautiful. The carved porticos at either end of the courtyard reflect upon the shimmering pool below. You can stroll around the perimeter of Patio de los Arrayanes, brushing past the Myrtle hedges as you go.

Just beyond the north portico of the Court of the Myrtles, within the Comares Towers, is the largest room in Alhambra, the Hall of the Ambassadors. The Hall of the Ambassadors was the sultan’s throne room, and the ceiling was meticulously interlaced with thousands of tiny pieces of wood representing the seven heavens.

A series of intricate archways decorated with moorish inscriptions leading to from the palace of the lions in the alhambra palace in granada spain
 Palace of the Lions

Entering the open-air Palace of the Lions was astonishing. You truly felt like you were in a unique place. The Islamic Nasrid architecture was exquisite, and in the Andalucian sunshine, it made the surrounding ochre porticos shimmer even more.

Two ornate pavilions stand at either end of the Court of the Lions, and in the centre is the famed Fountain of the Lions. The twelve lions encircling the fountain are carved from marble.

The iconic central fountain in the court of the lions, consisting of a large marble fountain sitting atop a ring of ornately carved marble lions in the alhambra palace in granada, spain
Central fountain in the Court of the Lions
There are so many incredible rooms and halls to explore in Alhambra, and many of the ceilings are so meticulously crafted. We wander outside to the Lindaraja Courtyard garden, surrounded by a delightful shaded cloister.
A fountain in the tree lined lindaraja courtyard garden in the alhambra palace in granada, spain
 Lindaraja Courtyard garden
We now step out to the Partal Palace and admire the striking red pavilion on the edge of the Alhambra walls. The Partal Palace is the oldest surviving palace in Alhambra and offers stunning views across the Sierra Nevada.
the partal palace pavilion reflected in a huge pond in front of it under deep blue skies at the alhambra palace in granada, spain
Partal Palace pavilion
Even though the Partal Palace has undergone several alterations, it doesn’t lessen its beauty, especially the enchanting image that unfurls across the reflecting pool at its feet. Stepping through the mirador, you are graced with the view across Granada.
the views from the tower of homage in the alcazaba at the alhambra palace, across the rooftops of granada to the mountains beyond
Views from the Tower of Homage in the Alcazaba
Even though your feet may be aching, ensure you visit the Alcazaba. The Alcazaba, or fortress, is the oldest part of Alhambra, and the far-reaching views from the Tower of Homage are breathtaking.

A word of advice

I strongly advise you to book your tickets in advance for the palace. See the Get Your Guide options below. We made that schoolgirl error the first time we visited Alhambra, and could only see the Alhambra Gardens, Generalife, and Alcazaba. These were beautiful, I hasten to add, but I did want to see the palace.

Another point to note is that if you have an allocated time to visit the Nasrid Palaces, you must be at the palace entrance inside the main gates. It is about a 10-minute walk from the initial entrance to the Nasrid Palace.

Exploring the Generalife

Fit for a Sultan
Whether you visit the Generalife before or after Alhambra, it doesn’t matter either way; it is a must to explore. The vibrant blossoms against the whitewashed walls are intoxicating. Strolling amongst the exquisite courtyards is such a pleasure.
Water running along a central chanel in the patio de la acequia in the generalife, the gardens within the alhambra palace in granada, southern spain
The Patio de la Acequia in the Generalife
The Genarlife is a Nasrid-era country estate built for the sultans during the 13th & 14th centuries. Amongst the many secluded corners of the gardens are several rectangular courtyard gardens with eye-catching pavilions and arched colonnades.
Looking down on a patio within the generalife gardens of the alhambra palace in granada, southern spain
Enchanting courtyards in the Generalife

Dotted around the estate are enchanting water features with dancing fountains surrounded by delicate planting and cascading climbing plants.

You’ll be surprised that even on busy days when visiting Genaralife, you’ll find a tranquil spot to soak up your surroundings and relish its peace and harmony.

Tempted to?

Discover more of historic Spain and tour its picturesque countryside in the north, or head south to explore the Sierra Nevada National Park just south of Granada.

You can do it all on a road trip; Rental Cars searches multiple well-known car hire brands and discovers the deals that suit you the best.

Visiting Granada’s Cathedral

Admiring the stunning dome
The construction of Granada’s magnificent cathedral began in the early 16th century. The Roman Catholic church was built upon the site of Granada’s former mosque in the centre of the old Muslim Medina.
The ocre coloured grand facade to granada's cathedral in andalusia, southern spain
Granada Cathedral
The Cathedral of the Incarnation has a magnificent Baroque façade that elegantly forms a triumphal arch. Much of the cathedral, particularly its stunning dome, was designed and erected in the Spanish Renaissance style.
looking up to the interior of the great dome within granada's cathedral in andalusia, southern spain
The striking dome in Granada Cathedral
The massive wooden door with its ornate facade that leads to the royal chapel in granada's cathedral in andalusia, southern spain
The Royal Chapel

Wandering around the church, I felt like I was continually looking up. It was beautiful and very opulent. The stained-glass windows and the glistening gold encircling the blue dome looked incredible. The dome was inlaid with a sea of gold stars.

Granada’s cathedral has a rectangular base due to its five naves laid out within the Gothic floor plan and cover the entire cross.

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