We'll start by answering the question that many travellers, including ourselves, may ask:
"Is Granada worth visiting?"
YES! A resounding yes! Granada has an incredible combination of modern, hip and happening areas; amazingly preserved culturally historic areas such as the Alhambra as well as many relaxed and even somewhat secluded areas of natural beauty. I'd like to clarify that even though we aren't really 'big city people', we really enjoyed Granada. Whether you enjoy hiking to stunning viewpoints, exploring and learning about the fascinating history of Spain or prefer to stroll through city parks and have Tapas and drinks in a Spanish Plaza - Granada has all that and so much more!
How To Visit Granada by Campervan
If like us, you are travelling across Europe in a Camper, you might be wondering what the best way is to visit Granada without it costing you a fortune, but still being able to have a safe and comfortable experience. We considered staying in a campsite just outside of the city and using public transport to get in and out of the city, but in the end we opted to rather park right in the city where we could also safely overnight and walk to all the city sights directly.
Where to park and overnight with your Camper in Granada, Spain?
Granada's "Aparcamiento Estación de tren" is a formal and paid parking area at the Granada train station. The parking area has been expanded recently, so there is ample space for campervans to park, particularly at the far end of the parking lot. You will no doubt find many other campers also parked there! In 2021, it cost only 12.35 EUR per 24 hours. The area is well lit and has surveillance cameras and we felt very safe both when we were overnighting and when we left the camper unattended during the day. We spent 2 nights parked here, which gave us plenty of time to explore the city of Granada.
NOTE: this is a PARKING AREA with no services, so you need to be self-sufficient if you want to overnight here. If you prefer to stay at a nearby Campsite, then you can consider "Area Camper Granada" which is just 8km from the entrance to the Alhambra complex.
How long should I spend in Granada?
Spending 2 days in Granada will give you sufficient time to spend half a day exploring the extensive and impressive Alhambra complex, including the Nasrid Palaces, as well as giving you enough time to explore the city itself and enjoy some stunning views looking out over the Alhambra complex. If you only have 1 day in which to visit Granada, then we would suggest that you get an early start and plan your day around visiting the Alhambra and Nasrid Palaces around midday so that you can still have time to catch the sunset from an elevated viewpoint before taking in the night vibe of the city as it comes alive after dark.
2 Days In Granada Itinerary
We arrived in Granada around midday, spent that afternoon exploring the city and watching the sunset over the Alhambra from the highest viewpoint in the city. The next day we started the day at a local breakfast cafe, then continued to see more of the sights of the city before spending the best part of the day exploring the extensive and impressive Alhambra complex. Here is a walking map of our 2-day itinerary of Granada:
GRANADA DAY 1 (7-10 km walking):
Start off at the Gate of Elvira which was once the main entrance to the city and end by watching the sunset from the highest viewpoint over Granada, the Ermita de San Miguel Alto.
Gate of Elvira
Placeta Cristo de las Azucenas
Viewpoint San Nicolás (This is a very popular viewpoint and can get very busy around sunset. It's a lot easier to reach by foot than Ermita de San Miguel Alto. Just be aware of pickpocketing!)
San Nícolas Church
Puerta de las Pesas
Casa Pasteles Albayzin (Pop into this pastry shop to try a Pionono, a typical sweet pastry from the nearby Sante Fe)
Viewpoint San Cristóbal
Albaicín (Stroll through this gothic neighbourhood on your way up to the highest viewpoint in Granada)
Ermita de San Miguel Alto (This is the highest viewpoint in Granada, so it can be a bit of a long walk back down but it's worth it! Be prepared and take some snacks and drinks with to enjoy along with sunset.)
GRANADA DAY 2 (12-15 km walking):
Start the day with a traditional Spanish breakfast at Cafetería Massay and be sure to also try some churros and hot chocolate before heading off for a long day of walking and exploring the extensive and impressive Alhambra Palace Complex.
Cafetería Massay (Excellent value for money and delicious freshly prepared food.)
Catedral de Granada
Royal Chapel of Granada
Corral del Carbón
Plaza Nueva de Granada
Puerta de los Tristes
Carmen de los Mártires
Access Pavilion of the Alhambra (This is the main entrance to the Alhambra.)
Court of the Water Channel
Palace of Charles V
Patio de Los Leones
Stroll along the streets and plazas of Granada as the city comes alive after dark
What is so special about Alhambra? Why should I visit the Alhambra?
Granada, Spain is home to the extensive and impressive Alhambra Palace Complex. The Alhambra is an ancient citadel, built in the 8th century, which contains a palace, fortress and elaborate gardens amongst other relics. It is one of the most impressive examples of Islamic architecture not only in Granada, but in the whole of Spain, and is also of special significance as it is the only surviving and well-preserved palatine city of the Islamic Golden Age. The Palace itself is a breathtaking piece of architecture that is surrounded by elaborately manicured gardens as well as three fortress towers that offer panoramic views over Granada. The Alhambra is a special place where you can spend hours exploring the grounds, appreciating the beautiful scenery and diverse architectural detail while also getting a deeper understanding of the significant history of Granada and Spain. Although you can see large portions of the Alhambra complex from the outside, a visit to Granada is simply not complete without visiting the Palace and spending time within the Alhambra complex.
How To Visit The Alhambra And What To Know
It's best to carefully plan your visit to the Alhambra as the tickets not only need to be purchased in advance but are also for a specific time slot for visiting the Palace which they strictly enforce. It is very important to make sure that you purchase your tickets to the Alhambra from the official website as there are many scam websites for ticket sales. Depending on the time of the year, you may need to purchase your tickets weeks in advance! In November 2021, we were able to purchase our tickets only a couple of days in advance, but even at this time of the year, not all time slots were available!
There are various different ticket options available to suit your requirements. We chose the "Alhambra General" ticket which includes full access to all areas as well as access to the Nasrid Palaces. Note that your ticket has a specific time slot for access to the Nasrid Palaces and that it will take you some time to reach this entrance from the main ticket entrance, so take this into account when purchasing your ticket and planning your day. If you are unable to commit to a timeslot for the Nasrid Palaces or you don't have enough time (you require a minimum of 45 minutes to an hour for the Nasrid Palace alone), it is still worth visiting Generalife and the Alcazaba towers. That being said, we strongly recommend that you take the time to include visiting the Nasrid Palaces as they are really something quite spectacular!
The official website provides more advice on which ticket is right for you, how much time you should allow for your visit and how to plan your visit. There is a small bar just outside of the Alcazaba towers which is a great place to take a break, have a drink and just appreciate and enjoy the ambience of this unique setting.