By Rachael Funk
Though many are drawn to Granada for the Alhambra, this irresistible city charms its visitors with awe-inspiring churches, unbeatable tapas bars, and a hip, bohemian vibe. While you may have a few major must-sees planned while you’re in the city, check out this list of things you can add to your itinerary, free of charge!
1. Stroll the Albaicín
This dreamy neighborhood is straight out of a magazine. Small, cobblestone streets wind through traditional homes. Quaint courtyards and enchanting plazas reveal themselves and beg to be lingered in as you pass. Dining, shopping and entertainment options abound. Not only is this the ideal place to take a leisurely walk to breathe in the local flavor, it’s a great spot to snap some enviable vacation photos to casually post for your friends at home.
2. Visit a museum or Art Gallery
Depending on the day and the location, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to fit in a trip (or several!) without spending a single euro! Some museums or galleries, such as the Pupa Tattoo Art Gallery, Archive-Library Gomez-Moreno Institute (free with prior appointment), Centro Jose Guerrero, and Centro Cultural CajaGranada de Puerta Real have free admission during opening hours. Other museums may be free for EU citizens or only be free on certain days, so if you have a museum in mind before you travel, check their website before you go – they may have a day when you can skip paying the entry fee!
3. Soak up the tranquility of Carmen de los Martires
One of Granada’s best-known “free things,” a trip to these peaceful gardens is a sure way to get yourself in a vacation state of mind. Here, you’ll find little rock grottoes, fountains, flowers, and more hidden away in this gem of a space. If you can, try to come at sunset and find a place to relax on the terrace for a perfect way to end an evening.
4. Hunt down some street entertainment
Head over to Plaza Nueva, where there’s always something going on! There, you’ll often be able to catch a flamenco performance, live music, poetry readings, or some type of performance. Other great spots for this around the city include Calle Elvira, Plaza San Nicolas, and the squares around the cathedral.
5. Explore parts of the Alhambra
As a matter of fact, you can visit parts of the city’s most iconic site without paying a cover charge. Don’t miss out on the underrated Palace of Carlos V with its stunning circular courtyard and Renaissance architecture or the breathtaking view of the Albaicín! If you make your way down to Plaza de los Aljibes immediately below the Alcazaba fortress, you will be rewarded with one of the most spectacular views in the city.
6. Roam the historical center
Not only is Granada’s historical center stunning architecturally, it showcases a variety of places to explore including churches, monasteries, palaces, cultural centers, houses, and schools. The main attractions of the historical center are the Basilica de San Juan de Dios, the Cathedral and Royal Chapel, and the Saint Jerome Monastery.
7. Adventure through Sierra Nevada National Park
The largest national park in Spain, this behemoth is 320 square miles and features one of Europe’s tallest mountains. If you’re craving an outdoor adventure, this is a great place to spend a day hiking, kayaking, camping, biking, and enjoying the park.
8. Take in the view from Plaza de San Nicolas
The city’s terrain works to an incredible advantage at Plaza de San Nicolas, located in the Albaicín neighborhood. Overlooking the city with the Sierra Nevada Mountain range in the background, the plaza is a gorgeous place to kick back and enjoy the excellent atmosphere. Travelers recommend going at night when the Alhambra is lit up and the Plaza is buzzing with locals who have come to drink, dance, and play music.
9. Peruse the souvenirs at the Alcaiceria
Don’t be swayed by the cheesy tourist nonsense at the front of the market; if you want to find the really good stuff, work your way deep into the passageways and you’ll find treasure. Originally a bazaar established by the Moors, the Alcaiceria served as a hub for silk trade but now has expanded to all kinds of goods.
10. Photograph some street art
Granada has a rich counterculture of street art pioneered by an artist called El Niño. El Niño’s poignant art blends talent with emotion and can be found scattered all over town. The most concentrated area where you can find El Niño’s work is in the old Jewish neighborhood of Realejo.