Solo Travel in Granada
Types of Girls about the Globe – History GatG
Granada is a beautiful city in the Andalusia region of Spain. It is situated in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains and is perfect for the history Girl about the Globe. I spent 4 days in this wonderful city on my trip along the Mediterranean coastline, and travelled to Granada from the coastal city of Malaga.
If you are planning a trip to Granada, below is our guide to how to travel solo in Granada as well as lots of practical information such as where to stay, which tour to take and how to get around.
Stay for – 2 nights.
Granada is a safe city but as any city be careful around bus and train stations where there could be petty theft. The areas where you need to be most careful with your belongings and pickpockets are Sacromonte and the Albaicin. Although the Albaicin is pretty at night, avoid the poorly lit streets in the dark.
Did you know?
The caves in the north are still inhabited by Gypsies.
No Spain trip is complete without visiting the World Heritage site of Granada in Andalusia. With history that dates back over 2000 years and a mix of influences, Granada is both interesting and intriguing to visit with art, architecture and well-preserved monuments that you won’t find anywhere else.
Granada has seen many settlers in its time from the Phoenicians to the Celts, Greeks and Romans. It was during the Nazari dynasty that the Alhambra fortress and Generalife were built and the Arab quarter was constructed.
Granada oozes charm and much of the city’s history is well-preserved. The most important site here is the Alhambra, one of the best examples of Islamic architecture within Spain. Inside this amazing example of Islamic architecture is a large fortress, palace and landscaped gardens.
It’s easy to see why Hemingway was inspired here. From the Arabian district of Albaicín to the mountain views around the city, Granada is definitely a city for dreamers no matter what time of year that you visit.
Spend hours meandering through narrow streets, and whitewashed alleyways with breathtaking views of the Morrish Palace. Soak up the atmosphere in old-fashioned eateries and historical plazas, or join the student vibe in Elvira Street.
Whether you prefer bohemian or classy, Granada holds the promise of entrancing history and dreamy Arabian nights.
Local’s Tip – “Catch a bus to Sacramento to find a cave bar where you can enjoy a drink away from the city bustle.”
Solo’s Tip – “Visit the Alhambra Palace in the morning to avoid the heat in the afternoon and also the busy period.”
Top 3 Must-sees for solos
1. Alhambra Palace
If there is only one place you see in Granada, you have to make it this one. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this stunning Islamic fortress was once the residence of Moorish rulers from the 13th to the 15th century. Located on a strategic point with the city below, this complex forms part of the medieval city and is the only preserved palatine city of the Islamic period. The architecture is beautiful and it’s more spectacular than you see in pictures.
On the east of the Alhambra are the impressive gardens of the Generalise which is included in a tour ticket. They have a limited visitor capacity so buy a ticket before visiting. Take a guide to learn more about the history of this giant complex. Find out more. (TIME = whole day)
2. Granada Cathedral
Built on the site of a former mosque, the Cathedral of the Incarnation is a Roman Catholic church. Inside is a stunning interior and impressive facades. Work began in the early 16th century and later the cathedral was changed from a Gothic style to a Spanish Renaissance style. The cathedral was considered a symbol of power. It is situated in the heart of the city and next to the cathedral is the Royal Chapel (Capilla Real) where the Catholic Monarchs – Isabella I of Castile, and Ferdinand II of Aragon are buried. Find out more. (TIME = 2-3 hours).
3. Basilica San Juan de Dios
This Basilica is a gorgeous piece of architecture from the Baroque period. As one of the most important Baroque temples in the country, it houses the remains of Saint John of God, its founder. Construction began in 1737 and took 22 years to complete. The Basicilia is just off Grand Via and the entrance fee includes an audio guide. Find out more. (TIME 1-2 hours).
Escape the crowds
- For any of the attractions reserve all your tickets so you beat the queues.
- In Generalife Gardens, the former summer palace of the Nasrin rulers. This palace was built between the 12th and 14th century and within its grounds you can escape the crowds within the romance of its gardens, cypress trees and ponds.
- Within the small cobbled streets of the Albaycin. Turn any corner and explore off the beaten path.
- Or at Paseo de los Tristes Boulevard, where you can sit on a bench, and admire the Alhambra and soak up the local vibe.
Get a great view
St Nicholas Viewpoint (Mirador San Nicolas) a hillside viewpoint which not only gives fantastic views of the Alhambra but also has a backdrop of the Sierra Nevada. Head there at sunset for a great view.
Interact with the locals
Chat to one of the street vendors who have their own street stall at Elvira Street. They may even invite you for a mint tea.
Plaza Nueva which is a meeting point for locals, or find places within the back streets which are frequented by the locals.
Places to enjoy the sun
Go to the viewpoint at La Ermita de San Miguel Alto to watch the best sunset in Granada with the sun setting in the mountains. Or find a restaurant and enjoy a sunset dinner looking over the Alhambra.
- Along the banks of the river you’ll find the Zoco del Salon, a daily market which is open from 11am until early evening. If you are looking for something artisan, this is the market to come to. You may be treated to some live music whilst you are there too.
- For something ‘Made in Granada,’ a small market is held on the third Sunday of each month. Here is where you can buy goods made from with wood, textiles and paper. It’s a great market to get something personalised too.
- Mercado San Agustin is a covered market and includes all the fresh food you’ll need. From fruit and vegetables to cheese and olive oils, you’ll also be able to pick up some of the finest wines in Granada here. The market is opposite the cathedral and is open from Monday to Saturdays (only until 1pm on Saturdays).
- If you are in the Albaicín area on a Saturday morning keep your eyes peeled for the Plaza Larga market which has traditional Arabic ceramics and fabrics next to its fruit and vegetable stalls.
Activities For All Types of Solos
Stroll along the River Darro on a scenic walk or hike through the Alhambra Park.
Go caving outside of Granada and get adventurous on the rocky terrain of Nivar Cave in-between stalactites and stalagmites. Rappel at 20 metres beneath the surface with an experienced guide. Find out more.
Arty & Museum GatG
- The Museum of Alhambra is on the ground floor of the Palace of Charles V and has seven halls to explore. The museum contains the original furnishings of the palace as well as art of the Caliphate, and the Nasrid. It is an interesting museum but you may need to take an audio guide to learn more about the artefacts. This museum is on the site of Alhambra.
- Okay, so this isn’t really arty but the Parque de las Ciencias (the Science Park) is a great museum if you are looking for interactive exhibitions, and Egyptian mysteries. You do need to know Spanish to go inside the planetarium but the Bio Dome doesn’t need any explanation and has tropical forests to explore. There’s also an observation tower which gives a bird-eye view of Granada (it’s only open at set times so check the website before you go).
- The Museo de Bellas Artes de Granada (the Museum of Fine Arts) is worth a visit. It contains works of Alonso Cano and Machuca as well as works from Granada’s churches and ancient monasteries.
Buy a Granada card which gives access to the Alhambra and free entry into other sites as well as free bus rides. Pre-book a card or buy from the tourist information office when you get there.
Instead of actually going out for dinner, just buy a drink in a bar and enjoy the free tapas that comes with your drink.
- For some Arabic culture, Elvira Street is the place for some culture. Here you’ll find shops selling colourful rugs and lanterns, tea houses with the smell of shisha, and shopkeepers playing cards and drinking mint tea. You won’t even feel as though you are in Spain.
- Who needs a flamenco club when you can watch flamenco buskers in the square instead. Hang out at Plaza Nueva and wait for the toe-tapping performers.
- Granada is a piece of history in itself with so many different religions having influenced the city. Explore an evening walking tour of Granada’s oldest quarters – the Albaicin and Sacromonte neighbourhood.
- The Royal Chapel is a great piece of history. This is where the Catholic Monarchs are buried, who under their rule, Spain was unified. Isabel and Fernando are both tombed in marble and lay side by side.
Walk along Carrera del Darro past stop bridges and narrow paths admiring the greenery and hillside along the way. This cobbled street takes you along the River Darro and is a really scenic walk.
- For souvenirs, Granada has reasonable prices. Find the wooden marquetry artisan goods which are unique to Granada off the streets of Plaza Nueva as you walk up to the Alhambra.
- Granada has shopping of all kinds from modern shopping centres selling international brands to Moroccan-style souks. The Albaycin has authentic North African shopping and the traditional spice markets.
- Around the cathedral is a small shopping area or browse the small streets and alleyways for local arts and crafts and souvenirs. Al Baicin has small vendors which sell accessories.
Pamper yourself at a genuine Hamman Arab Bath. Whether you prefer a proper foamy Turkish hamman or a hot stone massage, this spa and its soft glowing chambers will make you feel like a princess. You also get 5% off the Alhambra with your ticket.
Granada is great for wine GatGs. Calle Navas has some great wine and tapas bars.
La Tabernilla del Darro is a cosy wine bar which overlooks the river. Inside it’s cave-like interior the barman serves up local wine from the Granada area. It’s a great place for solos as you can sit and people watch. Find at Puente Espinosa 15.
Have a tourist moment
Use the hop-on hop-off bus to get your bearings, learn more about the city and also get around. There is also a city tour train which goes to the main sightseeing attractions if you prefer a train.
Don’t have much time?
If you only have a short while here, you’ll have time to explore the Old Quarter. See the Alhambra, the Generalife, and the Albaicin within a whole day.
Where to wear your heels
Mingle with the classy people at the swanky bars and eateries around Plaza de Toros.
In The Evenings
Take a night adventure tour and enjoy a non conventional hike for 6km around the Albayzin, Sacromonte, Dehesa del Generalise, Silla del Moro and Alhambra peri-urban woods. See the sights illuminated at night and feel safe with your own guide.
If you are in Granada on a Thursday evening head to Pena La Plateria for an authentic flamenco show. This place has a long history of flamenco talent, and Thursday nights are the public show with Spanish guitarists from all over the country. You also get excellent views of the Alhambra. Make sure you pre-book so you don’t miss out.
Take advantage of one of the intercambios mentioned in the where to meet others section.
Head to Calle Elvira for an evening of bar-hopping, or the area around Albycin at weekends for some lively bars. The back streets are where you’ll find the nightlife but one of the most famous clubs is Granada 10, a converted movie theatre. Dance your socks off to pop and dance music until the club closes in the early mornings.
Take a taxi to Camino de Ronda, where you’ll be in the company of students all looking for a cheap night out. Botellodromo is zone for pre-drinking and where you’ll find others before the clubs opens.
Where to Meet Others
Intercambios are one of the best ways to meet others during your stay in Granada. They have different events on during the evenings and are a great way of meeting international people who live in Granada as well as locals and other travellers. You generally attend these events to practice your Spanish.
Feel the City Tours offer an official tour to the Alhambra and Generalife. Their tours are 3 hour walking tours and include an official local guide. They also cover tickets to the Nasrid Palaces, Alhambra Gardens and the Charles V Palace. Tours cost €44.
Granada Tapas Private Tours takes you on a tour to a variety of tapas bars. It’s a great way to learn about the culture and food in Granada and you also get to socialise for the evening with others. You may even try something you’ve never had before such as beer made with sea water. Tours start from €40.
Skip the line at the Alhambra and Generalife on an expert guided tour. Get priority entrance to the grounds and enjoy a 3 hour tour whilst taking a deeper look at the region’s history. Tours are €50.
Where to Eat & Drink
No matter where you go in Granada, the tradition seems to be to offer you free tapas whenever you order a drink. Calle Navas is the city’s most famous tapas street, or head to Campo del Principe which is filled with tapas bars serving fusion dishes. A traditional Granada dish is la tortilla del Sacromonte which is an omelette with ham and sweetbreads, as well as bean casserole. Plato Alpujarreno is a dish which comes from the mountain villages of Las Alpujarras and consists of potatoes, fried eggs, ham, sweet peppers and blood sausage.
The choice of restaurants here seem never-ending. For restaurants specialising in Spanish and Andalusian cuisine, head to the terraces on the wide boulevard of Paseo de los Tristes. Plaza Bib-Rambla is the place to people-watch whilst enjoying some local tapas dishes.
$ – Cacho & Pepe. This Italian and Mediterranean restaurant is very small and cosy but perfect for solos. The staff are really friendly and make everything home-made, some of the dishes with a twist. Choose from lasagna, pesto pasts or ricotta cheesecake amongst other delicious desserts. You can take away if there are no seats. Find at Calle Colcha 6.
$$ – Negro Carbon. If you like steak, this steakhouse is right up your alley. Serving steak as well as Mediterranean and European food, it isn’t all steak here as you can choose dishes such as coconut chicken. The food is excellent quality and you won’t feel awkward about dining alone even if it’s a weekend night.
Restaurants for typical cuisine
$$ – Los Diamantes. For traditional Spanish cuisine, this local restaurant off Plaza Nueva has fantastic seafood and tapas dishes. It is always packed with locals who come here for the city’s freshest seafood so be prepared for it to be busy.
$$ – El Conde. As with most places in Granada, this restaurant doubles up as a wine bar. It’s perfect for solos as you can sit at the bar and order tapas. It is small and cosy but the waiters are really attentive and you can enjoy all the usual Spanish favourites such as Iberian ham and patatas bravas.
$$ – Hicuri Art Vegan. There’s a reason that this restaurant is called an art restaurant. Inside is more like an art gallery with stunning artwork on the walls. It is situated in the centre with an atmosphere as vibrant as the paintings. Order a salad, a curry or a cous cous dish, the finish with some vegan cheesecake. Find at 4 Plaza de los Girones.
$$ – El Piano. Mediterranean and vegetarian friendly, this restaurant serves fresh, healthy meals and is a dream for vegetarians and those who are gluten-free. If you visit on a Sunday you may be treated to the sounds of live piano too.
Enjoy a Coffee and a Cake
Duran Barista – This coffee shop has excellent coffee in a great atmosphere. If it’s hot outside opt for a cold brew coffee. You may even get a personalised cup of coffee with your name in the froth. They also do a good breakfast buffet to stock up before a day of sightseeing. Find at Carrera Darro 25.
Visit the many food markets that Granada holds for cheap food stalls. Mercado San Agustin is a daily market (except on Sundays).
Where to Drink
Casa de Vinos La Brujidera – This hole-in-the-ground bar has a great atmosphere and is set in a lovely location. Sit indoors or outside on the terrace and try one of the local wines from their great wine selection. Find at Calle Monjas del Carmen 2.
La Gintoneria Centro – This bar is amazing for Gin lovers. It’s vibrant and trendy and you can get double measures of your favourite Gin tipple. The price is also reasonable for Granada. Find at C/ Escudo del Carmen.
El Granado is well located and close to the centre. The hostel has a lovely atmosphere and there is a rooftop terrace and a lounge area making it easy to meet others. If you want to save money and cook instead of eating out, there is a kitchen too. With friendly, helpful staff and walkable distance to most of the sites, El Granado is a great choice for a solo traveller. Choose from a mixed 3 or 6 bed dorm, or a 6 bed female-only dorm. Prices start from €19 for a bed in a 6 bed dorm room. Check availability.
Set in a manor house this funky-designed hostel is just 500 metres from the cathedral. The restaurant serves vegetarian and vegan dishes, and there is a traditional Andalusian patio where they hold free cultural events and live music every day. The beds are comfortable but if you stay in a bunk bed it may be a bit higher than you’re used to, and take some ear plugs if you are a light sleeper as there is live music every night. Choose from a 6 bed female-only dorm, or an 8 bed or 12 bed dorm. Prices start from €27 for a 12 bed dorm. Check availability.
Most of the places to see are within walking distance but get a map or download one on your phone to find your way around as it can be a bit confusing. The Albayzin and the Alhambra are on opposite hills but reachable on foot.
You can see most of the sights by bus and the buses run frequently. Any which have the letter C are for the city centre plus the Arabic area and the Alhambra. Buses cost €1.40 each trip or you can buy a multi-trip card called a Credibus Card which costs €2 and use either €5 or €10 for your trip. Buy single tickets from vending machines at bus stops. There are also night buses on routes C111 and C121. Granada Info has more information.
From Federico García Lorca Granada Airport
The bus company ALSA runs from Granada Airport and takes 45 minutes. Tickets are approx €3 and you can buy tickets on the bus. The bus stop is on the right-hand side as you leave the airport. Click here to find the bus times.
Taxis cost approx €19 and take 20 minutes.
From Granada there are direct connections to the big cities such as Barcelona, Cadiz, Cordoba, Seville, Madrid and Valencia. Buy train tickets from the ticket office at the station or via Renfe.
Check the buses versus the trains as they can be quicker to places along the coast such as Malaga. The bus is also cheaper than the train. The bus station is on the outskirts of the city and takes 20 minutes from the city centre. Buy your tickets online at Alsa.
Have you been to Granada? I'd love to hear your thoughts.