Nestled in the Sierra Nevada mountains in the south of Spain, Granada is a picturesque town that should be on every travellers list. It has a rich cultural history and offers breathtaking lush views.
Granada is most notable for being fortified during the presence of the Moors in the 13th century. It was during this time that Granada saw its first monarchy rule. The royals brought with them impressive architecture and the start of a rich history for Granada.
There is plenty to enjoy on a tight budget in Granada. Even for travellers who aren’t on a limited budget, it’s good to remember that often, ‘the best things in life are free’. And, Granada has a full and diverse list of such places to visit.
Keep reading to find out how you can enjoy Granada without spending a cent.
Cultural places to visit in Granada, Spain
Granada boasts over 20 free museums for tourists to enjoy. We’ve narrowed it down to the top picks.
1. The Alhambra Museum
The Alhambra Museum is Granada’s shining glory on their cultural hotspot list. The museum displays a well-preserved palace, fortress, towers, and groomed gardens.
Much of the large grounds can only be accessed with the purchase of a ticket. However, there is still a large portion of the property that can be explored for free. The best way to discover the gems of Alhambra is on foot. Walk around the property and be prepared to be blown away by the grandeur and detail of the buildings.
2. Museo Casa de los Tiros
The Museo Casa de los Tiros is a beautiful local history museum set in the 16th-century fortified palace. The museum is free to EU citizens. For visitors who are not EU citizens, the entrance fee is a very low €1,50 ($1,65).
Marvel at the carved wooden ceiling, pictures of the past Catholic royals, and other art exhibitions.
3. Mezquita Mayor de Granada
While many may find a strong Islamic history to be strange for Spain, it is very clear and evident in Granada. The Grand Mosque of Granada is a place of worship and Islamic study. It is a strong symbol of Granada’s history and is still functioning for Muslims today.
Classic Islamic architecture and whitewashed walls creates an image of peace among the rolling hills which surrounds it. The gardens are also a feature to be marvelled over and complement the sacred buildings.
4. Corral de Carbon
The Corral de Carbon consists of a courtyard surrounded by various galleries, shops, and information centres. This monument holds deep Moorish history. It was a place to store and sell wheat in the 14th-century.
The building was later taken over by the Christian monarchy. And even later became a place for comedy performance. An interesting and diverse history that makes this building worth a visit.
It is notable that the Corral de Carbon is the only fully preserved monument of the Nasrid dynasty in the Iberian peninsula (the mountainous area found over Spain and Portugal).
5. Huerta de San Vicenta
This museum was the residence of Spanish poet and playwright Federico García Lorca. Visitors can experience the well-preserved 1920s family home just as it was left. It holds Lorca’s original objects and demonstrates life in Granada in the early 20th-century.
The museum is free on Wednesdays and has a large garden to explore as well as the buildings.
An example of Federico García Lorca’s poetic voice in “To find a kiss of yours”, instills a sense of the beauty he created in his huge body of work if you are unfamiliar with the writer.
“To find a kiss of yours
What would I give
A kiss that strayed from your lips
Dead to love” (1-4)
6. Museo de Bellas Artes
The Museum of Fine Arts in Granada is a magnificent display of art exhibitions from the 15th to the 20th century. It is mainly made up of paintings and sculptures, and entrance is free on Thursdays.
The museum is located on the first floor of the Charles V’s palace on the grounds of Alhambra. Visitors can spend a full day exploring these grounds and all of the golden nuggets it holds.
7. Catedral de Granada
The grand Granada cathedral took 181 years to build. With its dramatic high ceilings and Spanish Renaissance architecture, it’s not difficult to understand why. The Roman Catholic church displays opulent design and art which leaves a remarkable impression on all those who pass through it.
Entrance is free on Sundays, with children under the age of 12 years old being free all week long.
More cultural things to do in Granada
Granada’s cultural activities don’t stop with its monuments and historical landmarks. Travellers can discover a number of free cultural things to do while walking along the cobbled roads.
Getting lost in foreign towns is the best way to authentically get to understand and know the country you’re visiting. So put on your comfiest shoes, stroll around and discover what makes the vibrant city unique.
8. Spot Street art
Raul Ruiz, aka El Nino, is the graffiti artist who has brought life to the buildings and streets of Granada. His work is concentrated in the area of Realejo, but can be found scattered throughout the city.
Similar to the murals and art found in Barcelona, these pieces bring beauty to the city rather than the vandalism that comes to be expected with the word “graffiti”. Find inspiration and art by just stepping out of your front door.
9. Take Spanish lessons
If you would like to learn Spanish or improve what you already know, chatting to locals is a great way to go. Particularly because in many parts of Spain, the locals speak little English. Try ordering food in Spanish to begin with, and strike up a conversation with waiters, bartenders or shop assistants.
If you don’t feel confident enough to strike up a conversation, Conversation Exchange is a great way to meet new people and improve your language skills for free.
Hiking in Granada
Granada’s mountainous backdrop makes it an obvious place to enjoy beautiful hiking trails. There are over 100 hikes that can be discovered in Granada. All range in difficulty and something can be found for everyone.
Here is a list of the top picks for hiking in Granada:
- Mirador Cantarrijan Loop from Almuñéca
- Torre de Cerro Gordo – Sendero Cerro Gordo Loop from Sendero Torre de Cerro Gordo
- Poqueira Gorge Loop Walk
- Vereda de la Estrella through the Cortijo del Hornillo
- Puente Palo Loop
Parks and gardens in Granada
The landscape and natural beauty of Granada, Spain is one of the town’s best attributes. The surrounding mountains are complemented by the perfectly groomed gardens found within the town. Here are the top gardens to see in Granada.
10. Carmen de los Martires
The Carmen de los Martires Gardens are situated on the outskirts of Alhambra. Free for all visitors, these gardens are not only a sight to behold but are rich in history.
The gardens were installed as a memory to the Christians who were held captive under Arab rule and domination. The perfectly manicured gardens are gorgeous to look at and give visitors another understanding of local history.
11. Calle Mirador de San Nicolas
Made famous by Bill Clinton describing his visit to Mirador de San Nicolas as “the most beautiful sunset in the world” (1997), this viewpoint is an absolute must on your Granada to-do list.
The views of the Alhambra and the Generalife with the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada mountains is undeniably awe-inspiring. And as the former US president suggested, it is the perfect spot to watch the sunset.
12. Paseo de Los Tristes
This promenade, located along the river Darro, is a serene walk with tranquil surroundings. It has more stunning views of the Alhambra and can be enjoyed any time of day for free.
Have a seat on the benches to take it all in or find yourself a spot at any number of the restaurants sprinkled along the walk.
Outdoor entertainment & things to see in Granada
The streets of Granada are lively and full of atmosphere. There are plenty of things to do and see in Granada just by walking around the cobbled roads and exploring the outdoors.
13. Swimming in the ocean
Costa Tropical is a short hour’s drive from Granada and is a great half-day or full-day trip during the summer months. Although the transport to the beach is not free, swimming in the warm Mediterranean waters is. And hitchhiking is always a viable and legal option!
The second cheapest way to get to the coast is by bus. These beaches are far quieter and less developed than Malaga, making it the perfect day out to enjoy the sunshine.
14. Spanish flamenco dancing
The Spanish flamenco dance is iconic for Spain and street performers can be found throughout Granada. One of the best free things to do in Granada is to find your way to Plaza Nueve after 20:00 and take in the finesse of the dancers.
Try the unique food of Granada
Spain, and in particular the south of Spain, is famous for providing free tapas (snacks) with any drink order. Whether you are getting a soft or alcoholic drink you can expect to receive anything from olives to flatbreads served complimentary with your order.
Closing thoughts on Granada
Granada, Spain, effortlessly provides its visitors with a long list of things to do. Many of these things are free and can be enjoyed by people with varied interests. The rich history and natural beauty make Granada the perfect escape from Spain’s busier cities.
It’s easy to see why Granada is a MUST-visit for all those who find themselves in the south of Spain.