If you’re looking for day trips from Malaga, Granada is one of those cities you must add to your list.
Granada is one of the most charming cities in Andalucía – its monuments and historical buildings, its tapas culture and friendly people make it a great destination to visit.
And, who hasn’t heard about the impressive Alhambra? One of the most visited landmarks in Spain.
On top of this, the day trip from Malaga to Granada is very easy to go on as there are many transport options and regardless of which one you take, it won’t take you long to get there.
In this blog, you’ll discover how to travel from Malaga to Granada, the best things to do in Granada in one day, traditional food you may want to try and accommodation options in case you decide to stay longer in this beautiful Andalusian city.
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The best day trip from Malaga to Granada
How to travel from Malaga to Granada
Travelling from Malaga to Granada is simple, whether you choose to drive there, take public transport or a guided tour.
Here is a list of the different ways to get to Granada from the quickest to the slowest option.
How to travel from Malaga to Granada by train
The train is one of the most convenient options to travel from Malaga to Granada. Take the train from Estación de Málaga-María Zambrano at only 20 minutes walk from Larios Street.
The average train journey is about 1 hour and 55 minutes, however, you can find quicker trains with Avant high-speed trains. There are 4 services per day and they take 1 hour and 10 minutes.
How to travel from Malaga to Granada by car
It isn’t necessary to travel by car to Granada as there are many public transport options available, and some of them are faster than driving.
However, travelling by car to Granada is a good option if you would like to make some stops on the way, visit other nearby towns on the way from Malaga to Granada, and if you don’t want to rely on timetables and unexpected delays.
The average drive from Malaga to Granada is 1 hour and 35 minutes.
Don’t own a car in Spain? Rent a car with Rentalcars.
How to travel from Malaga to Granada by bus
To travel from Malaga to Granada by bus, head to Estación de autobuses de Málaga, Malaga’s coach station. ALSA buses take you approximately from Malaga to Granada in 2 hours and 10 minutes.
ALSA buses are comfortable and have air conditioning on board, which is essential during the summer months.
An advantage of taking the bus instead of other transport is that you can often find very economic prices.
How to travel from Malaga to Granada by taking a guided tour
Another great way to go from Malaga to Granada is by taking a guided tour.
This is for you if you love learning as much as possible from the places and attractions and don’t want the hassle of figuring out where things are and how to get to places.
Many day tours from Malaga only include a visit to The Alhambra since you can easily spend there half day, but if that’s the only place you’d like to visit during your time in Granada, then this guided tour is perfect for you.
How to spend one day in Granada
Spending one day in Granada isn’t enough to visit everything, especially if you go to the Alhambra palace which you don’t really want to miss.
However, if you have limited time, it’s still worth visiting the city in one day and seeing one of the most beautiful historical buildings in Andalusia.
Here’s a list of must-see attractions in Granada you can realistically visit in 24 hours or less.
If there’s something that you can’t really miss during your trip to Granada is the Alhambra. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the most beautiful Moorish masterpiece in Andalucia and Spain.
In comparison to other fortress palaces in Spain, the Alhambra is a complex with numerous palaces, gardens, courtyards and much more.
It’s very interesting learning about the Alhambra and how this palace changed over the years.
Apparently, a few parts of the building were built before the Muslims conquered Spain, but The Alhambra was rebuilt by Mohammed ben Al-Ahamar, the Emirate of Granada, during the middle of the 13th century.
The palace went from being a military base to a royal residence.
It’s mesmerising walking through the different parts of the Alhambra – its detailed Moorish architecture and excellent panoramic views of Granada make it a very special place to visit.
It’s one of the most visited monuments in Spain, so my top recommendation is to book in advance to secure your spot. You can book your tickets through their website or Get Your Guide.
If you’re wondering whether you can turn up and get tickets, the chances are very low. There are some people who don’t book tickets and go really early (trying to be the first ones) to get in, but this doesn’t guarantee you entry to the palace.
Within the Alhambra, don’t miss the opportunity to check out Generalife gardens and palace.
Generalife Palace was the recreational house of the sultans of Granada, and it’s here where you’ll find beautiful lush green gardens with bright flowers, fountains and pebbled paths.
Visiting Generalife and the gardens can take you up to an hour, but it’s a great place to relax and enjoy the beauty of this area.
TIP: Consider the time of entry to the Nasrid Palaces before heading to Generalife. You also need to respect the time of your visit (morning or afternoon).
3) Granada Cathedral
The Cathedral of Granada is another historical building that you need to add to your list.
The cathedral was built upon the site of the Great Mosque, and its construction was a work that took many years, from 1523 to 1704.
Nowadays, you can appreciate the beautiful architecture of this building as well as find many artistic innovations that most of which come from Italian Renaissance art and architecture.
There is an entry fee of 5 euros which includes an audioguide, children under 12 years old enter for free.
Wandering around the neighbourhood of Albaicín, also written as Albayzín, is an experience.
This historical area has beautiful narrow winding streets and many places of interest like the City walls of the Zirid Taifa, Puerta de la Moneita, a medieval city gate, and many churches.
Once you’ve seen some of these attractions, head to Calderería street, a street full of souvenir shops with unique gifts and tea houses to enjoy a Moroccan mint tea or sweet.
Walking on this street, you’ll feel like being back in time to the Moorish period in Granada.
5) Mirador de San Nicolás
Mirador de San Nicolás is a viewpoint with incredible views of Granada and the Alhambra. This is the perfect place to finish your day trip in Granada as there’s no better location to watch the sunset.
In addition to the beautiful warm colours of the sunset and views, the viewpoint is very lively as there are many people around and locals often play flamenco.
Do you have more time in Granada? Then check out these activities:
6) Watch a live flamenco show
Watching a live flamenco show is an experience to tick off your Spain bucket list. Although you can do this in different cities across Andalusia, Granada along Sevilla are some of the best cities to experience it.
The most popular place to watch a flamenco show is Sacromonte, however, Tablao la Soleá and Tablao Flamenco la Alboreá are great places too.
7) Visit the Sacromonte Caves Museum
An interesting activity for culture lovers is visiting the Sacromonte Caves Museums, located in the neighbourhood of Sacromonte, not very far from Albaicín.
This ethnographic museum shows you how life used to be in this unique neighbourhood. Walk in 10 different caves that recreate how they were 100 years ago. The caves take you back in time and you’ll learn about the living conditions and trades of its inhabitants.
See kitchen utensils, beautiful rustic decorations and other objects that were used at the time as well as incredible views of the Alhambra and Darro valley.
If you visit the Sacromonte Caves Museum in summer, you’ll have the chance to experience a live flamenco show or go to their summer cinema.
There’s an entry fee of 5 euros, and you can take bus C2 to Camino del Sacromonte to get there.
8) Relax in the Arabic Baths
If you have plenty of time in Granada, and you’re up for a relaxing experience, go to Hammam Al Andalus Granada.
These Arab Baths offer the ultimate relaxation with a combination of cold and warm pools, sauna, massages, treatments and Moroccan tea.
Not only is it the best place to disconnect, but the Moorish architecture is mesmerising.
TIP: If you don’t have time to visit these Arabic Baths during your trip to Granada, check out these Arabic Baths in Malaga. I absolutely loved my visit there.
Map of Granada with must-see locations
Click on the map below to open it in Google Maps. You can access directions to each of the locations mentioned in this article.
What to eat in Granada
In between your activities, grab some authentic Andalusian traditional food by visiting the tapas bars, restaurants or bakeries.
If you aren’t sure about the traditional dishes in Granada, these are some you may want to try:
This is a traditional dish in La Alpujarra, a historic region situated between Almeria and Granada.
The dish consists of patatas a lo pobre (Poor Man’s Potatoes in English), serrano ham, black pudding, sausage and fried eggs, so if you’re hungry or fancy something hearty, this is the perfect meal for you.
Patatas a lo pobre
Patatas a lo pobre, whose name is translated as Poor Man’s Potatoes, is a delicious side dish, that consists of sliced fried potatoes, onions peppers, garlic and parsley.
It can also be a main dish since it’s quite filling and you can add a fried egg on top.
Habas con jamón
Habas con jamón consists of broad beans fried together with Spanish ham cubes and spring onions. It’s a simple but delicious recipe.
This dish is often served as a tapa or as a side along with a meat or fish dish.
One of the most popular traditional dishes in Granada is Remojón granadino, a dish which originated during the Moorish period in Southern Spain.
It’s a salad made with salted cod, oranges, black olives, hard-boiled eggs, onions, olive oil, salt and pepper.
This refreshing and light dish is especially eaten during the summer months, but you can find it all year round because it’s said that the vitamin C of oranges are ideal to combat a cold.
Do you have a sweet tooth? You’ll love piononos, a small cake in the shape of a cylinder with custard and sweet syrup on top.
My favourite place to eat piononos is Ysla bakery. Not only do they have mouthwatering piononos but other sweet pastries and cakes too!
Restaurant and bar recommendations
Taberna La Tana
One of the best places to enjoy tapas with a tinto de verano, wine and soda drink, is Taberna La Tana.
The bar isn’t very big, but it’s so popular that it even appeared in the Granada episode of Parts Unknown with Anthony Bourdain.
Make sure to go as early as it opens to get a seat as it gets very crowded.
📍 Address: Pcta. del Agua, 3, 18009 Granada, Spain
If you’re looking for a restaurant rather than a tapas bar, Restaurante Chikito is the go-to.
Located in the heart of Granada, this lovely restaurant offers authentic traditional food.
You’ll be able to enjoy some of the dishes I’ve mentioned above like broad beans with Serrano ham and Granada orange and cod salad.
The restaurant also has an alfresco terrace to enjoy your meal on a summer evening.
📍 Address: Pl. del Campillo, Nº9, 18009 Granada, Spain
Whether you’re looking for somewhere to have breakfast or a sweet bite, you won’t regret going to Casa Ysla.
Have a milkshake, coffee or tea with a delicious pastry or cake. Here you can try the famous piononos or other Andalusian cakes.
📍 Address: Reyes Católicos, 57, 18010 Granada, Spain
Where to stay in Granada
If you’re staying longer than a day in Granada, but you want to make the most of your time in the city, finding the right accommodation is key.
The best place to stay in Granada for a short stay is El Centro, the Old Town since you’ll be a walk distance from the majority of attractions and not very far from the Alhambra too.
Although this area is unexpectedly more expensive than others, you can still find good deals, especially during off-peak season.
These are my two hotel recommendations in Granada city centre:
Granada Five Senses Rooms & Suites
For travellers looking for a mid-range hotel on a budget
Granada Five Senses Rooms & Suites is a 3-star hotel located right in the city centre.
The hotel offers different types of rooms to accommodate couples and families. All their rooms have comfortable beds, an ensuite bathroom, flatscreen TV, air conditioning and WiFi.
This is a great hotel for you if you also want to taste traditional tapas as there are plenty of bars and restaurants in the area.
Hospes Palacio de los Patos Hotel
For travellers looking for a hotel experience
This 5-star hotel is the perfect stay for couples or travellers who want a more unique experience.
Hospes Palacio de los Patos Hotel is set in a 19th-century palace very close to the Cathedral of Granada. The hotel offers spacious rooms and suites equipped with everything you need (air conditioning, free WiFi, and a private bathroom with a hairdryer, bathrobe and slippers.
The hotel has an on-site restaurant where you can enjoy healthy and traditional dishes from Granada, and, on top of this, there is a spa inside the hotel too.
Other excursions and days out you may want to check out are a day trip to Seville from Malaga and Malaga to Cordoba day trip. These two Andalusian cities have plenty of things to offer too! From beautiful Andalusian courtyards to cathedrals and other historical buildings.
If you have any questions about visiting Granada or you’re planning a trip to Andalucia, you can always reach me via email or Instagram. I’m happy to help!
Did you enjoy reading this travel guide? Are there any other attractions in Granada that you’d include on this day trip from Malaga to Granada? Let me know in the comments below.
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Frequently asked questions about visiting Granada in one day
When is the best time to visit Granada?
The best time to visit Granada is spring as the temperature is pleasant (not too cold, not too hot), days become longer and the flowers blossom.
Winter and autumn are good for sightseeing too, however, avoid summer. The temperature reaches up to 40 degrees in the summer months which makes it very difficult to wander around the city.
How many days do you need in Granada?
It’s possible to visit some of the main attractions on a day trip from Malaga to Granada, however, you’ll need 3 days if you want to visit Granada at a slower pace and without rushing from place to place.
If you’re staying longer than 3 days, check out day trips from Granada. One of the most popular day trips is Sierra Nevada, the perfect place for skiing in the winter season.
From Granada you can also travel to Sevilla or Cordoba, both aren’t too far from the city.
Do you need a car in Granada?
No, you don’t need a car in Granada. The city centre is very walkable, but it’s good to know that there are some hills such as the one that leads you to the Alhambra. For this, you can use public transport as it’s very affordable and convenient.
If you plan to visit other places near Granada, then you need a car as not all the places you may want to visit can be accessed by public transport or the public transport timetables are limited.
Renting a car to travel outside Granada is the best option to have the freedom to go where you want and when you want.
Is Granada worth visiting?
Yes! Granada is worth visiting because of its impressive historic buildings, culture and food. It’s here where you can visit one of the most famous UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Alhambra.
If you’re a foodie, you must know that Granada is the best place to have tapas in Andalucia. Go on a tapas tour to try Granada’s delicacies.
Things to do before visiting Granada
- Check out cheap flights to Granada with Skyscanner here.
- Book the best accommodation for you with Booking.com.
- Rent a car to travel with ease around Spain.
- Are you looking for other Andalucian cities to visit? Have a look at this travel guide about the most beautiful cities and towns in Andalucia.
- Book travel insurance, this is a must for any trip!