Located in Andalucía, in the foothills of the stunning Sierra Nevada mountains, Granada is one of the region’s most attractive destinations. Boasting stunning scenery, fascinating medieval history, and a host of fun things to see and do, it’s not surprising so many choose to visit Granada with car hires in Malaga. Better still, you don’t have to break the bank to enjoy this wonderful city, as there is a collection of top things to do for absolutely free! To give you some inspiration for when your trip is possible, we have highlighted some of the very best options for free things to do in Granada.
Carmen de los Martires Gardens
Located next to the famous and magnificent Alhambra, Carmen de los Martires Gardens is a wonderful free attraction to visit when in Granada. This 19th-century palace and garden was once a prison for Christians carrying out work on palaces, with thousands martyred before the Catholic monarchs seized Granada from the moors, with a shrine later being built on this spot. Today, Carmen de los Martires is a beautiful and peaceful location to enjoy in Granada, featuring ornamental grounds, grottos, statues, duck ponds, and ruins.
Molly, from the travel blog Piccavey, has visited this unique spot and shared with us what she believes makes it special: “This historical site has fabulous views over the city as well as lush gardens to explore. Not only that but it also has peacocks strutting around the ground, a lake with a folly style construction and lots of purple wisterias. This location is accessible by public transport on bus route 30 and is a lovely place to spend some time wandering through the woods and gardens here.”
Molly also spoke to us about why she loves Granada itself: “Granada is a magical city with historical buildings on every corner. It is dotted with small squares, balconies stuffed with coloured plant pots and narrow whitewashed alleys. Yet is also a thriving city with a population of 232,462. Known for its stunning Alhambra Palace, Granada also has the Sierra Nevada Mountains nearby, great for skiing and snowboarding in winter. The region also has plenty of hiking and mountain bike routes too.”
Museum of Fine Arts
When visiting a new city or destination, one of the best ways to become ensconced in the local culture is by visiting a museum. Fortunately, Granada has some great options available, including the Museum of Fine Arts which can be visited for free. Housed in the enormously impressive Charles V Palace – built under the request of the Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain of the same name – there is an incredible array of art for visitors to enjoy. With many important paintings located within, as well as sculptures from the 16th century, the museum of fine arts is an excellent place to learn about Granada and its artistic heritage. The palace itself is worthy of admiration so make sure to take a stroll around, especially the notable circular patio.
Granada is replete with Arab architecture and traces of its Moorish past. One of the most exquisite examples is the Bañuelo Arab Baths, one of Granada’s most interesting attractions that is free to visit on Sundays. Built all the way back in the 11th century, these baths are considered to be among the oldest and most complete in all of Spain. Bañuelo’s cavernous brick vaults and its octagonal and star-shaped skylights a sight to behold, providing a fascinating glimpse into the past at what would have been a hub of activity once upon a time.
Zach and Julie, from the travel blog Ruhls of the Road, have visited the baths, sharing their experience: “El Bañuelo is an ancient bath house located in central Granada, right at the base of the hill leading up to the Alhambra. No longer a functioning bathhouse, El Bañuelo is now a small museum open to tourists and locals and is one of the best things to do in Granada for tourists.
“The bathhouse is pretty small (the entire tour takes about 15 minutes) so we recommend taking advantage of the free entrance on Sundays. You can get some awesome pics on the inside though!”
Street entertainment and great views
When exploring Granada’s streets, you will soon notice that there is plenty going on in terms of entertainment. From bands and poetry readings to even some exciting flamenco performances. Plaza Nueva, in particular, is a great spot to wander off to, especially on weekends, creating a fun and lively atmosphere that will only add to your memories of Granada.
Another option is to enjoy some of the spectacular views that Granada is notable for. The Alhambra might cost a ticket for admission, but if you head to Mirador de San Nicolas, you will find the best view of this ancient fortress that you could hope for. Ala, from the website Travel Family Blog, has fond memories of Granada and recommend visiting Mirador de San Nicolas, sharing with us:
“In my opinion, el Mirador de San Nicolas is so special because you have a bird’s-eye view over Albayzin district, one of the World Heritage Sites from 1984, and of course, you have an amazing view of Alhambra, the most important palace and fortress in Granada. Apart from the views, once you get there you have lots of restaurants and bars that offer tapas. As well, you will find many artists who sell their paintings, handmade jewellery and so on to visitors.
“On the other hand, if you climb to this place later in the evening and you are lucky enough to get in the first row, you will get a spectacular sunset over the city. That is a one of a kind of moment that will leave you speechless during your travels: view, colours, smells of tapas, flamenco dancing or music, and simply a magical time for you in the city.”
Enjoy some tapas
Spain is known for its tapas, so you are probably looking forward to sampling some during your visit. Well, the good news is that Granada is a city known for its tapas and that it even comes for free! That’s right, if you order a drink in one of Granada’s local establishments, it will often come with free tapas to enjoy – perfect for a pre-dinner snack or as part of your tapas tour of Granada.
Casie, from the blog A Wandering Casiedilla, knows a thing or two about tapas in Granada and has shared this top tip with us for getting the most out of the experience: “The rule of the thumb is to always go to a tapas bar that is full, and even better, full of locals. That’s a tell-tale sign that it’s a good place and has the local stamp of approval! Avoid tapas bars in the main plazas and head off the beaten path to the side streets to ensure you’re not falling into a tourist trap. For my full list of the best tapas bars in Granada, check out my article.”
Casie also spoke about what she believes makes tapas in Granada special: “Where else in the world can you eat free food?! Granada is one of the last places in Spain to maintain its culture of free tapas. Tapas is a part of local life in Granada and it’s a wonderful glimpse into the vibrant social culture. You can have a full dinner with drinks included for a total of 6 euros (2 euros per drink, each which comes with a tapa). And most importantly – the tapas are delicious!”
SEE ALSO: Where to eat in Granada
What free things can you do in Granada?
- Carmen de los Martires Gardens
- Museum of Fine Arts
- The Bañuelo
- Street entertainment and great views
- Enjoy some tapas
As you can see, Granada has some fantastic free things to see and do, meaning that you can enjoy more of this wonderful Spanish city without having to spend a fortune. From historic sites and fascinating museums to free tapas and exquisite views, Granada has it all.
For more tips, guides, and advice on all things Andalucía, head to our blog.
Image Credit: damian entwistle