Granada is in southern Spain’s Andalusia region in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Expect to see magnificent Moorish medieval architecture, narrow cobbled streets and cosmopolitan squares. We headed there for a day trip with the kids, while staying on holiday in Competa. Read on to find out about Granda Spain – Things to do with kids in tow.
Granada Spain Things to Do
Arguably more for the adults than for kids, but you can’t really visit Granada without seeing the Alhambra, which is the Arabic for red castle.
Part palace, part fort, the Alhambra is a dedicated UNESCO World Heritage site. It tends to get quite crowded, with reportedly around 6,000 visitors a day, but a stroll round the gardens can still feel quite tranquil. We didn’t make it to the Palace itself as it books up months in advance. But the Generalife gardens are still worthy of a visit with the kids in their own right. Just make sure you read the tips below before you go.
Now you may not think that a cathedral would be the best place to take little ones, but on a blisteringly hot summers day, the cool interior of the Cathedral was a welcome retreat. Also from the outside it does not give off just how magnificent it is on the inside. Largely because it is boxed in between other buildings, but once inside it really is quite breathtaking.
There are audio guides that you will be given on entry and there are kids versions too. I found it made more more sense to get a kiddies one for me too as I found that the adults one was a bit too in-depth. After all how much can you listen to when you are continually telling the youngest not to touch everything? I also found it meant that I could interact more with the kids and respond to their questions as we were listening to the same audio.
The Cathedral is located bang in the centre of the Muslim area and dates back to 1523. It has magnificent architecture with ornate gold and stained windows and is a lovely way to pass half an hour or so.
The Souks – Alcaiceria
The souks are adjacent to the Cathedral and make for a nice little wander. Known as ‘mini Morocco’ the souks provide a clue as to the Arab history of the city.
They are a tad touristy, but they are still packed with colourful and exotic things to buy. Here you can pick up treasures such as locally painted ceramics, wooden chess boards and trinkets and moroccan stained glass lamps. We picked up a little flamenco dress for the little one which she wore to the flamenco show in the evening. She still dresses up in it now.
Eating in the squares
Granada in renowned for tapas, but as the kids were all a little fed up of tapas we opted for a simple lunch of pizza. El Aguador Pizzeria in Romanillas Square was nice. The square is marked with a statute of a man (a aguador) standing next to his donkey. These were men who came into the city from the countryside to sell fresh water.
The more bustling square of Plaza de Bib-Rambla is also a good spot to stop for coffee, ice-cream or some of those delicious crispy churros which you dip into hot chocolate sauce. I recommend Gran Cafe at Bib-Rambla.
The Tourist Train
The tourist train is a great way to take in the city, you will have glimpses of the narrow cobbled streets with the pretty white washed houses. It also takes you from the centre of town to Alhambra. You can jump on and off again throughout the day.
Family friendly Flamenco
A highlight of our visit was the Flamenco show at Jardines de Zoraya. Starting with drinks and canapés in the garden, we were then shown inside for the show. We were served our food, which was tasty, while watching an authentic flamenco show. The kids were captivated for the whole performance.
Granada Spain Things to Do that we missed…
The Bio Domo zoo and Science museum are around 15 minutes walk from the centre or a short in-expensive taxi ride. We had already visited the Bio Domo near Malaga, which was very educational and the kids loved it. But this meant we didn’t want to use our time up to see the equivalent in Granada.
But we do wish we had fitted in the science museum. However, we hadn’t realised that it closes for a siesta. It closes from 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. which meant that as we didn’t go earlier, going for 4:00 p.m. would have meant we’d have been in danger of missing our flamenco show. Worth knowing is that you can get a combined ticket for the two for around €11. per person. You can find their websites here – www.parqueciencias.com and www.biodomogranada.com
Granada Spain top things to do – Good to know before you go..
So this is the bit that we share what we wish we had known before our visit. We made some pretty rookie mistakes too, not to mention driving down a taxi and bus route for about half an hour and not being able to get out of it. So here are our tips based on what we liked and the mistakes we made…
Get a Granada Card – There are different cards to choose from. A Granada card gets you discount when you intend visiting more than one attraction. You can find out more HERE.
Pre-book for Alhambra – It is well worth pre-booking your Alhambra tickets in advance. Tickets to the palace book up as much as three months in advance in the high tourist season. This meant that we couldn’t get into the palace, as we weren’t organised enough to book our entire holiday that far in advance.
However, the gardens still made for a lovely place to explore with kids. Even for the gardens it is worth pre-booking as otherwise when you get there, the queue is horrendous, and I mean seriously horrendous. We must have queued an hour in the heat just to get into the gardens.
Take your passport – You must have your passport, or a picture of it in order to get in. After queuing for an hour, we got to the front to realise that we didn’t have ours. Hence another 15 minutes trawling through our photos and emails to try and find a record of them, which luckily we had. The whole queuing experience in the sweltering sun, was something we could have done without! Find out more here: www.alhambradegranada.org
If driving – do not park at the Alhambra, unless that is all you are going to see on that day. It would have been far better if we had parked where we planned on ending the day for a quicker get away with tired children. We made the mistake of parking at the Alhambra and then drove in to the city centre from there to continue our exploring. Little did we know that we could have caught the tourist train from the centre up to Alhambra, which would have been much better.
Pre-book your family friendly flamenco show – Granada is renowned for Flamenco, and is one of the places that you can see a real authentic show. But, most of them don’t start till late. Jardines de Zoraya, in the heart of the Albayzin area, has a family friendly show which starts at 8:00 p.m.. The show is in their restaurant where you have dinner while watching the hour long show. It also has a nice garden courtyard to have a drink and some nibbles with hummus. It is advisable to pre-book as it was full when we went. You can book via their website – www.jardinesdezoraya.com
I hope you have found these tips useful, if you have please share.
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