Visiting the city of Granada with children can be a magical experience. There are a few things worth knowing before you arrive to the city. Walking steep hills, bumpy cobbled streets and the hot sun maybe overwhelming for younger children.
So to help you plan ahead. Here are my insider tips for a fabulous family break in the city of the Alhambra.
Visiting Granada with Children
Temperatures in the City of Granada
Depending on the time of year you visit, temperatures can be extreme. Summer is dry and hot. For example minimum temperatures of 20c/68f are common at the height of summer. (July and August) With maximums often reaching 45C/113f. In winter it can be very cold. Not surprising due to the proximity of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The good news is that in Granada it very rarely rains and there are blue skies most days. (As I write this I can´t actually remember the last time we had rain)
Be prepared to have plenty of sun cream, water bottles and hats with you for a summer trip. Also you must plan your day at a steady pace. The heat will slow you down if it very hot. Spring and Autumn are normally the best times of the year to travel to Granada. But they are also the busiest times.
Over the summer season I would encourage visitors to choose accommodation with a pool. Even if its a small rooftop pool so you can cool off after the heat of the day. Some of the best options for families are:
- Hotel Saray – Has a pool and easy to access when arriving by car
- Los Angeles Spa + Hotel – Has a pool and is located close to Realejo and El Corte Inglés
- Sercotel Gran Hotel Luna de Granada – Easy to access motorway for day trips from here. Large hotel with big supermarket opposite.
- Genteel Carmen San Ignacio – Villa Rental in the Realejo quarter with pool.
- Eurostars Washington Irving – Located within the Alhambra grounds. Hotel with a pool. I´d recommend for short stays 2-3 nights.
As the Alhambra Palace as it is higher up than the city and surrounded by woodland the temperature tends to be cooler than the city below. It´s best to take layers, particularly for the evening or morning visits. In Wintertime in Granada the midday sun is warm. So expect from 12 noon until 4pm milder temperatures. Although as the sun fades after 5pm temperatures fall quickly.
You will need good walking shoes as the streets of Granada are cobbled in the historic centre. Some of the streets in Realejo and Albaicín are actually stone steps. The city also has lots of smooth marble pavements. These can be slippery when wet and especially at Eastertime as wax from processions can fall on the ground. I always recommend wearing shoes with grips and good tread as a visitor to Granada.
The city is walkable and most places are a short distance from each other. However the city has steep streets and hills. The Albaicín is on one hill and the Alhambra on another hill opposite. So as you are sightseeing it is better to plan so that you avoid the steepest locations at the hottest time of the day.
Spain is a great place to travel as a family. Children are always welcome. Special menus are available at many bars and restaurants. Some tickets prices are reduced for children or even free. Usually depending on the ages of the children and the type of activity.
If you require anything extra such as warming a bottle or a high chair. Usually the restaurant or café is happy to help. Locals take their children everywhere so it won´t be a bother at all. Note that most restaurants and food outlets open for dinner around 8.30pm onwards. It can prove difficult to get food before that (especially in summer months) If you prefer to dine early the best option maybe at your m or hotel. Perhaps buy something in the daytime to have in the evening.
Masks for Children
Currently in Spain due to the COVID pandemic Masks are required for children over 6 years old. Pharmacies sell specific masks that are for children. With different ones according the age range. Although it is required from 6 years old, the Spanish government recommends that children from 3 years old should wear them too.
See the Alhambra
Everyone who visits Granada, whatever their age, is fascinated by the Alhambra Palace. Children will enjoy the visit as they romp around the Generalife Gardens, admire the views from the top of the Torre de la Vela or gaze as the starred shaped ceilings in the palaces.
Animal lovers will notice the cats of the Alhambra. There are always plenty around the gardens, particularly close to the Puerta del Vino. You will see other wildlife such as frogs, birds or fish in the gardens and walkways. All the open spaces, plants and nature is bound to be a hit with the little ones too. Book a family ticket for the Alhambra Palace to skip the queues and avoid fuss when you arrive,
The book: Alhambra Told to Children is an introduction to the monument. It´s an illustrated book about the Alhambra Palace specifically for children. Although it doesnt cover the history exactly, its more poetic. It is a good talking point to discuss the Alhambra before or after your visit. They also have it in other languages too.
How many frogs can you see?
Book your Alhambra tickets
Getting tickets for the Alhambra can be tiresome as they are in extremely high demand. There is a limitation of people allowed in the Nasrid palaces at one time so tickets have an entry time. This makes the whole system difficult to manage and this is basically why its hard to get tickets.
If you are lucky enough to be reading this article in plenty of time. Look online at the official Patronato de la Alhambra website and book your tickets online. You need to check between 45-70 days ahead of your visit.
Saving Money on Alhambra Visit
This way is the cheapest way to visit. Tickets cost around 14 euros for the general visit for an adult.
- Children under 12 visit for free but you must book a ticket for them on the website.
- If you are in a guided tour you may have to pay full price for a child depending on the tour company.
- Babies which are under 12 months do not require a ticket but you need to tell the people on the gate when you are going into Nasrid palaces so that they give you a certain pass.
Important: take ID with you for each visitor to have on hand during the visit. (driving licence, passport etc)
What to do when Alhambra tickets are sold out
- You can choose to do the Night time tour. This tour does allow you to visit the Nasrid palaces and the main parts of the palace. As the route is shorter this is much more manageable especially in summertime or for families who dont want to walk around the entire complex. Buy the online ticket which says VISITA NOCTURNA.
- Another option is to book a guided tour. This Skip the Line tour below is a fuss free option which offers the whole of the Alhambra general visit with a guided tour included. You will see the Generalife Gardens, Nasrid Palaces (including Lions Courtyard) & the oldest part of the fortress La Alcazaba.
- Go for free. You can some of the areas of the Alhambra without buying a ticket. The Palacio de Carlos V is the Museum of the Alhambra and is free to go in. This may not be a hit with younger children.
- People who live in Granada (You must be registered on the Padron) can request free tickets on certain Sundays throughout the year. Ask for details at the office inside Corral de Carbon.
Highlights of the Alhambra
The Alhambra complex is a palatial city which covers a large surface area. It is impossible to visit the whole site in one day. The main areas to see are covered on all guided tours and also by the audio guide.
Pushchairs + Strollers
- Please note that you cannot take a pushchair or stroller inside the Nasrid Palace. This must be left at the control point close to the Wine Gate (opposite Carlos V palace) Some baby backpacks are available on request.
- Also large rucksacks or backpacks are not a good idea. They ask you to wear them in front which is uncomfortable as you move around. Some of the doors and corridors are narrow so the more compact you are moving around the space the better.
- Keep your tickets to hand at all times. They ask for them sometimes along the way. It´s easy to misplace them but they will be needed.
- Wheelchair access should be arranged ahead of time with the Alhambra. If you use a wheelchair some of the time unfortunately there is no where to leave it behind for the Nasrid Palace entrance. Wheelchair users have a specific itinerary marked on a map which you can get on arrival from Alhambra staff or at the information point.
Areas of the Alhambra Palace
Here are the sights you make like to cover on your visit.
- Nasrid Palaces & Lions Courtyard(this area is limited to the entrance time on your ticket)
- Generalife Gardens (there is ticket for just the gardens if you dont want to see the whole site)
- Alcazaba & Charles V Palace. This area is the centre of the monument. Here are the toilets and general services.
- Calle Real & Church of Santa Maria de la Alhambra. The street that goes from Charles V Palace up to the Parador and onto Generalife.
- Alhambra Woods. This area is the entrance which leads up from Plaza Nueva to the Justice Gate.
Getting to the Alhambra
The best option is to take the Bus from Calle Pavaneras.
If you choose to go by care. Note that the visitor car park at the Alhambra is past the monument, not on the city side. To get there you access from the motorway (rather from the historic city centre)
From city centre you would need to go by taxi up the hill or catch the little red bus service from Isabel La Católica on Calle Pavaneras. Public transport in Granada with children can be better than by car. As with many historic European cities many streets are narrow or one way streets.
Bus 32 Albaicín – Alhambra
The Bus 32 is a route that runs from the Alhambra Palace to the quarter Albaicín. Handy as it gets you up those steep hills. Buy bus tickets from the driver as you get on. It´s 1.40 euros per adult. Children under 5 years old go for free. Use cash (max change given 20 euros bank note)
The most popular stops are the Alhambra main entrance and the stop close to Mirador de San Nicolas.
Hop on Hop Off Train
Granada Tourist Train would be a good alternative for families with small children. The Hop on Hop off Train Granada route includes Alhambra main entrance, Albaicín and other main tourist sights such as the Cathedral.
Parque de las Ciencias
This Science Museum is one of the best in Spain and will have both children and adults enthralled. Plan to be there at least 3 hours. With 70 000 m² of museum to explore this is a great place to be when it is very hot. The museum has air conditioning and lots of space. Its a hands on experience with lots of buttons to press and interactivity.
At the moment they have an exhibition called Bio Domo with animals such as geckos, lemurs and toucans. The good thing about this museum as they are always changing the installations. They have a large outdoor space with lots of games and apparatus for curious children to use. When I visited with my nephews one summer I couldn´t get them off the play area outside. They loved it.
There is also a large butterfly area and an observation tower to climb. From this vantage point you have a great 360º of the city and Snow capped Sierra Nevada mountains. Choose to go up by the lift or walking up the steps counting them along the way.
The Museum is closed on MONDAYS.
Getting to Parque de las Ciencias Granada
- Address: Av. de la Ciencia, 18006 Granada
- Take the Bus 5 from Camino de Ronda.
- Take a taxi (about 6 euros from city centre)
- By car. They have a large underground car park at the museum.
Pomegranates in Granada
The symbol of the city of Granada is the Pomegranate. Once you know that it is easy to spot this symbol as you walk along the city streets. On flags and pennants, on drainpipes, manhole covers, grates and even on the stonework in some squares.
The Symbol of Granada
Some of the metal bollards in the old town are shaped with large pomegranates on the top. I Spy Pomegranates could be a nice distraction as you walk along. To see who can spot the most pomegranates. Or who finds the most obscurely placed one.
Carmen de los Martíres
A large garden or public parks with viewpoints over Granada. This space has a small lake with ducks and plants surrounding it. It also has a little bridge and castle style folly. This oasis in the Alhambra woods has peacocks and plenty of space for the little ones to let off steam. It´s free to visit but dogs aren´t allowed inside.
The bus C30 from city centre actually has a stop at the entrance of this park. (opposite Hotel Alhambra Palace) it is also walking distance from the Alhambra Palace. Its opposite the main entrance of Alhambra, get there by following the road through the woods.
Exploring the Albaicín
Wandering around the Albaicín is one of the most typical activities. Although with children it may be tiring. A good idea is to stop off at Plaza Larga in Casa Pasteles. This traditional café serves hot and cold drinks. They also have lots of delicious cakes, biscuits and ice cream.
Other information to see the Albayzin
The Bazaar and Tea Houses
The streets of the Alcaicería and Calderería are full of colourful lamps and slippers. Its an eye catching array of shops and tea houses. Walking around here you can buy souvenirs or enjoy Moroccan style pastries such as baklava or chuparkia. In summer you can taste fresh lemonade with mint sprigs in one of the tea houses. Or choose the typical Moroccan tea. I always choose the Thousand and One Nights tea which has floral and jasmine notes. (Mil y una noches)
A Flamenco evening
Visiting the Sacromonte district is curious experience. This street has views across to the Alhambra palace and down over the city. The Camino de Sacromonte is lined with cave houses and prickly pear cactuses. It is a unique neighbourhood which is considered to be the birthplace of Flamenco. You can visit the Museo del Sacromonte or if you head right to the end Sacromonte Abbey. There are several places to watch flamenco in this part of Granada. Maria la Canastera is one of my favourite settings.
At night time in Granada with children is fun as local families are out until late. The evening stroll is usually around 7.30pm onwards. This is when the streets are busier in the centre of town.
Flamenco with Children
The Jardines de Zoraya are located in the Albaicín. The advantage of this is that its easier to get to than the Sacromonte yet its equally charming. Watching a Flamenco performance here is a good option for families. They have lots of space outside and inside. The atmosphere is informal and welcoming. Book your seats at the Flamenco Show
Public Parks in Granada
In Granada the largest park is the Parque de Federico Garcia Lorca. This is located on the edge on the city on Calle Arabial. The main entrance is on the corner of Calle Virgen Blanca. In Summer months they often have puppet festivals in the early evenings.
The park takes it names from local poet and playwriter F.G. Lorca whose summer house (seen above) was on this land. It is open from 8am daily. There are long walkways, lots of shrubs and flowers. They have a children´s play area on one side of the park. You can also visit the poet´s house for a small fee if you are interested in learning more.
Jardines del Triunfo
Off Avenida de la Constitution there are gardens and fountains in a large open space. It is at one end of Gran Via, not too far from the historic centre. This area has several garden areas with benches. There are also fountains that stretch from one side to the other with a grand stone column at the centre.
Plaza de Gracia
The Plaza de Gracia is just off the street called Ancha de Gracia. This large square has several bars and cafés on it with outdoor seating. There is a children´s playground on one side of the square. So it´s a perfect location if you want the kids to let of steam while you have a coffee from one of the cafés on the square.
Close to Plaza de los Lobos, on Calle Duquesa there is a small Botanical Garden which has some benches and green space. Although it´s not a large area, it does provide a quiet space and it´s located right in the historic centre.
Daytrips from Granada
You dont have to go far out of the city to enjoy the countryside. You can see olive trees and green spaces on the edge of the Alhambra grounds. There are walking routes from the city of Granada that head into the hills of the Sacromonte and beyond.
If you want to explore further afield. Then head to the Sierra Nevada. There is so much to do in that area. The ski resort of Pradollano has activities for skiers and non skiers in the winter season. Find out more on the official Cetursa website. There is the quaint village of Guejar Sierra. At the foothills of the Sierra Nevada it has lovely typical restaurants and an authentic atmosphere.
Visiting the province of Granada with children has some great opportunities. For example you could Sleep in a cave house. or take a Daytrip to the Alpujarras. If you prefer to drive yourself find more information about these whitewashed mountain villages in my Alpujarra Quick Guide.
The Coast of Granada is called the Costa Tropical it takes about 40 mins to get there by car from the city centre. Enjoy a day at the beach in one of the coastal towns. You can also visit a Rum Distillery or enjoy water sports in this area.