Granada is a city that undoubtedly deserves more than just a one-day visit. However, for travellers with a limited amount of time to explore Southern Spain, undertaking a Granada day trip from Malaga or Seville is a great way to see the highlights of the city and to give you a taste of what Granada has to offer for a return a visit.
Wondering what the best way is to get to Granada from Seville or Malaga? This article outlines all the options available for travellers and tips on how to make the most of your one day in Granada!
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How to Get from Malaga to Granada
The city of Granada is located 125 kilometres north of the city of Malaga, making it a great option for a day out if you prefer to base yourself close to the beach and sea during your trip to the Costa del Sol.
For travellers who want to undertake a Malaga to Granada day trip, there are four main options: bus, train, guided tour or car.
There are frequent buses leaving from Malaga every morning taking approximately 2 hours one way and departing around every 30 minutes before noon.
Return buses are slightly less frequent, though still depart around every hour in the evening. Click here to check schedules.
Another option for your trip from Malaga to Granada is to take the train. While trains don’t leave as frequently as the buses do, you can save time in transit as the train journey is only about an hour and fifteen minutes each way.
Keep in mind that the final return train leaves earlier than the bus does, so you won’t have as much time in Granada itself if you want to book a return journey by train. You can browse schedules here.
By Guided Tour
If you’re on a short holiday and want to have a stress-free journey, then let a third party organise your trip from Malaga to Granada. This will also have the additional benefit of giving you a better chance of being able to see Granada’s most famous attraction – the Alhambra – on your visit.
If you haven’t pre-booked tickets online (they tend to sell out months in advance) then the best way to visit is by an organised tour as these companies tend to buy out a large number of tickets when they go on sale.
I recommend either booking this full-day tour or this full-day tour, as they both include a skip-the-line visit to all of the Alhambra (including the Nasrid Palaces & Generalife Gardens), free time to explore the Albaicín neighbourhood and transport to and from your hotel in Malaga.
Renting a car in Spain allows you to not be at the mercy of the bus schedules and have a more leisurely day. It also gives you the option to make some stops along the way – though it might be rushed if you intend to do a lot of sightseeing during your day out.
How to Get from Seville to Granada
While there are a number of fantastic day trips that visitors can do from Seville including visiting nearby Córdoba or Jerez and Cadiz, a Seville to Granada day trip is undoubtedly going to be a much longer day.
The two cities are approximately 250 kilometres apart, meaning you need to be up quite early to visit Granada. I only recommend travellers do this if they are extremely limited in time on their Spain trip and want to get a taste of Granada.
There several options for visitors including train, bus, organised tour or car.
Due to there only being a small number of suitable train and bus connections available, I’d recommend travellers to take an organised tour or rent a car if they are set on doing a Granada day trip from Seville.
By Guided Tour
An organised tour is undoubtedly one of the best options to ensure you make the most of your one day in Granada due to the distance between the two cities. I recommend booking either this full-day tour on this full-day tour.
They include skip-the-line tickets to all of the Alhambra, some time to explore the Albaicín and comfortable transport from your hotel.
Both these tours require an early start but will ensure you see the highlights of the city without having to worry about the logistical challenges of travelling to Granada.
Travellers who want to take the train from Seville to Granada need to ensure they take an early morning direct train that takes approximately 2.5 hours.
Similarly, there are only a handful of return trains that depart Granada in the afternoon or early evening.
If you plan on using trains, it is advisable to book ahead not only to ensure you get a seat on the required train but also so you get the best possible deals available. Click here to check schedules.
The bus from Seville to Granada takes 3 hours and, similar to if you plan on taking the train, you need to book in advance to ensure you secure your place on the best bus options.
From Seville, there are a number of morning buses that would be suitable if you’re only spending a day in Granada.
Returning from Granada, there are buses in the early evening that can you give at least 5 hours of exploring Granada if you plan. Click here to browse bus fares and schedules
How To Spend One Day in Granada
For travellers embarking on a day trip to Granada and wondering how to best spend their time, we recommend one of two options.
Spend your morning either at the Alhambra or exploring Central Granada before enjoying the tapas culture and walking through the Albaicin.
Alhambra Visit or Explore Central Granada
If the main purpose of your visit to Granada is to see the Alhambra then you should plan your visit around the time that your ticket allows you to visit the Nasrid Palaces. If you are a good planner and purchase Alhambra tickets well in advance, then I recommend planning your day around visiting the Alhambra first.
If you want to visit the Alhambra but can’t buy last-minute tickets directly, then the best option is to organise a tour. If you organise your own transport from Seville or Malaga, then you can purchase a guided tour directly in Granada.
I recommend either this half-day tour or this half-day tour. These guided tours of the Alhambra include access to the Nasrid Palaces which many other last-minute options exclude. It also gives you the additional benefits of having a lot of the history and meaning behind the Alhambra explained.
Allow yourself to spend at least 3 hours seeing all of the Alhambra and ensure that you’re at the Nasrid Palaces at the exact time that your ticket says. They are strict at controlling the number of people visiting the Palaces and you will not be able to enter if you miss your allocated time.
If you are unable to purchase Alhambra tickets and an organised tour is outside of your budget, then there is still a lot to see in the centre of Granada during your one-day visit.
Spend your morning taking a free walking tour run by Walk in Granada which leaves daily at 11 am from Plaza Nueva. It shows travellers the main historical parts of Granada’s city centre as well as explaining a lot of the history of the city.
The tour lasts for approximately 2.5 hours and if travellers have some energy left over before lunch then they can take a short 15-minute walk to the Alhambra and enjoy some of the natural beauty that surrounds the magnificent attraction.
Enjoy the Unique Tapas Culture
One of the highlights of spending one day in Granada is enjoying the unique tapas culture that exists in this Andalucian city.
Unlike if you visit Seville or Cordoba, a tapa is provided for free when ordering a drink at the majority of bars in Granada. Some places allow you to choose a tapa from a list, while others will just provide you with a tapa of their choice when serving you a drink.
Tapas bars in Granada are typically open from around 1-4pm for lunch with the peak lunch hour occurring approximately between 2-3pm. This means that you can easily spend a few hours exploring the Alhambra in the morning and then still have plenty of time to enjoy some tapas for lunch!
A couple of great traditional places that are located centrally include Bodegas Castañeda, Bar Provincias and Los Diamantes. The latter two specialise in seafood dishes while Bodegas Castañeda has a range of traditional Spanish tapas.
Bar Provincias is also a great option if you want to visit the Granada Cathedral as it’s located in a small alley just a minute away from the monument.
Explore the Albaicín
A great way to spend the last hour or two of your Granada day trip from Malaga or Seville is to explore the Albaicín neighbourhood.
This area is the historic Arab quarter of the city and is known for its winding cobblestone streets and whitewashed buildings. This part of the city is built on a hill so there will be a lot of uphill walking but you will be rewarded with some amazing views of the city and of the Alhambra .
If visiting during the winter months or planning a late departure from Granada, then make sure to head to Mirador de San Nicolas for sunset.
It’s one of the most popular viewpoints in the Albaicín due to Bill Clinton famously visiting this spot when he was president and claiming it was the best sunset in the world. You can’t actually see the sunset from this spot but the views of the Alhambra are spectacular!
Another good option to explore the Albaicín is to take a free walking tour with Walk in Granada Tours. They offer walking tours of the Albaicín daily.
During the months of October to March, the tour begins at 4 pm which is well-timed for visitors only spending one day in Granada. From April to September, the tour begins at 6 or 7pm.
Where to Stay in Malaga or Seville
For travellers basing themselves in Seville or Malaga, here are some recommendations for places to stay in both those cities.
Hotel Sur Málaga — A mid-range hotel that is located in the centre of the city and offers a number of comfortable and modern private rooms.
Madeinterranea Suites — A lovely boutique option in Malaga, they offer superb spacious and elegant rooms. A fantastic breakfast is included in the room rate and they have a restaurant and bar on site.
The Lights Hostel — A social budget hostel located in downtown Malaga that offers both dorm and private rooms. A buffet breakfast is available at an extra charge and is a great choice if trying to reduce how much you spend in Malaga.
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other hotels in Malaga!
Hotel Bécquer — One of the best-located hotels in Seville’s Old Town, they offer a range of comfortable modern private rooms. There is a fantastic rooftop pool and the option to include breakfast in your daily rate.
Monte Triana — A great hotel if you want to stay in Triana district which is where you’ll find some of the best tapas bars in the city of Seville. They offer a range of luxurious rooms and are still within walking distance of all of Seville’s main attractions.
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other hotels in Seville!
While spending a few days in Granada is undoubtedly the best way to experience the city, taking a day trip from Seville or Malaga is a great option if you are short on time and want to ensure you experience at least some of this amazing city.
Are you planning to spend a day in Granada? Are you thinking of visiting from Seville or Malaga? Let us know in the comments below!