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Granada, once centre of the Moorish Kingdom of Andalusia, is a great city of European history and culture, located in the south of Spain. Perhaps the most famous relic of the Moorish era is the Alhambra, the ancient palace built in 889 by the Sultan of Granada, and now a UNESCO World Heritage site (pictured). The region surrounding Granada provides stunning scenery and amazing landscapes to discover, such as the Sierra Nevada or the beaches of the famous Costa del Sol.
Who to Book With
There are several car hire firms to choose from in Granada, including Avis, Budget and Europcar, which have branches located at the airport. There are also several more places in town, but to find the most convenient location and to get the best rates, book and confirm online beforehand.
Best Time to go
Granada is a year-round destination, although you may wish to avoid the hottest month of August. Spring and summer are the best times to visit, when the weather is warm and dry and there is plenty of sunshine and plenty to do. A visit during Easter week, known by the locals as Semana Santa, will allow you to watch the centuries-old traditional ceremonies.
Need to Know Essentials
To pick up your rental car, you must provide the following documents:
- A valid EU driving license or International Driving Permit
- Your passport, or a second form of picture ID
- The credit card used to make the booking
- A printed booking confirmation or reference number
Granada airport is located 12 miles west of Granada; you can drive into town using the A-92G motorway. Expect a journey time of about 30 minutes. Granada is an old city, with streets that were never built for cars and the centre of the city is restricted to buses and motorcycles only. If you wish to drive in and park at a hotel, you must contact them in advance to avoid a fine.
Most of the three and four-star hotels offer some guest parking. It is difficult to find street parking in Granada, head to a dedicated car park. Car parks located just off Camino de Ronda are the easiest to find. Alternately, there is a large car park at Plaza de los Campos and more parking near the cathedral.
It takes just 45 minutes to reach Sierra Nevada from Granada by car, and the Costa del Sol can be reached in an hour. Getting to other places in Spain is also easy from Granada; if heading east or west, use the A-92, or if going north or south, use the A-44.
Driving in the city centre of Granada is limited to buses and motorcycles only, although it is possible to drive to your hotel with permission in advance. Otherwise, you should use the handy public bus system for getting around. Trains serve regional areas, or you can go long-distance to Madrid or Barcelona.
Granada is well served by trains on the Spanish rail network. There are two daily trains running to Madrid and two more to Barcelona. There are four trains running to Seville, the largest city in the Andalusian region. There are also three daily trains that run to Algericiras on a particularly scenic route. To get to the Costa del Sol, take this line to Bobadilla and change trains for Malaga. All trains running out of Granada are operated by RENFE.
Taxis are plentiful in Granada and all run on meters. They are fairly expensive; for example, the 10-mile journey from the airport to the centre of the city costs about 30 Euros. You can hail taxis from the street anywhere in Granada or look for dedicated taxi ranks by the big Plazas. You can also book by phoning a company like Radio Taxi Genil on +34 9581 32323.
There is a dedicated airport express bus that takes passengers to the city centre for three Euros. Many city buses operate throughout Granada, covering the centre of the city on Gran Via, the main road that runs past the cathedral. For sightseeing, you may wish to use the network of red and white minibuses, which will take you up to the Alhambra and other key sites. The most useful buses are numbers 30, 31 and 34. You can check the routes on the Rober website.
Granada is situated in an amazing part of Spain. The city itself is a cultural hotspot, with a long and varied history. However, if you venture out a little farther, you are met with some awe-inspiring landscapes. Just to the south is the great Sierra Nevada mountain chain, and farther south still are the famous sandy beaches of the Costa del Sol.
Cordoba - Located just a few hours’ drive northwest of Granada, and offers tourists more impressive Moorish architecture. Here you can view the Mezquita, with its famous peppermint striped arches, and view the Medina Azahara archeological site.
The Sierra Nevada - Reachable from Granada in just 45 minutes when heading south west out of town. During the winter, the mountain range becomes a sports destination, while during the summer months, visitors go there for the mighty mountain scenery and great hiking.
The Costa del Sol - This is one of the great sandy beach areas that make the Spanish coast famous. You can reach it by driving for just an hour south from Granada. Continue on to Nerja for some typically Spanish seaside ambience.
Seville - The largest city in Andalusia. On a visit here, you can soak up some true Spanish culture, taste some local specialties and take in a Flamenco show. It is a 2-3 hour drive, so possible as a daytrip.