Granada is an Andalusian city in Southern Spain, relatively close to Malaga and its airport. With a mix of Catholic and Moorish influences, its globally renowned highlight is Alhambra. We wanted to find out how easy and realistic it was to visit the key sights, and we went in search of child friendly options. These are the highlights.
I’m starting with Granada Cathedral, which may not sound particularly rock’n’roll or kiddie-tastic, but it’s in the historic centre and a good benchmark in the city. As such it was our starting point, it offered a respite from the hot, Spanish sun and Spain does deliver a good Catholic cathedral.
Granada Cathedral has a particularly good children’s audio set in English, so good in fact that I swapped my quite intense adult version for a child’s headset, partly because it was more engaging, and partly so I could answer the endless ‘But Mummy? Why Mummy? Who Mummy? When Mummy?”
Shop in the Souk
Next to the Cathedral is the Alcaiceria Souk. It’s really colourful and scented. A touch on the touristy side admittedly, but stall holders sell a mix of leather goods and glassware that are beautiful to see clustered together. Mr Tot insisted on purchasing a fan – I’m not kidding. When in Spain…
Near Granada Cathedral you can catch a public bus or a Granada City Tour bus up to the famous hilltop fort. We’d asked if we could walk to Alhambra, and when our hotel receptionist stopped laughing she explained how steep the trek would actually be.
To access Alhambra you need to book tickets in advance, especially to enter the renowned Nasrid Palaces and the Court of the Lions. But if you can’t manage to do this it’s pretty easy to pick up tickets for around €7 to visit the quite stunning and extensive Generalife Gardens, the Alcazaba fortress and Carlos V square.
The kids were really content in the gardens and loved climbing the various towers and forts (even in the stifling heat). The views of the city from Alhambra are the best in town.
Tips include – bring water bottles. Free drinking water is supplied at multiple locations around the site so don’t worry about running out. Another heads up – when exploring certain areas of the gardens, you have to leave your buggy at the door/stairs, and you exit at a completely different point. Mr Husband was sent off a few times to rediscover and reclaim said buggy, as I sat on a park bench attempting to distract the children.
Granada City Tour
This little bus resembles a train on wheels, so it’s a instant hit with wee ones. A child-friendly way to get around the city, and to pass through renowned districts such as the Albaicín, Sacromonte and El Realejo neighbourhoods without lifting a finger (or pushing a buggy).
Most Science Museums fall a little flat for me, and I’m often left none the wiser why the experiments actually matter in everyday life. I was unusually impressed by Granada’s offering, especially its temporary exhibits, which naturally change over time.
The WOW (Wonder of Wildlife) exhibition was outstanding, focussing on the hunt, the prey and the kill. I’ve never seen animals displayed like this before, it captured moments in time, and the fluid movement of the beasts. The kids were transfixed, even if they did undersell the experience to nanny when they told her over the phone that they ‘saw dead animals’.
Part of the Science Museum, but with a separate entry fee, Bio Domo features ‘alive animals’, as the boys described it. Take in an aquarium, with real life sharks, mesmerising jellyfish and cheeky wee otters. And in the wildlife section you can actually walk amongst lemurs and toucans, so close you could touch them. Bio Domo was a little out of the centre of town, but taxis are affordable, and it cost €7 to get back to our hotel.
Where to Stay
We were hosted at Sercotel Gran Hotel Luna de Granada. It has a businesslike vibe with smart, grey spacious rooms.
It’s set in a pretty good location, around a 15 minute walk from the historic centre and the Cathedral. But the clincher? The swimming pools. This Sercotel offers an indoor pool (with a retractable roof for sunny days) and an outdoor pool complex. Outdoor guests also find a shallow baby pool. (Note that the outdoor pools are shut during the siesta hours, reopening at 5pm. The indoor pool remains open during siesta.)
The hotel has two restaurants, one a la carte and one a buffet style affair. We tried the buffet restaurant, which cost €15 per adult, and €15 for both of the boys combined, so €45 in total. The Show Kitchen was a little different, preparing meat before your eyes. Overall the food was OK, but it was an easy meal in a convenient location. Breakfast fared better, with pancakes and crepes being whipped up before our eyes.
Our room was stylish and comfortable with complimentary bathrobes and office space, so it felt smart and indulgent. Parking was available on site (with a valet service) for a fee.
To be able to explore Granada with the kids during the day, knowing they’d get some pool time at the hotel before dinner, really freshened us up, and swimming was a great carrot to dangle before the tots to encourage them home. Overall Granada came across as a busy working city, with key highlights that work for all ages.
We drove to Newcastle (stopping at Almond Valley Heritage Centre near Edinburgh en route), flying to Malaga (unfortunately with Ryanair, it was awful and I cannot recommend this airline), spending three nights at the very relaxed Macdonald Dona Lola resort, before spending two nights in Granada, followed by two nights in Seville.