If you’ve come across this article, you’re likely in the middle of making a hard decision: Granada or Seville? Although southern Spain is home to various beautiful destinations, these two cities are undoubtedly the most popular.
So, especially if this is your first trip to Spain, you’ll want to take the time to compare Sevilla vs. Granada before opting for one over the other. Whether you’re short on time or prefer to spend your vacation in one location, this article aims to help you decide between these Andalusian cities.
We list Granada and Seville’s top attractions, how to get to each city, and the pros and cons of each destination. In the best-case scenario, you can squeeze both places into your itinerary!
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Top attractions in Granada
Going to Granada is almost synonymous with touring the famous Alhambra. It’s worth noting that this ancient palace is the most visited place in Spain for a good reason. You could easily spend hours enjoying the Alhambra’s grounds between the palatial structures and gardens.
If you’d prefer to visit on your own, make sure to purchase your Nasrid Palace tickets far in advance to save money. However, for a more in-depth experience, sign up for a guided tour to learn more about this monument and its famous residents. Here are some of our favorite Alhambra tours:
- Skip The Line Alhambra and Generalife Guided Tour
- Alhambra: Small Group Tour with Local Guide & Admission
However, is Granada worth visiting if you’re not a history buff? We think so! After all, anyone can enjoy the narrow streets of Granada’s picturesque Albaicín neighborhood. Once the Arab Quarter, the Albaicín is now the heart of the city’s old town (and tourism).
Although exploring this neighborhood involves its fair share of stairs, the views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains are unbeatable. For a great place to watch the sunset, head over to the Mirador de San Nicolás.
This spot is popular among tourists and locals, so arrive early to grab a place to sit. If you have time for a longer hike, don’t miss the Mirador de San Miguel Alto. Just make sure to wear comfy shoes and pack some drinks and snacks!
Especially for foodies, the tapas scene in Granada is one of the main attractions. In fact, when you order a drink in this city, the waiter will bring you a free portion of tapas.
For the best tapas and restaurants, check out the Realejo area, which was historically the old Jewish quarter. Make sure to drop by Taberna La Tana, Bodegas Castañeda, La Botillería, or Los Diamantes to tapear like a true granadino.
How to get to Granada
Due to Granada’s popularity as a tourist destination and its overall size, it’s well connected to other towns in Spain and internationally. Nonetheless, depending on your starting point, you’ll want to evaluate the easiest way to reach this Andalusian city.
For example, Granada has a small airport that doesn’t offer many flights. So, direct flights from the United States, for example, do not currently exist. For those determined to fly to Granada, there are a few different options with layovers.
The first possibility is to take an international flight from the U.S. to Madrid or Barcelona and then a domestic flight from within Spain to Granada. Since the Málaga airport is also nearby, another feasible option is to fly to Málaga and rent a car or catch a bus to Granada.
If you’ll be coming from another city in Spain, the most straightforward public transportation is probably to take a train. For example, the high-speed AVE train can get you from Madrid to Granada in just over three hours! You could also take this train from Barcelona to Granada in approximately seven hours.
Taking the bus works well if you’re departing from another city in Spain. To review bus times to Granada, head to the ALSA website. Since you’ll be traveling with luggage, you’ll most likely want to take a taxi from the Granada train or bus station to your accommodations.
Pros and cons of Granada
Considering its historical importance, everyone should plan a Granada visit at least once in their lifetime. Whether it’s a day trip to see the Alhambra or spending multiple days perusing the city, that’s up to you!
Nonetheless, to help you choose between Granada or Seville for this particular vacation, let’s evaluate the pros and cons of visiting Granada specifically. In Granada’s favor, the Alhambra, the Generalife, and the Albaicín are all listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The Alhambra, often referred to as a crown jewel of Islamic architecture in Spain, is a monumental reason to choose Granada. This city is the obvious pick for history lovers and those interested in learning about the Moorish influence on Spain’s culture.
Additionally, if you’re interested in the famous Catholic Monarchs of Spain and the Reconquista, you’ll find a visit to the Alhambra very informative. As a matter of fact, if this sounds like you, you may even want to splurge on a private tour.
Plus, let’s not forget one of our best Granada travel tips: you get free tapas when you order a drink in this city! Don’t expect this to happen in Seville.
Moreover, in our opinion, when we compare Granada vs Sevilla, the former wins slightly regarding picturesque views and charming historic neighborhoods. For instance, between the Albaicín and Sacromonte barrios, you could spend days wandering and enjoying the sights.
Considering the palace and the well-preserved historic homes, Granada can feel like something out of a storybook! However, on the other side of things, if you have trouble with hills or stairs, Granada might not be the place for you to spend multiple days.
In this case, the best choice is probably to travel to Seville and take a day trip to the Alhambra. If you choose to go to Granada, you’ll want to wear comfortable walking shoes with good traction.
Top attractions in Seville
If you’re looking for an authentic Andalusian experience, head to Seville! Famous for its flamenco dancing, tapas scene, and the Feria de Abril, this city is 100% worth visiting on your trip to Spain.
The three most visited attractions here are the Royal Alcázar, the Plaza de España, and the Catedral de Sevilla. Due to the sheer number of things to do in the Andalusian capital, you’ll want to spend at least three days in Seville.
Especially for the Alcázar, purchasing your tickets in advance would be ideal. Nonetheless, you can try standing in line and buying them the day you visit–we don’t recommend doing this in the heat!
For Game of Thrones fans, seeing this tourist attraction in Spain is a must-do activity since it served as the primary filming location for Dorne. After touring the Alcazar in Barrio Santa Cruz (the old Jewish quarter), you’ll be in a convenient spot to tour the Seville Cathedral.
Apart from being the third-largest church in the world, this Roman Catholic cathedral is also the burial place of Christopher Columbus. While you’re there, make sure to climb to the top of La Giralda bell tower for some of the best views of Seville.
Whether or not you go to the Alcázar and the Cathedral, you’ll definitely want to make time for the Plaza de España. This 1928 plaza within Maria Luisa Park is free to enter and explore.
Furthermore, it’s likely the most recognizable structure in the city (mainly thanks to Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones). If you’re a photographer, you’ll enjoy waking up early and taking photos around this plaza with its many tile accents.
Once you’ve checked off Seville’s top three attractions, we suggest heading to the beautiful Casa de Pilatos. Its tranquil courtyards and opulent interiors provide a captivating glimpse into the city’s historical and artistic heritage.
How to get to Seville
Since Seville is the largest city in southern Spain, it’s well-connected both internationally and to other cities in the country. For overseas travelers, you can fly to the Seville airport. However, you’ll have to make a connection or two before you can get there.
If you’re traveling from the U.S., you’ll most likely fly into the large hub airports in Madrid or Barcelona first and then take a national flight to Seville. It’s important to remember that the Seville airport is outside the city center.
So, you’ll either have to take a bus or taxi to reach your hotel from the airport. With this in mind, in many cases, it makes sense to fly to a larger airport in Spain and then take the high-speed AVE train to Seville.
If you’re coming to Seville from another city in Spain, you’ll have two options: a train or a bus. In our opinion, the train tends to be more comfortable! Depending on your departure point, you’ll want to investigate whether the train or bus makes more sense for you.
There are a few factors we recommend considering before making your choice between the train or bus. For example, how far are your accommodations from the train or bus station?
Pros and cons of Seville
If it’s your first trip to Spain, we’re not sure you can justify skipping Seville. This city is exemplary of Andalusia and the particular culture of the Southern region of Spain. Plus, there’s so much to do!
When visiting Seville, you have to stop by the Alcázar, Cathedral, and Plaza de España at the very least. Regarding historical sites, we also recommend the Casa de Pilatos, the Setas de Sevilla (Metropol Parasol), and the Torre del Oro.
To fully complete your introduction to Seville, you’ll need to indulge in tapas at local bars and restaurants. Then, you have to catch a traditional flamenco show!
If you have at least three days and have to choose between Seville or Granada, we lean towards choosing Seville. You’ll generally find more to do here to fill your time. Plus, you can always take a day trip from Seville to Granada to see the Alhambra!
You may want to consider avoiding Seville in only a few scenarios. First, this city has one of the warmest climates in Europe. Therefore, although temperatures are quite agreeable into the fall and spring, summertime can be sweltering.
Remember to monitor the temperature if you choose to visit between June, July, and August. The daily highs during the summertime can exceed 95-96°F (35-35.6°C)!
Due to the heat, we suggest waking up early to explore outdoor attractions and then spending the afternoon indoors. Therefore, if you’re not an early bird, you may not want to vacation in Seville during its hottest months.
Additionally, you might not want to visit Seville during a major holiday, especially if you’re trying to plan a budget-friendly trip. During peak season, you may not be able to see all the attractions you had hoped to see. Furthermore, you’ll pay more for flights, accommodations, and food.
Granada or Seville?
Although we can’t decide for you, we can help you consider certain factors for each city. Choosing between Seville vs. Granada ultimately boils down to the question: how badly do you want to see the Alhambra?
Make sure to think about the following questions as well:
How much time do you have?
When deciding whether to visit Seville vs Granada, it’s essential to consider how much time you have for your trip. In our opinion, Granada is the better choice if you only have a day or two!
After all, it’s simply not possible to see everything Seville has to offer in such a short amount of time. However, Seville is definitely worth visiting if you have three days or more.
This way, you’ll be able to see all the city has to offer! Plus, you’ll have enough time to take a day trip to the Alhambra or even stay overnight in Granada.
During what season are you planning to travel?
One essential factor to keep in mind is the time of year you plan to visit Spain. The climates in Sevilla vs Granada can vary greatly depending on the season.
So, we urge you to check the average high and low temperatures for the month you’re planning to travel. Generally speaking, Seville experiences slightly hotter summers than Granada, and winters in Granada are a tad cooler than in Seville.
Additionally, you’ll want to verify whether or not you’ll be traveling during a holiday. For example, Holy Week in Seville could be overwhelming if you didn’t intend to visit for this purpose.
By taking the time to research the climate during your trip, you can help ensure that you have a pleasant experience in either Granada or Seville. Additionally, verifying any holidays that may be taking place is also advisable.
Do you prefer to have specific activities to do, or would you rather wander?
If you’d like to check activities off a list, Seville is more up your alley. This Andalusian city is home to enough historic buildings and museums to keep you busy for days.
To name just a few: the Royal Alcázar of Seville, the Seville Cathedral, the Torre del Oro, and Casa de Pilatos are all located in Seville. However, if you’re more of a “go with the flow” person, you’ll like Granada’s chill mountainside vibes.
Remember that what makes Granada unique is its Moorish influence and historic neighborhoods. For this reason, the Alhambra is undoubtedly the crown jewel of this Spanish city.
However, the other top activities here involve wandering the Albayzín and Sacromonte areas or the Alcaicería, an Arabic-style bazaar. You can also experience a flamenco show in a cave in Granada!
Do you have difficulty with stairs?
When comparing Granada vs. Sevilla, it’s worth noting that Granada is certainly more hilly. This fact can make it challenging to get around if you have difficulty with stairs.
Therefore, if you’re trying to choose between these two cities, you may want to consider spending most of your time in Seville and taking a guided day tour of the Alhambra. This way, you can see the best of Granada without worrying about getting around the city.
Are there any specific day trips you want to do?
Granada and Seville offer a wealth of cultural attractions that are well worth visiting. However, another aspect to consider is whether or not you plan to take day trips on your trip.
Make time for both! Here’s how.
We always advocate for making the most out of your time on vacation. So, if you have four days or more to spend in Spain, we think you could fit both Seville and Granada into your itinerary.
This way, you won’t have to miss the Alhambra or Andalusia’s capital. Although it’ll take a little extra planning for a smooth transfer, we think it’s worth trying to squeeze in both cities! Below, we detail how you can easily travel from Granada to Seville or vice versa.
How to get from Granada to Seville
There are four options to travel from Granada to Seville: take the train or the bus, rent a car, or go on a guided tour. The most straightforward and affordable option is to look into catching the Seville train or bus.
Regarding the train, you can opt for either the high-speed AVE train (Avant) or the national train. Getting from Granada to Seville via the Avant train will take two and a half hours. Meanwhile, the regional option will take between three and a half or four hours.
Of course, the Avant train is sometimes more expensive. You can book either of these trains on the Renfe website. Remember that Santa Justa is the main railway station in Seville.
If you’re staying closer to the bus station and prefer to go this route, you can purchase your tickets on the ALSA website. The bus will take about three hours to reach Seville and should cost approximately 25€. The main bus station in Seville is Estación Plaza de Armas.
If you have the extra cash to rent a car, this option allows you to stop in other towns on your way to Seville. Nonetheless, if you’re in a time crunch, we highly recommend reserving your spot on a guided tour. This way, you can sit back and relax without worrying about keeping on a schedule.
How to get from Seville to Granada
Traveling from Seville to Granada is possible by four different routes: train, bus, car, or a guided tour. Most of the time, we would opt for the high-speed AVE train (Avant) train to make the most of our time.
The high-speed train gets you to Granada in two and a half hours, while the regional train will likely take closer to four hours. You can check train times and prices from Seville to Granada on the Renfe website. The Granada train station is just under a mile (1.5km) from the city’s historic center.
Or, if you’d prefer to take the bus, you can purchase tickets via the ALSA website. The bus ride should take around three hours, and you’ll arrive at the Granada Bus Station on Avenida de Juan Pablo II–just under 2 miles (3km) from the city center.
Once again, renting a car is an excellent option for those looking to explore Spain’s smaller towns. This way, you can road trip, choosing stops along your drive and moving at your own pace!
On the other hand, if you’d rather ensure that your journey to Granada goes without a hitch, you might want to consider paying for a guided tour. Many tours even include your entrance to the Alhambra!
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An earlier version of this article was published in September 2019 and has since been updated.