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Granada or Seville?

This is my first trip to Spain! We're going to Madrid and Barcelona, and I'm trying to decide between Seville or Granada. We have to choose one or the other to fit in our budget. Any suggestions? Pros and Cons?
Thanks so much!

Posted by
21327 posts

No question -- the Alhambra in Granada. The most visit site - for good reason - in all of Spain. Pivotal to both Spain and world history. !492 one of the great years in world history and not because Columbus got lost. Read a little Spanish history.

Posted by
267 posts

I loved Seville more than Granada. the Alcazar, the parks, the food. the flamenco. the food.

Posted by
26 posts

We went to both Granada and Seville last year. We definitely enjoyed Granada more, not only for the Alhambra, but also for the food and the Hamam. Seville we enjoyed for the Flamenco show and an inside tour of the Real Alacazar.

Posted by
2542 posts

I love both and don’t think you can go wrong. I’d pick Granada but here are some thoughts

Seville is bigger and is kind of the stereotypical image many people have of Andalucia. The Flamenco is best there. It’s super atmospheric and interesting. It’s also easiest to get to from Madrid (fast train). The cathedral and alcazar are some of the best sights in Spain. The old town (barrio Santa Cruz) is large, well preserved and charming. It’s a little more “polished” than Granada’s old town which is a minor drawback to Seville for me, a selling point to others.

Granada is...kind of it’s own thing. The mountains in the distance and the hills make the views prettier. The moorish influence is much stronger there, which I find fascinating. The Albayzin is the most unique neighborhood I’ve been in, it’s a great maze and just gritty/unpolished enough to be interesting. And of course the Alhambra.

To me it comes down to the feel of the place. Seville is beautiful, fun, and interesting. Granada is magical and enchanting.

Posted by
14449 posts

Well, I prefer both Sevilla and Granada over Madrid. My advice - unless you really love European painting and want to spend a couple days at some of the finest art museums in Europe, skip Madrid.

As a city, I prefer Sevilla but there's a reason the Alhambra is the #1 sight in Spain.

Posted by
432 posts

Another vote for Granada.

To me, Seville feels more chaotic. Granada is easier to "settle in," relax, linger, but still with plenty to do. I feel the layers of history in Granada more than in Sevilla. And of course the Alhambra is simply amazing.

Posted by
3438 posts

Party depends on how long you’ll be there. Other than the Alhambra, the rest of Granada can be seen in a day. I feel Sevilla has more things to see and is worth more time. Both are great cities and worth visiting.

Posted by
4622 posts

I enjoyed both cities for many of the reasons already alluded to by the others.

When is your trip?

Keep in mind that you need to book your Alhambra tickets way in advance; up to 3 months in advance for best time selection.

I agree with Chani, unless you want to visit some amazing museums in Madrid, I’d skip it and head down to Andalucia.

Enjoy!

Posted by
116 posts

I hope you are going in the Fall or Spring. Spain, especially in the South, is extremely HOT in Summer. 100F+ days on end, especially July - early September.
Granada for a deep sense of history. Sevilla for the culture Americans generally think of when they think of Spain. Both cities are worth visiting. More to see and do in Sevilla. The Alhambra in Granada is a don't miss for Spain and may really open your eyes to the history of the country. A tough choice. I would give the edge to Granada for a short stay (2 days) and PLAN on coming back to Spain another time. So much to see and enjoy in that country.
Each major city in Spain is very different from each other in culture, architecture, and other sights and activities. The people telling you to skip Madrid have already been there. This is your first trip to Spain. Don't skip it. I have visited Madrid every trip to Spain and will go again this year. I enjoy that city. If you will be in Madrid several days, I recommend an overnight stay in nearby Toledo (30 minutes by train) for an interesting look at the city that was Spain's capital before Madrid. An old walled city with narrow, winding streets, and a beautiful old cathedral.

Posted by
9 posts

I am pro Seville because it has one of the largest pedestrian zones in the EU, so there's less traffic and noise in the old part of town. My guess is that old town is about 1 square mile and if your accommodations are within 1/2 mile of it, you will find yourself heading out for more at all hours. Beside the walkability factor, it has many churches and the largest Gothic cathedral in the world. While I am not inclined to be religious, these churches have great historic and architectural interest as well as being peaceful and quiet. I took several tours and they were all great. The evening and nights are very family friendly and there are lots of little ones and strollers having fun. The walk from the bus/train station to the old section isn't bad at all and I walked it at least once a day. The only possible downside of Seville is that it can be a little claustrophobic with many narrow streets all of which are interesting, but there are very few distant views unless you head toward the river, which is close by.

Posted by
1022 posts

It depends on how long you plan to stay. I loved Granada and thought it was more beautiful, smaller and also had a better Andalusian feel to it. You also have the Alhambra and mountains. However, if you plan on staying more than three days, Seville has more to offer as far as places to go as it is a smaller city.

Please also aware that it can be sweltering in summer. I went in April and the temperatures were already in the mid 70s in the afternoon. I can't imagine what it's like in the summer. Unlike others, I wouldn't skip Madrid. Perhaps because I speak Spanish but I loved Madrid-the parks, the art museums and the little panaderias.

Posted by
11275 posts

Another one here who really liked Madrid (and not just for the museums, but the urban vibe). As for Granada vs. Seville, two big determiners:

1) Can you get Alhambra tickets for your dates? Apparently they are selling out quite quickly now, so depending on when you are traveling, you may have missed them. I would not go to Granada if you can't see the Alhambra.

2) Logistics. Seville not only has a fast train from Madrid, but it has a larger airport with more options. Granada takes longer to get to because they're working on the fast train, so you take a train as far as Antequera and then a dedicated bus from there to Granada. The bus is run by the train company, coordinated with the trains, and goes right from the train stations in each city (rather than the bus stations), so it's not hard, but it does take longer and require a transfer. Granada's airport is small with limited flight options. All of these factors mean that Seville is logistically easier than Granada. However, with proper planning, both can work fine (for instance, fly US to Barcelona, see Barcelona, fly to Granada, bus/train combo to Madrid, fly from Madrid back to US).

And finally, it's not budget that should make you pick destinations in Spain, but time. Barcelona is definitely more expensive than Madrid, Seville, or Granada, but none are Norway or Switzerland. Don't skip Granada or Seville to save money; if they both interest you, see both and cut time in Madrid or Barcelona!

Posted by
2297 posts

I second what Harald said. Check if you can get tickets for the Alhambra for the dates you would be there. You need to book at least 3 months in advance, not just for the best times but for tickets period. And if you can't get tickets, then skip Granada and go to Seville.

Posted by
468 posts

Simply from a logistical aspect, I’d go with Seville. It’s an easy fast train from Madrid. The Alcazar in Seville was far more impressive than I had expected. It’s not the Alhambra, but it’s amazing in its own right. It’s also right in the center of town and easy to visit. There’s so much too see in Seville, and the town itself it very pretty and extremely enjoyable.

I appreciated Granada, it is definitely it’s own place. It requires time and effort to get to and navigate. The Alhambra will take up a day, so you’re almost certainly looking at three days in and out of the place. I didn’t fall in love with the place. I would call it pretty workaday for the most part. I stayed three nights and felt like that was almost too much.

I would suggest you do Seville. If you like that, maybe next time check out Granada. Also, Córdoba is on the line between Seville and Madrid. You must stop there and see the Mezquita!

Posted by
4622 posts

amieaearle,

You’ve received great responses; what are your thoughts?

When is your trip?

Have you checked to see if Alhambra tickets are available for your dates?

Just wondering what you’ve decided...

Posted by
7124 posts

Ideally, Granada (and Córdoba) should be visited on the same trip as Seville. Barcelona could be left for some future time.

Posted by
390 posts

Although it seems that the OP has not come back, I want to thank you all for your responses — I’m considering a solo trip to Madrid and Seville in the next year so this detailed information was very helpful!!

Posted by
5 posts

I've been to many famous European sites, but the Alhambra is at the very top of my list. A once in a lifetime experience if you can get tickets through the official website (sell 3 months out) or worth the money to get with a small or private tour, which I suspect gobble up most of the tickets. Magnificent architechture and the gardens are definitely a "paradise on earth."
For more and varied sites to see, Sevilla is the place to be for daytime & evening experiences. To my mind, Sevilla is the most representative of the Andalusian culture, blending the past and the present. With Barcelona, Madrid and either of these 2 cities you are trying to decide upon, you'll have a well-balanced trio of the cultures that make up Spain.

Posted by
696 posts

I too want to note my thanks for the responses in this thread. My wife and I will be visiting Spain in October, and we were faced with the same question as the original post. We decided, before finding this thread, to visit Seveille, primarily for reasons of logistics. We are traveling by train from Madrid and flying out of Spain (Seville or Granada would have been our last stop) to Lisbon. We'd liked to have visited Granada, but Seville had the high-speed train connection and the airport. I'll keep watching this thread as I may learn more about Seville.

Posted by
780 posts

I have been to Seville and Granada and the Alhambra is a must see but to me Seville is quintessential Spain with the Cathredal and Alcazar are hard to beat and you also get Flamenco.Madrid is a great city for museums and Barcelona is an architectural wonder.
Mike

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you everyone for your feedback!! Update: I’m going to BOTH places. It worked out in our itinerary. Reading these posts has me very excited!