In the Spanish region of Andalusia, the cities of Malaga and Granada are only 93 miles (149 kilometers) apart. Malaga is best known for its proximity to the beautiful beaches on the Costa del Sol and many visitors to Andalusia like to take in a little Spanish history with their beach time. That's why Granada, one of Spain's best-preserved Moorish cities, is an excellent choice when looking for a day trip from Malaga.
If you are determined to get to Granada on your own rather than booking a day trip with a tour operator, you'll need to weigh your options between the train, bus, and driving a car. Although train travel is usually easy in Europe, there are not many trains per day that run between Malaga and Granada, so your options will be limited. However, if you can manage a direct ticket, the train is the fastest way to get there. The bus is the cheapest and most flexible option, with departures every half hour. The road from Malaga to Granada passes through a good portion of the stunning Costa del Sol, so a self-guided road trip is an excellent opportunity to visit some of Andalusia's famous beaches along the way.
Barring transfers, all routes take about the same amount of time, give or take. Figuring out the best way to travel between these two cities comes down to your schedule. If you're flexible, the train is the best way to travel, but if you've got plenty of free time and don't want to waste any of it waiting for a train or bus, driving is an excellent way to see more of the Spanish coast and countryside.
|Train||1 hour, 30 minutes||from $41|
|Bus||2 hours||from $8|
|Car||1 hour, 45 minutes||93 miles (149 kilometers)|
Renfe, the national train line of Spain, offers only two direct trains per day from Malaga to Granada, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The first train leaves from Malaga Maria Zambrano Station at 9:10 a.m. and arrives in Granada at 10:39 a.m. The second train leaves at 4:29 p.m. and arrives at 5:42 p.m. If you hope to return to Malaga on the same day, you have no choice but to take the earlier train. If you can afford to spend more time in transit, you may consider taking the 12:05 p.m. train to Cordoba, where you can transfer to another train going to Malaga. With one connection, this train journey will take about 2 hours, 40 minutes.
The best way to get from Malaga to Granada by public transport is by bus. However, you'll first need to go to the airport to catch it. Because more international flights fly to Malaga than Granada, many people intending to visit Granada make use of the regular ALSA bus service between the Malaga Airport and Granada Bus Station. Buses run about every half hour from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. This means you'll have a lot of wiggle room and won't have to wait more than 30 minutes for the bus.
To get from the airport from Malaga's city center, which is about 7 miles (11 kilometers) away, you can either take a 20-minute cab ride or hop on the underground metro and take the C1 line to the airport, which should only take about 35 minutes.
Granada is located to the northeast of Malaga, but you'll spend the majority of this journey traveling along the coast. If you don't make any stops, the trip shouldn't take you any longer than 2 hours. However, there are some nice beaches along the way worth visiting like Playa de Maro and Calas Torre del Pino, so remember to factor beach time into your schedule if you plan to check it out.
To get to Granada, you'll take the A7 west for 89 miles (143 kilometers) until you pass by the town of Motril. You'll use the right two lanes to take the exit onto A44, where you'll stay for another 34 miles (55 kilometers). Eventually, you'll take Exit 128, which will take you into Granada and you can follow the signs for the city center.
What to See in Granada
Granada's Moorish roots go back to the year 711 and the Alhambra is the main attraction, an impressive Moorish palace leftover from Spain's period of Islamic rule. With geometric details defining its Muslim aesthetic, the palace's design is grand and impressive. Keep your eye out for the calligraphy, written in Arabic script, that fills the walls of the palace from floor to ceiling. A must-see, the Generalife is the palace's quintessential Islamic garden. This style of garden is defined by its use of flowing water throughout and is unique in all of Europe.
Although Granada's Moorish history is everywhere, there are still many landmarks that tell the story of the Reconquista, the Christian effort to drive the Moors out of Spain. For example, the Granada Cathedral was built on top of a mosque and mixes both Gothic and Renaissance styles.
It's possible to see Granada and return to your accommodation in Malaga in a single day, but you may want to consider spending the night. The city offers a number of fine hotels like the AC Palacio de Santa Paula and the Parador de Granada, both of which are housed inside historic convents.