Cave Tours in Granada, Spain

When I first saw cave tours in Granada, I thought it was going to be a walking tour of dirt caves where people hike with lights on their heads and carry pick axes. Okay, I guess that’s not quite feasible for a daily cave tour in a big city, but it’s what first came to mind when I heard “caves.”

Sacromonte Tour: 2 Hours

Sacromonte caves
Looking up at the cave dwellings from the Sacromonte neighborhood

The Sacromonte tour is the official name of the free walking cave tours in Granada. Sacromonte is one of the city’s cultural gypsy neighborhoods. The gypsies (or Romas, as is now the politically correct term) migrated from India in the 15th century and found tolerance and sanction in the Muslim-occupied lands. Now, 50,000 gypsies call Granada home, most living in the Sacromonte district.

Sacromonte neighborhood
A farmer’s market shows off the (rainy) Sacromonte district

Sacromonte (literally, “sacred mountain”) is home to many of Granada’s typical restaurants, flamenco bars, homes, and the famous cave dwellings. You’ll hike up the mountain visiting lots of interesting spots along the way until you reach the cave houses. Make sure you’re prepared for walking up a mountain; it’s an easy zig-zagging path so it’s not super strenuous but not something you want to do hungover or in the rain!

Walking up the mountain on the cave tour
Luckily it stopped raining by the time for the cave tours. Our group heading up the mountain to see the cave dwellings
Caves are the only free places to live in Granada, Spain Click To Tweet

The caves are the only free places to live in Granada. They’re not glamorous. In fact, many of them don’t have heat, electricity, or running water. They are literally holes in the side of the mountain to which people added a door and called home.

Cave houses are free, but they aren't glamorous or luxurious.
Cave houses are free, but they aren’t glamorous or luxurious.

Why would anyone do this? It’s a free place to live in an expensive, popular city. Many of the people who live in the caves are students at the University of Granada who don’t want to waste money on an expensive apartments, expats who want an alternative experience, gypsies, or hippies who want to commune with nature and live off the land. Plus, the views are pretty spectacular from the top of the mountain. Where else can you look out and see all of Granada and La Alhambra?
From the caves in Granada, you can look out and see the entire city spread out below Click To Tweet

Cave dwellings overlook beautiful Granada
If you live in a Granada cave, this is your front porch.
This cave house is actually one of the nicest ones with a wrought iron fence and plants to block tourists out
This is one of the nicer cave houses with a wrought iron fence and plants to block out tourists.
As Princess Fiona of Shrek would say, "It just needs some homey touches. Like a door."
As Princess Fiona of Shrek would say, “It just needs some homey touches. Like a door.”
We may have a hoarder situation going on in this cave.
We may have a hoarder situation going on in this cave.
Some of the bigger cave houses have extended the hole in the rock into something that actually looks like a house.
Some of the bigger cave houses have extended the “hole in the rock” into something that actually looks like a house.

The guide is an expat from England who does the tour in both English and Spanish (he repeats everything he says in both languages). He takes you along the mountain and points out different caves, some of which you would never know people lived in if he didn’t tell you. He’s very knowledgeable and explains what it’s like inside the caves. He even shows you some caves you can rent on Airbnb! The tour passes a cave bar before heading back down to end in the Sacromonte neighborhood overlooking La Alhambra. The tour is free but the guide works on tips (he doesn’t guilt you into tipping him, it’s completely optional). But he’s so entertaining and helpful that you’re going to want to pay him!

The free cave tours in Granada tour guide educating us on the cave dwellings in Granada
The cave tours guide educating the group on the cave dwellings in Granada

Other Free Walking Tours

The tour host moved to Granada from England because it’s an awesome city with lots of culture, free tapas with each drink, and a cool, trendy vibe. He also is an avid snowboarder and is close enough to drop everything and drive the 30 minutes to the nearby Sierra Nevadas on a whim. What cooler job than taking people around to show off his incredible city and get us to love it as much as he does? Well done, sir. Besides the cave tours, He offers two other free tours: a historical city walking tour and an Albaycin district tour.

Historical Tour: 2.5 Hours

The historical tour takes you through the old city of Granada while you learn about ancient legends, funny anecdotes, and historical facts of the old Nasrid Kingdom. The guide paints a picture that brings history to life as you walk through central Granada. This tour also gives you a small taste of the narrow cobblestone alleyways of the Albaycin neighborhood, one of the most multicultural neighborhoods in Spain.

Our tour group heading deep into the history of Granada.
Our tour group heading deep into the history of Granada.

The historical tour starts in the Plaza Nueva and takes you through ancient Arab bath house ruins. You then walk past a monastery where you can buy secret cookies and candy baked by Spanish nuns. Then, you walk up through the narrow streets and into a traditional Moorish house open for visitors to tour. After that, keep walking up through the Albaycin neighborhood to a typical Spanish garden owned and kept up by the University of Granada. Get a glimpse of the cave houses as you walk past some of the gypsies’ most southern cave dwellings and the cave bar (so you know where it is for later that night). Finally, the tour ends at St. Nicholas Plaza where you can get some amazing photos at eye level with La Alhambra.

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Albaycin Tour: 2 hours

Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to do the Albaycin tour because it’s offered every other day and I was there on the cave tours day. I got a taste of the Albaycin district during the historical tour, and wow, what a cool neighborhood!The Albaycin neighborhood in Granada is a cool neighborhood to check out Click To Tweet

Here’s what walkingranada.com has to say about this tour.

Cobblestone walkways of the Albaycin
Cobblestone walkways of the Albaycin

The Albaycin has retained the charm of the Muslim, Jewish, and Christian people who have lived there over the centuries. Romantic writers and artists have found inspiration in the cobblestone alleyways of the Albaycin. Moorish houses, traditional gardens, old mosques, and arab palaces coexist to give this neighborhood a magical feel. Stroll through artisan shops, Spanish bars, and beautiful architecture. It’s a mysterious area full of character.

Have you been to Granada? Do these free walking tours inspire you to visit? If you’ve been or if you plan to go, let me know what you think in the comments below!

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Cave Tours in Granada, Spain

P.S. You might also enjoy Granada or Sierra Nevada Mountains

18 thoughts on “Cave Tours in Granada, Spain

  1. I’m so glad you did these tours too! We had a different guide when we went, but he was great. It’s fascinating seeing how they live in the caves, hey? The day we went there, one of the caves had satellite! Granada is still one of our favourite cities, and I think I’m going to have to go back a third time to take my mum – We’ll be doing the tours for sure!

    1. When James went back in January, he took his brother to Granada and they went to the Sierra Nevadas again! I told him to do the walking tours but unfortunately they didn’t have time. I loved learning about Granada that way!

  2. That’s exactly what I would have thought a cave your would be as well! Good to know the tour is also in English as my Spanish is non existent lol

  3. Never heard of living in caves for free in Granada! I thought, maybe it’s just the gypsies, but also the uni students of this day & age! So fascinating to see a completely different way of living. Talk about authentic!
    Viviane xo
    dreamtraveleat.blogspot.com

    1. I think it is mostly gypsies and hippies, but the tour guide did mention some students did too. I don’t think I could do it but it was great to see! Well worth the tour 🙂

  4. ahh this is so cool!! Im in spain right now so i might have to take a trip over there! spain is such a pretty country, I’m glad that you were not able able to see it but learn about the history. I’m sure there is so much that we have no idea about. light and love!

    1. I wish I was in Spain right now with you! If you’re in Andalucia, definitely pop by Granada – you won’t regret it! It’s an amazing city 🙂 Enjoy your time there!

  5. This is so interesting! I didn’t make it to Granada when I was in Spain, but now I am glad, so when I go back, I won’t miss out on these great tour suggestions!

  6. Oh I never knew about these cave houses in Granada. Really interesting. I love camping and nature, and would probably enjoy staying in one of them for a few days, weeks, but probably not any longer than that. 🙂

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