Málaga is not only a fabulous destination in its own right but it is also an excellent base for day trips to other destinations in Southern Spain. Amongst these is Granada, one of the jewels in Andalucía’s glittering crown.
But what is the best way of getting from Málaga to Granada? As I extensively researched the options before taking this journey, this is where I can help you. Remove the guesswork with my guide to travelling between Málaga and Granada.
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What is the Distance from Málaga to Granada?
As the crow flies, Málaga is around 55 miles (89 km) southwest of Granada. The distance by road is 82 miles.
Can You Visit Granada as a Day Trip from Málaga?
If you are tight on time, you can visit Granada on a day trip from Málaga. However, Granada is more than the Alhambra Palace and deserves at least a few days of your Andalusia itinerary.
How to Get from Málaga to Granada
There are four ways to get from Málaga to Granada:
- By train
- By bus
- By car
- On a day tour
Taking the Train from Málaga to Granada
When I travelled between Málaga to Granada there were no direct trains. The good news is that has now changed and the direct train from Málaga to Granada makes the journey in as little as 1 hour 20 minutes.
The bad news is that these direct services are infrequent. When I last checked there were only three trains a day.
Ticket prices start at €20 one-way.
Indirect trains are also available, requiring a change of train at Antequera Santa Ana. Some of these train itineraries require a long transfer time.
However, you could build Antequera into your Spain itinerary. It has dramatic rock formations, ornate churches, a Moorish fortress and dolmens dating back to 1800 BC.
Spanish trains are run by the national rail operator Renfe.
Renfe trains are amongst the best in Europe. They are clean and comfortable and have storage spaces for luggage, usually on the racks above your head and at the end of each car. Air-conditioning, free wifi and power sockets usually come as standard.
There are two classes of travel: Standard or Turista (2nd class) and Comfort or Turista Plus (1st class). Within these travel classes, three fare types are on offer on the high-speed AVE trains:
- Básico (Basic): The cheapest fare for travel in Standard class.
- Elige (Choice): A semi-flexible fare. You can choose between Elige (2nd Class seat) or Elige Comfort (1st class seat).
- Premium: The most flexible fare. For this, you get a Comfort (1st class seat) with the option to add an at-seat meal if available.
In my experience, Standard class on Spanish trains is more than adequate.
Buying train tickets
I recommend booking your train ticket from Málaga to Granada in advance. These are popular destinations and prices usually increase the closer you get to the time of departure.
Booking your train ticket through Renfe, the national rail operator, gets you the best prices. However, the Renfe website can be a little glitchy. On more than one occasion it refused to recognise major destinations for me and it can be a little picky about non-Spanish credit and debit cards.
For a hassle-free experience, I use Omio for Spanish train travel. You will pay a small booking fee but it’s a clear booking engine and a lot less stressful.
>> CHECK TRAIN TIMES & PRICES HERE
Where is the train station in Málaga?
Trains for Granada leave Málaga’s Maria Zambrano station which is located a mile southwest of the Old Town. There is also a second station – Málaga Centro Alameda – but this only serves the C1 line to Fuengirola and the C2 line to Álora.
Where is the train station in Granada?
Granada has a small railway station that is located in Avenida de Andaluces, in the heart of the city. It’s a 20-minute walk from Granada Cathedral on the edge of the Albaicín.
Taking the Bus from Málaga to Granada
I travelled between Málaga and Granada by bus. This was the most cost-effective option and offered frequent services.
Alsa operates frequent bus services between Málaga and Granada. The more direct buses take 90 minutes.
Many of the buses between Málaga and Granada also stop at Málaga Airport.
These buses are very comfortable. A one-way non-flexible fare can cost as little as €3 (although this is for a slower service). Expect to pay more for a flexible fare on a direct service.
You can check bus times and book your ticket on Alsa’s website here. I don’t recommend using Omio to book your bus ticket as they only offer the more expensive flexible fares. Alternatively, buy your ticket at the bus station.
Where is the bus station in Málaga?
Málaga bus station is located at P.º de los Tilos, s/n, 29006 Málaga. This is close to Málalga’s main railway station (María Zambrano).
From Málaga’s Historic Centre, it’s a 20-minute walk. If you are setting out from the Soho district it should only take you ten minutes on foot.
Where is the bus station in Granada?
Granada Bus Station is on the Carretera de Jaen, about two miles north of the city centre. You will need to take the number 33 bus from outside the bus station via Gran Via.
Buses leave every 15 minutes and the journey takes between 10 and 15 minutes. You can buy your ticket from the driver.
Driving from Málaga to Granada
For the ultimate convenience and flexibility, drive from Málaga to Granada.
Following the main A92 road, this journey will take you around 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Day Tours from Málaga to Granada
For a stress-free day trip to Granada from Málaga, join a day tour.
Someone else takes care of all of the arrangements, you benefit from the knowledge of a local guide and it is affordable. All you have to do is relax and enjoy the day.
Day tours to Granada from Málaga include your tickets to the Alhambra Palace (this is an excellent way to bag a reservation if tickets are sold out on the day that you wish to visit).
Here are a few day tours from Málaga to Granada that are worth considering:
Granada and the Alhambra from Málaga
This 10-hour tour has been highly rated by other travellers and includes a guided tour of the Alhambra Palace and free time to explore Granada’s old city centre. Tickets for the Nasrid Palaces, Alcazaba and Generalife Gardens are included.
>>> CLICK HERE TO CHECK THE CURRENT PRICE
Private Alhambra Tour from Malaga
If you prefer a private tour, this six-hour excursion should tick the boxes. Alhambra entrance fees and a tour with a professional art historian are included.
>>> CLICK HERE TO CHECK THE CURRENT PRICE
What is the Best Way to Get to Granada from Málaga on Public Transport?
For travelling from Málaga and Granada, it’s a toss-up between bus or train.
Although bus services between the two cities are fast, cost-effective and frequent, you need to factor in travel time from Granada’s bus station. There are now fast direct train services between the two cities, but these are infrequent and more expensive.
Joining a group tour is an excellent option if you are planning just a day trip from Málaga to Granada. Not only will this maximise the available time but it will also include ticket reservations for the Alhambra.
Find Out More About Málaga and Granada
If you want to discover more about Málaga, take a look at these articles I have written about this sunny city, from what to see to where to stay:
- A Perfect Weekend in Málaga, Spain: 2-Day Itinerary & Best Things to Do
- One Day in Málaga, Spain: A Free Self-Guided Walking Tour
- Where to Stay in Málaga, Spain: The 7 Best Areas for All Travellers
- 10 Málaga Cathedral Facts to Know Before You Visit
- Must-See Málaga Street Art: Spain’s Outdoor Art Gallery
To get the lowdown on Granada, here are a few articles from my most recent visit to this gem of a city: