Our best Alhambra tips! Tips for visiting the Alhambra Palace in Granada Spain in one day. Includes access to a free online map to help you plan your Alhambra visit, our personal tips to visit Alhambra, and current information to help you visit the Alhambra. Contains FAQs about visiting Alhambra, including how to buy Alhambra tickets, the best time to visit Alhambra, information about the things to do in Alhambra, and more.
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Tips for Visiting The Alhambra Granada
Alhambra Granada. Andalusia. There are place names in the world that evoke a feeling of magic and adventure, and the Alhambra Palace in Spain is one such place. The Alhambra Palace is the most visited tourist attraction in all of Spain, attracting millions of visitors per year. Despite the sheer numbers of people flocking to this beautiful palace, it is a remarkably confusing affair: from buying tickets, to planning the best way to see the Alhambra, figuring out how to visit the Alhambra can be slightly befuddling.
To make it easier for you, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to visiting the Alhambra Palace. We really hope it’s helpful!!!
Indeed, for a national treasure and UNESCO World Heritage site, visiting the Alhambra is actually insanely confusing. At times, it feels near impossible to find the information you need. And while we certainly don’t have all the answers, we have some of them! This blog post contains everything we know about visiting the Alhambra, and our very best ‘visiting the Alhambra tips’ – hopefully, it helps you with your visit.
- Alhambra Basics: A quick intro to the different components that make up the Alhambra complex, and the 3 different ticket check-points you’ll have to go through during your visit. Includes a summary of what to see in Alhambra and the most important visiting Alhambra tips for your visit.
- Plan Ahead: Advice about when to start planning your visit, limits on the number of visitors allowed each day, and limits on visiting the Nasrid Palace Alhambra.
- Plan Your Visit: Our thoughts on the best way to see Alhambra, including our recommended route for visiting the Alhambra.
- Buy Your Tickets: How to buy Alhambra palace tickets using the official website or a third-party (if tickets on the official website are sold-out).
- Alhambra Visit Tips for the Day You Go: A few tips based on our own experience, which we hope will make your Alhambra visit better!
- What to Do if Alhambra Tickets are Sold Out and the Best Alhambra Tours: Tour options and troubleshooting if you can’t get tickets from the official website or through a third party.
- Alhambra FAQS: We’ve done our best to answer your burning questions and provide our best Alhambra visit tips.
- Video and Map: A video Geoff made about the Alhambra, and our own personal Alhambra map you can access online to plan your trip.
How to Visit the Alhambra: Visiting Alhambra Basics
The Alhambra is not a singular building. Rather, it is a complex of buildings that you wander around over the course of three or four hours. There are several segments to the complex: the Nasrid Palaces, which in our opinion were the best part of a visit to the Alhambra; the Alcazaba, a fortress that offers spectacular views of Granada below; and the Generalife, which includes nice gardens and a smaller palace.
Each of these three sections are ticketed – you’ll need to show your ticket three different times throughout your visit, as you move between different sections of the Alhambra palace complex. You can visit the Alcazaba and the Generalife at any point during your visit to the complex, but you can only visit the Alhambra’s Nasrid Palace during your reserved time. More on this below in the Buy Alhambra Granada Tickets section. You may want to print off this official English map of the Alhambra to get an idea of the layout.
Note, we also have our own map which you can access through our email sign up form (below). It’s a Google Map which plots out our best tips for visiting the Alhambra.
Plan Ahead (You REALLY Need to Plan Ahead to Visit Alhambra!)
Granada limits the number of visitors who can visit the Alhambra to 6,600 per day. They also limit the number of visitors to the Nasrid Palaces within the Alhambra to 300 per half-hour. While this may sound like a lot, Alhambra tickets (and Nasrid Palace reservations) sell out early – like really, really early. If you intend to visit the Alhambra in peak season (summer!), it’s not uncommon to have to book up to 90 days in advance. Unfortunately, the Alhambra is one of those places where last minute travellers can get caught with their proverbial pants down, although it’s much easier to get last minute tickets in the winter. (Don’t worry if you can’t get tickets for your dates on the official website – you can purchase tickets from third parties, and you can also take an Alhambra tour. We’ve outlined the different options below).
In late 2017/early 2018, the Alhambra updated it’s ticketing procedures. While the new process makes it easier to buy Alhambra tickets than in the past (it used to be really, really confusing), it seems to have also made it harder to get tickets, as travel agencies seem to be buying them in bulk and then reselling them in upgraded packages. This means tickets seem to sell out even faster.
Plan Your Alhambra Visit: What’s the Best Way to see Alhambra?
You can enter the Alhambra complex at either the main entrance or through the Gate of Justice. If you choose to enter through the main entrance, it makes sense to visit the Generalife first, and then the Nasrid Palaces and Alcazaba. If you enter through the Gate of Justice, then the opposite routing makes the most sense.
Many websites recommend visiting the Generalife first and the Nasrid Palaces last. If you need to pick up your tickets from the Visitor Centre or the Granavision Welcome Visitor Center (required if you buy your Alhambra tickets through Get Your Guide), this routing makes sense.
When we visited, we did the opposite route: we visited the Nasrid Palace first, followed by the Alcazaba, and then the Generalife. If you’re able to and we think it is the better way to go for a few reasons:
- If you’re able to buy your Alhambra tickets online from the official website, and print them out prior to arriving at the Alhambra, you can walk from Plaza Nueva (in town) to the Alhambra entrance at the Gate of Justice, which puts you right near the queue for the Nasrid Palaces and the entrance to the Alcazaba. This means you can skip the busyness and crowds at the main entrance pavilion.
- The entrance to the Nasrid Palaces is highly restricted (more on that below in the Buy Alhambra Tickets section). If you visit it last, you’ll have to plan out your entire visit so as to be at the Nasrid Palaces at the correct time, lest you miss your reservation. To me, that sounds stressful. If you visit the Nasrid Palaces first (or second, after the Alcazaba), you won’t have to adhere to a tight schedule, meaning you can take your time, take a break when needed, and relax while enjoying the remainder of the complex.
- The views of Granada from the Nasrid Palaces entrance lineup are spectacular in the early morning. We would recommend entering the Nasrid Palaces during the first reservation of the day (8:30am), so you can enjoy gorgeous light over Andalucia while you wait in line. Plus, the line up for the Nasrid Palaces can be long, and the temperature will be more comfortable first thing than in the middle of the day.
As you’ll see below, these recommendations are all based on the assumption that you’re able to get tickets from the official website, and have control over when your Nasrid Palace reservation is for. If you miss-out on the official website tickets and purchase online tickets through a third-party provider, you will be assigned a Nasrid Palace reservation. In that case, you can choose your route of visit based on whatever makes sense for your time. It’s about a 10- to 15-minute walk from the Granavision Welcome Visitor Center to the Palace of Justice Entrance (and just a few minutes from the main entrance), so it’s still easy enough to do the “backwards” route if you prefer that.
Alhambra Granada Tickets: How to Buy Your Tickets
This used to be the most confusing part of visiting the Alhambra, but it has been simplified recently. Ideally, you’ll want to buy your tickets online, up to 90 days before your visit, and then either print the tickets at home, or pick them up once you arrive in Granada.
You have the option to buy your tickets through the official Alhambra website, although these sell out REALLY fast, and are only available up to 90 days before your visit. If you successfully purchase tickets through the official website at home, you can print them at home and use that as your ticket. Alternatively, you can purchase the tickets through a 3rd-party re-seller, and then pick them up once you arrive in Granada. If tickets for both of these options are sold out, you can also look at taking a tour, which will include a ticket – more information on this is below.
Below, we’ve outlined the step-by-step instructions for purchasing Alhambra tickets. We’ve first included instructions for purchasing Alhambra tickets via the official website, followed by how to buy them from a re-seller (in case you can’t get tickets through the official website). If both options are sold out, you still have the option of booking one of the many Alhambra guided tours, which will also include a ticket.
Purchasing Alhambra Granada Tickets Through the Official Website
1. Go to the ticket page of the Alhambra Granada official website, here: https://tickets.alhambra-patronato.es/en/. There are a lot of websites out there that look official, but are not, so your best bet is to use this website.
2. Choose which type of visit you want: you’ll probably choose either Alhambra General, which gives you access to the Alcazaba, Nasrid Palaces, and Generalife (aka, the main highlights), or Night Visit, in which case you’ll have to buy both the Night Visit to Nasrid Palaces AND the Night Visit to Gardens and Generalife ticket, assuming you want to see both. Once you’ve decided on your ticket, click Buy Tickets. The process below is for buying an Alhambra General Ticket, which is the most popular ticket.
3. Click the big red “Purchase Tickets” button, and select the number and type of tickets you want. Continue to Step 2, and choose the date you want to visit (tickets are available up to 90 days in advance, unless they are already sold out).
4. Here is where things get slightly confusing. If you’re buying a General Ticket, you’ll need to make a reservation for the Nasrid Palace*. You can only enter the Nasrid Palace at the time listed on your ticket, but once you’re in, there is no time limit. Choose from the times available to make your Nasrid Palace Reservation. If you make a reservation in the morning, you’ll automatically be assigned a morning ticket for the entire complex, and will have to complete your entire visit during the morning session (08:30 to 14:00 – some seasonal variation). Conversely, if you make an afternoon reservation, you’ll be assigned an afternoon ticket, which is valid from (14:00 to 20:00 – some seasonal variation).
You don’t have to visit the Nasrid Palace first during your visit, so if your reservation is for 10am, for example, you can visit other parts of the complex before 10am and after 10am, but you’ll have to pass through your final ticket checkpoint and complete all three main points of interest (Nasrid Palace, Alcazaba, and Generalife) before the morning session expires.
*For the Nasrid Palaces, they allow 300 people to enter every 30 minutes, and you must enter in the 30-minute window printed on your ticket, or you’re out of luck. In the winter, the lineups to enter the Nasrid Palaces aren’t terrible. However, in the high season, it is recommended that you are in line for the Nasrid Palace up to one-hour prior to the 30 minute window you’ve reserved!
5. Enter your personal information and pay for the tickets. If you were successful, print the tickets and keep them in good condition – the QR code needs to be machine readable on the day of your visit.
Purchasing Alhambra Tickets Through a Third-Party
If tickets are sold out on the official website, you have two options: buy tickets through a third-party, or book an Alhambra guided tour. This process covers how to buy tickets through a third-party (in this case, Get Your Guide). If those are sold out and you need to book a tour of the Alhambra palace (or you’d simply prefer to go that way, to benefit from an experienced guide), we’ve listed some tour options below in the “What to Do if Alhambra Tickets are Sold Out” section).
1. We recommend Get Your Guide for third-party tickets and tours. While no third-party ticket provider is going to be perfect, we use Get Your Guide when we travel to book tours and tickets and have always had a good experience. They offer Alhambra tickets here. (If you go with this option, we’d love it if you let us know how the experience is – we always want to hear feedback, both positive and negative, so we can adjust our suggestions for future readers).
2. Choose the day you’d like to visit on the Get Your Guide website. Note, if you buy tickets this way, you may not have a choice whether you visit in the morning or afternoon. At the time of writing, for example, all the tickets for the dates I checked were for the morning session.
3. Get Your Guide will automatically assign you a reservation to the Nasrid Palace, so you don’t need to make a reservation. This also means you don’t get to choose what time you visit – it will be printed on your ticket, which you pick up on the day of your visit.
4. Pick up your ticket on the day of your visit at the Granavision Welcome Visitor Center, Paseo de la Sabica 15, 18009 Granada. This is located near the main entrance to the Alhambra, or about a 10- to 15-minute walk from the Gate of Justice (if you choose to do things in reverse, as we did). You’ll also get an audio guide for your visit, but you need to bring your own headphones to use.
Visiting Alhambra Tips for the Day of Your Visit
- Wear sensible shoes. You’ll want to plan on walking throughout the complex for between three and four hours, on average.
- Bring sun protection, including both sunscreen and something to keep the sun off your face. Southern Spain can get very hot, and you don’t want to get sunburnt while exploring!
- To get to the Alhambra, you can either take one of the minibuses from Plaza Nueva or walk. If you choose to walk and you already have your printed ticket, we’d recommend you enter at Puerta de la Justica, which is about a 15-minute uphill walk from Plaza Nueva. If you enter here, you must already have tickets. If you don’t have tickets, take the bus to the main entrance.
- If possible, we’d really recommend visiting the Nasrid Palaces during the first reservation of the day (8:30am), and then working your way through the rest of the complex.
- You can purchase basic drinks and food on site, but food stops aren’t plentiful, so you may want to bring water and a snack.
- If you have mobility issues, accommodations can be arranged. Get in touch with the Alhambra people in advance of your visit.
- Strollers can be brought onto the Alhambra grounds, but not into the Nasrid Palace and Generalife, so it may be wise to bring a baby carrier for young children.
- Selfie sticks, camera flashes, and tripods are prohibited in sections of the Alhambra.
What To Do if Alhambra Tickets Are Sold Out?
Too Confusing? Tickets Sold Out? Recently, a reader got in touch saying he’d messed up: he didn’t know he had to book ahead of time, and all the tickets were sold out. He asked us what his options were, and I honestly didn’t really know. So I researched it, and it turns out you’re not totally out of options.
Probably the easiest option is to book one of the many Alhambra guided tours available. Tour companies — being the savvy organizers and planners, they are — know that some people won’t know how far in advance they have to book, and they’ll be ready to help you.
We’ve done some research, and have listed some tour options below. Basically, we looked for the highest-rated tours, checked the reviews to make sure they’re good, and then thought about which tours we would be interested in taking ourselves. Those are the tours you’ll find below!
If you don’t want to take a tour, but haven’t been able to buy tickets…
- You can explore the gardens for free. Honestly, this option kind of sucks for the most part, because inside the attractions is awesome. What is cool about this, is you get a great view of the city when standing in the free part, near the entrance to Nasrid Palace. So it’s not a total bust, but also not the best.
- Finally, you could book a night ticket to either or both of the Nasrid Palaces and Generalife and Gardens (you will miss out on the Alcazaba though – I imagine it’s probably a safety hazard to visit at night). That’s what the reader who emailed us did, and he found it to be fine, but not perfect. He said it was difficult to take nice photos, because it was so dark, but also because the ‘no flash’ rule isn’t enforced, so other people’s flashes are constantly going off. His advice: good in a pinch, but it would be a nicer experience if you could visit in the daytime
When’s the Best Time to Visit the Alhambra (Season)?
The best time of year to visit the Alhambra is in the early fall and the late spring, due to warm weather, limited rainfall, and smaller crowds compared to summer. That said, Granada is quite pleasant throughout the year, making the Alhambra a great year-round destination.
In terms of climate, the Alhambra Granada sits on the 37th parallel (North), putting it roughly in line with southern Utah, Colorado, and Kansas, and the northern parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. Summers are hot and dry, and winters are cool, but rarely cold. April are November are the rainiest months, averaging 12 days and 10 days of rain, respectively. Even in the rainiest months, however, Granada is still relatively dry, receiving 6 cm (2.3 inches) of rain or less, on average.
- Alhambra in January: Average highs of 11°C (52°F) and lows of 1°C (34°F). Average rainfall in January is 49 mm (1.9 inches), with an average of 8 rainy days per month.
- Alhambra in February: Average highs of 12°C (54°F) and lows of 2°C (36°F). Average rainfall in February is 40 mm (1.6 inches), with an average of 9 rainy days per month.
- Alhambra in March: Average highs of 15°C (59°F) and lows of 4°C (39°F). Average rainfall in March is 25 mm (1 inch), with an average of 8 rainy days per month.
- Alhambra in April: Average highs of 17°C (63°F) and lows of 6°C (43°F). Average rainfall in Month is 42 mm (1.7 inches), with an average of 12 rainy days per month.
- Alhambra in May: Average highs of 22°C (72°F) and lows of 9°C (48°F). Average rainfall in Month is 22 mm (0.9 inches), with an average of 9 rainy days per month.
- Alhambra in June: Average highs of 27°C (81°F) and lows of 13°C (55°F). Average rainfall in Month is 14 mm (0.6 inches), with an average of 5 rainy days per month.
- Alhambra in July: Average highs of 32°C (90°F) and lows of 16°C (61°F). Average rainfall in Month is 8 mm (0.3 inches), with an average of 2 rainy days per month.
- Alhambra in August: Average highs of 32°C (90°F) and lows of 16°C (61°F). Average rainfall in Month is 3 mm (0.1 inches), with an average of 7 rainy days per month.
- Alhambra in September: Average highs of 28°C (82°F) and lows of 14°C (57°F). Average rainfall in Month is 9 mm (0.4 inches), with an average of 4 rainy days per month.
- Alhambra in October: Average highs of 21°C (70°F) and lows of 9°C (48°F). Average rainfall in Month is 35 mm (1.4 inches), with an average of 9 rainy days per month.
- Alhambra in November: Average highs of 15°C (59°F) and lows of 5°C (41°F). Average rainfall in Month is 67 mm (2.6 inches), with an average of 10 rainy days per month.
- Alhambra in December: Average highs of 11°C (52°F) and lows of 2°C (36°F). Average rainfall in Month is 42 mm (1.6 inches), with an average of 10 rainy days per month.
Is it Still Worth Visiting the Alhambra in Winter?
An Alhambra winter is still pretty pleasant in terms of weather, and we think it’s absolutely worth visiting! We visited in February, and had a great time :)
Other than temperature and rainfall, the biggest consideration about visiting the Alhambra in winter is the amount of daylight you’ll have to complete your visit. December and January are the months with the most limited daylight, although there s still more than enough time to see the Alhambra, which requires roughly 3 to 4 hours. If you do decide to visit in the winter, we’d suggest not rushing your trip, and leaving a few extra days to see Granada, so you’re not racing against the clock (or, in this scenario, racing against the setting sun).
What’s the Best Time to Visit Alhambra: Morning or Afternoon?
In our opinion, the best time of day to visit the Alhambra is the morning, although it does depend somewhat on the season. During high season (summer), average temperatures are as high as 32°C (90°F). Visiting Alhambra in the morning allows you to get the bulk of your visit over and done with before the strongest heat of the day sets in. In winter, a morning or late afternoon visit will allow you to catch some of the most beautiful light of the day, which is great for photos. In December, the sun rises in Granada around 8am and sets around 6pm (although it starts to get dark earlier than that).
What’s the Best Time to Visit the Nasrid Palace in the Alhambra?
The Nasrid Palaces are the busiest and most popular part of the entire Alhambra complex, and require a reservation to enter. If you’re lucky enough to get tickets from the official Alhambra website, you’ll have the luxury of choosing your reservation time. In this case, we recommend making a reservation for the earliest time possible, and making the Nasrid Palaces the first stop on your Alhambra visit.
If you can’t buy Alhambra tickets through the official website, you’ll need to buy them through a third-party website such as Get Your Guide, and if you go this route, you will have a reservation time for the Nasrid Palace automatically assigned to you.
Really, the best time to visit the Nasrid Palace is whenever you can get a reservation. It’s a beautiful complex, and you’re likely to enjoy it no matter what time of day you visit!
How to Get to the Alhambra?
You can walk, take minibus, or catch a taxi from Granada city centre to the Alhambra.
If you plan to walk, use Cafeteria Lisboa (Calle Reyes Católicos, 67) as the starting point, and walk up Cuesta de Gomerez to the Puerta de las Granadas (Gate of the Pomegranates), continuing up a fairly steep path until you see the stairs leading up to the Puerta de la Justicia (Gate of Justice) on your left. This will take you right into the Alhambra near the Alcazaba and Nasrid Palaces – very convenient if you already have your ticket, but not so convenient if you don’t. If you don’t have your tickets, you can continue another 10 to 15 minutes to the main entrance, or the Granavision Welcome Centre, where you pick up tickets purchased through Get Your Guide. Continue along Cuesta de Gomerez, which will merge with Paseo del Generalife. That will take you to the Main Entrance and/or the Granavision Welcome Centre.
If you plan to take the minibus, you can catch Bus C3 from Plaza Nueva for €1,20. Buses leave every 10 minutes, and you need to get off at the “Generalife” stop.
What’s the Best Way to See the Alhambra?
In an idea world, you’ll allow yourself about 4 hours to visit the Alhambra, and start early in the morning, starting first at the Nasrid Palace, followed by the Alcazaba and the Generalife. We also recommend either joining a highly-rated tour (so you benefit from the knowledge of a trained guide) or visiting the complex independently, but with a well-rated and detailed guidebook that gives you some of the background and history of the complex.
Is it Necessary to Take an Alhambra Tour?
You can visit the Alhambra quite easily on your own, without a tour. It’s worth mentioning, however, there isn’t a lot of information about each area on-site, so if you’d like to get a detailed background and explanation of what you’re seeing, a knowledgeable guide or good guidebook will be well worth the investment.
If you choose to join a group, there are plenty of Alhambra guided tours out there to choose from. We recommend booking through Get Your Guide; it’s a tour aggregator, which means it allows customers to compare reviews of tours offered by competing tour operators…and allows you to find the best Alhambra tour for your specific needs (much like Booking.com is a hotel aggregator, Get Your Guide is a tour aggregator).
Can You Bring Children to the Alhambra?
Yes, of course. That said, it’s worth noting you can’t bring a stroller/buggy into the Nasrid Palace or Generalife. There are special areas to keep the strollers while you’re visiting this part of the complex, but that – of course – doesn’t help you with managing your child. If you have a baby carrier, this might be the day to use it. Or store a carrier in your buggy basket, and use the carrier for the two sections needed.
Get Access to our Free Alhambra Map!
If you want to get a feel for what it’s like at the Alhambra, Geoff made a beautiful video about it here:
Where to Stay in Granada
When we visited Granada, we stayed in an Airbnb apartment that was a bit far out. If I were to do it again, I’d probably get a hotel closer to the centre. And because we started getting so many emails from people wondering where to stay in Granada, we actually created an entire post on it. We hired a local blogger who’s lived in Granada for 4 years to outline all the best places to stay, and then went in and added our own thoughts and tips!
You can see our Where to Stay in Granada Guide here! We really hope it helps with your trip planning!