Alhambra Touring Tips

A panoramic view of Alhambra

Here’s another of a series of articles from Kelly Monaghan about his travels in Spain. 

If you’re going to Granada, you’re going to the Alhambra, a UNESCO World Heritage site and a monument to the glory that was Nasrid Spain before Christian forces wrested control of the Iberian peninsula back from the invading Moors. (It only took them about 700 years!)

If you’re going to Granada and you’re not going to the Alhambra, have your head examined.

Rather than attempt to reprise the guidebooks, I thought it might be more helpful to provide some tips that most guidebooks gloss over or leave out altogether.

 Book ahead

You can save a lot of time and avoid the crowds (for a while) by booking your admission well in advance of your visit. This is a good idea in any case since it is not unusual for tickets to completely sell out!

If you don’t book before you arrive, at least try to book a day or two before you visit. Otherwise, you will be amid a crush of tourists at the main entrance gate.

There are two entrance periods – from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Go in the morning. Not only will you beat the heat (if you go during the warmer months) but you’ll be able to linger longer.

Nazrid Palaces entryway.

Of course, if you can go in the “off-season” (roughly September to April), so much the better. You won’t find yourself battling the crowds for that “perfect” picture. Having now seen photos of the Alhambra dusted in snow, I’m looking forward to returning some February!

When you purchase admission, you will be asked to specify the time at which you wish to visit the Palacios Nazaries. This is not the time at which you will actually be entering the Alhambra grounds! The Nazrid Palaces are the core of the Alhambra experience and visitors are “pulsed” through at half-hour intervals to avoid overcrowding. Once you enter, you can stay as long as you wish. The rest of the Alhambra and the adjoining Generalife can be visited at your leisure.

A good plan for a morning visit is to arrive at 8:30 (or thereabouts) with an entry time to the palaces at 11 or 11:30 a.m.

Since you will be arriving early, eat a big breakfast. It’s going to be a long time till lunch!



Types of admission

The most popular admission option is the “Alhambra

Intricate interior architecture.

General Admission,” which includes the palaces and the Generalife among other things. However, there are a number of other options, including a nighttime visit. You will find a complete list of options on the official Alhambra site:

The booking process

You can book online at the official site. Click on the English link on the upper right and then on the Get your tickets link.

Another view of the interior.

If you have difficulty booking online, as I did, you can call the ticket office at +34 902 441 221. The staff speaks excellent English and is most helpful. If you have Skype, the cost of the call is modest.

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