The Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain deserves it’s own blog post because it is just so huge and amazing! It was truly a highlight of our Spanish road trip even though we weren’t as in love with the actual city of Granada. The palace complex is huge and pretty much takes a full day to visit if you want to see everything. There are a few things that you need to know before visiting though because it can be easy to mess it up.
The history of the Alhambra dates back to AD 889 when a small fortress was built by the Moorish rulers on the remains of an even older Roman fort. In the 13th century the current palace and complex was developed by the Nasrid Kingdom of Granda, the Muslims rulers of the region. in 1333 the Sultan of Granada turned it into a palace and in 1492 it became the Royal Court of Ferdinand and Isabella, following the Christian Reconquista. Today the Alhambra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the top tourist sites in Spain
First of all you need to buy your tickets in advance! They go on sale 3 months in advance and you really do want to book 3 months in advance because tickets do sell out especially if you’re visiting during high season. Purchase your tickets here on the website and follow the links for individual tourism. It’s only recently that you’ve been able to print your tickets at home so be aware that some guide books may be out of date about how to claim your tickets. If you’re unable to buy them in advance because they’ve sold out then you can purchase them the day of at the Alhambra entrance in the morning but these sell out even faster so you’ll want to arrive well before opening. When you buy the tickets online you’ll have to register each ticket to a person with an ID, you can just use a driver’s license number. You’ll probably just want to buy the Alhambra General ticket since it’s the best option and gives you access to everything in the complex. But you can also visit the palace or the gardens at night for a different experience.
When you go to buy your ticket you’ll have to choose your entrance time to the Nasrid Palace which is definitely worth seeing. I would recommend getting the earliest time slot which is usually 8:30am. I chose to buy two entrance tickets so I could visit the palace twice and so that I could leave the complex in the afternoon to take a break. It was a little expensive but worthwhile to leave since there really isn’t much in the way of food in the complex and then I got to appreciate the palace fully. The first time through in the morning with minimal people I focused on taking photos and then the second time through in the late afternoon I focused on actually learning about the palace.
I found that maps were hard to find and I never actually got one so I would recommend downloading or printing the map to the complex in advance since it comes in handy since signage isn’t great there. Here is a general map of the Alhambra from their website that lists all the monuments. There are 3 main areas to the palace, the Nasrid Palace which is time-ticketed, the Alcazaba (old fort) which isn’t time ticketed but you need a ticket to enter, and the Generalife consisting of gardens and the summer palace. The Generalife isn’t time-ticketed but also requires a ticket to enter as does the summer palace. I would recommend visiting the Nasrid Palace first in the morning, seeing the Nasrid Palace gardens next where you exit the palace, then go back around to the palace entrance to see the Alcazaba and finishing with the Generalife gardens then the Summer Palace. Be aware that the complex really is big so it takes time to walk between areas. If you’re visiting the palace first in the morning then enter through the Wine Gate which is closer than the main entrance where the ticket booth is. Doing the complex in reverse (Generalife, Alacazaba and Nasrid Palace) would also work well but be sure to manage your time because you can’t miss your palace entrance time.
Like I said (many times) the Alhambra is big and so beautiful so narrowing down my photos after spending an entire day there was tricky especially since we visited the Nasrid Palace twice but I did my best to keep it from being a 100 photo blog post! This just gives you a glimpse of the beautiful of the Alhambra.
Nasrid Palace and Alacazaba
The Generalife (Summer Palace and Gardens)
Thanks for reading and I hope this helps you plan your trip to the Alhambra. Be sure to check out my pervious Spanish travel guides for Barcelona, Cordoba, Seville and Granada! And stay tuned for my final Spanish travel guide for Madrid!