The Alhambra is an arabian group of palaces that were built between the XIII and the XV century.
While some palaces are completely inspired by the islamic culture, others contain a mix of influence with the spanish one which is due to the spanish conquest that happened while the palaces were still in construction. With all the history hold between its walls, no surprise it is a UNESCO World Heritage.
There are four parts to the Alhambra. The major one is the Nazaries Palaces. There is also the Alcazaba, the Generalife and its gardens, and there is Carlos’ Palace in which you can find an art gallery and a museum. All of them are surrounded by beautiful gardens in which you can take a sit, eat or enjoy a walk.
Overlooking Granada, the Alhambra is truly impressive and offers an amazing view of the Sierra Nevada and of the Albaicin neighbour.
While I was visiting, there were a few things that I would have like to known so here are some tips to acknowledge before heading to the Alhambra.
1. Buy your tickets in advance. I would recommend you to buy them at least two weeks before your visit if you plan on getting there in the shoulder or low seasons, even more if you’re planning on going in summer. You can either buy them on their website or directly on-site for 14.85€. However, if you didn’t book your visit in advance, cancellation tickets are released at midnight the day you’re planning on visiting. That way, you can either wait until midnight and cross your fingers to get some on Internet or you can go on-site and hope there is still place for you.
2. Bring your own food. You’ll most likely spend some time at the Alhambra, so it’s better if you bring your own food and eat it in the designated areas. There is food on-site, but not only is expensive, there are not so many choices. You will mostly find paninis and frozen treats. Plus, choices for vegetarians are limited even nonexistent. There is a small café, but again expect prices to be high.
3. There are many drinking fountains. That way, you don’t need to be preoccupied by bringing enough water for everyone as there are enough water points where you can easily refill your bottle or refresh yourself.
4. Your selected visiting hour is only for the Nazaries Palaces. Not for the entire site. That means that you can arrive earlier than what you reserved for and visit other parts of the Alhambra, but you need to be at the Nazaries Palaces at your indicated hour. Nevertheless, you have plenty of time to visit it, there is no need to rush.
5. There is no need to print your tickets. Nor to collect them (at least thoses bought on the official website). You just need to download the PDF and prepare yourself to show it everytime you’re entering a new palace, so keep it close.
6. The longest visit is the one in the Nazaries Palaces. I personnally stayed more than one hour to get enough time to visit it completely and, of course, to get awesome photos of it – which was difficult as it is a really touristy attraction. Most people stay at least 45 minutes. It is the biggest one, so make sure you have enough time to visit it when you book your tickets.
7. It is least crowded in evenings. If you’re looking to get photos without anyone in it, I would suggest you to visit the Alhambra a little before its closure time. There are a lot of group tours, but not in evenings which make it the best time to have the palaces for yourself.
8. Morning, afternoon or evening? Like I just said, evenings are the least crowded moments. BUT, from the Alhambra, you can get a really great view of Granada and the Sierra Nevada, which you obviously can’t get when it’s darker. However, I did mention that it takes a lot of time to visit everything. I stayed about four hours on-site, and I didn’t take time for the art gallery – because I’m not into art. But afternoons are really crowded as group tours are coming in a lot, one after another. I guess it all depends on what you are looking for.
9. It totally worths it! Being on a budget, I was hoping that for 14.85€ I would get good value for my money, and I did. Honestly, not only did I spend a whole afternoon there, I also got really great photos and I enjoyed it a lot. I’m glad I broke the bank for it. And I would definitely do it again.
If I had only one recommendation on what to do in Granada, it would be a visit to the Alhambra, no doubt.
While you can enjoy the view from up there, visiting the arabian palaces that were built centuries ago is a must. Learning about a culture and the people who lived in Spain when it was the Nazrid’s playfield is a really good start to understand how it transformed Andalusia over the centuries.
Does the Alhambra sound like a place to visit for you?