Alhambra

Old Aug 13th, 2022, 12:26 PM
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Alhambra

Planning to spend three nights in Granada in late October. Just now getting to the Granada portion of my planning.

I've read that we should book Alhambra tickets 1-2 months in advance. Looks like lots of ticket options. Any suggestions on which to book, and how long visits usually take?

I've also read that Alhambra should be visited twice, once during the day and once at night. Thoughts on tickets to book for each?

Anyone familiar with the shuttle to/from?
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Old Aug 13th, 2022, 04:43 PM
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Our visit was pre-Covid, so not sure if my advice holds. We booked the 2nd entry time of the morning and I really wish we'd booked the first one. By the time we got in, it was already packed. Still, once we got deeper into the Alhambra there was enough space to spread out a bit.

We did not do the night tour, but we would definitely say if you opt for that also do the day visit. I'm sure the night is atmospheric but we would have missed so much detail if we didn't also see it in sunli.
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Old Aug 13th, 2022, 05:04 PM
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It has also been a few years, but we booked an early morning tour and were glad we did as did as it was much less crowded than later. As I recall, you have to book a time to visit the most popular area, the Nasrid Palaces, but can visit other areas beforehand (if you don't get the first time of the day to visit the NP) and afterwards. I think we spent all morning and perhaps half the afternoon at the Alhambra. The night tours were not operating when we were there.
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Old Aug 13th, 2022, 05:10 PM
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We were there in 2015 and did both and I’m glad we did. The visit during the day was much longer, with more of the rooms open, but the nighttime visit was gorgeous and very at atmospheric. I’m amazed to see that our tickets were for 10pm and we did it!

I’m cutting and pasting my description of the visit we made during the day; it should answer a number of your questions:

We were up and out early for our 9:30am tickets and found our way to the bus stop to take the mini-bus to the Alhambra. It was the C-3, not the #30, which had been mentioned on a travel report. It’s a tiny bus, with standing room only for a few stops as it makes its way up the hill. We got off at the third Alhambra stop in order to enter the Justice Gate, and we were one of the first ones on line for our time slot. Michael was able to get some good coffee at one of the small machines, so,we were able to have our caffeine fix after all!

Before I go on to our actual visit, a few words about picking up the tickets. Very easy! When we arrived at our hotel yesterday, one of the first things I wanted to make sure was we got our tickets. We were directed to a bookstore a street or 2 beyond Plaza Nueva, which was no more than a 10-minute walk from our hotel. The staff at the store provide a map of the site and you put in your credit card (the one that you purchased the tickets with – very important!) and out spits the tickets. This is truly easy and not worth stressing over.

When we were directed to the bus stop, we were told that it was just beyond the bookstore. Even in our muddled morning state, it’s pretty easy to find the bus stop, not the least because you’ll see a group of people that look like tourists who are all standing around waiting for a bus!

Back to the visit…. the guards are quite serious about the timing of the tickets. If you have a ticket for 9:30am to enter the Nasrid Palaces (the Palacios Nazaries, you will not get in until that time. I heard people muttering under their breath (or not so subtly griping!) about getting let in early, but know that this does not happen! Get over it!

So at last, we got in and it is remarkable! The crowds, too, are remarkable, too, and I truly wanted to throttle some of the folks with selfie sticks, as they are definitely part of the fabric. After a few minutes of getting irritated with the crowds, I just let it go and focused on the actual experience.


The Nasrid Palaces are stunning, and I’m struck by the sense of airiness and lightness. The wall coverings are finely carved and, with the tile work, create a space that is both grand and intimate at the same time. And, of course, seeing the fountains and pools, filled with water, integral to the development of the complex. Seeing the Patio de los Leones (Courtyard of the Lions) was delightful. Having seen it in so many pictures, it was thrilling to actually stand there and see it (and take many of my own pictures to add to the collection, of course).

The temperature today was creeping up higher and higher (hitting a high around 40C later that day), and by the time we moved on to the Generalife, the gardens and summer palace and estate of the Nasrid Emirs, we were moving verrry slowly. Beautiful layout, with several small palaces, but here, it’s the patios with their pools of water and the gardens that are significant. The gardens were not in full bloom, but the sense of light and space was still palpable. Water dominates the landscape, in the many pools throughout the gardens and patios. And there were some lovely views looking back to the city from here.

We took a good and necessary lunch break at the Hotel America, sitting in its patio, finally having our coffee con leche, an egg sandwich and an almond cake. Good food and comfortable place to take a break.

After lunch, we returned to the site, first stopping, of course, in the gift shop, where I saw the pieces of marquetry on display. I looked, I admired, but didn’t buy – after seeing the label, “home made” and realizing I saw the same things in a gift shop below the hill and lower prices, I decided to pass on this.

We continued to the Alcazaba, a fortress and the oldest part of the Alhambra. Hold on to your ticket because you will need it to get into the site. We spent time walking the ramparts and towers, and taking in the views, and were impressed by what was once an important military construction.

Finally, we visited the Charles V Palace (Palacio de Carlos V), begun in 1527 and not finished till 1957!

It was a pleasant stroll down to the city from the site, walking through a wooded park area. Passing through the Puerta de las Granadas (the Gate of the Pomegranates), we arrived back in the city proper. After the gate, the street becomes Cuesta de Gomerez, and there are a few tourist shops, music stores, a hotel, and a flamenco place caught my eye as well. We then stopped by a guitar shop where the owner was playing some lovely flamenco on a guitar. Very lovely spontaneous concert! We walked further and ran into one of the couples that we had met at the sherry gathering at our hotel, and walked back to the hotel and spent a long time sitting with them in our hotel lounge area. Decision made to attend the flamenco show that evening at the little theater I had noticed earlier!”

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Old Aug 13th, 2022, 09:04 PM
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The Alhambra is wonderful, both the palace complex and the Generalife gardens. I've been a few times and each time spent most of the day there, although many people wouldn't spend that long. I've been in spring, autumn and winter and the gardens in spring were especially lovely but they are nice any time of year. The last two visits, we pre-purchased tickets which were just the standard ones with timed entry to the Nasrid palace (purchased from the official website). If you have longer in Granada, I would consider the ticket which allows access to other sights in Granada.

To get there we just walked from town (stayed in the Albaicin neighbourhood each time). It's not far and a fairly pleasant route. I didn't notice a shuttle but there would undoubtedly be one for those unable to walk. Apart from a bus to the bus station, we walked everywhere in Granada.

A note about the Albaicin area - the cobblestones are a killer for wheeled luggage. We carried ours as much as we could.
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Old Aug 14th, 2022, 05:26 AM
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A big fat thanks to all of you! You've been very helpful!

Curious what time of year all of you went....wondering if the crowds will be less so in late October?

Last edited by Melnq8; Aug 14th, 2022 at 05:29 AM.
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Old Aug 14th, 2022, 06:41 AM
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We were there in mid-May in 2015. Given the travel explosion over the last few months, I’d imagine it’s hard to predict, but I would be prepared for some crowds at the Alhambra.
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Old Aug 14th, 2022, 08:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Melnq8 View Post
A big fat thanks to all of you! You've been very helpful!

Curious what time of year all of you went....wondering if the crowds will be less so in late October?
Well, we were there in early October and it was pretty crowded then.
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Old Aug 15th, 2022, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Melnq8 View Post
Planning to spend three nights in Granada in late October. Just now getting to the Granada portion of my planning.

I've read that we should book Alhambra tickets 1-2 months in advance. Looks like lots of ticket options. Any suggestions on which to book, and how long visits usually take?

I've also read that Alhambra should be visited twice, once during the day and once at night. Thoughts on tickets to book for each?

Anyone familiar with the shuttle to/from?
We actually booked two types of tickets for different days, and I am glad we did.

1. We booked the "Gardens, Generalife and Alcazaba" for 7 Euros. These tickets are good for a given day (you pick the day), there is no set time. It is just the outside gardens, and the Alcazaba.
2. We booked the "Alhambra General" for a different day. This one requires a specific time slot (you choose day & time).

I'm glad we went on two different days. There is a lot to see and take in. Doing it over two days is less overwhelming, I think.
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Old Aug 15th, 2022, 10:15 AM
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Also, we visited in April during Holy Week and it was very crowded. All of Grenada was very crowded.
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Old Aug 15th, 2022, 01:05 PM
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Thank you again!
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Old Aug 16th, 2022, 02:51 AM
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We visited the Alhambra in late October. There were crowds although you could often maneuver around them.

When we visited (2015), you could buy three tickets for different visits: one for the evening visit, one for the Nasrid Palace/Palacio Nazaries, and one for the Generalife. We are glad we bought all three and visited in the evening first and then again the next day.

Here are some snippets from my trip report (again, details are 2015, things may have changed):

For the evening tours of the Alhambra, you can ONLY enter through the Puerta de Justicia/Justice Gate. I just happened to ask the clerk at the Libreria if we could use that gate instead of the eastern, main entrance since the Justice Gate was closer to our hotel. It was then that she volunteered that, indeed, we could and we definitely should use that gate.

We arrived at the ticket checkpoint for the Nasrid Palace/Palacio Nazaries about 7:30 p.m. and there was just one person ahead of us. So when the guard let us in at 8:00 p.m., we walked quickly through the first couple of rooms. I had read about the rooms of the palace in a great little guide book, “The Alhambra and Generalife in Focus,” and I knew roughly about the splendors to come. This meant that we could move quickly to get to the truly splendiferous rooms ahead of the crowd, take photos, and enjoy them just by ourselves, with only that one other person wandering around sometimes.

The lighting effects on the evening tour make this astonishing building incredibly beautiful. This prepares you for the daytime visit the next day. Also, you do not have access on the evening tour of some parts of the palace near the Partal Gardens but you do go through these spaces on the daytime visit (can’t remember the names of these, but they include some overlooks and colonnaded covered bridge type sections with great views of the city below). I had no sense the next day that I had “already done the palace” – the rooms are so complex, the perspectives so masterfully designed as you move from one room to another to a courtyard to a hallway, etc., that the daylight visit is a quite different experience. Besides, for someone who has seen “North by Northwest” eight times, how could I be bored only on my second visit to the Nasrid Palace?

Delicious lunch in the courtyard of Hotel America. Afterwards, we walked around the open sections of the Parador, which includes the walls of the original Alhambra mosque, now just an open courtyard, Then past the checkpoint for the Generalife (it is now 2:05 p.m. and we are using our third ticket, the afternoon ticket to visit only the Generalife). This checkpoint is very near the Parador and the Partal Gardens, so we are still in the western half of the Alhambra complex. We had a pleasant walk eastward into the Generalife gardens and the pavillon with its reflecting pool.

Exiting the entire Alhambra about 3:30 p.m., I calculated that, all told, I had spent about seven hours, evening and daytime, in the complex.

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Old Aug 16th, 2022, 04:32 AM
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EWYandBTV - thank you! Very helpful!
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Old Aug 17th, 2022, 05:57 AM
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Progol - Does this apply if you purchase your tickets online?

Before I go on to our actual visit, a few words about picking up the tickets. Very easy! When we arrived at our hotel yesterday, one of the first things I wanted to make sure was we got our tickets. We were directed to a bookstore a street or 2 beyond Plaza Nueva, which was no more than a 10-minute walk from our hotel. The staff at the store provide a map of the site and you put in your credit card (the one that you purchased the tickets with – very important!) and out spits the tickets. This is truly easy and not worth stressing over.

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Old Aug 17th, 2022, 06:16 AM
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Mel, I did order my tickets online, but needed to pick up the physical tickets from the bookstore. This was in 2015 so perhaps it changed. Tickets sold out very quickly, so I ordered them as soon as they came on line, which was about a month or 2 (I don’t remember now), before. I’ll do a search for my planning threads and see if I can find them. Again, things might’ve changed.

Edit to add: It looks like I didn’t create my own Alhambra thread but probably participated on one at the time. In looking quickly on TripAdvisor, it seems like there’s no longer any need to go and pick the printouts up. It mentions just needing a printout or QR code. You might get more current info on TA regarding the ticketing process.

Last edited by progol; Aug 17th, 2022 at 06:30 AM.
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Old Aug 17th, 2022, 06:59 AM
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About Alhambra tickets:
Yes, things have changed post-covid and Alhambra bookstore, which has now reopened, no longer prints out tickets. There is no need for, as when you book tickets online, you are emailed a ticket which you can either show on your phone or print out, and it's good to go. The only thing to bear in mind is if you book certain discounted tickets, such as for over 65s (EU citizens only), youth or disabled, your emailed ticket has no QR code and you have to go to Alhambra ticket office at the far end of the complex near the car park, show relevant ID and get a ticket with QR code printed out. Often there is a long line, and it's an unnecessary extra bother you can do without. As discount normally amounts to no more than 5 euro, I suggest you just buy full adult ticket and walk straight in.
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Old Aug 17th, 2022, 07:08 AM
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Okay, thanks for clearing that up.
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Old Aug 26th, 2022, 07:13 AM
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I'm about to push the buy button on two General Alhambra tickets which includes Nasrid Palaces, Partal (porch of the palace, gardens and walkways), Alcazaba (La Vela tower and Los Adarves garden) and Generalife: gardens and palace (courtyard of the Acequia, courtyard of the Sultana staircase of water)..

Unfortunately, all night visits end on Oct 15, so we're out of luck there.

Just wondering if adding the Andalusian monuments would be worthwhile.

Once can purchase a combination ticket, and use it over two days, or just purchase separately. Weirdly, it looks like it's less expensive to purchase both separately.
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