10 best tips for visiting the Alhambra, Granada (2023 guide)

Visiting the Alhambra? Get the top 10 tips on how to plan your trip, including how to book Alhambra tickets.

The Alhambra
View of the Alhambra from Mirador de San Nicolas

Did you know that the Alhambra in Granada is the most-visited site in all of Spain? Aside from the fact that it’s super old (from the 13th century), the fortress sits on a hill, overlooking the snowcapped mountains and city of Granada.

By visiting the Alhambra, you’ll experience Islamic architecture at its best, awe-inspiring views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the rolling hills of the Andalusian countryside.

It’s majestic.

In this post, you’ll find everything you need to know about visiting the Alhambra. And if you still have questions at the end of the post, let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer!

Let’s get started.

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🇪🇸 Visiting the Alhambra

1. How to buy Alhambra tickets

Price: 19.09 € for an Alhambra General ticket

First off, you need to reserve your tickets in advance. Like, you really HAVE TO.

Unlike most attractions, you can’t just arrive at the Alhambra entrance and buy a ticket. Technically, it’s possible, but you won’t get into the main attraction, the Nasrid Palace. Only 300 people are allowed to visit this palace every half hour, so you have to pick a specific time for your entry.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Go to the official Alhambra website.
  • Pick between the types of tickets (I recommend the Alhambra General ticket ).
  • Choose the day you want to visit.
  • Then choose the exact half hour you will enter the Nasrid Palace.
  • Pay online (19.09 €) and you will get an email confirmation with your ticket.
  • Print this (or bring it online) and voila – you have your Alhambra ticket.
  • Remember to bring your passport or ID (you need it to enter Alhambra).

2. Alhambra map

Here is a map of the Alhambra. You can print it here.

Alhambra Granada

When you enter the Alhambra from the main entrance, you’ll get to this road ↓

The road parts in three directions. The left road leads to the palaces – the Alcazaba, Charles V and Nasrid. The middle and the right road leads to Generalife, which is a large garden area.

The Alhambra

There are signs around the Alhambra so you won’t get lost. Also, you’ll see guards, especially in the Nasrid so just ask them if you need information. They seemed very helpful to me.

The Alhambra

3. How much time to spend at Alhambra

Most people spend around 3 hours on their Alhambra visit, and you’ll walk around 3.5 km in total. Let me break it down for you:

  • Generalife: 15-30 minutes
  • Alcazaba: 20-30 minutes
  • Charles V Palace: 15 minutes (without visiting the two museums) or 45 minutes (visiting the two museums)
  • Nasrid Palace: 1 hour
  • Walking distance: 1-1,5 hours
  • Waiting in line: 30-60 minutes

The thing is that Alhambra is quite big and the attractions are scattered around a large area.

To give you an idea, it takes about 20 minutes to walk from the main entrance to Generalife. Then you have to walk back the same way to get to the other palaces – that’s another 30 minutes. Plus the time you spend walking around the palaces and waiting in long lines.

We spent 4 hours at the Alhambra. We arrived at 4pm and left when it closed at 8pm. Looking back, this was the ideal time to visit.

The Alhambra

4. Waiting in line

Waiting in line (in general):

When I read up on the Alhambra I got the impression that I would spend A LOT of time standing in line.

I found this not to be the case!

At the main entrance, there were two people in front of me. I probably spent around 30 minutes in total standing in line, and I visited in June in the afternoon, which is said to be one of the busiest months and times of day.

Waiting in line for the Nasrid Palace:

When you walk up to the Nasrid palace, you’ll see a huge line. Don’t freak out. It goes away pretty quick.

This is what you need to do:

If you have an appointment at say 7pm (that’s what I had), you need to get in line at around 6.40. Although the line seems hopelessly long, don’t worry, you will get in for the time you have booked.

As you will notice, guards are walking past the line asking people when their appointment is for. They do this to make sure you’ll get in, and that the line is only for people with this time slot and not the next.

5. Itinerary for the Alhambra

The four main places to visit in the Alhambra are:

  • Generalife
  • Alcazaba
  • Charles V Palace
  • The Nasrid Palace (main attraction)

👮🏼‍♀️You can see the attractions at Alhambra in whichever order you like. As long as you’re at Nasrid for your booking time! They’re very strict about it so don’t be late. Otherwise they won’t let you in. 

Alhambra Granada

GENERALIFE

A beautiful garden

The Alhambra

ALCAZABA

A ruin

The Alhambra

CHARLES V PALACE

Oval building

The Alhambra

NASRID PALACE

The main attraction

🌹 Generalife

Most people begin at the Generalife, because the other attractions are located next to each other.

Generalife or The Palacio de Generalife was a summer palace for the kings of Granada when they wanted to get away from the official affairs of the palace. If you visit during the late spring and summer, you’ll see lots of beautiful and colourful flowers there.

The Generalife Gardens include the Jardín de la Sultana (Sultana’s Garden or Courtyard of the Cypress), and the Patio de la Acequia (Water-Garden Courtyard), which has a long pool framed by flowerbeds, fountains and pavilions.

Alhambra Granada

🏰 Alcazaba

Alcazaba is a fortress and the oldest part of the Alhambra. It dates back to the 12th century, but the current complex was built by Mohammed I, who lived in the fortress along with his successor Muhammed II.

Once the palaces were finished, the Alcazaba was only used as a fortress for military purposes.

What to see at the Alcazaba:

  • The Armas Square
  • The Adarves Garden
  • The Vela Tower
  • The view of Granada (especially from the tower)
The Alhambra
The Alhambra
View from the tower

🏛️ Charles V Palace

Charles V, king and elected emperor, decided to build his palace in the Alhambra, because it was a Muslim citadel conquered by his grandparents, the Catholic Monarchs.

The construction of the palace of Charles V began in 1527 and was finished in 1957 – the building was sometimes neglected to such an extent that the ceilings collapsed. It’s the most important Renaissance building in Spain.

The Alhambra
The Alhambra

🕌 Nasrid Palace

And now to the Nasrid Palace – the main attraction at the Alhambra. There are three buildings inside the Nasrid:

  1. The Mexuar is the oldest hall. It was employed for meetings between the ministers of the king and as a courtroom.
  2. The Palace of Comares is where the king lived. Inside is the Courtyard of the Myrtles (with a bright green pond) and the Hall of Ambassadors (where the throne was) and the Hall of the Boat.
  3. The Palace of the Lions or in Spanish patio de los leones (the main courtyard).
The Alhambra
Hall of the Ambassadors
The Alhambra
Hall of the Two Sisters
The Alhambra
Oratory (located at the back of the Mexuar)
The Alhambra
Daraxa’s Mirador
The Alhambra
Hall of the Abencerrajes
The Alhambra
Palace of the Lions
The Alhambra
The Court of Myrtles
The Alhambra
Daraxa’s Garden

5. Why is Alhambra important?

Well, aside from the fact that it’s regarded as one of the finest palaces from its era and therefore declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Alhambra is quite impressive on its own.

It was once home to royalty and the surrounding gardens are just stunning. Plus, it’s the most visited monument in Spain.

The Alhambra
Inside Bano de la Mezquita

6. When to visit (season and time of day)

Best season

You’ll get the most out of your visit by going in late spring or summer. That way you’ll see the full extent of the beautiful gardens. However, this is also the high season, so there will be more people there.

Morning or afternoon?

A lot of tours go in the morning, so you can avoid the crowds by going in the afternoon. I went at 4pm and booked the Nasrid for 7pm. I think this was ideal because people were starting to leave around 6.

The Alhambra

7. How to get there

You have several options for getting from the city centre in Granada to Alhambra palace:

Taxi:

6 Euro (each way). This is the easiest and most convenient way to visit.

Bus:

Take the C3 bus behind the statue of Isabella and Columbus. For 1.2 euros you get a ride up the hill almost to the front entrance.

Car:

Parking is 5.45 euros for 3 hours and 7.00 euros for 4 hours. It takes about 15 minutes from Granada by car. When you enter the parking lot, you get a ticket. Remember to pay at the machine in the parking lot before you leave.

Walk:

Start at Plaza Nueva and follow Cuesta de Gomerez. When you reach the Gate of the Pomegranates, turn left and continue until you reach the Puerta de la Justica (Gate of Justice) entrance at the Alhambra. It’s a steep walk, but you can make it there in 15-20 minutes.

Alhambra Granada

8. Should you take an Alhambra tour?

A tour is a great way to make sure you see the main highlights and know the history. But there are a few drawbacks, too.

The guided tours move fast and have less time to enjoy the beauty of the Alhambra. My advice – if you want to go with a tour guide – is to pick a private tour or a small-group tour with enough time (3 hours).

This small-group tour (⭐5/5) comes highly recommended, lasts 3 hours and includes all the highlights.

ProsCons
Learn the history and architecture of the AlhambraExtra cost
Skip the linesCan’t explore freely
Personalised tips regarding what to see, and where to find the best viewpointsA tour can feel rushed
Don’t worry about purchasing your Alhambra entrance ticket – it’s included
The Alhambra

9. Can you bring children to Alhambra?

Yes. That said, you should know that you can’t bring a stroller into the Nasrid Palace or Generalife. There are special areas to keep the strollers while you’re visiting the Nasrid, but that, of course, doesn’t help you with managing your child.

There are free baby carriers where you can store the stroller. The staff will help you adjust it.

10. Where to eat

After spending 2-3 hours visiting the sites of the Alhambra, you’ll probably be tired and hungry. You won’t have many options, though.

The best bet is to visit the Alhambra Parador which is a hotel right inside the Alhambra in an old monastery. It’s a simple restaurant with a decent menu with Spanish and more typical tourist choices.

There’s also a kiosk and a small vendor next to the Alcazaba, but that’s more for snacking and water.

The Alhambra
Alhambra Parador hotel and restaurant

🙋‍♀️ Alhambra FAQ

How much time should you spend at Alhambra?

Between 3-4 hours. That’s enough time to see everything. Depending on the type of ticket you purchase, you will be allowed access to the monument in either the morning, afternoon, or night.

Can I just turn up to Alhambra?

In theory, yes. But chances of getting tickets for the Nasrid palace (the main attraction) are small.

Visiting the Alhambra palaces is in high demand, and tickets are capped at a certain amount daily.

To make sure you get the ticket of your choice, the Alhambra Council recommends booking your visit at least one month in advance.

Can you visit Alhambra without a guide?

Yes. You can visit without a guide. If you decide to go with a tour, this small-group tour comes highly recommended.

What is the best time to visit Alhambra?

Spring and summer are the ideal seasons for visiting the Alhambra, when the flowers are in full bloom.

The best times of day to visit are either early morning or late afternoon because these times offer the best lighting conditions for taking photos and have fewer crowds.

Is there a dress code at the Alhambra?

No, there’s no dress code at the Alhambra. However, the complex and gardens cover a huge area so make sure to wear comfortable shoes and clothes.

Can I bring a water bottle into the Alhambra?

Yes, you can take your own food and drink into the Alhambra. However, due to security reasons, large bags are not permitted in the Nasrid Palaces, Alcazaba or Generalife – you may need to use the storage lockers while you are exploring those.

What should I not miss at the Alhambra?

  1. The Nasrid Palace – This is the largest and most ornate palace complex in the Alhambra, with grand interiors made up of intricate mosaic-tiled walls, alabaster columns, carvings and gardens.
  2. The Alcazaba – This is the oldest part of the Alhambra, a magnificent fortress with seven towers and three enormous fortified gates.
  3. Generalife Garden – Located just outside the Nasrid Palaces, this beautiful garden features a variety of fountains and pools as well as gorgeous views of Granada’s cityscape.
  4. El Partal Palace – Formally known as “The Castle of Comares” this 14th century palace features amazing Islamic-style architecture and has a picturesque rose garden on its façade.
  5. The Court of Lions – Perhaps one of the most iconic structures within the Alhambra complex, this courtyard is shaped like an octagon and surrounded by 12 marble lions which symbolize strength and power.
  6. The Dragon Fountain – Located in the Patio de los Arrayanes (Court of Myrtles) this ornate fountain is filled with crystal clear water that cascades down into tubs decorated with dragons heads for spitting out excess water.
  7. Charles V Palace – This palace boast elegant Renaissance courtyards from centuries ago which are still in pristine condition today!

How early do I need to get to the Alhambra?

Make sure to arrive at least 45 minutes before your scheduled visit to the Alhambra. This is because it takes around 20 minutes to walk from the main gate to the Nasrid Palace, and you won’t be able to enter it late.

Where to next?

Got some time to spend in Granada Spain?

Check out my 2 days in Granada itinerary with tips on what to see, where to stay and how to find the town’s best churros.

Things to do in Granada, Spain

More Spain posts you might like

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expect Islamic architecture at its best, awe-inspiring views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the rolling hills of the Andalusian countryside. If you're planning a trip to the Alhambra, doing a road trip in Andalusia or simply looking for inspiration for your next trip, here are 10 essential tips for you.

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64 Comments

  1. Beautiful place! Good photos. I was just in South Spain also but in Valencia.
    There is also a long waiting time to Parc Güell in Barcelona and in the evening it’s not always possible to get in because a lot of waiting time

    1. Thanks, Susanna! Wow, so you could basically stand in line and then not even be let in? That must be frustrating, but I guess that comes with visiting touristy sites 🙁

  2. What a nice place to visit. In photos, it seems so gorgeous how much more in person. Looking forward to visiting this incredible place.

    1. Thank you, Sarah! It really is beautiful, and so is Granada where it’s located. This city has such a lovely, relaxed vibe (and view) 🙂

  3. The Alhambra is a palace and fortress complex located in Granada, Andalusia, Spain. This is really great content thank you for sharing.

  4. Your photos are beautiful! I really love Granada! I didn’t book ahead and under-estimated the wait, ended up having to stay another day just to come back and try again

  5. Thank you for th very comprehensive article. You have laid out the basic information in a very useful and pragmatic manner. Just what i was looking for!

  6. Really useful information, thank you. If you have a printed out ticket from their website can you enter the gardens at any time – is the time on the ticket just for the palace. Brenda

    1. Hi Brenda,
      Yes, you can visit Alhambra at any time of the day or evening. The only fixed time is for the Nasrid palace.

      Have a great time!

  7. Thank you, Miriam for the helpful details. I visited the Alhambra as a backpacking student in my early 20’s & am returning 40 years later. Your photos are beautiful (and your little boy too).

    1. Aw, thank you so much, Mary-Lou! What an experience to revisit a place so many years later. I think you’ll like it. Especially the gardens if you visit during spring or summer.

      Have an amazing trip.

  8. Would you recommend staying the night in Granada if you have a 7 pm tour? Thanks for the run down. I am visiting next week and still haven’t booked my hotel. eek!

    1. Hi Chelsea, that depends on where you’re going after. But Granada is pretty cheap compared to other Andalusian towns + it’s super charming, so if you can, I would stay.

  9. Thank you for this very informative guide. We are going in May and according to the official website there are no tickets available. Do you have any advice on this.

  10. We are also going in May and found there were no tickets available from the official website so I contacted our hotel and they were able to offer us a Granada Card Pernocta which gives you access to the whole of the Alhambra
    They are 22 euros each – non refundable and only available through your hotel.

      1. I recently visited the Alhambra on a guided tour
        While I got general overview of the palace i think that your blog put everything in its proper context.
        Reflecting on my tour i realose now that there were gaps
        I like the way that you structired things.
        I hope that future visitors read your blog before going
        I also visited the Alcazar in Sevilla and noted similarities in design and concept
        Thank you for an informative piece

        I plan to go to Greece next. I am interested in the ancient history of the country.
        Some thoughts on this will be appreciated.
        Thank you

        1. I’m so glad to hear that, Janice. I appreciate you taking the time to let me know!
          I haven’t been to Greece in many years, so I can’t really advice on the subject. But if I were hunting for ancient history, I would go to Athens, Rhodes, Corinth and Delphi.

  11. Hi Miriam! Excellent Alhambra guide! Thanks! I’ll be in Granada in June! I’m excited. I have 2 questions though:

    1. Is there a duration of how long I can only stay inside the Nasrid Palaces? Is it only good for 30 minutes? I usually stay longer because I take photos a lot.
    2. My entry time to Nasrid Palaces is at 12:30PM. Do you think it’s better do Generalife, Alcazaba, and Charles V Palace before or after Nasrid Palaces?

    I hope you reply. Thanks!! All the best to your blog!

    1. Hi Shelly,

      1. Once you’re inside Nasrid, you can stay there as long as you like. I take photos a lot, too, so I totally get where you’re coming from 🙂 When you first enter, there will be a lot of people because everyone has been standing in line. But as you move through the buildings, you’ll get more room to move around and take photos.

      2. I think you should do the others first and save the best (Nasrid) for last.

      Have a great trip to Alhambra!

  12. My wife and I just returned from our Alhambra tour. We had a private tour guide and 1:30pm entry at main gate called General life2, . The best bus to take is C32 to get to the entrance also called the Alhambra Map next to the tickets area. We exited after 5 hours of incredible awe inspiring exposure. We used the Justice gate and right there is the bus stop for C32. The Alhambra has s lot of drinking water fountains so no issu need to carry or buy water. You must have fully charged camera or cell phone batteries to take the pictures otherwise you will run out .
    Four years back at a dinner with various diplomats in Pakistan I had a discussion on palaces etc and I was rooting for the Versailles palace and everyone thought I should visit Alhambra. They were right, though entirely different in all respects, this palace is so much superior.

  13. Hi Miriam. I am excited and look forward to visit AlHambra soon and your write-up is certainly of great help! Thanks for sharing with us the details of your visit.

  14. Thank you very much for the article. Exactly what I was looking for, especially as I will be visiting on Monday (don’t worry, got tickets already 😉 ) with my almost 2 year old son!

  15. Thank you so much for this guide. I found it to be the best on the internet. I wanted to understand Alhambra before I bought the tickets and after reading this guide I had no problem in arriving at what I thought was the best option for us.

    1. Sure, the first one with the purple flowers is taken inside the Alhambra on the way to Generalife. The one below is taken from Mirador de San Nicolás viewpoint.

  16. Hi Miriam! What a super website, really informative and useful. Lovely pics too.Thank you! Just one (probably very English question, I’m afraid) : are there public toilets available there too? Don’t like to be too far away from a loo! Thank you very much.

  17. Thank you, this is a fantastic article – all the info we need about visiting Alhambra, which we’re doing tomorr

  18. Am desperate to go now. What is the best way to get there from Malaga by public transport ? Do you think it’s better to stay in Grenada?

  19. Wow thank you so much for your information. My daughters are in Spain & couldn’t get tickets but through your links I was able to get them tickets from Australia !! Excellent advice & pics, they’re so excited !!! Cheers xx

  20. Thank you so much for your write. it is the best concise guide for me to go to Al Hambra. I have problem to get the ticket online. It seems full for 7 Nov 2019. Any advice how to get the ticket. I send inquiry and online chat but it seems that it is negative. Should I contact their agent? Any suggestion

  21. Great website, you explained everything. Nice pictures. Thanks a lot for taking the effort to make it easy for us who are planing our visit.

  22. Hi Miriam. Thank you so much for your terrific website! It’s informative, beautiful and has been really helpful.

    I have a few questions:

    1. I’ve been so confused doing research on various websites that say there are two sessions: Morning from 8:30 am to 2:00 PM and afternoon from 2:00 PM to 8:00 PM, and that you have to select one or the other. Are they no longer doing that? Can we stay as long as we want, no matter what time we get there, and also have entrance to all of the sites throughout the day? ( I understand we need a specific time slot to enter the Nasrid Palace.)
    2. Can we enter through either entrance, Justice Gate or Main entrance?
    3. Are the tickets that we purchase online and print at home the only tickets we need, or do we have to retrieve other “official” tickets when we get there?
    4. Can we exit and then re-enter on the same day, perhaps to go to a nearby restaurant outside of the complex?
    Thanks!

  23. Thanks for the great information! I’ll be there for an overnight in August. I was wondering your thoughts about doing the Alhambra experience ticket, where you visit the Nasrid in the evening and do the rest the next day. Do you think this is a good option?

    1. Hi Ellen, I guess you could. But you’ll be paying entrance twice then. It might be better to do it all the day after. You only need 4 hours for everything.

  24. Miriam,
    I write this on the hills surrounding Alhambra with a visit booked for tomorrow morning. I really liked your summary and will make use of your tips even if I struggle with the Valley Girl English. (Yes I know I am an older Australian who hates over-use of “like”)

    I look forward to reading you other blogs next time we trip over to Europe

  25. Thank you so much for the information. You literally answered all my questions, your info is a lot better than in Rick Steve’s book. We’re going in late April this year.

    1. Aw, thank you, Lan! What a lovely comment. It’s words like yours that make it all worth being a travel blogger <3

      I hope you had a wonderful time and enjoyed Alhambra.

  26. An excellent report… I have been there 3 times and have still not seen it all and I live in Spain…..

    1. Thanks so much, Martin! Wow, three times – I can only imagine. I felt like I only saw a fraction of its beauty, I need to go back and admire the details.

  27. Hi, just wondering why you had to wait 30 minutes with only 2 people in front of you? You suggest that was a relatively short time. But also suggests if there were , say, 10 people in front of you you might have to wait 2.5 hours.

    1. Hi Ross,

      I waited 30 minutes in total! Not just in one line but in all the lines at the different palaces. The only line that was really long was to Nasrid. But you will always get in at your booked time no matter where in the line you stand. A guard will walk by and check your ticket.

      In general we did not wait much in line when we visited in June. But it might be different in July, which is the vacation season for Europeans.

  28. Hi Miriam,
    While you are buying online general ticket for EUR 19.09 then you must mention time and date to enter Nasrid Palace before checking out , is this correct. And if you miss the time and date they will not allow you for entry, need to buy new ticket ?

    1. Hi Muhammed, yes that’s correct.

      You’ll need to book the exact time and date of your visit to Nasrid (only Nasrid – not the rest of Alhrambra). They’re strict about the time so you should be at the entrance to Nasrid 10-20 minutes before your allocated time slot.

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