What you Need to Know: Our Guide to Visiting the Alhambra

This blog post was originally posted on January 11, 2018, and was updated on April 16, 2019. 

As one of the most popular tourist destinations in Spain, the Alhambra is truly the jewel in the crown of Granada’s Moorish past.

From intricate Arabic carvings to bright, colorful tiles to stunning views of the Albayzín, the Alhambra constantly leaves visitors in awe. It’s no wonder why this stunning palace enchants more than 6,000 visitors per day. Visiting the Alhambra is an absolute must for anyone spending time in Granada, but a successful visit requires some prior planning. Here are our tips to make your trip to the Alhambra an undisputed highlight of your time in Spain.

Before visiting the Alhambra, there are a few things you need to know. Check out our guide for the full list of tips.

Before You Go

As we mentioned before, the Alhambra draws thousands of visitors from all over the world every day. This means that tickets sell out weeks—and during high season, sometimes months—in advance. We strongly recommend buying your ticket as soon as possible to avoid arriving and facing the disappointment that it has been completely sold out.

The Alhambra website now offers the possibility to buy tickets online. If you’ll be spending quite a bit of time in Granada, you can also buy them in person at the ticket office for a future date. General admission to the Alhambra will set you back 14 euros and will get you into each of the site’s main areas.

When visiting the Alhambra, prior preparation is key to a successful visit.
Don’t miss this iconic view of the Albayzín!

Most people visiting the Alhambra come to see the Nasrid Palaces (more on that later!), the most famous part of the monument. When buying your tickets, you’ll be asked to select a specific time for entrance to the palaces. These entrance times are strictly observed, so be sure to select a time you’re sure you’ll be able to visit.

Due to the enormous size of the complex, we recommend setting aside at least a full day of your trip to truly enjoy visiting the Alhambra.

Visiting the Alhambra is a must in Granada. Here's how to make the most of it!
Make sure you plan your visit well to truly enjoy your time at the Alhambra!

Getting there from the city center

Get your exercise before visiting the Alhambra! You can easily walk there from the city center in less than half an hour. The route takes you up a steep hill along the street Cuesta de Gomérez, but the path is covered by beautiful trees that provide some much-needed shade, especially in the scorching summer months.

Not into the idea of even more walking? The bus line C3 will drop you right in front of the Generalife ticket office. Check the schedule and map to find out when and where you’ll need to catch the bus.

If you have access to a car, keep in mind that private transportation is not allowed direct access to the Alhambra grounds. Parking areas are not too far from the ticket office. You can also take a taxi from anywhere in the city directly to the Alhambra.

When visiting the Alhambra, be sure to pay attention to the incredible amount of details that went into this spectacular monument.
The attention to detail inside the Alhambra is stunning.

Nasrid Palaces

Arguably the most well-known part of the Alhambra, the Nasrid Palaces were the official residence of the Moorish kings of Granada. This section alone includes several different components. The different sultans who occupied the Alhambra during Granada’s Moorish period continued adding various royal houses onto the palaces, completing them into the iconic structure we know today.

As mentioned above, entrance times to the palaces are strictly controlled. Plan to arrive at the entrance at least half an hour before the time printed on your ticket, as long lines are common. While you wait, you’ll be able to enjoy spectacular views of the Albayzín.

Once inside, the palaces are truly a sight to behold. The amazing detail in the carving and beautifully laid colorful tiles will take your breath away. Possibly the most iconic room is the Patio de los Leones (Patio of the Lions), once a private courtyard that still preserves its stunning Moorish beauty.

Be sure to book your tickets in advance when visiting the Alhambra!
The views from inside the palace look like a postcard!


The oldest part of the Alhambra is the Alcazaba military fortress. Its privileged position high on a hill overlooking the city made it ideal for surveillance. Some historians believe that parts of the structure already existed before the Moors arrived to the city. The first rulers used it as living quarters during the construction of the Nasrid palaces, after which point it turned into a fortress.

Walk up to the top of the ancient watchtower (Torre de la Vela) for unbeatable views of Granada and the Sierra Nevada mountains beyond. Beneath the towers, in the old Plaza de Armas, you’ll see the ruins of the foundations of old Moorish houses and even a dungeon!

The Nasrid Palaces are great, but don't skip the Alcazaba when visiting the Alhambra!
Walk through history in the ruins of the Alcazaba.


The peaceful Generalife gardens provide a stark yet pleasant contrast to the busy palaces and fortress. While still popular among visitors, it’s hard not to feel a sense of inner peace and tranquility while walking through this beautiful green space.

If you visit in the spring or summer, you’ll have the pleasure of seeing the colorful gardens in full bloom. Even if you’re visiting the Alhambra later in the year, the space is still undeniably beautiful. The incredible buildings were once a summer estate for the Moorish rulers. They surround peaceful pools and fountains, and the views of the main part of the Alhambra are picture-perfect.

Take some time to stroll through the peaceful gardens when visiting the Alhambra.
The Generalife gardens are beautiful and calm.

Palace of Carlos V

Much newer than the rest of the complex, the more modern, Renaissance style of the Palace of Carlos V stands out among the Moorish architecture. The stately building encompasses a circular courtyard with majestic pillars supporting two grandiose stories. The unique design symbolizes the union of heaven and earth, an important theme to Renaissance architects.

Once inside (entry is free!), don’t miss the two small yet spectacular museums. On the ground floor, you’ll find the Alhambra Museum, full of fascinating Moorish artifacts. Head up to the second level to enjoy the Fine Arts Museum, which houses a collection of 15th through 20th century masterpieces.

The hidden gem most people miss when visiting the Alhambra: the Palace of Carlos V!
The Palace of Carlos V is unique in that it stands out among the Moorish architecture.

0 Comment

  1. Vaughan Weikel (Boston, MA area) says
    August 29, 2019 at 12:25 am

    I am extremely confused trying to schedule visit to Alhambra. My wife and I will be in Grenada April 22,23, and 24, 2020. (We could stay April 25 also if necessary) I have visited official ticket website and know about the “90 day rule.” Thought we might try to buy a tour, but they are rather vague with their scheduling. Ideas, suggestions ? Anyone I can talk to? Thanks.

    1. Devour Tours says
      September 4, 2019 at 9:04 am

      Hi Vaughan—looks like you’re on the ball with getting things figured out. You’re absolutely right that individual tickets generally aren’t released until 90 days before the date, so if you’d prefer that option, start looking in January for your travel days (we recommend checking as soon as the beginning of the month just in case).

      Tours are another great option, but specific times may not be confirmed just yet. Here are a few options: https://www.alhambra.org/en/alhambra-tours.html

      We also have a post with more options for visiting the Alhambra, including booking tickets over the phone and purchasing a tourist pass: https://devoursevillefoodtours.com/where-to-buy-alhambra-tickets/

      We hope this helps!

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