When we added Granada to our Spain itinerary, there was no question that one of the main draws to this ancient Southern Spanish city is the incredible Alhambra fortress high above the landscape. We found out quickly, that while the Alhambra is definitely the top draw for people coming to Granada, this area has a lot more to offer as well and we’d love to go back, take in more of the area and the countryside. Alas, this trip though, with only 2 days in Granada, we spent a large majority of our time at the incredible Alhambra.
We headed out of our hotel bright and early to make our entrance time of 8:30. We bought tickets ahead of time (which you need to…read below in tips for more information) and wandered from our Hotel Casa 1800, down little alleyways in the freezing cold morning air towards Plaza Nueva (wear layers, it gets cold at night!) to grab a cab up the hill to the Alhambra. You can walk up, but we chose the 5 euro cab ride over a 40 minute trek first thing in the morning. Upon arrival at the top of the hill, we headed to the kiosks at the entrance to get our tickets and made our way through the entrance gates. I had read before hand that while most of the grounds you are free to wander at your own leisure, the Palacios Nazaries can only be entered at your ticket time. So for us, that was 8:30, and immediately after entering the grounds we made the 5-7 minute walk to this famous building on the grounds to make sure we could see it. They let groups in every 30 minutes, so make you sure you head here first whatever time your tickets are. This building is the one you always see photos of, intricate details, incredible architecture and insane views over Granada.
We spent the next few hours just wandering the grounds, taking in each building complex, admiring the ruins and admiring the insane views over Southern Spain. From the white washed buildings of the Albaicin, to the incredible snow capped Sierra Nevada mountains to the South, you could spend hours up there on the hilly fortress that is the Alhambra just admiring one of the most spectacular places I’ve ever seen. The views, the details, the history, our morning at the Alhambra was truly one to remember and after spending about 4 hours wandering the grounds, through orange groves and ruins, through old palaces and colosseum type rotundas, we meandered back through the gardens and water features toward the main gates and grabbed a cab back down the hill. Needless to say, this post is pretty picture heavy because the Alhambra is just too beautiful not to see every corner of it. Our morning there, especially being there at the first ticketed time with so few other people, made the experience all the more special. Standing at the top of the Alhambra’s oldest section, on top of a massive hill over Granada, looking out in the distance for miles over the breathtaking landscaping of Southern Spain, will always be a memory I’ll never forget.
Tips for your Visit to the Alhambra:
-Buy your tickets online in advance. Go to the Alhambra website and it will forward you to a link to buy tickets. We chose the first ones of the day (8:30am) which I would highly recommend to miss most of the crowds, plus the light for photos was amazing!
-Give yourself at least 15-20 minutes to arrive at the Alhambra entrance early to collect your tickets from the kiosks. We were running a bit behind and were hurrying to get tickets and make it to the Palacios Nazaries at our ticket time. The kiosks are next to the gift shop near the entrance.
-Head first to the Palacios Nazaries at your ticket time. We got there about 8:35 and they had just started letting our time slot in, but since that was the first of the day, I would make sure you get there before your start date during the later times. There will be a special line for this one building and they will need to scan your tickets so keep them handy.
-Keep your tickets handy throughout, as in most of the buildings throughout the grounds they will scan them again.
-Take your time. We spent about 4 hours wandering through, but if we hadn’t been really tired and the crowds were getting big, we could have spent a couple more easily. It’s a huge complex so take your time and just wander.
-No real food inside the gates, so bring your own. Since our ticket time was early, we didn’t have breakfast before thinking we’d grab something up there. Half way through we were starving, and other than a little coffee shop with small food and coffee, there is no real food up there. So eat before or bring snacks.
All photos by Nick Nieto Photography