The detail in the decoration throughout the Palacios Nazaries was incredibly beautiful, and the sheer size of the premises and how well preserved it is adds a lot of points in my book. But what I mentioned above, coupled with a lack of information getting to the Alhambra (which way to walk, where you are now, etc.) made it a bit of a frustrating experience. So, to ensure you don’t have the experience that I had, and that you can be wowed and amazed by what is a truly breathtaking site, I have put together a cheat sheet.
Tips for making the most of your visit to the Alhambra
- Tickets: You must have your ticket in advance and they sell out quickly. If you see your preferred date is sold out, here is the secret trick: go to the official Alhambra bookshop / tourist store and as soon as you walk in make a left. There is a ticket vending machine where you may be able to get last minute tickets that were returned by travel agencies. I was able to get a ticket for the next morning! If they have no tickets, your only other option is to sign up for one of the tourist passes that are about double the price of admission to the Alhambra and include different perks around the city such as entry to museums or a city tour. Note: If you can, get the first entry of the day (8:30AM I believe) so that you have free reign of the Alhambra and a better chance of having photo memories without hundreds of tourists in your shots.
- Arrival: You MUST arrive at the given entrance to the Alhambra at the time printed on your ticket or else you won’t be allowed in. That means, plan to get there 10 minutes early. Leave 30 minutes to walk from the city center but keep in mind it is a steep walk at times and there are no maps or signs so you may get a bit confused and lost along the way – the ticket people won’t care. There is also a bus to take which is probably a lot easier.
- Audioguides: GET ONE! Otherwise you will be walking around through empty rooms like me, and then researching what you saw when you get home. There are also tours with different companies you can sign up for, which I would have considered and recommend you look into.
- Food: There is a little standalone café near the entrance to the Alcazaba. The guy there is ‘mala folla’ (a word to describe people in Granada with a generally foul attitude / bad manners which is apparently not uncommon). Basically I was thrown a croissant an then yelled at for pouring olive oil on the plate to dip instead of pouring directly on the bread. Ok.
- Exercise: It is a bit of a hike to get up the hill to the entrance of the Alhambra, so for a bit of a more cultural workout while you are in Granada, put on your running clothes and jog up the hill. There are many parts of the Alhambra you can see from the outside which makes for a scenic and unusual run. I saw some people doing it, as well as biking the road outside of the Alhambra, and it looked like a lot of fun (if I had a little more time!).