Visit Alhambra Spain

The Ultimate Guide to Alhambra

by María Gómez - updated September 24, 2020

Alhambra – Top choice Islamic palace in Granada. The eighth-century-old site was named for the reddish walls and towers that surrounded the citadel: whose name derives from the Arabic al-qala’a al-hamra means red fort or castle. It’s certainly one of Spain’s most significant historical landmarks.

Related read: 30+ Best Things to Do in Barcelona

Wondering Where To Visit in Alhambra?

Here are the list of places that surely you’ll love to visit.

ALCAZABA

It is the best-preserved Alcazaba in Spain and the oldest part of the Alhambra is the Alcazaba, which means fortress.

Upon entering its gates, you can feel the presence of Moorish influences from the keyhole-shaped doorways and the detailed carvings on the walls.

The Alcazaba has three layers of fortification walls and several watchtowers that you can climb to have a better and panoramic view of the whole Granada. 

PALACE OF CHARLES V

The Palace of Charles V – Renaissance palace in Granada.

It is located on the top of the hill of the Assabica, inside the Nasrid fortification of the Alhambra.

Upon entering inside the tall limestone pillars were forming an impressive circular courtyard.

NASRID PALACES

The Nasrid Palaces have multiple palaces that were built as residences for the royal families of Granada throughout the years.

Its first palace was constructed in the mid-1200s.

It is definitely the most visited tourist attraction in Spain because of its Islamic sculptures on the walls together with color tiles, inside houses it has the most elaborate carvings, and it has the best-preserved and most well-known examples Islamic Moorish architecture in Spain.

GENERALIFE

Generalife means Garden of the Architect. 

It is a country house, for leisure of Nasrid sultans, but also for farm use.

The royal family of Granada spends their leisure time here when they want to get away from the Palace.

When visiting Generalife you’ll find orange trees, blooming flower beds of various colors, water channels, and fountains with again beautiful Moorish carvings.

As you walk through leafy arches patterns, passageways, and beautifully built pavilions, surely you will feel relaxed and breezy. 

How and Where To Buy Tickets?

1. ALHAMBRA TICKET OFFICE

Tickets are available at the Alhambra from one year to two hours before your visit.

2. WEBSITE

You can book tickets on their official website. They are offering several types of admissions.

You can collect your tickets at the Alhambra ticket offices. Alhambra tickets can ONLY be collected by the person who bought them, since you need to provide a passport or EU national ID and the bank card you used to pay for it.

3. TELEPHONE

You can buy tickets by calling thru their telephone number (+34) 858 889 002.

4. VENDING MACHINE

Tickets are available to the vending machines located next to the Alhambra main entrance or the authorized cash machines.

5. GUIDED TOUR

You can buy tickets with the Alhambra Guided Tour. Click here to learn more.

6. IF SOLD OUT

If so happens that tickets are already sold out thru online and by telephone, you can buy them at the Alhambra ticket office on the day of your visit up to 2 hours before the Nasrid Palaces time of entry.

However, keep in mind that you might have to stand in line for a long time only to find out that there are no tickets left.

The best thing to do is to buy them online, by telephone or at the vending machines.

Please take note: Opening hours of the Alhambra depend on the type of visit.

What Are The Type of Tickets offered?

1. ALHAMBRA GENERAL ADMISSION

The Alhambra is a city surrounded by a large wall, with its buildings, streets, squares and gardens.

The General Alhambra visit allows access to all visitable spaces of the monument: 

  • Alcazaba 
  • Nasrid Palaces
  • Generalife
  • Palace of Charles V.

Additionally, at your discretion you will be able to visit the place designated “space of the month”, only if it appears on the itinerary of this type of ticket.

The visit to the palace of Charles V and the Alhambra Museum is free.

Below you will see the admission fee for this visit:

2. GARDENS, GENREALIFE AND ALCAZABA

Generalife is outside the walls of Alhambra, to the East, located at Cerro del Sol.

It is a country house, for leisure of Nasrid sultans, but also for farm use.

In the Middle Ages, it was made up of at least four plots and the palace, which vizier Ibn al-Yayyad called “Happiness Royal House”.

This ticket includes access to the following:

  • The promenade of the Cypress, Dryland, San Francisco Gardens.
  • Alcazaba: Jardín de los Adarves.
  • Partal: Palace porticoes, Gardens and Walks, Rauda, Yusuf III palace, The promenade of the towers.
  • Generalife Palace: Low Gardens y High Gardens (The court of the Main Canal, The Soultana’s Court y The water Stairway).
  • Carlos V Palace
  • Bath of the Mosque
  • Free visit to Carlos V Palace and Alhambra Museum.

Below you will see the admission fee for this visit:

3. NIGHT VISIT TO NASRID PALACES

The Dar al-Mamlaka forms what we know today as the Nasrid Palaces. The night visit allows the Nasrid Palaces to be discovered under special lighting conditions.

The night visit to the Nasrid Palaces does not allow access to the Generalife, as there is a specific night visit to discover this illuminated space, carried out at the same time.

During the night visit, visitors are asked not to use camera flashes, as this dazzles other visitors, causing disturbance and preventing the serene perception of the Nasrid Palaces.

This ticket includes access to the following:

  • Access pavilion
  • Carlos V Palace
  • Nasrid Palaces
  • The Gate of Justice (Access must be at the time indicated on the ticket)

Below you will see the admission fee for this visit:

4. NIGHT VISIT TO GARDENS AND GENERALIFE

The night visit to the Generalife allows the four areas into which one of the most beautiful places is divided.

The itinerary begins from the Entrance Pavilion and continues through the Promenade of the Cypress Trees, from which the Promenade of the Walnut Trees of the Generalife is accessed.

Through this walkway, the north area of the New Gardens or Lower Gardens of the Generalife is accessed, reaching the Palace of the Generalife. The exit is through this area.

During the night visit, visitors are asked not to use camera flashes, as this dazzles other visitors.

This ticket includes access to the following:

  • Access pavilion
  • Paseo de los Nogales of Generalife.
  • New Gardens o Generalife Palace Low Gardens.
  • Generalife palace.

Below you will see the admission fee for this visit:

5. DOBLA DE ORO GENERAL

A walk into the History between Alhambra and Albaicín.

Alhambra and Albaicín are now closer than ever.

They are connected by Dobla de Oro, a cultural and tourist itinerary what tries to inspire the narrow links between the oldest neighborhood of the city through the visit to six muslim monuments and Alhambra and Generalife, both of them recognized by Unesco as World Heritage.

This ticket includes access to the following:

  • Alhambra General Daytime visit (Nasrid Palaces, Generalife and Alcazaba) day and hour indicated on the ticket.
  • Bañuelo
  • Casa Morisca (Horno de Oro St.)
  • Dar al-Horra Palace, Chapíz House 
  • Zafra House. 

These five monuments could be visited for three days: the same day of your visit to Alhambra, the previous one and the next one.

Below you will see the admission fee for this visit:

6. DOBLA DE ORO AT NIGHT

This ticket includes access to the following:

  • Night visit to Nasrid Palaces -day and hour indicated on the ticket
  • Daytime visit to Bañuelo
  • Daytime visit to Casa Morisca (Horno de Oro St.) 
  • Daytime visit to Dar al-Horra Palace
  • Daytime visit to Chapíz House 
  • Daytime visit to Zafra House. 

These items no. 2 -6 monuments could be visited for three days: the same day of your visit to Alhambra, the previous one and the next one.

Below you will see the admission fee for this visit:

7. ENTRADA ALHAMBRA EXPERIENCES

This form of visit offers the possibility of combining the night visit to the illuminated Nasrid Palaces and the next day the day visit to the Alcazaba, Gardens and Palace of the Generalife on two consecutive days.

Additionally, at your discretion you will be able to visit the place designated “space of the month”, only if it appears on the itinerary of this type of ticket.

The visit to the palace of Charles V and the Alhambra Museum is free.

This ticket includes access to the following:

  • Nasrid Palacies
  • The Alcazaba
  • Jardines
  • Gardens of Generalife

Below you will see the admission fee for this visit:

8. ALHAMBRA AND RODRIGUEZ ACOSTA FOUNDATION COMBINED TOUR

On the hill where the Alhambra is located, a few metres from it, the Carmen of the Rodríguez-Acosta Foundation is located, one of the most unique buildings of its type in Spain.

The full duration of the visit is around 4 hours and 30 minutes (3 hours for the monument, 1 hour and 20 minutes for the Carmen of the Foundation, 15 minutes’ walk between both areas if they are visited on the same day), and we therefore advise that you plan the visit and combine the areas appropriately to enjoy them.

You can visit the Foundation on the same day as appears on the ticket or on the day following this date.

This ticket includes access to the following:

  • Alhambra: Alcazaba, Nasrid Palaces and Generalife, on the day and at the time indicated on the ticket. Space of the month only if it appears on the itinerary of this type of ticket.
  • The Foundation: The visit consists of a walk through the 5 levels of the building-studio and its gardens, designed by painter José María

The visit is organised every 30 minutes and in groups of no more than 25 people.

NOTICE: To visit the Carmen Fundación Rodriguez Acosta, you must request a specific time for the visit, by sending an email to visita@fundacionrodriguezacosta.com or calling during office hours (from 10:00 am to 14:00 pm) on the phone: +34 958 22 74 97. This reservation for the Fundación visit must be requested in advance.

Below you will see the admission fee for this visit:

9. ANDALUSI MONUMENTS

Albaicín is a white neighborhood spotted with vertical cypress and bell towers of the churches which were once mosques.

From Albaicín, in contrast, Alhambra appears as a dense forest over whose tree crowns Alcazaba, Nasrid Palaces and their towers stand up in saffron-colored.

This ticket includes daytime visits to four monuments located in Albacín, the oldest neighborhood of the city:

  • Corral del Carbón 
  • Bañuelo 
  • Casa Morisca (Horno de Oro St.) 
  • Dar al-Horra Palace.

All muslim monuments could be visited with the same tickets and unique price. Free entrance on Sundays.

Below you will see the admission fee for this visit:

Important Reminders to All the Visitors:

  • Tickets for children under 3 years old will be provided directly at the ticket office of the monument. 
  • Purchases with more than 3 minors will be made through Call Center +34 858 889 002.
  • It is mandatory to carry during the visit original identification document of all visitors.
  • Present original ID or passport at the entrances.
  • Carry the ticket with QR code in physical or digital format (including children under 12)
  • All minors must have a ticket (regardless of whether it is free).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are your thoughts about Alhambra? Do you have any questions or anything cool still to add on? We love to discuss travel so go ahead and fire away, there are no wrong comments!

15 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide to Alhambra

  1. Wow. That’s a super detailed guide. I’ve been wanting to go to Alhambra since ages, since I studied about its sculptural details in my art history classes. Thanks for the tip about online tickets for which we need ID card & bank card for collection. As you’ve mentioned I think I need to go twice, one at morning to see it all and again at night for the night lights.

    1. Absolutely, it is definitely worth checking it out twice but if you have to choose only one time. I’d say at night.

  2. This is a very detailed guide including the prices of admission (some find it vety important). I like that they give discounts for students and youth, and encourage them more to travel. I would love to visit Alhambra, after all it is in Spain, my country’s former motherland 🙂

  3. The Alhambra is still on my list. Once, I even had a sightseeing ticket. But a volcano erupted in Iceland, and flights in Europe were suspended. I have not recovered the money for the admission tickets. I have been to Spain many times since then, but I still haven’t reached the Alhambra. I have been to the Alcazar in Seville several times, which is beautiful also. And the Alhambra is even more impressive. Remarkably that this structure was built in the 1200s, it has an extremely turbulent history. You wrote an excellent, detailed guide. I will use it when I go to the Alhambra.

  4. Your post brought back such great memories. We almost passed on Granada and Alhambra after being robbed in Madrid. But we were so glad we did not. We loved that you could see Alhambra from so many spots around the city. We were there for the better part of a day and still did not have enough time to see everything. It would have been great to go back for a night visit.

  5. Loved the detailed guide with some great pictures and lots of history. Alhambra has made me curious. I have been to Spain but dint know about this aspect. It was good to learn that al-qala’a al-hamra means red fort or castle. Nasrid Palaces sound very interesting. Also, The type of tickets can be overwhelming but you made it easy to decide.

  6. I was able to watch a Korean drama that has shot in Alhambra and I have always been curious. The Palace of Charles V looks so grand and I would love to see this up close. Looking forward to visiting in the future. It is nice to know that there are a lot of ways on purchasing a ticket and that there are guided tours available.

  7. Alcazaba fortress is so lively that I love the look in the picture. The Palace of Charles V looks so majestic and would love to be there too. Nasrid Palaces are always thought to be beautiful with their Islamic sculptures on the walls, tiles and the elaborate carvings. This is such a wonderful guide that I would love to use when we happen to be there next time we are in Spain.

  8. Thank you for such a detailed post. I would love to visit Alhambra. I found Nasrid Palaces the most interesting from 12th Century. I would be very interested in exploring it in the night with special lights as so well differentiated by you. I can imagine how magnificent it will look. Well we always discover something new over the travel blogs and today I know which place to add to my travel list. Had never known about it before.

  9. This post is such a tease! I have been waiting to get to Granada and see these gorgeous palaces. I have heard so much about them. In fact, the plan was to get here in the summer of 2020 but well, looks like I was out of luck. However, I am keeping this post for my future …whenever that happens. You sure have shared some important travel tips about Alhambra. Thank you for it.

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