Built on a hill overlooking Granada and set against a backdrop of the Sierra Nevada, the Alhambra is a sprawling complex of intricately decorated palaces, pristine gardens, and a once-mighty fortress. This UNESCO World Heritage site was constructed during the Nasrid Dynasty and later partially destroyed and rebuilt by King Charles V. With its mix of Renaissance and Moorish architecture, the Alhambra Palace is the most sought-after attraction for visitors to Granada, sitting high on most must-see lists for Andalucia and Spain as a whole.
The Alhambra is broken up into sections: the Generalife Gardens (a collection of courtyards, pools, and fountains); the Alcazaba (the remainders of a Moorish fortress); and the Nasrid Palace (the main palace complex). If visiting on your own, choose from four official ticket types that include access to various areas at different times. Or, opt for a guided tour or private tour to remove some guesswork and gain insights from a local tour guide. No matter how you visit, book early, as the number of daily visitors is limited and tours and tickets sell out fast.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Alhambra is incredibly popular, so be prepared to wait in line, even to pick up pre-booked tickets. Choosing a tour with skip-the-line entry will help maximize your time.
- Visitors with disabilities should visit the Entrance Pavilion for information about accessibility. Wheelchairs are available.
- The complex has four restrooms: in the Entrance Pavilion (near the ticket office), the Pavilion of Services, the Low Gardens, and the Sultana's Court.
How to Get to the Alhambra
Some visitors walk up to the Alhambra on one of the scenic routes from the city center. These paths are on a bit of an incline, but many believe the views are worth the slight workout. Those who would rather rest their legs can take a bus or taxi, or drive up independently (note that parking spaces are limited). Most guided Alhambra tours include round-trip transport from downtown Granada or from nearby cities such as Seville and Malaga.
When to Get There
The Alhambra is open year round, with varied hours based on the season and day of the week. Much of your visit will be outside, so dress for the weather and wear comfortable walking shoes. If you're visiting during the summer months, try to go at the earliest or latest available time slots to avoid the biggest crowds.
How to Choose Between a Night Visit and Day Visit to the Alhambra
The Alhambra is beautiful at all hours, so this is a matter of preference. Day tours are most common, but on a night tour, you get the unique experience of seeing the incredible site lit up against the dark sky. Visitors should note, however, that night tickets are separated between Nasrid Palace only or gardens only and cannot be combined. If you want to see both, choose a morning tour or afternoon tour.