Make sure to buy your skip-the-line tickets online before your visit!
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Admission time slots
There are two main sessions for visiting Alhambra: either in the morning (08:30–14:00) or in the afternoon (14:00–18:00 from mid-October to mid-March, 14:00 – 20:00 from mid-March to mid-October).
The entry time, for the Nasrid Palaces, is indicated on your ticket. You’ll need to chose while booking the ticket: it is the main limitation for your visit. You need to be there at this time, otherwise you won’t be able to enter.
You need to be at the entrance of Alhambra about an hour before the indicated time: the area is big, it will take you about half an hour to get to the Palaces.
Other than that, you’re free to enter Alhambra at any time during your time slot: however, remember that getting your ticket (even the pre-booked one) may take time as it’s one of the most visited tourist attractions in Spain and long waiting lines at the ticket office are very common.
Other than the morning and afternoon sessions, you can also join the evening visit:
There are two kinds: one around the Nasrid Palaces and another around the Gardens. These visits are independent and incompatible (as they take place at the same time). During winter opening hours they take place only 2 days a week (Fridays and Saturdays), leaving at 20:00. They usually leave at 22:00 during summer opening hours (note that the Gardens evening visit is not available during the summer). They have a duration of 1.5 hours.
Getting your tickets
Due to the high demand of tickets and the restriction of the number of visitors per day, advance booking is recommended. There are several options to get your ticket:
1) We recommend you book it online. Think to book in advance, as booking a couple of days before the visit might be too late: even in low season there are usually no remaining tickets for the upcoming weekend. After booking you’ll get the reference number and you’ll have to go to Alhambra’s ticket office upon arrival to pick up your tickets (either in an ATM-like machine in the case of a full-rate ticket or at the ticket desk if you have a reduced rate you’ll have to provide proof of your right). You can also get your pre-booked full-rate ticket at the Ticketmaster machine in the Alhambra shop (see below): in this case you won’t need to go all the way to the top entrance of the Alhambra to get in and can use another gate which is closer to the Palaces.
2) You can buy your ticket at the Tienda de la Alhambra (Alhambra Shop) on Calle Reyes Católicos nº 40, in Granada’s city center.
3) You can also book your tickets by phone: call 902 88 80 01 from Spain or +34 958 926 031 from abroad. To get them - you’ll need to go to the ticket office at the main entrance on the day of your visit.
4) Most La Caixa Bank ATMs will let you buy the Alhambra ticket.
5) If you stay at a hotel - try to ask the receptionist, maybe they have some available tickets or can book them for you!
6) Joining a guided tour will guarantee you a ticket and you won’t need to worry about booking it or getting your pre-booked ticket. However, it’s always more expensive and groups tend to arrive right at peak hours (put it another way - they always create them).
7) The way to guarantee entrance when there are no remaining tickets on the Ticketmaster website is to purchase the Bono Turístico Granada Card. It has its own quota of Alhambra tickets. It will however, cost you more: 33,50 € for the 3-day card but definitely worth it if you don’t want to take the risk of missing Alhambra due to the lack of tickets available.
8) You can buy tickets at the Alhambra ticket office on the day of your visit. This can be very risky as often there are no tickets left for the day (especially from April to June). If this is the only option for you - then think of coming very early: when the ticket office opens its doors at 8:00 there is already a significant queue!
Morning slot or afternoon slot?
First, since you will need to choose between these two options - consider the difference in duration. While the morning session lasts 5,5 hours (8:30-14:00) throughout the year, the afternoon one is either 4 hours (14:00-18:00 from mid-October to mid-March) or 6 hours (14:00-20:00 from mid-March to mid-October). That means you’ll have more time to visit Alhambra if coming in the morning during the winter opening hours and in the afternoon if you’re coming in spring, summer or early fall.
Secondly, you should consider the month and weather: it’s not rare to have temperatures of 40°C in August. It may be unbearable to stay under the sun at 2pm. At the same time if you arrive later in your afternoon slot - you may not be able to see everything you planned to see. Therefore we suggest taking the morning slot, arriving at the opening time, exploring the Gardens before the heat, then seeing the Palaces and other sites that are of interest to you.
Peak hours and days
Aside from the limited capacity and number of tickets per day, there are some factors that influence visitors’ flow, that help us identify the peak hours.
The average visit lasts about 2-3 hours.
Most visitors in the morning session enter around 10:00-11:00 (earlier in high season to avoid heat). Most group tours also arrive after 10:00. Coming at the opening time will let you skip the queue as well as crowds inside.
An average visit lasts 2-3 hours, so you can expect less people after 12:00-12:30: many leave Alhambra for lunch.
Peak hours for the Nasrid Palaces: entry in the morning session are mostly from 10:00 to 12:00. If you’re not booking your ticket well in advance - be prepared to have one of the first or one of the last entrance time slots - 13:30 is the least popular entrance time.
During the afternoon session most visitors enter when the gates open or soon after: peak hours are from 14:00 to 16:00.
The Palaces’ visit during the afternoon session is mostly scheduled either as first-thing in Alhambra (14:30-15:00) or the last thing before leaving the complex (Nasrid Palaces’ entry between 16:00-16:30).
After 16:30 there are few people left during winter working hours.
Sunset time is very popular when Alhambra is open until 20:00 (March-October), though right after it gets dark most tourists leave the site.
Saturday is the busiest day of the week.
In low season there are less people on the morning session than in the afternoon one.
Avoid visiting during public holidays, school holidays and well-known festivals taking place in the city. Religious festivals (like Celebration of the Crosses of May, on the 3 May, Celebrations of Corpus Christi, in early June) as well as the annual International Festival of Music and Dance held in June or July always bringing crowds to the city, and therefore to Alhambra.
Queue for the Palace - photo credits to Weldon Kennedy via Flickr
Tips for your visit
There are four main places to visit with your general ticket: Alcazaba, Nasrid Palaces, Partal and Generalife. You should bear in mind that there is a specific time to access to the Nasrid Palaces, but you have the rest of your time to see the remaining three. This doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to stay in Alhambra when your morning slot is over: you just won’t be able to access those parts where tickets are required. Other Alhambra sights will remain that you can access without tickets: for example, the museums in the Carlos V Palace are non-ticketed areas (NB: closed on Mondays).
If you have a ticket - it is recommended you access the complex through the Gate of Justice (Puerta de la Justicia). It will be faster and much closer to Alcazaba, Nasrid Palaces and Partal, and there aren’t any huge queues like the ones often present at the main entrance!
The last entrance is one hour before closing time. If your visit of the Nasrid Palaces is in the last time slot of the day, you should visit the Generalife and the Alcazaba before, because the tour of the Palaces lasts at least half an hour.
Your Alhambra Itinerary
Most visitors follow the same route : starting from the Main Entrance, they cross the area to visit Alcazaba first, then go to Nasrid Palaces and Partal (or first Partal and then Nasrid Palaces if the time slot for the Palaces allows) and leave Generalife for the end of their itinerary (which is understandable, it’s quite far from other parts of the complex and quite close to the entrance).
If you have your ticket on hand and were able to book the Nasrid Palaces’ 9:30 entrance slot - you’re very lucky, as you can follow the same typical itinerary ahead of others: just use the Gate of Justice to enter Alhambra at the opening and head to Alcazaba: you’ll have about half an hour before the first early birds from the main entrance reach the spot - and you’ll already be heading to the next one!
Or, if you need to grab your pre-booked ticket at the main entrance and your Nasrid Palaces’ time slot is quite far ahead, you can do the tour in inverse order, starting from Generalife (a good idea during hot summers would be not to leave it for midday), then head to the other three main sites and see them in whatever order you choose depending on your Palaces’ entrance time.
Queue to exit Alhambra - photo credits to Lars Plougmann via Flickr
Lines C3 (Alhambra - Plaza Isabel La Católica) and C4 (Barranco del Abogado - Cementerio - Plaza Isabel la Católica)
The Alhambra car park is open 24 hrs and costs about 2.50€ / hour for cars, daily maximum 18€. From the car park it’s a five-minute walk to the ticket office and main entrance.
By foot :
Cuesta Gómez (from Plaza Nueva)
Cuesta del Realejo (from plaza del Realejo)
Cuesta de los Chinos (from Paseo de los Tristes)
Photo credits to Patronato de la Alhambra y el Generalife