Granada is a unique city that features colorful neighborhoods, a thriving tapa scene, and endless historic sites. Yet, there is one place that brings visitors back time and time again! The Alhambra de Granada is one of Spain’s most impressive castles, and it perfectly exemplifies the mix of cultures and kingdoms that have passed through this region. Join our one day guide as we take you on a photo tour of the castle, the Generalife gardens, and show you how to buy tickets for the Alhambra Granada in Spain.
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Quick History of the Alhambra de Granada
The Alhambra was first built as a palace by the Nasrid Dynasty in the mid-13th century. Its military additions and high fortress walls made it an essential part of the defense of the city.
Over the next few hundred years, it went through countless renovations, growing in size and importance with each new ruler. The most notable transition of power was when the Catholic Monarchs took over in 1492 after 700 years of Islamic rule. They would go on to add their own special features while still keeping much of the beautiful architecture they had captured.
These days, it’s a huge tourist attraction filled with some of the most beautiful Arabic architecture in the world. Due to the color of the architecture and its setting in the mountains, the castle in Granada Spain was dubbed “A Pearl Set in Emeralds” by Moorish Poets.
One Day at the Alhambra Granada Spain
Due to its immaculate size, you can literally spend an entire afternoon at the Alhambra de Granada! There is so much to see and do inside this massive fortress that you would be doing yourself a disservice not to explore it all.
For the best experience, you’ll want to pick the nicest day weather-wise of your trip. Also, avoid weekends in the summer and major holidays to enjoy it with fewer crowds.
No matter when you visit the Alhambra Granada in Spain, you’re sure to have an amazing time!
Buying Tickets for Alhambra Granada
You can purchase your Alhambra tickets directly at the entry gates, or skip the line and buy them online.
Confused about what tickets to get?
You’ll want to make sure your Alhambra tickets include entrance to Generalife, Palacios Nazaries, and Alcazaba. There is also a general area where you can visit that you don’t need a ticket for.
To enter these specific areas of the Alhambra de Granada you will have to scan a mobile ticket as well as your passport (or Spanish ID card) which is linked to your purchase.
The Palacios Nazaries is the only place that has a specific time because only a certain amount of people are allowed to enter at once. Don’t miss your time slot! If you do you’ll be out of luck to see one of the most unique parts of the Alhambra Granada.
We highly recommend booking your tickets as soon as you know the date that you’re visiting the Alhambra de Granada! That way you can confirm your entrance time, book the tickets, and explore on your own or visit with a guide.
If you are interested in learning about the history you can join a small group or even take a private tour.
Getting to the Alhambra de Granada
There are a few different ways to get to the Alhambra Granada, but we recommend walking from the city center but know it is slightly uphill. If you head towards Bar Los Diamantes it is located on the corner of Cta De Gomez. This street will talk you to the entrance of the Alhambra and the Puerta de la Justicia.
Meeting a tour guide or still need to buy tickets? You will have to go to the main entrance which is a slightly further walk. There are also buses that leave regularly from the city center and drop you at the entrance to the castle in Granada Spain.
What to See at Alhambra Granada Spain
Water of Palacios Nazaries
We planned our visit to the Alhambra de Granada by having our first stop be the Palacios Nazaries! This is where you need to have a set time to enter. We noticed that people started to line up early for our scheduled time so we hopped in line and waited.
Once you are inside you don’t have time restrictions. However, it’s good to be at the start of the line so there aren’t 50 people in front of you while you explore.
The Palacios Nazaries were the living quarters for the great kings of Granada. As you can see, water plays an important part in the overall architecture and design. Symbolizing purity, fresh flowing water is in almost every room of the palace.
You see this from the courtyards to the gardens, and even small waterways built into rooms. Water is everywhere in this section of the castle in Granada Spain! Needless to say, you can get lost in the beauty of this extremely detailed oasis.
Walls of the Palacios Nazaries
The unreal display of water is not the only thing to admire while visiting the Palacios Nazaries. The design of the walls and artwork used while making every inch of this place is mind-blowing. Every small detail and pattern were taken into account and displayed flawlessly.
After visiting the Palacios Nazaries head across the courtyard to Alcazaba. The military portion is said to be the oldest section of Alhambra Granada in Spain and is one of the most well-recognized parts for visitors.
The famous watchtower plays host to a perfect view of the city and beyond, which is why it was a vital point for the defense of Granada. There are different staircases that lead to viewing platforms showcasing spectacular views of the city and mountains.
At the far end of the Alcazaba is a small tower that has hands down the best view in Granada. This is one spot not to miss!
This lush and beautiful third section of Alhambra is called Generalife, meaning “Garden of the Architect.” The elaborate series of trees and flowers make up one of the oldest Moorish gardens in the world.
This summer palace is completely surrounded by nature and beauty. We visited it last on our day of exploring. However, if we did it again we would have made this our first stop.
Quick Tips for Visiting Alhambra Granada
Food: Since you’re likely to be spending all day at Alhambra Granada in Spain, you are bound to get hungry! We recommend bringing your own food and eating it in one of the many courtyards. If you forget or didn’t bring anything there are some small snack shops that sell basic sandwiches.
Drinks: Our personal favorite spot for a drink was in the Plaza de los Aljibes de la Alhambra. Here you can grab a glass of wine for under 2 Euros (yes you read that right!) and take in the views over the city.
Summer: In the popular summer months book your tickets or set your guided tour well in advance. As one of the most famous monuments in Spain, Alhambra tickets can sell out fast.
View: The best view of the Alhambra de Granada is actually across the city! Don’t leave town without taking in a sunset from Plaza de San Nicolás!
Have any questions on this one day guide or want to share your own favorite places inside the Alhambra Granada in Spain? Leave us a comment below!
Brigitte & Jake
Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar!
Where to Stay in Granada Spain
Ultra Luxury – Alhambra Palace – Located just outside the Alhambra walls, this luxury hotel has incredible views of the city and Sierra Nevada mountains! Enjoy the Moorish style decor while being just steps from the famous castle.
Fun Vacation – Hotel Casa 1800 Granada – In the heart of the Albaicin district, this beautiful property is the perfect spot to stay in Granada. Next to many incredible landmarks with comfortable rooms and amenities.
Central Hotel – NH Collection Victoria – Amazing 19th-century accommodation in the historic center. Walking distance to the Cathedral, Alcaiceria Market, and other major attractions.
Hostel Stay – Toc Hostel Granada – Awesome hostel to explore the city of Granada from. Make friends at the bar and shared lounge before sightseeing in one of Spain’s best cities.
For more places to stay in Granada Spain you can explore the latest prices here!
Spain Travel Planning
Flights: We always find the best flights using Skyscanner. Sometimes it’s cheaper to fly between cities in Spain than driving or taking the train!
Rental Car: We use Discover Cars to explore when traveling. Consider renting a car in one city and dropping it off in another for an epic Spain road trip!
Tours: Check out Get Your Guide for thousands of activities around Spain. You can book a tour of the Madrid Royal Palace, skip the line and explore the Alhambra de Granada, or even jump on a Tenerife Dolphin cruise!
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without protection! We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.
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