Before I made the trip to Andalucia, I did some research and asked around for tips from friends whom have been there. One of the most valuable tips I received was from my BPGHS senior, Hafiz, who told me to purchase my tickets to the Alhambra early. (Hafiz, if you’re reading this, hello and thank you! (: )
Alhambra is a popular tourist attraction in Granada, amongst Muslims and non-Muslims alike, and the ticket conundrum is something oft-mentioned in the hostel I was staying in.
The number of visitors to the Alhambra is restricted to 6600 people each day, with just 300 every half-hour to the Nasrid Palaces. Tickets are bought based on 2 slots: morning or afternoon. The opening hours are
Morning: from 8:30 am to 02.00 pm
- from March 15 to October14 from 02.00 pm to 08.00 pm
- from October15 to March 14 from 02.00 pm to 06.00 pm
* Admission for children under 12 is free but tickets must be purchased at the same time as the others.
Two thirds of the tickets can be bought up to three months ahead online through this link or Caixa bank and printed out from Caixa machines in town, or in person at the Alhambra entrance. Book well ahead, especially during peak seasons – tickets get sold out days in advance!
Even when the tickets are sold out online, you can try your luck and buy it in person at the entrance. Try to get there when the office opens at 8am (or even earlier at 7.30am) so the probability of getting tickets is higher.
There are also night visits (Friday and Saturday; winter 8pm-9.30pm, summer 10pm-11.30pm), but you can’t see both the Nasrid palaces and the Generalife, which to be honest, are the best places in the complex.
I would personally recommend visiting during spring, when there are bright, sunny days and the place is scented with orange blossom. Summer is exceptionally hot in Spain so I’d try to stay away and the days in winter are too short. Spring is ideal. 🙂
It is important to note that entry to the Nasrid Palaces is timed. If you buy tickets well in advance, you’ll get to choose the time slot to enter. More on this in the Nasrid Palaces entry, inshaAllah. (:
I’d booked my ticket about a week in advance, choosing the afternoon slot because a) I’m not a morning person and b) I prefer the afternoon sun and the possibility to see the sunset in the Alhambra.
You can choose to either hike up the hill or take a bus/taxi to the top. I chose the former. I was so excited to find out that the hostel I was staying in was just 5 minutes away from the base of the Alhambra! In fact, that particular route near to the hostel was said to be the more beautiful and historically interesting of two paths.
There were quite a few gelato shops at the base of hill so I obviously took the chance. Oh boy, was I glad I had the ice-cream to cool me down during the hike up! It was a good 20 mins hike, if I remember correctly!
There were many souvenier shops and flamenco bars along the street leading up the entrance but I was more fascinated with the balconies, windows and the winding roads. I just love the streets in Andalucia! So much character.
Like I mentioned in this entry, water is a central feature of Islamic architecture and the Alhambra provides testimony for that. At this very avenue already, there were 2 gushing streams of water transporting water and cooling the air.
Without shame, I’ll tell you that I stood in the middle of this avenue for a good 5 minutes and just… be.
I ignored all the other people walking around me and went into a state of meditation. The sound of water gushing, birds chirping, leaves rustling… It was absolutely divine, otherworldly even. Walking up from the busy streets of Plaza Nuevo, it was like I stepped into another realm.
I didn’t video it while hiking up but I did capture bits of the atmosphere as I was heading back down. Still pretty darn magical, I’d say, especially with the setting sun! This video doesn’t capture even half of the magic!
Just the very entrance of it got me into such a state of spiritual awakening. I knew then that the entire day will be filled with moments of enlightenment and trust me, I was between being excited and (slightly) scared of what I was going to find out.
I arrived at the top in good time and with perfect weather.
The gardens were in bloom and everything felt fresh!
It was to be a great day.