The Alhambra is a huge complex that sits on top of a rocky outcropping overlooking the city of Granada. The Nasrid Palace is the most popular and, personally, most beautiful part of the Alhambra, but has some very specific rules about visiting. Some of these tips we learned first hand and others came from friends of ours who happened to visit a few months before our trip.
Either way this post can save you a lot of headache and money if you read before you go!
If you Buy through a Third Party (not recommended!)
A friend of ours recently went to the Alhambra and bought tickets through a third-party travel agency. They got a little screwed over in the process so if you are planning on visiting the Alhambra through a third party, here are some things to keep in mind!
1. Bring Your Passport
All members had to match their passport information with the tickets on hand and they had to bring their original passports. I know I do not usually walk around foreign cities with my passport so make sure to ask ahead about this so you do not get turned away.
2. Everyone in your Group Must Be There
Again, if you are going group ticket sales everyone must be present. This part is what really screwed over our friend: one person in his group did not show up and therefore he was not allowed inside the Nasrid Palace but his wife was (the company bought her ticket in another group batch). Man I would have been furious! He was able to walk around the rest of the Alhambra though while he waited. Check your third-party’s group policy for this!
If you are Buying your Own Tickets (recommended!)
When I heard what happened to our friends I was so terrified of not being allowed in to the Nasrid Palace! What if something went wrong!? What if I misread the directions!? However none of that happened and we had a gloriously easy time getting through. So my overall advice it to buy your ticket yourself, it’ll save you some serious headache.
1. Print or Pick up you Tickets Early
I printed out our tickets at home but I thought that I still had to go to the ticket machine to physically print out an “official” ticket (because all the guidebooks said so). Apparently not but hey, it didn’t hurt! There are two places to print out your tickets (if you do not do so at home): at the main gate and at the Corral del Carbon. I suggest picking up your tickets earlier in the day or week at the Corral del Carbon which also happens to something cool to see also. The lines are much longer at the main gate of the Alhambra and the machines at the Corral are hidden away so no one knows they’re there (except now for you!). Just walk around the interior of the Corral and you will see a little room with two ticket machines and voila, you can print them out!
Read more: Travel Tips: Buying Alhambra Tickets
2. Decide on a Plan
Make sure you plan your day around the time printed to enter into the Nasrid Palace, you have a 30 minute window from that time to enter. I, personally, don’t like cutting it close so I planned to arrive at the entrance 10 minutes before my window started. That guaranteed I was one of the first people in! The walk up to the Gate of Justice (the closest gate to the Nasrid Palace & closest to the city below) is a little steep so be sure to plan some extra time for the hike up.
You can decide to see the gardens and the rest of the Alhambra either before or after your visit to the Nasrid Palace. Personally I would try to schedule to see the gardens afterwards, that way you’re not constantly checking your watch and can actually enjoy the rest of the site. By the way, once you enter into the Nasrid Palace you cannot re-enter so make sure you do your due diligence the first time around and do not exist until you have everyone in your party with you and you are ready to go.
3. Research Ahead of Time
If you are not traveling with a group, you will be without a tour guide. There is really no posted signage in the Nasrid Palace so if you are one of those people who likes to know what each of the rooms were for and etc. I would pick up a tour book or bring along your Rick Steves’ guide. Personally, I was in the Nasrid Palace to see its aesthetic beauty but I eavesdropped on a few different tours as they passed for tidbits. 🙂
All in all our afternoon at the Alhambra was perfect and totally not as stressful as I feared but it’s always good to be aware of possible pitfalls when visiting famous monuments abroad.
P.S. Funny enough Will and I actually liked the Alcazar in Seville way more than the Alhambra; I wonder if it is because we weren’t so stressed about it that it was a better experience overall. Enjoy!