Back in eleventh grade Spanish class, one of our assignments was to give a presentation on the top five places we would like to travel in Spain. My number one was the Alhambra, a royal palace and fortress in Granada known for its impressive Moorish architecture.
During my brief visit to Spain while studying abroad in 2003, I did not make it to the Alhambra, and vowed to someday return. Twelve years later it finally happened!
First, a quick tip for anyone looking to visit the Alhambra — you may buy your tickets from Ticketmaster about three months in advance, and it is highly recommended that you purchase as early as possible to guarantee your specific date and entry time. Because it turns out that the Alhambra is like going to freaking Disney World. It’s crazy popular and they sell out almost every day. Not only do you need to schedule a general entry time (either morning or afternoon) but you need to pick the specific hour you will see the Nasrid Palaces — and you may only visit during that specific time slot, so if you miss it, you’re out of luck.
I had originally slotted my visit to the Alhambra for September 8th, but by the time I realized I needed to book ahead, they were already sold out for that day and I had no choice but to cut my time in Madrid short to get to Granada by the 7th. And if you buy your ticket at the last minute like I did (about three weeks before my anticipated arrival), you’ll get stuck with arguably the worst time slot of the day — an afternoon entry time, with the very last slot of the day to visit the Palaces (7pm at that time of the year). Supposedly the “best” time to schedule your visit is first thing in the morning, with the very first time slot available for the Palaces (8:30am). But honestly, it all worked out for me; I’d argue that there is no bad time of day to visit the Alhambra. I enjoyed every moment of meandering through the grounds and taking it all in.
A few more tips: wear good footwear and prepare to spend 6 hours or so walking around. And consider sneaking in your own snacks, as food options inside are limited to an expensive restaurant or an outdoor kiosk bar offering drinks and treats.
For the purposes of sharing my Alhambra experience, I’ll split the photos into two posts — first, general Alhambra photos (the Alcazaba, Generalife, Carlos V Palace, Public baths and the Mosque), and then a post of photos exclusively from Nasrid Palaces.
I think there may be options for a guided tour or at least an audio guide, but I was more content to move at my own pace and soak it up with my camera instead of exploring in a more structured away. Of course that meant I walked around the Alhambra with very little context for what I was seeing, treating it more as a photo exercise in search of creative shots. Then at night, I browsed through a guidebook at the guesthouse where I was staying to pick up more info on its history and the specific architectural features I’d seen earlier that day.
So I’m going to simply present my photos with no additional commentary — I hope you will agree that the Alhambra is indeed a treat for the eyes. Enjoy!