Visiting the Alhambra in Granada, Spain
One of the places we were looking forward to the most to visit in Spain was the Alhambra. Initially constructed as a small fortress on the foothills of Granada, it ended up being renovated and used as a residential palace for a Yusuf I, the Sultan of Granada. Being from the town of Alhambra, California, my high school Mascot were the Moors. I was more than familiar with its history about how the Moors occupied Spain and intrigued about where we got our name from.
We flew from Barcelona to Granada, about an hour away, and arrived in the afternoon just in time to get a glimpse of lively city as the sun began to set.
Prior to arriving, we didn’t realize the Alhambra was such a hot ticket to purchase and all the online pre orders were all sold out. There is also a set limit of tickets sold per day, so we had to wake up extra early the next morning to try to purchase tickets.
It is possible to take a bus from the historic center up to the Alhambra, however, the bus doesn’t start running until 7AM, so we opted to take the uphill climb as we didn’t want to risk not being able to get tickets.
As we made our walk up from the main city to the foothills of the Alhambra, we saw some people still partying from the night before. Apparently, the town of Granada is a big party town and people don’t end their night till the sun comes up.
The climb up was a little steep at some areas, but it provided great views and it was very pleasant and serene.
Arriving at 6:45AM to the front gates, there was already a line of about 70 people sitting outside forming a line as if they were camping out for concert tickets.
We reluctantly walked to the end of the line hoping that we would be able to still get tickets. About an hour later, I noticed another line forming on the other right side of the gate. I remembered reading about a credit card only kiosk line that was a lot faster. I asked Tiff to stay in line while I went to stand in the other one.
At 8:00, when the ticket counters opened, the credit card line moved extremely quick and I was able to get tickets. The people who were in the front of the main line were visibly upset and there were a good 50 people still ahead of Tiff by the time I grabbed her out of line with our tickets in hand.
Alhambra Tickets: Pre purchase your tickets beforehand to avoid the lines. If you are unable to pre purchase tickets, you'll have to hike up from the historic town or grab a taxi to line up for tickets. Once you get there, line up past the main line, on the right side of the main ticketing building, where there is a credit card machine. Make sure to also use a credit card with no foreign transaction fees to avoid any additional fees.Two Peas Travel Tip
The tickets to the Alhambra is scheduled either for the morning or the afternoon. In addition, since the main palace, Nasrid’s Palace gets really busy, that is also scheduled for visitors to arrive in a specific time slot. We were able to get the morning ticket with our Nasrid’s Palace scheduled for 10AM which was perfect.
The Alhambra is not only a fortress but the surrounding walls protect many building complexes that were built throughout Spain’s history. We decided to first start at the General Life Palace. The walk up to the General Life Palace included some beautifully manicured landscaping.
The General Life Palace was used as a summer palace and was redecorated multiple times in the past. It had some really beautiful water gardens and courtyards to roam around through.
Walking around the palace felt like we traveled back in time of the Moors. Everything was decorated beautifully even some really unique floor mosaic pebbles we walked over.
The selfie epidemic was in full swing while we were there so we caught this amazing photo of these Korean women taking advantage of their selfie sticks.
We continued to make our way to Nasrid Palace to make sure we arrived on time. The complex houses many buildings and courtyards which were the actual living quarters for the kings of Granada. Attention to detail here was even more intense.
The walls and ceilings were decorated in beautiful Islamic motifs.
We continued to the inner courtyard to the court of Lions which is one of the most popular areas in the Alhambra.
Probably the most beautiful portion of all of the Alhambra were these magnificent columns surrounding the courtyard
As we exited Nasrid Palace we were met again with some more beauty.
From Nasrid’s Palaces, we moved towards the Alcazaba. This is the oldest part of the Alhambra and is a military complex with large towers which provided some excellent views of Granada below.
Walking back to the front of the gate, we passed some perfectly manicured gardens and quaint buildings. It’s really surprising as the entire time we were there, we did not see a single gardener on sight. Do they work at night? How was such a large complex so impeccably manicured? They obviously have a very talented team, as the gardens are picture perfect. Tiff loved the place and kept referring it to The Secret Garden and Alice in Wonderland.
The visit to the Alhambra worked up our appetite and we were hungry for some Spanish tapas. We stopped by a local tapas restaurant for lunch which had a great deal on a sampler platter.
The great thing about eating tapas in Granada is that it is one of the few cities in Spain that still offer a free tapa with each drink you order. We had some nice cervezas and our waiter gave us a free tapa!
Our time in Granada would not be complete without some traditional Spanish churros. Apparently, churros are eaten by the Spanish for breakfast. We are used to treating it as a dessert and was able to find a cafe serving churros at night.
Nice and fluffy, they were definitely a great ending to the short time we had in Granada.
We had a wonderful time visiting the Alhambra and it is definitely worth a trip if you have time when visiting Spain. We were in awe with its beautifully decorated courtyards, gardens, and architecture. It was definitely a highlight of our time in Spain and was nice to see where my hometown was named after.