If you’re a fan of K-drama series Memories of the Alhambra, this palace and fortress complex will not be foreign to you.
Set in Granada and starring popular hallyu actors Hyun Bin and Park Shin Hye, this drama series traces their adventures in an augmented reality game where Hyun Bin fought with virtual enemies on his way out of the Alhambra Palace.
But even before its appearance in pop culture, the Alhambra is one of the top tourists sites in Spain. And it is not a surprise. The Alhambra’s grandeur and intricacies of its architecture is truly a sight to behold.
And its garden, the Generalife, is hands down the most beautiful garden I’ve seen in all my travels.
Here’s the catch: tickets to Alhambra are sold out months in advance, and planning your trip to Alhambra at the last minute visitors is highly not recommended!
With that, let’s dive straight into some Alhambra tips to make the most out of your journey to Granada, Spain.
Rising above the modern lower town, the Alhambra and the Albaycín, situated on two adjacent hills, form the medieval part of Granada.
- Getting tickets to Alhambra – How to buy Alhambra tickets
- Visiting Alhambra, Spain – What to see in Alhambra?
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- 1. Mercado San Agustin
- 2. Christmas Market
- 3. Medieval Market
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Getting tickets to Alhambra – How to buy Alhambra tickets
If you want to explore Alhambra free and easy, here’s how you can get your hands on the tickets without a guide.
The recommended way to buy tickets to Alhambra is through their online official website. Tickets can be bought 2 hours to 4 months in advance.
However, I highly recommend booking your tickets to Alhambra as far as 90 days in advance to avoid disappointment. Yes, you read that right – 90 days!
This means that you should probably secure your flights and accommodations after you’ve managed to get tickets to Alhambra.
If you’ve already booked your flights and accommodations, and didn’t manage to get the tickets to Alhambra, fret not – there are still 2 ways you can get your hands on the tickets:
1. Book on the spot and get Alhambra tickets on the day
Wake up at 5am to queue at the ticket office when it opens at 8am. Even before daybreak, hundreds of people are already in queue at the Alhambra. Stay warm with a cup of coffee, and have a book to camp at the Alhambra ticket office.
TIP: Book an Airbnb close to Alhambra so it makes getting up and there easier!
2. Opt for an official guided tour
The safest and best way to visit Alhambra is to get your tickets in advance through official guided tours (albeit at a more expensive price), like the ones below:
General admission (Alhambra + Gardens): 15,40 € Gardens only: 6,00 € Children under 12 years old and disabled: free. Over 65 years: 7,00 € Opening hours vary depending on the time of the year that you visit and if you get the day or night pass. Detailed opening hours can be found here.
Visiting Alhambra, Spain – What to see in Alhambra?
To the east of the Alhambra fortress and residence is the magnificent gardens of the Generalife, the former rural residence of the emirs who ruled this part of Spain in the 13th and 14th centuries.
The Generalife (aka the garden) was built between the 12th and 14th century to be the recreation area for the Kings of Granada.
Of all the gardens I’ve visited around Europe, this expansive gardens at Alhambra has got to be my favourite one of all. Especially so when come springtime, the flowers are an explosion of colours.
The gardens are so intricately groomed that almost every spot was picturesque.
We were amazed to see orange trees with so many blossoming oranges at Alhambra. It is so commonly found around Granada. We wondered why nobody plucks them for consumption. To satisfy our curiosity, WL and I decided to experiment it on ourselves. Only then did we know why the locals don’t steal those oranges – they are SOUR. :/
Watching the expert very delicately carving designs out of thin strips of wood.
Whitewashed houses under brown-tiled roofs dotted with brown-black windows are a common theme across the Albaycín district of Granada. It is this beauty, along with the small streets of the old Moorish town, that has Granada captivating me.
The residential district of the Albaycín is a rich blend of Moorish vernacular architecture, with traditional Andalusian architecture blending harmoniously in.
Those who come to Granada will not miss Alhambra. There are long queues every single morning just to get into this attraction with tickets online almost always sold out. Don’t bother going to get tickets at Alhambra pass 10am. It would have been sold out by then.
Recommended duration in Alhambra and Generalife: 3 hours
Alhambra Farmers Market
Aside from the Alhambra Palace, here are 3 farmers market in Granada highly worth checking out!
1. Mercado San Agustin
Known as Granada’s best food market, you can find meat, fruit, vegetables, olive oils, cheeses, and wines stalls at Mercado San Agustin. While doing your grocery shopping, stop by some of the neighbouring tapas joints and enjoy some snacks and drinks.
2. Christmas Market
Every December, Plaza de Bib-Rambla would transform into a Christmas wonderland with various stalls selling wood carvings, traditional sweets and cakes, handmade jewellery and leather goods, as well as various toys and souvenirs with a Christmas theme.
While you’re there, look out for the huge Christmas tree at the plaza’s center.
3. Medieval Market
The Medieval Market is held every summer (usually in July, but check local media for details) on Plaza de Bib-Rambla, you can find enormous BBQs and several spit-roasts on which entire hogs slowly rotate.
To top it off, store owners dress up in medieval outfits to add to the atmosphere.
For a true Alhambra experience, stay in Hotel Alhambra Palace, the oldest five star hotel in Spain. Hotel Alhambra was built in 1910, and its architecture is inspired by the Alhambra Palace.
Amongst the things to do in Spain, Alhambra and Generalife are attractions you can’t miss when you’re in Granada! Do plan your trip in advance and grab your tickets to the Alhambra to avoid disappointment.