Visiting the Alhambra in Granada, Spain

Going to Granada Spain? Here’s a guide to all the best things to do in Granada PLUS everything you need to know about visiting the Alhambra. Use our Granada Spain travel guide to make sure you don’t miss any of the best things to do in Granada!

Sunset view of the Alhambra from Mirador San Nicolás in Granada Spain

The Alhambra

The Alhambra in Granada Spain is a massive palace and fortress complex, and certainly one of Spain’s most significant historical landmarks. It was once the Royal Court of Ferdinand and Isabella, and also the site where Christopher Columbus received approval for his expedition!

The Alhambra in Granada Spain

It started in the year 889, when a small fortress was constructed on the remains of former Roman ruins.

Ceiling at the Alhambra in Granada Spain

Over the next 500+ years, through the Middle Ages and Renaissance, different empires conquered this region. Each new ruler would expand the fortress, adding more fortifications and their own royal palaces in the architectural style of the time.

The Alhambra in Granada Spain

As a result, the Alhambra is now a combination of all these architectural styles all in one place.

View from the Alhambra in Granada Spain

View of Granada from the Alhambra

There are 4 main areas of the Alhambra that you can visit:

The Alhambra in Granada Spain

Alcazaba

The oldest part of the Alhambra is the Alcazaba, which means fortress. There are three layers of fortification walls and several watchtowers that you can climb for a panoramic view of Granada.

Inside the Nasrid Palaces at the Alhambra in Granada Spain

Nasrid Palaces

The Nasrid Palaces are a complex of multiple palaces that were built as residences for the royal families of Granada throughout the years. The first palace was constructed in the mid 1200s.

Ceiling at the Alhambra in Granada Spain

Inside the Nasrid Palaces you can see some of the best preserved and most well-known examples Islamic Moorish architecture in Spain. For example, look at this incredibly intricate honeycomb ceiling!

Ceiling at the Alhambra in Granada Spain

Be Sure To Buy Your Alhambra Tickets In Advance!

An Alhambra General Ticket includes entrance to all areas of the Alhambra, including the Nasrid Palaces, Alcazaba, Generalife, and Palace of Charles V.

Inside the Nasrid Palaces at the Alhambra in Granada Spain

You can visit the Alhambra at any time, however you must choose an entrance time for the Nasrid Palaces. You must be in line for the Nasrid Palaces at your chosen time slot. There’s really no need to line up early, unless you want to be the very first inside the palace. But definitely be there right on time, or you won’t get in!

Inside the Nasrid Palaces at the Alhambra in Granada Spain

Time slots for the Nasrid Palaces during busy seasons (summer especially) sell out quickly, so be sure to buy your Alhambra tickets in advance as soon as you know when you’ll be in Granada!!

Fountain at the Alhambra in Granada Spain

How Much Time To Visit Alhambra?

Plan for at least 3-4 hours, minimum. But you could easily spend longer there if you like to take your time. You may want to bring water and snacks, but you can also purchase them there.

Official Site For Alhambra Tickets:

https://tickets.alhambra-patronato.es/en/

Palace of Charles V at the Alhambra in Granada Spain

Palace of Charles V

The Palace of Charles V is a Renaissance palace inside the Alhambra. It was commissioned in 1526 by the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, because he wanted to have a permanent residence closer to the Alhambra.

The Alhambra in Granada Spain

Generalife

Generalife means Garden of the Architect. It is a series of large gardens and fruit orchards built in the 1200s. The royal family of Granada would spend their leisure time here when they wanted to get away from the Palace.

View of the Alhambra from Generalife in Granada Spain

View of the Alhambra from the Generalife Gardens

Sunset view of the Alhambra from Mirador San Nicolás in Granada Spain

Mirador de San Nicolas

One of the things you must absolutely do in Granada Spain is watch the sunset from Mirador de San Nicolas!!

Sunset view from Mirador San Nicolás in Granada Spain

From up here you have the best view of the Alhambra and the city of Granada. The lighting at sunset as the Sierra Nevada mountains turn pink behind the Alhambra is breathtaking!

Sunset view of the Alhambra from Mirador San Nicolás in Granada Spain

Alhambra means The Red One in Arabic, named after the color of the red clay which was used to build the fortress. 

Granada Cathedral

Granada Cathedral

Granada Cathedral is a lavish cathedral with a brilliant white and gold interior.

Granada Cathedral

The cathedral is a stunning example of Spanish Renaissance style architecture.

Granada Cathedral

Royal Chapel of Granada

Right next to the cathedral is the Royal Chapel of Granada. Unfortunately the cathedral and Royal Chapel are not connected. There is a separate entrance and you need a separate ticket to enter the Royal Chapel.

Granada Cathedral

The Royal Chapel is where King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella are buried. There is also a small museum with a few items that once belonged to the King and Queen.

Granada Cathedral

All the pictures you see here are from the Granada Cathedral. Unfortunately you cannot take pictures inside the Royal Chapel.

Granada Cathedral

Granada Cathedral in Granada Spain

Christmas decorations in Granada Spain

More To Do in Granada Spain

If you have more time, here are a few more popular things to do in Granada Spain that you may want to add to your list!

  • Eat Tapas on Calle Navas — This vibrant pedestrian street is lined with tapas bars and comes to life at night!! Definitely plan to take a stroll down this street one evening.
  • Shop in Alcaiceria — Wander through this, narrow, winding maze of Morrocan-style “souks” AKA shopping stalls.
  • Explore Albaicín — A neighborhood in Granada Spain with narrow, winding streets lined with shops and restaurants.

Hotel Hospes Palacio de Los Patos in Granada Spain

Hotels In Granada Spain

If you are looking for the best hotels in Granada Spain, I highly recommend the Hotel Hospes Palacio de Los Patos. The Hospes Palacio de los Patos is a private palace from the 1800s. It still has many original elements such as the tiled floors and wooden ceilings. The marble staircase in the entrance of the hotel was imported from Italy.

Spa at Hotel Hospes Palacio de Los Patos in Granada Spain

After a long day of walking all over the Alhambra, it was so nice to be able to relax in the spa and sauna. Even if you are not a guest of the hotel, you can still visit the spa.


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Best Things To Do in Granada Spain

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Best Things To Do in Granada Spain

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