Alhambra: Morning, Afternoon, and Night!

We are less than one month away from leaving for our Portugal and Spain vacation.  These last few months have gone by so quickly – and here we are, feeling unprepared (but excited!) for our trip.  We aren’t the type to plan out every single little detail, but we do love researching things to do, places to eat, and sites to see so we don’t waste time when we are there.  However, there are some sites that are so popular that we have to actually plan a bit ahead of time.  One of these is the Alhambra in Granada, and the more we research, the more we can’t wait for the experience.

Alhambra in Granada, Spain

The Alhambra is made up of the Alcazaba fort, Palacios Nazaries, and Generalife Gardens, which are all included in the General Daytime ticket.  If you already have your hotel booked, you can probably go through them to book the Alhambra.  However, it’s super easy to book online through the ticketmaster website.

When buying a ticket, you need to do the following:

  • Go to the ticketmaster site and select the type of ticket (in this case, I booked the General Daytime ticket).  I looked into a couple of other sites to buy from, but the ticketmaster seemed the most legit and this is where the travel forums lead me.
  • Pick a date.  Dates in red are sold out (when I looked this was generally only the next 4-5 days).  However, even if the date is not sold out, the time slot you are looking for might not be available.  If you know which date will work best for you, book early!  Tickets are available at least 3 months in advance (right now you can book through November 30, 2012).
  • Choose the number of tickets.  The maximum number that can be purchased is 10.
  • Decide whether you want a morning visit (8:30-14:00) or an afternoon visit (14:00-20:00 from mid-March to mid-Oct; until 18:00 the rest of the year).  If you choose the morning visit, all sites must be entered prior to 14:00, with a specified entry time for the Palacios Nazaries (see the next bullet point).  For an afternoon visit, all sites must be entered after 14:00, also with a specified entry time for the Palacios Nazaries.  Sites can be seen in any order, as long as they fall within the morning or afternoon times (but the Palacios Nazaries must be entered within the half hour time slot of your choosing).  
  • Choose which time you would like to enter the Palacios Nazaries.  This is the only section of the Alhambra that has a set entry time.  For the morning, times begin at 8:30 through 13:30, in half hour increments.  For the afternoon, times begin at 14:00 and continue through 19:00 (17:00 from mid-Oct through mid-Mar) in half hour increments.
  • Specify whether there will be any discounted tickets among the amount purchased.  This includes a child discounts (under 12 are free), senior discounts, people with disabilities (must have a special card for this), and a few others.  If some of the tickets being purchased qualify for a discount, select the number for each type of discount.
  • Enter your contact information.  While researching some information, I ran into a forum about a couple of people who had issues with this because it asked them to enter a “surname” even though they already had.  I entered my first name, middle initial, and last name and had no issues.
  • Enter payment information.  NOTE: In order to retrieve tickets using the machine (preferred), the same credit card must be used to order the tickets as the one used when picking up the tickets.
  • The total cost was 28,60 which included taxes for two tickets.  The price I’ve seen elsewehere is 13,00 euros, so a 1,30 surcharge is a very small price to pay to secure tickets ahead of time!

We just booked our tickets today, and I’m glad we did because there were very few remaining for the time we wanted. We chose to visit the Alhambra in the morning, with our Palacios Nazaries entry at 8:30.  Some of our reasons for choosing the morning:

  • We are morning people and love getting the day started as soon as possible.  By choosing the earliest time or a fairly early time (note: in our case, nothing else was available until 13:00), you can start your day off with the visit and not worry about timing the rest of your day around the visit.
  • Granada will likely be fairly hot in September, so we will be able to enjoy cooler weather in the morning.
  • Based on forums I’ve read, it can be less crowded in the morning (particularly before 10:00).

With the purchase out of the way, we now know that we’ll be able to spend time at Granada’s most popular site.  However, we are also tempted to try a night visit to either the Generalife Gardens or Palacios Nazaries (apparently the Generalife Gardens have only recently been added as a night option).  There are only 400 tickets available per night, so although it’s not as popular of an option, we’ll likely book this before we leave on our trip. 

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