The Alhambra in Granada had been on my list for many years. It is one of the most beautiful places on Earth and a must-see for any art history fanatic. However, because of Google’s search algorithm and my own lack of information, I almost missed out. If you plan to visit the Alhambra in Granada, you need to book your ticket far in advance. I didn’t know this because when I mentioned the Alhambra to others I knew, they didn’t even know what it was, so they could not provide any travel advice. I just assumed I would have to stand in a line for a while. Anyway, if Granada is on your horizon, be sure to check the recommendation list below!
1. Buy tickets to the Alhambra on the official website
The official Alhambra site uses a “.es” extension, nearly impossible to find when you search for Alhambra on Google. Private tour companies have capitalized on this and sell overpriced tickets without the palaces – which are the main attraction.
2. Your ticket must include the palaces and a specific time to visit
The main attraction is the palaces. They are not open to everyone at the same time, so you will get a specific time you are allowed to visit and you must keep that time. The rest of the grounds are incredible, but even the people who work there agree that you must see the palaces. When I first went, because I did not know any better, I bought my ticket for a private tour that did not include the palaces, and it was twice the price of an official ticket. I then had to wait until midnight that night to get a ticket that included the palaces for the next day. Once you select your time and buy the ticket, set a reminder on your phone so you don’t miss it!
3. Plan to be there the whole day
The grounds are incredible and vast. You will want to spend the whole day exploring stunning buildings and gardens. This is definitely an “instagrammable” place and if having great photos for posterity (and stories) is important, then you will want to be photo-ready.
4. Pack a light lunch
There aren’t many delicious food options on-site. Get to a market and pick up some bread and manchego and pack yourself a little Spanish picnic! You are allowed to bring a water bottle and can top-up with fountains located throughout.
Bonus: Visit the Sierra Nevada Mountains
In Granada city center, you can take a bus, bike, or walk (only during daytime) to the small villages along the Sierra Nevada mountains. You will find the most charming towns with friendly locals and stunning scenery. If you love biking, I strongly suggest renting a bike and making a day trip out of it. I actually decided to stay in Quéntar at the Fundalucia Guest House. It feels like paradise to wake up to fresh mountain air and friendly people making coffee and breakfast.