Soñando Sunday: The Alhambra
The Alhambra (Granada)
From where can I plan this trip? While Granada would be the obvious place to plan this trip from as it is in the city center, I know there are groups that come from Málaga, Ronda, Jaén, etc. just to spend the day at the Alhambra.
Pro-Tip: I would personally recommend spending a few days in Granada (you can see our post on the city here), but just in case that’s not in the cards for you, I would still recommend spending a day at the Alhambra if possible.
What is it? The Alhambra is the most visited tourist site in all of Spain (really!!). It is the palace of the last Moorish kingdom in Spain, Al-Andalus. While I will go into the history of Al-Andalus another time, the Alhambra was constructed in the Nasrid period starting in the mid 11th century (although there some portions of the palace that existed previously). This palace, and surrounding community, was developed over several centuries, under the watch of different rulers. As we see it today, the space is slowly being restored to its former glory, as for many years it fell into a state of neglect.
Pro-tip: You can get different types of tickets to see different parts of the space: to see everything (including the Nasarid Palace); to see the gardens; a night tour (which is just the palace); etc. If you can, get a ticket for everything!
How should I prepare ahead of time? The Alhambra is something you can see in half-a-day, but I would recommend not rushing it too much and truly enjoying the time you have inside. To properly prepare, make sure you buy tickets ahead of time (far in advance if you are coming during tourist season*). You should also decide if you want to take a guided tour or an audio tour. (This palace has been part of Granada for longer than Spain has been an official country, making it a space full of history and wonder. If you are here for a short period of time and enjoy learning, I would definitely recommend doing some sort of tour!)
Pro-Tip: I have actually been to the Alhambra more times than I can count (residents can get in free on Sundays—do you want to know how?) and one of my favorite things is to go with a packed lunch and hang out in the gardens. If you have time, take advantage of this beautiful place and be prepared to spend a decent number of hours here—although, if this is your plan, bring snacks as there is only one or two stands in the whole place to serve you overpriced food and drinks.
How to get there? There are several ways to reach the Alhambra. If you are coming with a tour from another city, your bus will most likely drop you at the entrance. However, if you are staying in the city center, and can manage, I would recommend walking up the hill Cuesta de Gomérez from Plaza Nueva (or at least walking down the hill) as it will offer you a complete picture of the surrounding area.
If you are in the city center and don’t want to walk the hill—it is quite steep—you can either take a taxi (between 5 and 10€) or a C3 bus (1.40€).
Recommended time of year to visit? The Alhambra is both beautiful and packed with visitors year round. I would personally recommend coming in the early winter around the end of November, beginning of December (not too hot and less tourist than normal) and go during the week if you can manage it—keeping the number of Spanish tourist to a minimum.
*If you don’t manage to get tickets on time, there are several other options you have to get them: purchase a bono-pass for the city; take a guided tour; or go up to the ticket office early in the morning as they always save some tickets for the day of (although I have known people who have gone up at 7 am and not gotten a ticket).