My mother has a house on the South Coast of Spain and late last year we took a mother / daughter day out to the beautiful Alhambra in Granada Andalucia. The Alhambra has enjoyed a recent renaissance from its exposure all over social media and most travel sites, but the Alhambra Palace & Fortress Complex dates back to AD 889 and has been a popular tourist destination for many years.
Steeped in culture with Moroccan influences, I was desperate to visit and dragged my 70 year old mother there for her 5th visit! To really enjoy the Alhambra it’s important to plan ahead, so here are my top tips for getting the most out of your visit:
1. I already said it, Plan Ahead!
I tried to visit on a previous trip and went online to book tickets a few days in advance. Wrong. You need to book your tickets at least one month in advance, especially if you are going in the high tourist season. My visit was in November and when I booked online about 5 weeks ahead I was able to choose from all the available time slots. If you leave your booking too late you may be able to get the day that you want, but not the specific time slot. Regular tickets are EUR 14 or you can opt for a guided tour, often including transportation, for around EUR 50 – 70.
2. Arrive Early
I recommend arriving well in advance of you chosen entry time to the Nasrid Palaces. Not only to get parked if you are driving to the complex, but you will no doubt have to queue to collect your tickets from the box office even if you have ordered these online. Depending on the time of year you are visiting the queues can be long and you could risk missing your entry time whilst standing in line.
3. Stop for Tapas and A Glass of Wine!
Walk a little way down the hill from the box office and just before the entrance to the complex is a small snack and wine bar called Le Mimbre Especialidad en Sangria. There are also a few other restaurant and terrace bar options to chose from along the road down from the box office. Since we had arrived in plenty of time, we decided to stop here to enjoy some tapas and ensure we were fully fed before entering the complex.
4. Check The Weather
Granada is located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains at an elevation of 738 meters above sea level. Due to the elevation, the temperature can be cooler in the winter months than it is down by the coast and of course hotter in the summer months. I arrived in a dress and changed in the carpark when I realised how cold it was!
5. Be Patient
Once you enter the Nasrid Palaces you will understand why patience is a virtue. Every hour 300 people are allowed to enter, so capturing a tourist free photo can be challenging, but not impossible. Hang back, be patient and wait for others to exit each room before snapping that perfect Instagram shot!
6. Take Your Time
Fortunately, even though they only allow 300 people into the Nasrid Palaces at a time, there is no one ushering you along so you will have plenty of time to explore all of the palace at your own pace. However, make sure to allow yourself time to explore the outside and the rest of the complex as well!
7. Get Creative With Your Photography
Whilst all photos of the Alhambra are beautiful, I have seen loads of images taken from creative angles or close up on tiles or doors. Look at the detail, look for unique angles and look up!
8. Wait For Sunset
Lots of people recommend the Mirador de San Nicholas for watching the sunset over the Alhambra. I didn’t do this myself, but the pictures from this spot look great so I will be doing it next time!
Do you have other tips from your trip to the Alhambra, please share these below!