The Alhambra Is a Tourist Nightmare, But Well Worth It


The Alhambra is the reason you visit Granada. It’s one of the most visited sights in all of Europe.

By some modern miracle I got in, but I still don’t completely understand the guidelines for admittance.

First off, there are too may ticket options that I don’t understand. I’m a smart guy according to my college diploma, but there are different ticket options for parts of the Alhambra

You need to book weeks in an advance for a timed entrance to the main attraction, Placios Nazaries. It’s what you see in all the photos when Alhambra is mentioned. I get and understand the times entrance policy. You don’t want 10,000 idiots in Placios Nazaries at the same time.

You can book via Ticketmaster, which you know is a shit company that has been screwing you over for decades. Three weeks ago, I tried buying the Alhambra General for today Oct. 11th. You get admittance to the three main areas, Palacios Nazaries, Alcazaba fort and Generalife Gardens. For that day, it was sold out.

Not a problem, I was going to purchase a Granada toursit card called Bono Touristico. It will get you a timed entrance to the Placios Nazaries. I bought my 10 days ago and had plenty of times to choose from. The card also gets you in to the other major sights in Granada and 10 free rides on the red tourist bus.

First off, I suggest you walk up to the Alhambra. You get to walk among tall trees and leafy passageways for 15-20 minutes.

From what I’ve read, it’s really tough to just walk up to the ticket booth and gain entrance to Placios Nazaries that day. The ticket line was 50 deep at 4pm. I saw those same people walking through Placios Nazaries, so what gives? Also, the Ticketmaster sight showed up tickets the day before a visit.

When I picked up my Bono Touristico card, the lovely lady said that the times entrance was only for Placios Nazaries, and that I can go to Alcazaba and Generalife anytime during the day. My entrance time was 5:30pm.

I get to top of the Alhambra at 4:30pm. If you have the Bono Touristico, you can get through the main entrance with no waiting. There’s no timed entrance for the initial gate.

I make way my to Generalife Gardens at 5:05, only to be stopped. NO! Your time is 5:30. I said to myself, “But the lovely lady at the Tourist Information office said I can come to Generalife and Alcazaba anytime.”

When the Tourist Information office and the Alhambra  are on two different pages, you know it’s time to come up with a different scheme. They are super strict about entrance times. If your time is 5:30pm, and they scan your tickets at 5:29pm, they will not let you in. The turnstile will only move for approved tickets and time.

Then the approved line to get into Placios Nazaries. The correct ticket line is long and slow and the gatekeeper won’s speak Englist. What’s holding it up are tourists who don’t understand “timed tickets” and hold up the line for everybody else.

After all that hassle, the Placios Nazaries is stunning. Like Sagrada Família in Bareclona, you wonder how this created and executed with primitive tools and knowledge before the 19th Century. Every single tile a sight to behold.

So as of now (4am Spain time on Oct. 12), the timed entrance is for all the three major sites in Alhambra. This could chance tomorrow and next week. My suggestion, get the tourist card and get there 30 minutes before your scheduled time.



2 thoughts on “The Alhambra Is a Tourist Nightmare, But Well Worth It

  1. Hi Christian!

    I work for the Tourist Office in Granada and I’m part of the team in charge of the Granada Card. First of all, I want to thank you for using the Granada Card and telling the world about your experience.

    I’d like to comment that the information you were given at the tourist office was correct: with a 5:30pm entrance to the Nasrid Palaces, you can visit the other parts of the Alhambra whenever you want during the whole day. And yes, if you try to enter the Nasrid Palaces at 5:29, you won’t be denied your access. However, you can access the Generalife from 8am… so that’w weird! Maybe a misundersanding?

    We hope you come back to Granada again! Regards!


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