Planning A Visit To Granada’s Alhambra

Our real reason for visiting Granada was a trip to the Alhambra. I know, it gets confusing. We visited the Alcazaba in Malaga, the Alcazar in Seville and now the Alhambra in Granada. Here’s the quick and easy translation: alcazaba comes from the Arabic for citadel, alcazar means palace and Alhambra literally translates as “the red one” and is the name of an alcazar with its own alcazaba. It’s a grand fortress complex consisting of royal palaces, soldier’s quarters and beautiful gardens, with too much to describe in just one blog post, so I will be spreading it out over several entries.

Take my word for it, if you enjoy Moorish architecture, history and museums, then a visit to the Alhambra is a must-do. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1984 and, more recently, one of the finalists for the New Seven Wonders of the World. As such, the amount of daily visitors allowed into the Nasrid Palaces (the main complex area) are limited, so it’s best to book tickets in advance. It’s especially important to take note of what time slot you want to enter the Nasrid Palaces, as you will only be admitted within that half hour, although you then have the rest of the day to explore. We paid €13 per person, which included entrance to the Nasrid Palaces, the alcazar and the Generalife gardens.

The Alhambra is situated on top of Sabika hill overlooking Granada. It’s one of the stops on the red Hop-On-Hop-Off bus’ route (which costs €18 per person), but you can also take the city bus 32 or 34 (which costs about €1.20 per person). If you’re driving yourself, there is lots of parking space at the entrance, with prices starting at €2.35 per car and adding around €1.50 per hour on top of that.

Although we didn’t, I would definitely recommend getting a hand-held audio guide. If I remember correctly, they are €4 per person, but I’m sure the information provided would be worthwhile. I ended up buying a book (which I’m yet to delve seriously into) and would have appreciated learning about the history while actually standing in the midst of it all.

I would recommend bringing your own refreshments, however there are vending machines outside the bathrooms next to the ticket office where you can buy overpriced snacks (and a delicious cup of hot chocolate). Once inside the citadel, there are one or two shops selling food and drinks as well, but no coffee shops or restaurants for a proper meal. There is also a four-star hotel within the complex, but I don’t know if it has a restaurant to have lunch at.

Finally, allow yourself lots of time, a whole day if possible, if you like this kind of thing. Although you can only enter the Nasrid Palaces (and the Generalife afterwards) in your timeslot, the alcazar and the Palace of Charles V (housing temporary art exhibitions) are open all day.

For more posts in the Spain 2010 series, click here.

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