Ideal time of day to visit Alhambra
In general, always enter Alhambra as early as possible.
In the summer: Start outdoors, then move indoors to the Nasrid Palaces before it gets hot.
In the winter: Reverse your order. Start indoors with Nasrid Palaces. As the sun comes up, move outdoors to Generalife and Alcazaba. While booking, you have to only specify the Nasrid Palace slot.
Earlier while reserving your ticket to Alhambra complex, you had to specify a time for entry to the complex (morning or evening) and then choose a specific time for the entry to Nasrid Palace. Thankfully, the system has been simplified.
Now, you have to specify only your preference for entry to the Nasrid Palace. You can enter the complex at any time as long as you are at the Nasrid palace entrance within your allotted time. If you turn up late at the Nasrid Palace gate, you will be denied admission. They are strict about this. It takes at least 15 minutes to reach Nasrid Palace from the main gate, so plan accordingly.
- Book online at the official ticketing site. Do use the latest version of Chrome as the site has issues with other browsers.
- You have to change your voucher to a ticket at the Alhambra ticket offices or at Servicaixa ATM machines located in Granada.
- There are other options in case tickets to Alhambra are sold out.
- Skip the idea of a night visit; it is too rushed and limited in coverage.
- Also, consider the order of your visit.
I visit Alhambra regularly with my guests. Select the morning slot for entry in Alhambra; for Nasrid Palace select the 1130am slot.
With this selection I can confirm that you can enter the Alhambra complex at 830 am and stay till closing time at 6pm.
You need to take a break or you will be exhausted and not able to make use of the entire day allowed by your 1130 Nasrid Palace time slot. Remember that once you enter, you cannot exit and re-enter Alhambra complex.
My suggestion is to enter early and plan to take a leisurely break at the Parador Hotel during the day. The Parador Hotel is within the Alhambra complex and you can eat even if you are not a guest.
This way you can go slow and take all day at Alhambra without getting tired, especially in the summer when it is unbearably hot.
Time slot between 11:30 a.m and 2:00 p.m for Nasrid Palace is ideal
The best time-slot for Alhambra is the morning session with Nasrid Palace entry between 1130 a.m and 2:00 p.m. This slot will allow you to enter Alhambra complex in the morning by 8am and stay at Alhambra complex for as long as you want.
- Those with morning session tickets but with entry to Nasrid Palace before 11:30 am have to complete their itinerary of all ticketed areas by 2 p.m.
- Those with entry to Nasrid Palace between 11:30am and 2p.m can enter Alhambra complex anytime post 8 a.m but can stay all day at Alhambra. Let's say you have entry to Nasrid Palace at 12 noon, then you must visit the Nasrid Palace at 12noon but can visit other ticketed areas, anytime in the afternoon (even after 2 p.m). This is the best slot as you need at least six hours to make the most of your visit to Alhambra.
- If you have entry in the afternoon slot, you can enter Alhambra complex only post 2p.m and have to enter Nasrid palace within half-hour of your timeslot.
Afternoon slot to visit Nasrid Palaces, if you are in for only for a day
If you are in Granada only for one day, select slot after 2 p.m to visit Nasrid Palace. Visit to Alhambra requires a fair amount of walking. If you choose to do Alhambra first, unlikely you will have energy to visit other attractions of Granada. In the morning, visit other monuments in Granada's historic center, Royal Chapel of Granada and Granada Cathedral.
Book tickets to Alhambra well in advance
There is a huge demand for Alhambra tickets as number of tickets sold per day is limited. Book your tickets 90 days in advance to get the slot you want for the Palace of the Nazaries. Also remember, it is not enough to book your tickets online, you also need physical print-out of the ticket with bar code. You can print the ticket at any La Caixa Bank ATM in Granada, but you need to swipe the same credit card that you used to purchase the tickets online.
If you have your printed ticket with you, you can enter from Justice Gate to save some amount of walking.
Take your time to admire Nasrid Palace Complex
You will be admitted to the Nasrid Palace at the time specified on your ticket but you can choose to spend as much time as you want within Nasrid Palace.
The craftsmanship and detailing at Nasrid palaces surpasses anyone's wildest expectation and is one of the great examples of Islamic art and design.
Best time to visit Alhambra - by season
Choose the morning slot, start with outdoor areas, finish with Nasrid Palaces. Avoid the very hot afternoon slot unless you have no choice.
Book your Nasrid Palace entry for 1130am. Enter the Alhambra at 830am as soon as it opens. This way you can finish touring the Generalife and Alcazaba before it gets way too hot later in the day. Make sure to reach the Nasrid Palaces 15 minutes before your entry time.
This sequence also allows you to spend as long as you want in the Nasrid Palaces without the time pressure of moving on to the outside parts before it gets too hot.
Morning and afternoon slot are equally fine in the winter.
Morning slot - Enter early, start with Nasrid Palaces, and finish in the sun with Generalife and Alacazaba.
Afternoon slot - Start with Generalife and Alcazaba in the winter sun. Finish the outdoor areas as it starts to get chilly. Move indoors and finish with Nasrid Palaces. In the winter afternoon slot, select 330pm entry for Nasrid Palaces.
Best time to visit Alhambra : Morning or Afternoon
One of the common questions that potential guests to my hotel ask me is “What is the Best time to visit Alhambra – is it morning or afternoon ?”
Instead of making a decision for them, I end up providing following information
- If you are into photography and want the best pictures, early morning slot is better. As the day progresses, Alhambra gets more and more crowded denying you the opportunity to shoot Alhambra without any distractions. You should reserve evenings for a visit to San Nicholas to capture the spectacular sunset.
- If you cannot stand heat, avoid afternoons as Granada can get very hot in the afternoons especially in summer. For such visitors, I end up suggesting late afternoons so that they can appreciate gardening and architecture in the evening when the sun is not very harsh.
- At the end of the day, there is no one 'best time' to visit Alhambra. I urge all tourists to visit Alhambra once early in the morning and come back again for the night to visit Nasrid Palace. Night visit is a magical experience as it avoids both the crowds and the heat.
Alhambra night visit is complicated
Do not visit the Alhambra at night unless you have already once seen it during the day.
The night visit is short and does not include all of the parts of the complex that are accessible during the day.
Entry time is only 10pm; there is no choice unlike during a day visit. And Alhambra closes at 1130pm. So there is barely an hour to actually see the Nasrid Palaces.
The organization and entry control of the night visit is poor; perhaps the short window makes it worse.
The rooms are not all lit up to standard (but the ones that are lit well are spectacular to be fair).
You can visit only ONE part of the complex on a night visit, either Nasrid Palaces OR Generalife Gardens. Both visits run concurrently 10pm onwards.
Go to the Alhambra night theater performance
You must seriously consider going for the the theater performance (Lorca and Granada in the Gardens of Generalife) which takes place in the gardens. The shows vary but are typically flamenco ballets with a small audience. It is worth going for this.
The show is preceeded by a tour of the gardens.
Otherwise, I agree, it is not worth visiting Alhambra at night.
Visitor traffic facts - Alhambra
I hope you find this useful, it is gathered from tour companies and businesses in the area.
Best day of the week
- Most popular day to visit Alhambra is Saturday
- Least crowded days are Wednesday and Thursday
Nasrid Palace time slot
- Most popular Nasrid Palace slot is 10am to 12noon
- The least popular slot is 130pm
During low season (winter)
During the low season in Alhambra, the afternoons are crowded but the crowds tend to thin out after 430pm.
- Tickets are typically sold out a month in advance during the spring, and maybe even 3 months in advance if you plan to visit in the summer.
- Sometimes (any time of the year), getting singles or two tickets at the last minute is possible.