Best route to follow in Alhambra
Alhambra is not one monolith but a complex with many attractions. Book your tickets well in advance. Unlike what you might read elsewhere, the best route to see Alhambra is
Alcazaba - > Charles V palace – >Nazrid Palace – >Generalife.
The suggested route minimizes walking and ensures least backtracking. Here is a detailed map of Alhambra complex in English
Enter from Justice Gate
To follow the suggested route, enter Alhambra complex from Justice Gate. The tourist mini bus has a stop at Justice Gate, Alhambra. This is the also the first gate you will come across if you choose to walk uphill to Alhambra complex.
Alcazaba is closest to Justice Gate. Visit Alcazaba first and then proceed to Charles V palace. Though Charles V palace is a non-ticketed monument, it is better to see Charles V palace before Nazrid palace as Charles V palace houses a free museum, which will provide a good introduction to the Alhambra and Nazrid Palaces.
You MUST enter Nasrid palace at the time marked on the ticket. If you miss your slot, you will not be let in. From the palace, you can go to Generalife and then walk down to main entrance where you can board C3 mini-bus back down to the city centre.
Practical tips for visiting Alhambra
- Suggest you plan for at least six hours in Alhambra complex
- There are drinking fountains everywhere so it's easy to keep hydrated.
- The food options at Alhambra are expensive and limited. Get a picnic lunch.
Plan to spend between 3.5 to 4 hours to visit the Alhambra complex. Alhambra is not one single monument, but a city in itself consisting of the following sections.
Legend to map of Alhambra, Granada:
M: Main Gate, Alhambra
G: Generalife Gardens
P: Nasrid Palaces of Alhambra
C: Charles V Palace
J: Justice Gate
Sections of Alhambra Complex
The Nasrid Palace [P]
- Nasrid Palace is the main, most popular attraction within Alhambra.
- Plan to spend 90 minutes at Nasrid Palaces
- Entry is by time-slot on your Alhambra ticket
- Queues to enter the Nasrid Palace start forming 15 minutes before each time slot
- The Alcazaba, or fortress, is the oldest part of the Alhambra
- Take in the views from the Alcazaba of Alhambra
- Refresh yourself at the coffee shop
- Plan for 45 minutes to see the Alcazaba.
- Generalife has the oldest surviving Moorish gardens in the
- Higher up in the Alhambra complex
- Plan for 45 minutes to tour Generalife
Charles V Palace [C]
- Non ticketed part of the Alhambra monument
- Palace of Christian kings built after Reconquestia
- Houses Museum of Alhambra
- Plan to spend for 30 minutes
Time needed to visit Alhambra
- Nasrid Palace: Plan for a 90 minutes +15 minutes [Queue] visit
- Alcazaba: Plan for a 45 minutes visit
- Generalife: Plan for a 45 minutes visit
- Charles V Palace: Plan for a 30 minutes visit
In summary, plan for a total of 3.5 hours to visit attractions within Alhambra. This excludes walking time between Alhambra sections and the time browsing the gift shop etc. If you are staying in Granada for the night, you should consider spending more time in the Nasrid Palaces and Alcazaba.
Order of visiting Alhambra
If you have booked your Alhambra tickets, it is better to plan your Alhambra tour starting with Nasrid Palaces.
- To start with Nasrid Palaces, enter Alhambra from the Gate of Justice [Puerta de la Justica] and not from the main gate. Gate of Justice is near Alcazaba and Nasrid Palaces. Therefore, order of visiting Alhambra complex would be: Nasrid Palaces - Partal Gardens - Alcazaba - Charles V Palace - Generalife
- If you enter Alhambra from the main gate (also called Alhambra gate of wines), then order of visiting Alhambra complex will be Generalife - Nasrid Palaces - Partal Gardens - Alcazaba - Charles V Palace
The reason you are at Alhambra in the first place is for the beauty of the Nasrid Palace and Generalife.
Spend 3.5 hours at Alhambra in the following manner
- Spend 2 hours in Nasrid Palaces. Take your time, every room is stunning and every room is different in the Nasrid Palace. Also pause at all the fountains.
- Walk around for 45 minutes in Generalife Gardens.
- Spend only 25 minutes in King Charles Palace and Alhambra Museum. King Charles Palace is very plain and boring, the museum is ok but not worth spending much time in.
- Spend only 20 minutes in Alcazaba. The Alcazaba is very nice to look at from outside - especially across the hill views from Mirador San Nicolas - but the inside is all ruins.