Are you visiting Granada and wondering how to buy tickets to the Alhambra? Securing a ticket to visit this iconic site can be quite challenging as the total number of people allowed inside is limited to ‘just’ 6000 per day, yet the majestic Alhambra complex attracts countless visitors from all over the world who may not be able to get in, hence the challenge.

So keep reading for our tips on obtaining entry tickets for the Alhambra, where to purchase them, and what to do in case they are sold out on your preferred day.

panoramic view of alhambra complex with the mountains of Granada in the background

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Perched high atop a plateau overlooking the city centre, the Alhambra in Granada stands as one of Spain’s most stunning landmarks. It is also one of the most popular tourist attractions in Spain and arguably in Europe. The Alhambra has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984 as it is of great historical importance and a prime example of Moorish architecture.

Constructed during the 13th and 14th centuries by Ibn al-Ahmar, the founder of the Nasrid dynasty, this palace and fortress complex is a testament of magnificent beauty, phenomenal architecture and sophisticated grandeur. Attracting around 3 million visitors annually, the Alhambra remains a bucket list destination for many of those visiting southern Spain, both local Spanish and international tourists alike.

Palace inside the Nasrid palace inside the alhambra overlooking water

How to visit the Alhambra

A visit to Granada is not complete without a visit to the Alhambra. Even though this amazing walled complex is viewable from all over the city, a tour inside the Alhambra is a must and should not be missed.

As already mentioned, it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Spain, so it attracts lots of visitors, all year round. Consequently, the demand for tickets is very high, and in order to protect especially the Nazaries palaces, only a limited amount of tickets are sold per day. So in order to secure tickets and be able to visit the whole complex, advance planning is not highly recommended, it is an absolute necessity if you only have a limited window of time in the region.

We managed to get tickets the day before, but we were extremely lucky. We did this by constantly refreshing the official ticket website on both our phones, every few minutes, while walking around elsewhere in the city. Then all of a sudden we got a hit while sitting at a terrace cafe. The other patrons and staff looked at us funny when we both quietly squealed with delight. We then whipped out a credit card and grabbed them on the spot.

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Spanning an area of around 142.000 m2 (or 1.530.000 sq ft) including several palaces, a fortress and gardens, the Alhambra complex is huge.

The area is divided into three main sections, which are the Nasrid Palaces, the Alcazaba and the Generalife. Within the complex are certain areas which are free to visit, however, for the most part you’ll need to purchase an entrance ticket.

And this is where the problem arises. As just about everyone visiting Granada also wants to visit this jaw-dropping place, and considering tickets are limited to 6000 a day, advance planning is essential.

How to buy tickets to the Alhambra

We decided to write this guide because when we realised we had a chance for a quick visit to Granada it was somewhat difficult wading our way through all the (mis)information about Alhambra tickets, on 5″ mobile phones, in a local campsite. It wasn’t completely clear which was the official site, what type of tickets we should get nor where to buy them.

As mentioned, we just winged it, and got extremely lucky, only we don’t really advocate doing that yourself, especially if you live on another continent. At the time of writing we are based in Belgium, but we also spend several months a year in Spain anyway, so should it have not worked out, it was as simple as coming back later. It’s just a question of time until we go back again.

So, the best place to buy tickets to Alhambra is online, through their official website or via a recognised tour company or activity or booking platform.

This you can do from anywhere in the world, on a full size laptop or tablet. Your ticket will be emailed to you in the form of a QR code. You can either print this out or show the QR on your phone. You will also need to present identification as tickets are not anonymous and not transferrable. This is for security reasons.

Woman smiling looking in the camera standing at the alcazaba inside the alhambra with mountains in the background

Which type of ticket will I need to purchase?

When viewing their ticket purchase prices you will notice various types of tickets. The most popular tickets are:

  • Alhambra General: This entry ticket includes a complete visit of the entire grounds of the complex, including the Nasrid palaces.
  • Gardens, Generalife and Alcazaba: This ticket includes the whole complex except the Nasrid palaces.
  • Night visit: There are 2 separate tickets for either the Nasrid palaces or the Gardens and Generalife.

A visit to The Nasrid Palaces

The entrance including the Nasrid palaces is the only ticket with a time slot. Keep in mind when booking a specific time slot, this needs to be respected. If you do not enter the Nasrid palaces at the time indicated on your ticket you will loose your time slot and will not be able to enter at a different time.

If you travel with a group of people and you all have different time slots, you cannot enter at the same time either. However, once inside you can stay as long as you like. But to be fair, the whole point of timed slots in these kinds of tourist destinations is to give everyone a chance to see the place. Too many people all bunched up in the same area isn’t a whole lot of fun, for anyone.

So take care to book your time slot according to when you would like to enter the Nasrid Palaces in Alhambra. The rest of the grounds can be visited at your leisure during the general opening hours of the complex.

Plan your visit and route

When only purchasing a ticket for the Gardens, Generalife and Alcazaba, there is no time constraint apart from the general opening hours which are different depending on the time of year. Check the official website for up to date information on opening times.

A visit to the whole Alhambra complex will take at least 3 hours, but count on longer if you really want to take your time to admire the mesmerising beauty of the entire place. Just make sure you plan your route according to your time slot of the Nasrid palaces. Don’t be caught on the other side of the grounds when you’re supposed to be entering the palaces.

view through a decorative window to the albaicin barrio in Granada
Fountain with lions inside the nasrid palace with decorative walls

Alhambra tickets are sold out – what are your options?

At certain times of the year, especially during peak season, tickets will be sold out weeks and often even months in advance. We had exactly that issue, and it wasn’t even peak season. But, as already mentioned, we managed to get tickets the afternoon before, albeit with some hassle, and extreme luck. This is however not a guarantee but rather a possibility or alternative if you spontaneously find yourself in Granada like we did.

However, if you are coming to Spain on what might be a once in a lifetime trip and don’t want to take any chances, we strongly advise you to pre-book a tour. More about that further down.

So how can you obtain tickets for the Alhambra when everything is sold out weeks in advance?

Keep checking online

Over the course of the weeks prior to your trip, keep checking the official website regularly to see if your preferred dates open up. To be honest, the chances are somewhat slim since no tickets are refundable once bought, so they won’t normally come back online. But not to worry, larger tour companies or resellers also pre-purchase tickets in large quantities and often make them available again the day before, if they weren’t finally sold.

We were also informed that at midnight Spanish time the online system resets itself making unsold tickets available again. So best to check right after midnight GMT+1 time to see if anything opens up.

We looked online late one afternoon when we were in Granada and found a whole lot of recently opened slots for the day after. So definitely try your luck, if you are in Granada on a spontaneous visit. It also helps to be flexible in your general travel plans when hoping to visit such an attraction.

Get any of the other tickets

The Alhambra general tickets are the fastest to be sold out as everyone wants to see the Nasrid palaces, which come with time slots.

On the other hand, the separate tickets for the Generalife, Alcazaba and Gardens are less in demand and easier to obtain. But even if you only manage to purchase these tickets you’ll still be able to see a very large part of the Alhambra complex, so you hopefully won’t be too disappointed as the rest of it is still well worth the effort.

Another option is to purchase a separate ticket for the Nasrid palace night visit, a day visit to the Gardens, Generalife and Alcazaba or night visit to the Gardens and Generalife.

el partal in the Alhambra with palmtrees and water with granada in the background

Purchase tickets through travel companies or booking platforms

Various companies who organise guided tours are also authorised sell Alhambra entrance tickets. They are slightly more expensive, but if they have availability for your preferred time slot, go for it. Visiting the Alhambra is a once in a lifetime experience for many people, so you don’t want to miss out if this is the case.

Have a look at this skip the line entry ticket, or just select your date here and see which days are available.

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This Granada city pass includes entrance tickets with Nasrid palace, the hop-on hop-off train as well as discounts for other attractions.

Here is another great possibility to purchase your admission ticket for the full Alhambra experience, including the Nasrid palaces.

Join a guided tour

We first visited the Alhambra by ourselves, but to be honest, next time we’ll most likely join a guided tour. The Alhambra is steeped in history and without a guide you will miss out on quite a bit of information. While walking around we did discreetly eavesdrop on guides explaining things to their groups, but it would have made our visit that much more interesting if we were part of a group.

Apart from the benefit of taking an informative organised tour of the Alhambra with a local guide in your language, another benefit of such a tour is that entrance tickets are included, which is a good thing if all the regular tickets for a self-guided tour are sold out.

This tour comes highly recommended and is available in various languages, as well as this one.

Or enjoy the luxury of a more private guided tour to the Alhambra.

Another small group tour that comes highly recommended is this one.

Or stroll around the complex on your own private guided tour including tickets.

View of the Nasrid palace, church and alcazaba from the generalife in Alhambra granada

Buy your ticket directly at the gate

You may still find some (mis)information in many places that says they have to sell a certain amount of tickets directly at the gate in the early mornings. We did try our luck a few days before, because of said info, but this is unfortunately not possible anymore. We asked various people, at the gate and elsewhere, but the answer is no, they are not selling tickets anymore at the gates of Alhambra. This used to be the case, but honestly, I would not try your luck and be sure to find another way as described above to secure your entrance tickets before arriving at the gate.

Walk around the free areas

The Alhambra complex is divided into different sections, where certain parts are a type of public park and can be entered without admission ticket. One of the areas is the Palace of Charles V, located next to the Nasrid palaces. The Palace of Charles V houses the Alhambra museum and the museum of Fine Arts.

alhambra tickets – Useful info

  • Each ticket is personal and has to be presented along with personal identification (ID or Passport) to gain entrance to the complex proper.
  • As the Alhambra complex is divided into various separate sections you will need to show your entrance ticket + ID at various times throughout your visit. So keep both handy at all times, either the QR code on your phone or printed paper ticket, your phone usually being the most easily accessible item on your person. On the other hand, this could be a problem if your phone battery dies, so a paper ticket is maybe also a good idea, if you can get to a printer in time. We couldn’t.
  • Remember that the entry time specified on your ticket is for the entrance to the Nasrid palaces specifically. The rest of the complex can be visited any time during general opening hours.
  • Start making your way to the Nasrid palaces at least 30 minutes earlier than your time slot to be sure you don’t not miss your entry. This will allow you enough time to find the entrance and wait in the (sometimes very long) queue. Being late means you will be refused entry.
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