Visiter l’Alhambra de Grenade : billets, tarifs, horaires

Visiter l'Alhambra, Grenade

Avant de partir pour Grenade et visiter l’Andalousie, ne manquez pas de réserver un billet pour visiter l’Alhambra, l’un des monuments les plus visités au monde !

Situé au sud de l’Andalousie en Espagne et plus précisément en périphérie sud-est de Grenade, l’Alhambra est l’un des rares vestiges de l’architecture médiévale islamique encore conservé. Construit à partir du 13ème siècle – vers 1228 -, cet ensemble palatial attire plus de 3 millions de visiteurs par an.

La rédaction vous a concocté ce mini-guide pour tout savoir sur comment visiter l’Alhambra et réserver votre billet : une visite qui vous fera replonger dans les couloirs du Temps !

Histoire de l’Alhambra

Alhambra, Grenade

Photo credit: Flickr – Paolo Trabattoni

The name Alhambra comes from the Arabic « qa’lat al-Hamra' »meaning « the red castle », in reference not only to its red walls but also to Mohammed ben Nazar, known as ʾal-aḥmar – « the red one » (because of his red beard) – the founder of the Nasrid dynasty. Initially conceived as a military zone, the Alhambra became a royal residence for the court of Granada in the mid-13th century. Mohammed ben Nazar built the first palace in the fortress, which gradually took on the air of a citadel.

Construction continued with the founding king’s descendant, Mohammed II (1273-1302), but also with kings Yusuf I and Mohammed V al-Ghanî, who between 1333 and 1354 built the most prestigious parts of the Alhambra, some of which have survived to the present day.

With the arrival of the Catholic Monarchs, who wished to erase the traces of Islam, the Alhambra became a Christian court, and new buildings were constructed, but many fell into disuse.

What to see and do when visiting the Alhambra?

This masterpiece of Arab art is a 140,000 m² complex of ancient palaces, built overlooking the city of Granada. It’s a veritable medieval city, with palaces, museums, baths, a mosque and, above all, flamboyant, luxurious gardens. On your visit, you’ll actually see three sights in one: the Moorish-style Nasrid Palaces, the Generalife (comprising the gardens) and the Alcazaba (the ramparts).

It’s not always easy to visit the Alhambra, this Mecca of Arab-Muslim history and culture: so many people from all over the world flock here that admission has been limited to « only » 3,300 visitors in the morning, and a further 3,300 in the afternoon. So it’s essential that you book your ticket in advance!

The Alcazaba

Alcazaba, forteresse de l'Alhambra

Photo credit: Flickr – Maureen

This is the oldest part of the site: the fortress that belonged to the Alhambra military garrison under the Nasrid dynasty in the 14th century. Built on the southern pediment of the hill, this is the site’s original fortress.

Characterized by its towers – from the top of which you can see the whole plain of Granada, the Vega granadina – and its lush gardens, you won’t want to miss it. It’s actually the keep of the castle and the ancient hammams of the Arab city.

Nasrid Palaces

Palais Nasrides, Alhambra

Photo credit: Flickr – Richard

The Nasrid Palaces, the best-known and most popular with visitors to the Alhambra, comprise three palaces: the Mexuar, the Comares – former official residence of the Sultan, no less! -and the Palace of the Lions. The complex is surrounded by two of the Alhambra’s legendary courtyards: the Court of the Myrtles and the Court of the Lions.

In addition to these architecturally impressive sites, visit the Palace of Charles V – where he slept during his stays in Spain – the Partal Gardens and the Ladies’ Tower portico with its reflecting pool.

You’ll find three major components of Arab-Muslim art: calligraphy, arabesques and geometric motifs.

The Generalife

Généralife, Alhambra

Photo credit: Flickr – localingo

This was the palace of the sultans and Nasrid kings. It was in this inner courtyard, dotted with fountains, that they came to refresh themselves.

For the kings who came from the desert, this place symbolized the abundance of water – due to its proximity to the snows of the nearby Sierra Nevada – and therefore paradise.

How to get to the Alhambra?

There are several ways to visit the Alhambra from Granada:

  • By bus: Routes C3 (Alhambra – Plaza Isabel La Católica) and C4 (Barranco del Abogado – Cementerio – Plaza Isabel la Católica). Click here for more information on timetables.
  • By car: If you’ve opted to rent a car in Granada, or if you have your own vehicle, you’ll need to take the « Ronda Sur » ring road around the city in the direction of the Sierra Nevada, as vehicle access to the Alhambra from the city center is prohibited.

It is also possible to visit the Alhambra from Malaga :

  • By train: Several trains, with one change, leave Málaga every day for Granada. It will take you at least 2 hours 45 minutes to reach your destination. Once there, as mentioned above, you can take the bus or car to visit the Alhambra.
  • By bus: Around ten buses leave Malaga every day for Granada. The first departure is at 07:00, and the last departure at 21:30. Malaga-Granada buses leave from Malaga Bus Station. For more information, click here.
  • By car: If you’ve chosen to rent a car in Malaga, or if you have your own vehicle, it will take you around 1h30 to get to the Alhambra.

Alhambra opening times & rates

Voûtes à l'Alhambra

Photo credit: Flickr – paul.a.r

SCHEDULES

Daytime visits: include Alcazaba, Palace of Charles V, Nasrid Palaces, Generalife and Mosque Bath:

  • March 15 to October 14: daily, 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • October 15 to March 14: daily, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Night tours :

  • March 15 to October 14: Tuesday to Saturday, 10:00 to 11:30 p.m.
  • October 15 to March 14: Friday and Saturday, 8:00 to 9:30 p.m.

Night Visits to the Gardens and Palace of the Generalife

  • March 15 to October 14: Tuesday to Saturday, 10:00 to 11:30 p.m.
  • October 15 to November 14: Friday and Saturday, 8:00 to 9:30 p.m.

Garden visits: With this ticket, visit all areas of the monument except the Nasrid Palaces.

  • March 15 to October 14: daily, 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • October 15 to March 14: daily, 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

The Alhambra is closed on December 25 and January 1.

RATES

Daytime visit :

  • Full price: €14
  • Children under 12: Free
  • Seniors over 65: €9
  • People with reduced mobility: €8

Nasrid Palace Night Tour

  • Adults: €8
  • Children under 12: Free.

Generalife Night Tour

  • Adults: €5
  • Children under 12: Free

Full ticket: visit the Gardens – Alcazaba – Generalife

  • Adults: €7
  • Children under 12: Free.

Book your ticket to visit the Alhambra

This tourist site is one of the most visited in Spain, and for good reason: it’s one of the most authentic testimonies to the Arab Islamic Occupation in Andalusia.

Because the Alhambra is so crowded, you’ll need to book your ticket more than a month in advance! Places are sometimes limited even two months in advance! And tickets are non-cancellable and non-refundable, so make sure you choose the right package.

What we recommend is to book online the guided tour in French, which includes the Alhambra, the Generalife and the Nasrid Palaces. For €45, you won’t miss a thing on site, visiting the Alcazaba Fortress, the Nasrid Palaces and the Palace of Charles V, while your guide explains everything you need to know about the Alhambra and the Generalife Gardens.

Once you’ve booked your ticket online, you can collect it either from the Alhambra ticket office or from the La Caixa network of ATMs.

GOOD TO KNOW

Due to the large number of requests and limits on the number of visitors per day, it is advisable to buy tickets in advance to visit the Alhambra and to arrive at least one hour beforehand.

ATTENTION : access to areas open to the public – in particular the Nasrid Palaces – is only possible at the times indicated on your ticket. Outside these times, your visit will be refused…

The Nasrid Palaces close an hour before closing time, so it’s best to visit them first, before the Generalife and Alcazaba.