Please sign in to post.

Alhambra - less crowded in the morning or afternoon? Saturday or Sunday?

Hi all,

I have a flight from Barcelona to Granada that is scheduled to arrive at 8:50am in Granada on Saturday 5/20. I'm now trying to decide whether to book tickets to the Alhambra for that same afternoon or if I should go on Sunday (AM or PM). We are leaving Granada Monday late morning so those are our only options. Rick Steves' book states that it is better to get an afternoon ticket because it's less crowded in the afternoon and the 6 hours allotted (2-8pm) is more than enough to see everything, but other travel forums I've read say to arrive as early as possible because it gets very crowded in the afternoon. (I'm aware that there will be a designated time to enter the palace but am wondering about how crowded it will be in the rest of the Alhambra). Anyone have any insight on this? Are mornings usually busier than afternoons? Are Saturdays generally busier than Sundays? Thanks in advance!

Posted by
11275 posts

First, other posts here indicate that the Alhambra has changed their system. There are no more "morning" or "afternoon" sessions - your ticket is good for all day, except for the Nasrid Palace, which continues to have the narrow entry window on your ticket.

In your situation, I'd definitely pick Sunday morning, for two reasons. First, if there's any disruption in your flight, getting to your hotel, etc, you could miss your Nasrid Palace entry. By doing Sunday morning, you will not only have plenty of time to get to your hotel, but can also get acclimated without the pressure of getting to the Alhambra. You'll be much more relaxed and can actually enjoy your visit. Second, as you say, the Palace does fill up as the day goes on, so by arriving earlier you'll see it with fewer people. Remember that while you must enter at the time on your ticket and you only get one Palace entry, you can stay as long as you like, and you can backtrack to see it more than once as long as you haven't exited.

At least when I was there (2006), crowds were not an issue at the other parts of the complex.

Posted by
14448 posts

Tickets sell out every day, so the number of visitors is pretty constant. Early mornings would be less crowded than later in the morning - that's for the sight generally. For the Nasrid Palaces it doesn't matter much.

Posted by
4524 posts

Chani is right, all available tickets are sold out just about every day of the year. They limit tickets to avoid severe over crowding, but it will be crowded any time of day.

Posted by
378 posts

In another Alhambra thread I posted:

With the night tour, I was hoping for a more "tranquil" experience. No such luck. The visit was marred by mobs of tour groups, jammed doorways, loud tour guides, non-stop selfie shooters. The day tour was the same.

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/spain/night-vs-day-view-of-alhambra-nasrid-palaces

I also posted my experience and tips in this thread:

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/spain/fine-tuning-for-andalucia

Including how to visit Cordoba's Mezquita without crowds:

Why was Cordoba's Mezquita my favorite? Because it was free admission and without hordes of tour groups!!! Between 8:30 to 9:30, Mon thru Sat, admission is free and no tour groups allowed. What a fantastic policy!
But an hour was not enough. So I went twice.

Posted by
4622 posts

Amy,

My mom & I visited the Alhambra in the afternoon because I'd read in RS Spain book that the mornings are more crowded due to all the tour groups.

I booked our tickets for 3:30PM and we enjoyed our visit very much. I didn't think it was particularly crowded but we were there in October.

I just checked the Alhambra website which links you to Ticketmaster, and there are no morning tickets available for May 20th or May 21st, so you no longer have a choice to visit the Nasrid Palaces in the morning.

Make sure you print your tickets the day before, or a few hours before, and enter through the Justice Gate instead of the main general entrance.

The Alhambra is the highlight of Granada & also a UNESCO World Heritage site, so it's always crowded ;-)

Have a wonderful trip!

Posted by
30 posts

Thank you all for your input! As Priscilla correctly noted, there were only afternoon slots available for those dates, so I purchased 12:30pm tickets for Sunday. (Boy, those tickets go fast! I just looked a few days ago and the morning tickets were available. Oh well...).

Posted by
4622 posts

Amy,

Now that you've secured your Alhambra tickets for the 12:30 time slot, you can certainly visit the other areas of the Alhambra complex before visiting the Nasrid Palace, if you so choose.

Enjoy!