i'm trying to get a feel for how much time totally we need for Alhambra. We have all day. Trying to figure out best time for timed tix relative to seeing the rest of it. Thanks!
We arrived about 10:30am with a 4pm ticket to the palace. We explored the Charles V palace and fort, ate a large lunch at the Hotel America Restaurant, and then finished the afternoon at the palace & Generalife Gardens, leaving around 6pm. We were there in October 2017.
We got there around noon to explore other areas before our 2 pm entry to Nasrid Palace. We finished by about 5 ish.
If it’s your first visit, I’d allow 4-5 hours at least. 1.5 hours for the Generalife and gardens, 1 hour to walk the grounds, 1.5-2 hours to see the Nasrid Palace. If it’s off season, you’ll probably need less time in the gardens. If it’s main tourist season, then you’ll want more time in the Nasrid Palace simply due to the number of people. On our last visit there (4th visit overall), we got the first afternoon time available. On that visit, we did stay at hotel America right at the complex so we could walk much of the complex whenever we wanted. Also, we went for an afternoon entrance time because the majority of the bus tour groups visit during the morning hours.
When are you going? In winter, the gardens are pruned back so they don't take much time (my visit was in February). OTOH there's a lot of walking (up and down) from one bit to another. If it's hot and sunny, you may need more time since there's hardly any shade. There is a lot to see and absorb besides the 3 ticketed buildings and some nice views of Granada too.
You must enter the Nasrid Palaces complex within 30 minutes of your time, but there are no restrictions on when you can visit the other 2 ticketed areas. I'd recommend seeing the Alcazaba before the Nasrid just to avoid backtracking. But if you have to check a large bag before entering the Nasrid, then you'll have to go back anyway so it doesn't matter.
I think we spent nearly the whole day there. Got there around 9, had a Palace time of 10.30 and stay till something pass 4. We could have done it in less time but it is a huge area to wonder through.
We went at the end of September 2017 and it was still quite hot, near 100 degrees F. We had a 10:00 am Nasrid Palace entry, and I was glad we started early in the morning before it got super hot. We spent about 4 hours strolling around, but we did not eat lunch there. So by 1:00 or so we were getting hangry and decided to head back to town for food. :)
I think you can rather easily spend nearly all day at the Alhambra if you try to see everything, which means checking with the information desk about the hours each building will be open on the day of your visit. The varying schedules might require an all-in visitor to double-back through the complex to see buildings that were not open at the time of original entry. I very much enjoyed the museum in the Carlos V Palace. I was glad I didn't have to rush through it.
I think the early entry times for the Nasrid Palaces tend to sell out first (possibly being snapped up by tours), so if you decide you'd like to start with that part of the complex, you may need to be online when tickets for your date go on sale.
As of May of this year, audio guides were sold from a cart before you gained entry to the Nasrid Palaces. Allow extra time for that if you want to use the audio guide. I thought it was very helpful.
Minimum of 3 hours. Take your time and enjoy.
We recently visited the Alhambra in early November and stayed about 4 - 4 1/2hours, which we thought was plenty - and we take LOTS of photos, which takes more time. As someone mentioned, the gardens weren't as pretty as they would have been in season but we enjoyed strolling through them. We had a 1:30 timed entrance and entered the Generalife Gardens about 10:30. Even though the line to pick up an audioguide was short, it took a long time as each one had to be set up. It was well done and useful. Be sure to go to the San Nicolas viewpoint before sunset to to view the Alhambra during sunset and lighted up after it gets dark. This was a fun and beautiful experience. The old town in Granada is wonderful place to walk around at night. Be sure to book Alhambra tickets far in advance. We had to plan our whole trip around when we could get tickets!
If you haven't booked a place to stay, we highly recommend the Hotel Casa 1800 Grande - wonderful, central location; delightful room and staff; great breakfast and afternoon tea included for a very reasonable price. We loved our stay there.