Hi There: we (family of 4) are looking at spending the day at Alhambra, mid-week, in June, and will be staying in Seville at the time. Do you think it's best to: take the bus/train or use a guided tour company? We will only be in Granada for the day and back to Seville to stay overnight. If a guided tour company, which do you recommend?
I've never tried it as a day-trip, so this is speculation.
If you only want to see the Alhambra then a guided tour company would be best since they'll take you direct to the Alhambra, whereas going by rail or (public) coach means getting from Granada's railway/coach stations to the Alhambra, which even by taxi will add at least 20 minutes each way.
I'd make sure I understood exactly what the tour included - in particular, that it includes entry to the Nasrid Palaces part of the Alhambra.
But if you want to DIY it's definitely possible - I'd suggest coach ("bus" for Americans), rather than rail since that gives you more direct options without having to change train. It would be a long day, and you won't have more than half a day at the Alhambra, but if a day-trip is your only option then it's certainly worthwhile.
The distance is just too far. Why not stay a night in Granada.
We were going to do this on our trip a couple of weeks ago, but the train schedule didnt work out for us.(they have just upgraded the route between these two cities) We did a day trip to cordoba instead. We did look at the guided bus tours - they do leave quite early (6:45!) which is very tough if you are traveling with kids. Also I wasn’t sure about spending three hours each way in a bus/van.
there is a 2hr20 min express train so we were going to get there mid. morning and return on a train around 5-6 pm ( which unfortunately, turned out not to be running the day we needed to go).
Most people will say don’t do it, but I think it can be done if you are focused and organized.
I think it is too far for a daytrip. But you can do it yourself; it is not hard to figure out if you have a smartphone. The points of interest in Granada are all walkable, you just need to get a public bus or taxi to get there from the train or bus station. We took the ALSA bus from Seville. It takes 3 hours direct non-stop. So you would be spending a lot of time in your day roundtrip. Do it with a all inclusive tour if the price is right.
I agree with the others who are discouraging such a long-distance day-trip. Do at least be sure you have already allocated sufficient time for Seville (a large city with a lot of sights) and the much more conveniently located Cordoba. You'll have a half-day in Granada at best, vs. a full day in Seville or nearly a full day in Cordoba.
Is the Alcazar in Seville already in your plans for your time there? How about the Cathedral?
I agree that doing a day trip to Granada to tour the Alhambra would be taxing for everyone, especially in the June heat. To see everything takes hours, not counting the travel time.
If you do go, it will be quite crowded, like cattle waiting to go into a chute crowded. Watch out for pickpockets.
I observed a young girl dressed in Muslim attire working the crowd. She was with a "family" that included a man, a woman and another somewhat older girl. They were all in western dress.
I saw the younger girl, ahead of me in the crowd, signal the others in a way that indicated to me that there were no good marks in the group and to back off. I'd bet money that they weren't the only pickpockets at the Alhambra that day.
A day trip to Córdoba is easily doable. The Mezquita is one of the most beautiful buildings I've ever seen and the area around it is charming. There are other things to see in Córdoba, but that day trip was just about lunch and the Mezquita for us, so I can't comment on them.
Another one who wouldn’t make it as a day trip.
I'm another one who wouldn't recommend it as a day trip. But if I were to attempt it, I would use a guided tour company. Otherwise, it may be difficult to coordinate the timing. Tickets for the Alhambra include a 30 minute window to get into the Nasrid Palace; miss your window and you don't get in. By all accounts, the ticket checkers are very strict; I didn't want to test them, so I arrived on time! Alhambra tickets seem to be harder to get every year, so you can't count on getting the time you need to make a day trip work.
If you really want to see it, the best plan is to spend two nights in Granada. Book your Alhambra tickets for the day after you arrive. That way, you can arrive the night before you see the Alhambra, and leave the morning after you see it, taking all the time you need at the Alhambra itself. If you're interested in other sights in Granada, allow at least one more night.
Ashley has given you a plan for a long day trip. Take into account that she said March, when temps are likely to be from 55-75. In June they are 20-25 degrees hotter. You'll be in the sun for long periods when it could easily be 95 or hotter. If you do decide to do it, plan to spend most of your time at the Alhambra - the campus is very large and there is a lot to see. I can't imagine a 3-hour visit would be enough.