The Alhambra, Granada (and what not to do...)

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

It's the most visited sight in Spain and the sole reason many people end up in Granada at all. And we'd nearly missed our chance to go...

Three weeks before leaving for Spain we discovered that we had left our ticket buying far too late (at Easter or any peak holiday time) to book access to the Nasrid Palaces; the heart and generally considered highlight of an Alhambra visit.

A panic buy of two Turistico cards got us into the last slot of our last day in Granada - narrowly escaping disappointment but at €33.50 over twice the usual Alhambra entry price. The Granada Card covers entry to a host of other places including museums, the Cathedral and even the Science Park - so potentially good value if those sights are on your list. With Semana Santa in full swing around us, however, we had no plans to add anywhere else to our itinerary.

Nonetheless, the extra spend was more than worth it. The Nasrid Palace is awe inspiring - at times reminding us of Jaipur's Amber Fort, at others transporting us to Morocco.

Those famous interiors are set within a succession of abundant gardens - the fragrant botanicals all but upstaged by the views that stretch out over Granada.

And herein lay our second mistake.

Having lived in the shadow of the Alhambra for three days, and gazed out over it from Sacremonte, we'd got that it was pretty big. Until exploring it though, we hadn't appreciated just how expansive it really is. Don't under estimate the time you'll want to spend both in and outside the Alhambra walls. Time for lingering was a luxury that we - sadly - had not given ourselves.

As you'd expect, the site is teeming with people. But the numbers and timings are clearly carefully managed, and the site so big that the crowds never feel intrusive or overwhelming. Assuming you abandon any ambitions for a tourist-free shot of the interior courtyard, that is...

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