I consider myself to be not entirely an idiot.
I am not completely useless when it comes to organising things. In a previous life, I used to get paid for organising quite complicated things, so you might imagine that I could easily get my head around the intricacies of visiting the Alhambra without getting in a tangle. Imagine again.
A quick internet search will throw up a great deal on the subject of visiting this spectacular monument, but when I came to do some research I did indeed get myself into a tangle.
Argus losing the will to live as Mercury explains that he should go online to book tickets for the Alhambra | Diego Velazquez
Even trying to explain to visiting friends and family how they might go about getting hold of tickets produces glazed eyes and thousand-mile stares. I watch the shutters come down in some sort of involuntary response to the sheer number of words that there are to say on the subject. This is much like the sleep-inducing effect of white noise on a small baby.
Based on experience (mine and that of others) and much research here is my tongue-in-cheek guide on how to approach your visit to the Alhambra, or not:
Step 1. Fail to do any research
Fail to do any research whatsoever before you travel to Granada and assume that you can fly by the seat of your pants when visiting one of the world’s most beloved and visited monuments.
How hard can it really be to get tickets anyway, right?
Step 2. Do too little too late
Finally, go online at ticketmaster.es in your hotel room the night before you plan to visit the Alhambra only to find that there are no advance tickets to be had for the next forever, or for the duration of your stay anyway.
No worries, if you get an early start in the morning it’ll all be fine, right?
Step 3. Go out on the lash the night before
Go out on the lash down Calle Elvira the night before which may, or may not, involve a nasty late-night incident over a broken ‘antique’ shisha pipe in a Moroccan teashop. Fail to wake up at the crack of doom in order to start queuing at the famous Alhambra ticket office with all the other poor souls, who are also failing to visit the Alhambra in an orderly fashion.
How long could the queues really be anyway, right?
Step 4. Don’t beat the queues
Finally arrive at the ticket office with a plan to buy an afternoon ticket for that day only to find that there is a gargantuan queue, but you are not sure if it is for ticket purchase or collection. You are also desperate for the loo but cannot afford to lose your place in the queue.
The queue is bound to move pretty quickly, right?
Step 5. Ignore the yellow Servicaixa ticket machines
Ignore the bank of yellow Servicaixa ticket/cash machines that winked at you earlier when you were looking for the ticket office.
If people were able to buy/collect tickets from them, thereby avoiding the queue, they would all be doing it, right?
Step 6. Luck out for once
You finally get to the front of the queue and by some miraculous twist of good fortune (not good management) you are able to get a time slot for the Nazrid Palaces at the end of the day. Brilliant. The day is saved.
You can relax now, right?
Step 7. Relax
Decide to go off into town to pass the couple of hours that you now have to fill before 14.00 when you will be allowed to enter the Alhambra grounds. It’s all downhill from here on in.
You are a grown-up and can totally manage your time and not get lost in a strange city, right
Step 8. Lose track of time
Lose track of time and arrive back at the Alhambra entrance rather later than you had planned. So many tapas bars, so little time, eh? And it was uphill on the way back.
OK, so you just have to keep a really good eye on the time now, right?
A quick stroll around the city and back in time for tea and Nazrid Palaces
Step 9. Lose track of time again
Go forth into the Alhambra and Generalife with map in hand (#win) only to completely and utterly fail to make your time slot for the Nazrid Palaces due to there being so much else to see and underestimating the time it takes to get around.
Surely they will let me in if I have paid for a ticket and am only five minutes late, right?
You are here, which is great, but you should be over there
You have achieved a spectacular textbook #Alhambrafail
Of course, it is still possible to have a fantastic visit, even if you do follow all these steps, such is the fabulousness of almost every corner of the Alhambra and Generalife.
That said, if you would like some untangled advice on visiting this wonderful place, from one who has got herself in a tangle so that you don’t have to, please check out the GranadaSpain Insider Guide to visiting the Alhambra.
I would also love to hear from you if you have had similar, or wildly differing, experiences. Please drop me a comment in the box below.
Cut out the hassle – book a tour and skip the lines
If all of the ticket-buying and collection rigmarole sounds a bit too much like hard work and you fancy a guided tour there is another option. You can book a tour of the Alhambra which includes admission and a guided tour, with headset for the commentary, of the Alhambra and Generalife.