19 July 2016.

Granada’s Alhambra, perched on a hill overlooking the city, is the most visited site in Spain and one of the most popular monuments worldwide. So, it should come as no surprise that everyone wants a ticket in.

During high season tickets sell out months in advance, but for those who missed out and are still looking to take in the splendour of the ancient palace and the beauty of the gardens, there is a way.

After missing out on advance sales, queuing in the rain and dark – not once but TWICE – we think we know just about everything there is to know about locking down a last-minute Alhambra ticket. Plus, we have a little bonus tip for those who just don’t have time to wait in lines.

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Alhambra Tickets: How to Get Last Minute Alhambra Tickets in Granada, Spain

Six weeks out from our trip to Granada, Spain we did a little Googling only to find that there were no more Alhambra tickets available until 2 months later. Damn It!

And this was in low season.

After a few more hours of frantic searching, we managed to find some vague details about buying last-minute tickets to the Alhambra to get inside. When we arrived in Granada we were determined. We got some insider knowledge from our Airbnb host and asked probably a few too many questions of the Alhambra’s ticket attendants who suggested that we should arrive no later than 7 a.m. if we had any hope of getting any tickets.

Alhambra Tickets: How to Get Last Minute Alhambra Tickets in Granada, Spain

At 6 o’clock the next morning we crawled out of bed, wrapped up in all of our clothes (who knew Spain could be so cold?). We power walked through the rain and darkness up cobblestoned alleys, up corridors of steps and a little more up hill to reach the ticket line. At 6:30 the line was already in full swing with about 40 people in front of us. By 7 o’clock the line was too long for the arranged zig-zag formation and was winding down the road.

We smiled to ourselves, a little too smugly. We were confident the tickets were ours for the taking.

Alhambra Palace Tickets: How to Get Last Minute Alhambra Tickets in Granada, Spain

After an hour of waiting in the cold, Freya doing an incessant wiggle dance hopping foot to foot to keep her legs from going numb, the screens above the queue sprang to life showing that there were 200 tickets up for grabs that day.

As 8 o’clock finally rolled around, the people in the queue shuffled closer together, as if making the line as short as possible would ensure we all got in. The excitement in the air was palpable. The moment was here. We were getting in…

… or so we thought.

Alhambra Tickets: How to Get Last Minute Alhambra Tickets in Granada, Spain
Alhambra Tickets: How to Get Last Minute Alhambra Tickets in Granada, Spain

The doors opened and the first customers were ushered to the counters. We stood there, 40 people back in the queue, cash at the ready. But, we soon realised the numbers on the screens were dropping quickly. Too quickly. Only 6 people had entered and left with tickets and we were already down to just 120 tickets left.

Alhambra Tickets: How to Get Last Minute Alhambra Tickets in Granada, Spain

The line was moving painfully slowly and we stood there, getting more and more anxious. With just 4 people in front of us the number had now dropped to 22. We were willing the line to move faster – hurry up and take our money – but as the man in front of us was ushered up to a counter the number on the screen dropped from 7 to 0.

They were out of tickets.

And here we were, stuck at the front of the queue.

SHIT!

Alhambra Tickets: How to Get Last Minute Alhambra Tickets in Granada, Spain

What had been a huddle of excitement now became a group of very frustrated tourists. Should we just get a different ticket that only allows partial admission? Do we have time to do this all again tomorrow? Do we even want to do this all again tomorrow?

But most importantly… where the hell did all those bloody tickets go?

Alhambra Tickets: How to Get Last Minute Alhambra Tickets in Granada, Spain

After a bit of investigating we soon found the culprit. Hidden behind the gift shop, to the right of the main entrance, prettily draped in grape vines and surrounded by orange trees is a separate area for credit card sales.

While the cash line has just two counters selling tickets (the other two are for advanced sale collection) and moves at a frustrating snails pace, the credit card sales are through four machines specifically for General Admission tickets which means you are in and out in just a few seconds.

** UPDATE: These credit card machines are no longer in operation. All tickets are sold through the main ticket desk. **

Alhambra Tickets: How to Get Last Minute Alhambra Tickets in Granada, Spain

So, the next morning, with full dress rehearsal under our belt, we queued up to do it all again. This time in the much shorter and oh-so-much-faster credit card line. Less than one minute after the doors opened, we walked out with relief, 2 tickets in our hands. Finally!

Alhambra Tickets: How to Get Last Minute Alhambra Tickets in Granada, Spain
Alhambra Tickets: How to Get Last Minute Alhambra Tickets in Granada, Spain
Alhambra Tickets: How to Get Last Minute Alhambra Tickets in Granada, Spain

We went straight to the entrance to the Alhambra to wait for the doors to open at 8:30 and were the first people of the day to walk through those hedge lined walkways, between tall trees and palace walls.

Granada

We spent nearly the whole day in the complex, taking our time to smell the roses, literally. The Palace is the main attraction and it did not disappoint. Walking through the chambers with their colourful mosaics, intricate carvings and inscriptions and complex roof formations inspired by Muhammad’s cave were a pleasure to explore.

Alhambra Tickets: How to Get Last Minute Alhambra Tickets in Granada, Spain

Seeing it in its current state only makes you imagine how grand it must have been when it was a functioning palace. The gardens are also incredible, overflowing with colourful flowers, the scent of roses heavy in the air, and the constant sound of flowing water echoing from the fountains and river passages that are a constant throughout the complex.

Alhambra Tickets: How to Get Last Minute Alhambra Tickets in Granada, Spain

After spending nearly the whole day exploring every inch of the Alhambra grounds, the Alcazaba with its beautiful views of Granada, getting caught in the pouring rain in the stunning gardens of Generalife and weaving through the renaissance-style pillars of the Palace of Charles V, we stumbled through the old wooden gates back to modern day Granada.

Alhambra Tickets: How to Get Last Minute Alhambra Tickets in Granada, Spain
Tips For Getting Last Minute Alhambra Tickets

1  |  First up, if you are planning a trip to the south of Spain and intend on going to the Alhambra, the easiest option is obviously to book your tickets several months in advance, especially during high season. For the lucky ones who can get them, General Admission tickets for the Alhambra are €14.00. Check here to book your ticket.

 

2  |  ** UPDATE: As I understand it, queues for same-day Alhambra ticket sales are no longer available. Instead, if there are still tickets available they will be listed for sale through the online ticketing platform here. From midnight, any cancelled tickets for that day will become available for resale so if you’ve missed out, it’s a good idea to check at this time.

 

3  |  ** UPDATE: As of 1 October 2017, the credit card machines are no longer in operation and all tickets are sold through the main ticket desk. You also need to bring your passport in order to buy a ticket.

 

4  |  Cards are now accepted in the main ticket line, though cash is the faster method of payment and not all cards are accepted. We met people who had problems using foreign debit cards. It is best to have a selection if you are concerned your card may not work. We had no problem using an overseas credit card.

 

5  |  Doors to the Alhambra complex open at 8:30 a.m. You need to queue up to enter and have your ticket scanned. Don’t hang around after buying your ticket, go straight to this line to get in early.

 

6  |  If you have purchased same-day tickets Alhambra tickets, you’ll most likely have an early entry time to the Nasrid Palaces. Do not miss this slot because you will not be allocated another one.

 

7  |  A coffee shop next to the ticket office opens at 7 a.m. and sells hot drinks and snacks for the early birds.

 

8  |  As a last resort, if you really don’t have time to waste standing in queues in the wee hours, a ‘Skip the Line‘ tour is an excellent alternative. Alhambra tickets can be purchased much closer to the day and you can visit the site as part of a guided tour to all or part of the complex depending on the package. Save time and search for available tours here.

 

These are some of the best-rated tours:

Alhambra Ticket And Guided Tour With Nasrid Palaces

Alhambra Complex Guided Tour

Alhambra and Generalife Skip-The-Line & Guided Tour

Alhambra & Generalife Guided Tour

Did you manage to get same-day tickets to the Alhambra? Has anything changed? We'd love to hear from you so we can keep this post updated.
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The Secret to Getting Last-Minute Tickets To Granada's Alhambra

10 Comments

  1. Just to let you know that the Alhambra has changed their policy and I wanted to let you know that myself and a lot of others I met in the line yesterday had checked your website too – so you might want to update this page. So FYI: The credit card machines aren’t in operation anymore as of Oct 1, 2017 and you need to bring your passport to buy tickets. It’s just one line at the main ticket office. We got there on a Friday at 5:45am and there was already about 70 or so people in front of us. But they had 470 tickets available to sell so we were fine and got our tickets about 9:15am. Ticket office also opens at 8am.

    Thanks for your article though! I’m sure it’s helped a lot of people in getting tickets and lessening the stress of getting tickets on the day of our visit.

  2. Hi Chris/ Freya,

    Is it also possible to buy the night visit tickets to Nasrid Palace in the same fashion. I must also tell you that online options for the same are all exhausted. Much thanks in advance.

    Regards,
    Abhishek

    • Hi Abhishek, I’m sorry to say I honestly don’t know. With the same-day tickets we were allocated a time slot for the Palace visit and weren’t able to choose the session, but perhaps it is different for the night visits. If you are set on visiting at night, perhaps call the booking office to see if it is possible to buy same-day tickets, or I would suggest looking at a Skip-The-Line Night Tour if you haven’t already. They are more expensive than general entry but you are guaranteed a ticket for your chosen visiting time and you get the benefit of a knowledgeable guide.

  3. Just so you know, all tickets are now online only, so no more long lines at the main gate. Once the online tickets are sold out, all the tickets are gone. Thank you!

  4. any chance you can help out with the link for the online tickets. we were unaware of the need for advanced tickets and the only tour available is 250us for our family. I assume the online day of ticket sales start at midnight like then post above says? please help us out with a link

    thanks

    • Hey David, thanks for letting me know about the link! I have replaced it now with the official ticketing page. As far as I understand it, yes, any available tickets will become available at midnight, but only if there have been cancellations. This is a new policy from the beginning of the year so I’m honestly not 100% sure how it plays out in practice. Good luck and hopefully there’s a few available for you and your family!
      Also, if it works out, it would be awesome if you could comment back to confirm the process for other readers!

    • Hi David,

      Not sure if you’d still be checking these pages, but I was curious if in the end you were able to purchase some last minute tickets online as you hoped to.

      I am in a similar situation and was shocked to find that despite checking 6 weeks before my trip, there would be no tickets available until the summer… :(!

      Thanks!

  5. We are in Granada right now. No online tickets available for the next weeks, but we checked the online booking website a few times during the day yesterday, and 2tix became available for today! It looks to me that you should check the booking website from time to time (we also tried at midnight, but we weren’t successful).

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