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The Alhambra picture in Granada
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  • Castles/Palaces, Churches/Religious Sites, Parks and Gardens, Sightseeing Type
  • 2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
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The Alhambra is the crown jewel of Granada. Perched high atop a hill in the center of the city, this UNESCO World Heritage site dominates the skyline. The Alhambra is not only Granada and Andalusia's biggest tourist attraction, it's one of the most-visited spots in all of Spain. It draws about 2 million visitors per year, with some traveling to Granada just to see the Alhambra. And for good reason – it boasts a rich history, magnificent architecture, gorgeous gardens and stellar views.

Aesthetics aside, to really appreciate the Alhambra is to understand its history. The palace was primarily built between the 13th and 14th centuries by the Moorish Nasrid Dynasty (though small parts of it were initially constructed in the ninth century by the previous dynasty), acting as a residence for royals as well as fortress. After the Conquest of Granada, Spanish rulers made the Alhambra more their own – transforming interiors, replacing the on-site mosque with a church and adding other Renaissance-style structures, including an extra palace for Charles V. Many of what visitors see today is centuries of rebuilding and restoration. 

The Alhambra is big, with many recent visitors saying you could easily spend more than half a day exploring the site. The attraction's main points of interest include the Nasrid Palaces, Charles V's palace, Generalife (a relaxation area for previous kings) and the Alcazaba (the fortress and oldest part of the Alhambra), all of which are included in the daytime ticket. Tickets can be difficult to secure due to the immense popularity of the attraction, and as such travelers strongly encourage reserving in advance. Although there are multiple areas to explore indoors, the palace's perch atop the hill can make the sun quite unbearable; travelers who visited on a hot day advised bringing water to make traversing the grounds more comfortable.

Daytime general admission tickets cost 14 euros (about $15.50) for adults and 8 euros (about $9) for children between the ages of 15 and 12; entrance is free for children younger than 12. Nighttime tickets are available at a lower rate but don't include access to all the areas within the attraction. You can get tickets in advance at any La Caixa Bank ATM, at the Corral del Carbon on Mariana Pineda Street or even on Ticketmaster.es. The Alhambra is open daily but hours are seasonal. To control crowds, only a certain number of people are given access twice a day – 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. is the first time slot and 2 to 6 p.m. is the second. You can reach the Alhambra by walking from the Albaicín neighborhood, less than a mile north, but its location on a hill may be too big of a climb for some travelers. You can also take the C3 bus, which picks up at Plaza de Isabel La Catolica, located in the city's center. For more information visit the Alhambra's website.

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#1 The Alhambra The Alhambra is the crown jewel of Granada. Perched high atop a hill in the center of the city, this UNESCO World Heritage site dominates the skyline. The Alhambra is ... Read more » AnaPR / Getty Images

#2 The Albaicin The Albaicín neighborhood is the stuff of Spanish dreams. Narrow cobblestone roads weave through traditional homes, charming plazas, quaint courtyards and multiple historic sites. There are also plenty of shopping, dining ... Read more » kapyos / Getty Images

#3 Sierra Nevada National Park Though Granada's storied history should be absorbed as much as possible, the nearby Sierra Nevada Mountains are worth just as much exploration. The Sierra Nevada Mountains are part of ... Read more » Fotomicar / Getty Images

#4 Historical Center If you're still itching to tour more historical, not to mention architecturally gorgeous, attractions after the Alhambra, Granada's historical center is your best bet. This small neighborhood, adjacent ... Read more » JoseIgnacioSoto / Getty Images

#5 Plaza de San Nicolas Granada's hilly landscape makes for fantastic vistas, and there are few better than the views offered at the Plaza de San Nicolas. Located in the Albaicín neighborhood, less than ... Read more » Antonio Luis Martinez Cano / Getty Images

#6 Flamenco in Sacromonte The Sacromonte district is actually part of the Albaicín, occupying the northern tip of the neighborhood. But what the Sacromonte really stands out for is its caves, and the flamenco ... Read more » Park Hoonkap / Flickr

#7 Arab baths There's a history lesson to be had anywhere you go in Granada, and the city's spas are no exception. The Arab baths were once a gathering place for ... Read more » javi_indy / Getty Images

#8 The Alcaiceria If you're looking to do some serious shopping while in Granada, the Alcaiceria market is the place to go. Upon first glance, the market may seem like a tourist ... Read more » Sergey Borisov / Getty Images

The Alhambra picture in Granada
The Albaicín picture in Granada
Sierra Nevada Mountains picture in Granada
Historical Center picture in Granada
Plaza de San Nicolas picture in Granada
Flamenco picture in Granada
Hammam Al Andalus picture in Granada
Alcaiceria Market picture in Granada
The Alhambra picture in Granada
The Albaicín picture in Granada
Sierra Nevada Mountains picture in Granada
Historical Center picture in Granada
Plaza de San Nicolas picture in Granada
Flamenco picture in Granada
Hammam Al Andalus picture in Granada
Alcaiceria Market picture in Granada

AnaPR / Getty Images

The Albaicín neighborhood is as charming as they come. Cobblestone streets, quaint plazas and beautiful carmenes, or traditional whitewashed homes dot the area. What's more, it's considered a UNESCO World Heritage site. kapyos / Getty Images

Bordering the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Granada is brimming with hiking opportunities. The Los Cahorros gorge is a popular hike and Sierra Nevada Ski Resorts affords access to plenty of alpine trails, but if you don't want to travel too far, hit up the Dehesa del Generalife.  Fotomicar / Getty Images

JoseIgnacioSoto / Getty Images

The most popular vantage point in Granada is Plaza de San Nicolas for its unobstructed views of the Alhambra. Come at night to see the attraction lit up, as well as locals dancing and drinking.  Antonio Luis Martinez Cano / Getty Images

Granada is a great place to catch a flamenco show. Sacromonte, the neighborhood just above the Albaicín, hosts flamenco shows in caves that were previously occupied by gypsies. Gypsies are said to have developed flamenco in Andalusia when they emigrated to the province.  Park Hoonkap / Flickr

Those wanting to experience the Arab baths in Granada should check into Hammam Al Andalus, one of the most popular working bath houses in the city.   javi_indy / Getty Images

Once Arab markets, the Alcaiceria features a number of goods difficult to find outside of Andalusia, including Moroccan leather bags, taracea, or wooden inlay goods and fajalauza, or painted ceramics. Sergey Borisov / Getty Images

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