The Alhambra With Kids
Activity: The Alhambra. How to Get There: Take Bus 32 or hike up the giant hill. Cost: Varies, but a general ticket is 14 euros (BUY IN ADVANCE, THEY SELL OUT!) Hours: 8:30 AM to 8 PM.
If you’re planning a trip to southern Spain, you’ve gotta see The Alhambra! The Muslim kings began building this giant palace atop a hill in 1200. Though you probably think of Spain as a primarily Catholic country, Andalusia (or Southern Spain) was actually inhabited by Muslims during The Middle Ages. In 1492, a centuries-long battle ended in Muslim defeat and they were forced south into North Africa/Morocco area. The Catholics tore down all the mosques and plopped cathedrals down on the ruins. For whatever reason, perhaps the beautiful architecture, or the fact that it was easily defensible, they left the Alhambra intact.
Ok now for the complicated ticketing process. There are a ton of ticket options and demand far exceeds the limit of 8,000 visitors/day. Ideally, you would buy a general admission ticket that covers Nasrid Palace. You’ll need to grab this ticket exactly 3 months in advance. Try before and they won’t be available. Try after and they will be sold out. Because we only planned this trip two months ago (we wanted to be sure I wasn’t carrying twins first!) we were only able to get tickets to the Generalife Gardens and the Alcazaba.
If you really want to see Nasrid Palace and you didn’t get tickets, you have a few options. You can buy a Granada Pass. They leave a few slots open and they are more expensive so they don’t sell as quickly. Another option is you can book an expensive private tour through the tourist information desks. We opted to not do this because it was out of our budget and we hope to be back in Granada one day.
All tickets are timed, however they are only strict about the entry time for Nasrid Palace. If try to enter outside the 15 min window you are out of luck. The rest of the attractions are more flexible. We hoofed it to get to our 8:30 AM Gardens reservation and we actually had all day to visit. We split the attractions between naps, so we saw half of it in the morning and half in the evening.
Once you’ve figured out your ticket, here’s how to visit with kids. No matter how you approach The Alhambra, be prepared for a climb including many staircases. A less sweaty option is to take bus 32, which we didn’t realize until AFTER we had climbed the hill twice. Strollers and baby backpacks ARE allowed in the Gardens and on the grounds. They are not allowed in the Alcazaba or Nasrid Palace. They do have free stroller checks and free front carrier rentals to make life easier.
Once you’ve figured all that out, running around here with our kid was super fun! There were a couple moments where I was nervous while he played on the ruins, but it’s basically a huge park so it was very kid-friendly. There aren’t a lot of food options up top, but we did like getting breakfast at Hotel Americana. Alex wolfed down two plates of bacon and eggs thanks to his workout getting all of us up the giant hill.