Get Last Minute Tickets to the Alhambra in Granada, Spain
My husband, son and I were planning a last minute trip to Granada from Seville, leaving in three days. Granada is an amazing city in Spain; one of my favorites actually. It’s great for its FREE tapas included with drinks, amazing views, cute little streets, and charming plazas. But the most notable thing that people often go to Granada for is the breathtaking and iconic World Heritage Site – The Alhambra. It is the top-rated, most popular tourist destination IN ALL OF EUROPE. It isn’t to be missed.
As we were planning our trip (booking hotels and rental cars, etc.), I casually Googled the Alhambra to see how to get tickets. I didn’t know that I should of booked tickets MONTHS AGO in order to actually be able to see it. It was sold out solid for nearly the next three months. I started to panic. How could we go to Granada and not tour the Alhambra? Third-party tours were sold out as well as the Granada Card for our dates. I started doing some research and found some information about going early in the morning to stand in line for last minute tickets. I read that they give out 400 additional tickets each day. I decided that that is what I was going to have to do. (Generally you can easily get daytime tickets for the Alcazaba, Generalife, and gardens of the Alhambra but the Nasrid Palace is the bottleneck because they strictly limit access to only a certain number of visitors each hour.)
After we checked into the hotel, we talked to the concierge about our tickets, or lack thereof, and told him of my plan to go early in the morning. He informed me that as of December 2017, they have done away with selling day-of tickets early in the morning to the Alhambra. I was half relieved (I wasn’t looking forward to a 4:30 AM wake-up time) and half discouraged about not being able to see what we came here to see. He told us that all hope wasn’t lost, but that there was still a chance that we could get tickets at midnight. At midnight, the official Alhambra website is updated with tickets that are available for the next day due to last minute returns and mix-ups. The thing is, in our experience, they are gone by 12:01 AM. You literally have one minute to snatch them before they are gone. Two minutes if you are lucky. It is a cyber war between you and all the other procrastinators who are also fighting for last minute tickets. So my husband and I made a plan. I would try to get tickets through the concierge while he would try to get tickets through the regular public website on his computer. No stress….
How to Get Last Minute Tickets From Your Hotel Concierge
Depending on what hotel you are staying at, your concierge might be of help to you in this process. Our morning concierge was very helpful and seemed hopeful that we would be able to get tickets for the following day. However, when I went down to the lobby at 11:45 PM as I was told to do, there was a new concierge working who wasn’t as helpful. He wasn’t too good with technology and didn’t seem too keen on helping me. He seemed to think it was a big waste of time. There was also a major language barrier, which enhanced the difficulty of the situation.
Even still, I stayed and practically forced him to help me. You see, some hotels have special access to a private hotel online database on the Alhambra website, that only hotels can book through. Not all hotels have access apparently but if staying at a mid-level or nicer hotel, there is a good chance they do. The Alhambra gives a certain amount of tickets to these hotels to divvy out to their customers. If you have only procrastinated two or three weeks before your trip to get tickets, then contact your hotel right away and see if they can help you. They probably can and then your problem will be easily solved. (In April, our hotel had tickets available for the following week.) Since we were the true procrastinators, booking tickets the week of, we didn’t have it that simple. The hotel booking system didn't have available so we had to go with the “midnight-snatching-tickets-online” route.
Here is What You Do
(Please read through all the steps and the post in its entirety before you attempt to get tickets at midnight to make sure everything is clear.)
1. Make an arrangement to go down to the hotel lobby at 11:45 PM and have the concierge or front desk help you. Have them get the website loaded and ready to go. The official Alhambra website in English is – https://tickets.alhambra-patronato.es/en/ Have your passport number ready as well as your credit card. Make sure the concierge is logged into the hotel access part of the website where they are able to see the tickets that the hotels have access to, not the general public.
2. Click on “Alhambra General- Buy Now 14 Euros.” Click on “Purchase Tickets.” Select the number of people that you are needing to buy tickets for. Remember to “buy” a ticket for children twelve and under even though their ticket is free. (The lesser amount of tickets that you are purchasing the more likely you will succeed in getting them.) Click “Go to Step 2.”
3. The calendar should be color-coded. Green means available, yellow means there are a small amount of tickets available, and red means completely sold out. If you are still reading, and in this predicament, then you are probably seeing lots of red. Now you need to get ready.
4. AT EXACTLY MIDNIGHT (or starting slightly before), you need to see if any new tickets appear for sale. To do this, you need to start on the first screen shot below (where you enter how many and what types of tickets you want to purchase) and then go back and forth between that page and the calendar page by using the back arrow. On the calendar page, if the color red changes on your wanted date to yellow or green, then click that date as quickly as possible on the calendar and also a time-slot below the calendar to snatch those tickets! You must select your time choice before it will let you go onto "Step 3." If you don’t see any color changes for the day you are looking for then you are out of luck for the General Admission ticket. (Wait! Scroll down to, “What to Do if This Doesn’t Work,” for some other good ticket combination options to try with the concierge.) (To be clear, I stayed on the previous page of the calendar, the one that reads, “Finish your ticket purchase," and "Tell us what type of ticket you need to purchase,” where you insert the number of tickets and the ages that you need. Then I clicked “Go to step 2,” to check the calendar. I repeated this over and over again by clicking the back arrow, going back and forth between the two screen shots below. You have to repeat this over and over at midnight as new tickets come into the system.)
5. Onto Step 3, now you need to hurry to complete your purchase and get it finalized. I'm not sure if the system reserves the tickets for you unless you pay for the tickets. Continue on with the standard steps to checkout, insert your passport number and your credit card number and finalize it. You should get a confirmation of your tickets and an email.
6. Have your hotel print your tickets out for you. Although our hotel thought we would need our passports when we show your tickets at the entrance of the Alhambra, our experience was different. We brought our passports and no one ever asked to see them - do with that information as you wish.
Congratulations! You got tickets!
How to Get Tickets at Midnight on Your Computer
Like I said above, my husband and I were trying to up our chances of getting tickets, so I met with the concierge in the hotel lobby looking on the hotel access page, and he stayed in the hotel room with the laptop looking at the tickets for the general public.
If you are staying in your hotel on your computer, follow the same steps as above, but this time you are doing it alone and on the general website. Make sure you are somewhere with a strong Wi-Fi connection. Be prepared ahead of time and practice loading tickets so you are familiar with how the website works so you don’t have any hesitation when midnight arrives. You literally only have one minute to get them so you have to be completly ready.
What to Do If This Doesn’t Work
The “General Ticket” might be sold out, which is the most popular ticket to get, but there still might be other types of tickets available. Check out all of the other ticket options. There are three other types of tickets to consider –
- “Gardens, Generalife and Alcazaba” ticket- €7 (These are generally always available.)
- “Night Visit to Nasrid Palace” ticket- €8
- “Night Visit to Gardens and Generalife” ticket- €5
Our Story Ends Like This
I didn’t have any success with the hotel concierge. The calendar never changed colors meaning that no new tickets ever loaded. (The morning concierge said that he has done it in the past with other customers and had success.) My husband, up in the hotel room, had success at first. As he refreshed the page at midnight, the calendar color changed and he clicked it right away, but was unable to select a time and move onto Step 3, he lost the tickets because of a poor Wi-Fi connection or other system error. Ugh! However, our story has a happy ending.
How We Finally Got Tickets
My husband was simultaneously refreshing ticket options for the Nighttime Palace tickets in another browser. At 12:01, instead of seeing a sea of red, there was YELLOW! He clicked on the date that we needed, clicked the only time (10:00 PM is the only time for the Nightime Palace) and he got tickets! After we secured Nasrid Palace tickets, right away we bought the daytime “Gardens, Generalife and Alcazaba” tickets, which are generally always available. We toured those sections during the day, got some dinner between our visits, and then used the “Night Visit to Nasrid Palace” ticket to see the most important part, the Nasrid Palace, at 10 PM that evening. It wasn’t ideal for a family with a toddler but it worked, and we were able to, in a round about way, see everything that the General Admission ticket would have shown us.
It’s hard to say whether a daytime or nighttime visit to the Nasrid Palace is better since we didn’t see the inside of the Nasrid Palace during the day, but we LOVED seeing it at night. We were actually glad that it ended up working out the way that it did because it was just so beautiful to experience it at night! Our two-year old, Jimmy, even cooperated, which was a miracle!
So, Here is an Overview
1. If you know you are going to visit the Alhambra in a few months or more, learn from our mistake and GET TICKETS NOW.
2. If all the tickets are sold out online but you are still 2-3 weeks out and you have a hotel booked, contact the hotel and see if they can help you get tickets.
3. Try to get tickets from third-party tour groups (search Google) or purchase the Granada Card, offered by the Granada City Council which bundles local transportation and access to other fabulous Granada sites with tickets to the Alhambra. (Note: both of these options will be more expensive than purchasing tickets directly from the Alhambra website.)
4. If you are in Granada and don’t have tickets but want to see it while you are there – Talk with your concierge and try to get tickets at midnight with the help of the hotel and/or get tickets at midnight on your own using your computer.
5. If you aren’t successful in getting the “General Admission” ticket, then hurry and look at the other ticket options to see what you can get. Try to combine a daytime Gardens ticket with a nighttime ticket or just buy one daytime ticket or one nighttime ticket, whatever is available.
6. If all else fails and no tickets are available no matter what you try, then stop and get a good nights rest, knowing that you did everything that you could. The next day, sit yourself down and relax at “Abaco Té, “ and enjoy the Alhambra from afar. This cute little café gives you an amazing view of the whole city of Granada including the Alhambra, while you sip a freshly squeezed kiwi orange juice or a warm cup of Té de Pakistani.
I hope this was helpful and that you get tickets! Please let me know in the comments about your experiences getting tickets or if anything changes with the ticket process so I can update this post! Thank you! Good luck!