Granada/Alhambra logistics

Old Dec 27th, 2002, 09:23 AM
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Granada/Alhambra logistics

I would really appreciate it if somebody could help and offer opinions on any or all of the following: We arrive at the Granada train station at 10AM and have to depart the following morning (we were lucky and got a room at the parador). 1) How long does it take by taxi from the train station to the Alhambra? 2) Does it make more sense to try to get a ticket to the Alhambra first (say 11 or 11:30) and then visit the Albaicin in the late afternoon and evening for dinner or do the reverse (spend a few hours in the Albaicin in the late morning and have lunch there and then visit the Alhambra at 2 or so in the afternoon)? 3)If you get a morning ticket to the Alhambra can you stay until closing at 6 or only until 2 - the beginning of the afternoon session? Would really appreciate any thoughts as to how to most efficiently cover Granada in this short time. Thanks very much.
Old Dec 27th, 2002, 10:21 AM
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I would suggest:
Have late breakfast on train
Take cab from station to parador (about 15-20 mins., depending on traffic)
One of you buys tickets while the other checks in to hotel and makes reservations for lunch at the parador
Tour Alhambra (the parts with limited entry)
Have lunch at parador 2-3 p.m.
Return to Alhambra, touring the "open" sections
Walk to Albaicin about 6-7 p.m. (via Paseo de Tristes)
Have dinner around 8 (early for Spain!)
Visit other spots in Albaicin (don't miss Mirador de San Nicolas) (and watch your wallet)
Take cab back to parador
See this site for more info:
Old Dec 27th, 2002, 11:30 AM
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I'm assuming you'll purchase tickets in advance (please do!) on the site.
Then just pick them up at the dedicated line for this at the box office having in hand your locater/reservation # print out , the c.c. you used to purchase the tickets and a form of i.d. (passport, for example).

Depending on when you travel, if you wait to purchase your tickets upon arrival at 11, you may be sadly disappointed. In peak season, they often sell out of their 8,000 per day ticket allotment by 11! I've heard many a horror story. Or you may find that the only tickets left to visit the Nasrid Palace section are for 4 p.m.

1) Shouldn't take a skilled Granada taxi driver more than 15 min. from the train station to reach the parador.

2) Since you won't reach the Alhambra til 10:30 after checking in to the parador, when the crowds are at their very worst (crunch time is when the tour busses arrive between 10-11), it *might* be better to hold off your visit until the afternoon session after 2, and upon arrival at the parador, take the shuttle downtown to see the Cathedral and Royal chapel (to view the elaborate tombs of Ferdinand and Isabella, Joan the Mad, Phillip the Fair) first. They both close for siesta at 1:30. Then lunch, then afternoon Alhambra session.
But from Nov-Feb. the Alhambra closes at 6. From March to Oct. it closes at 8.

Lunch in Granada restaurants is usually served from 1-3:30-4. Some places catering to the tourist trade will open at noon.

You may want to treat yourselves to a 8:30-9 p.m. romantic dinner on the outdoor terrace (weather permitting) at the parador. A classical guitarrist will serenade you (in season), and you can soak up those wonderful views of the Generalife. Magical
at night.

But, you'll also want to taxi to the Mirador of San Nicolás in the Albaicín for those wonderful sunset views of the Alhambra before dinner. I wouldn't wander the Albaicín at night.

3) With a morning ticket you may stay on the grounds until the site closes. The time stamped on your ticket refers to the half hr. slot you have for entering the Nasrid Palace section (Palacios Nazaríes). Because of the delicate stucco work and marvels within, they limit the number of visitors to 350 per half hr. in this area to protect it as much as possible from further deterioration and to hold down the crowds. For example, if you purchase a ticket for 11 a.m. , you'll have until 11:30 to enter the Nasrid Palace area, a short walk from the main entrance, but you can stay there as long as you like (or at least, we did). You can stroll the other sections, the Alcazaba fortress, Charles V's Palace and the Generalife summer palace and gardens up the road at your leisure.

Hope this helps.
Old Dec 27th, 2002, 11:45 AM
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Congratulations on getting a room at the Parador!


Haven't been to the train station (drove in), but looks like it should be 15min. max cab ride.

I would advise getting afternoon tickets to the Alhambra. Although the web site mentions restrictions regarding reentry to the complex in the afternoon, we had no trouble doing so with morning tickets (first time slot at 8:30 AM). Still, since you really don't want to miss your time slot at the Nasrid palace, I would take no chances and get a slot at 2 PM or later. Pick up your tickets at the main entrance right after you arrive (actually a bit of a hike from the Parador) and with a little luck, you'll be able to get in to the other parts of the complex right away.

BTW, the parador doesn't accept reservations for lunch/dinner, although Parador guests do have priority if several parties are waiting for a table on the terrace. Lunch is much less crowded and the setting is equally (more?) attractive in daylight. Obviously, this isn't important if you'll be in Granada during the winter.

Regarding other sites in Granada: the Cathedral and Capilla Real, as well as the surrounding area are much more worthwhile than the Albaicin IMO. You can always take a cab or minibus up to the Mirador de San Nicolas for sunset if you still have the energy...

I wrote a reasonably detailed trip report on Granada a few months ago - here's a link:

Have a great time!
Old Dec 27th, 2002, 11:50 AM
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Maribel, you beat me to the punch ;-)

At least I gave similar advice... great minds obviously think alike!

Old Dec 27th, 2002, 12:18 PM
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Hi Andre,
I was thinking of you on another thread when I recommended a night in Osuna.
I'm going to try the Palacio Marqués de la Gomera this May.

Do read Andre's fine report; it's very detailed (Andre and I like detail...) and will be of great value to you. I have it in my travel files.
He was rightfully emphatic about those pre-purchased tickets and also about lunch. A mid-day meal at the parador would be as nice; it's just that I'm a total sucker for the candlelight dinner on the terrace (we've been know to spend 2 hrs. at this and close the place!), but in winter you may be dining inside.
Old Dec 27th, 2002, 12:42 PM
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Thanks to everyone for the great replies. I don't know if this would change any of your thoughts, but here is some additional information that I should have put in the original posting. I'm traveling with my 10 year old son in February (I rotate doing a father-son trip with each of my boys once a year). Given this, romantic dinners are unfortunately not going to be an option. Also, a couple more questions: It sounds like the Albaicin may be a little dicey at night. Is that a fair statement? 2)Really stupid question, but roughly what time does it get dark in February? Will the 2:00 time slot give us time to see the Alhambra properly? Lastly, just to confirm, if we were to get the last time slot of the morning (1 or 1:30 I think), would that allow us to stay until closing at 6? Thanks again for all of the help. It's invaluable.
Old Dec 27th, 2002, 01:03 PM
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Yes, forget the gourmet/romantic dining!
With your son, tapas/sandwiches would be your best bet.

1) I personally find the Albaicín dicey at night and sections of it a bit scruffy.

2) don't know about nightfall in Granada in Feb. Maybe 6:15? That's a job best left to our resident Andalucía posters.
In Nov. we had good light for touring until almost 5:45 p.m. and was dark by 6. If you choose the 2 p.m. slot, you'll have 4 hrs. That will probably be plenty for your 10 yr. old.

3) yes, I think you can stay until closing. We've gone in the a.m. and done the "open" sections after 2. The web site indicates that you can. "once inside visitors can stay as along as they like until the Alhambra closes".

Old Dec 27th, 2002, 03:13 PM
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Albacin is dicey in the daylight also. We were robbed in broad daylight at knife point last April. Beware.
Old Dec 27th, 2002, 04:50 PM
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For your sunset question, go to
Choose Madrid or Palma (Granada isn't an option), and you can see the sunrise/sunset calendar for Feb.

Old Dec 28th, 2002, 05:37 AM
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To someone nice and helpful.
Please, help me to find Andre's trip report that Maribel mentioned.
Old Dec 28th, 2002, 06:36 AM
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Here's the link:
Old Dec 28th, 2002, 06:50 AM
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I knew someone nice will help Loria. It is very interesting report and I thank you too, Maribel
Old Dec 28th, 2002, 10:08 AM
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With a ten year old, I would skip the Albaicin entirely, and concentrate on the Alhambra for the day. Maribel's suggestion of the Cathedral is a good one for a boy (mine loved the tombs). Although the cathedral itself doesn't take long, it is a nice walk down from the Alhambra and the square of shops in front is the essence of Granada.
An alternative might be the new science museum, especially on your way out of town. See:
Allow two hours or more for the museum.
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