Having recently spent a week in the gorgeous Southern Spanish city of Granada, I've also recently been through the process of booking tickets to see the main attractions inside The Alhambra.
What I found was, that though online all reservations were listed as full or 'not available' this was not exactly the case. I also made some mistakes when planning the time I needed to see The Alhambra.
Here are 5 helpful tips for you so you can avoid wasting any time or missing out on what you want to see when you visit Granada, and this spectacular architecturally and historically rich site:
1) Make Reservations Online
Make reservations for the Nazarie Palace (the big Moorish mosque-palace turned church that is a main attraction and totally worth the time and money) online ahead of time. However, only do so if you know for sure you can make it at that time. There are no refunds or cancellations.
2) Plan B: Go to the Alhambra Visitors Office
If you see that there are no reservations available online... DON'T despair. You can go in person to the Alhambra Visitors Office in the center of Granada and buy tickets there. For some reason, they don't list all available appointments online.
If you can't get tickets when you show up to the central office, there is still a last option. You can show up on the morning of the day you want to visit, super early (before they open) and stand in line. There are some tickets that become available each day and as the saying goes 'the early bird catches the worm'.
3) Set Aside More Than One Day
Plan to visit the site of The Alhambra more than once. The site is huge and has so many different things to see that it's tough to do the whole thing in a day.
You could easily visit this site for a few hours a few days in a row and you won't regret it if you do. You can even make it your morning running or hiking workout (plenty of trails to run and hills to climb!)
It's also nice to go ahead of time and make sure you know the route there (walking is recommended versus taking a taxi) as well as how long it will take you to reach the entrance from your hotel/apartment.
If you have an appointment at The Palace you don't want to get lost and be late (they won't let you in).
4) Be Prepared to Wait in Line
Although you have an appointment, there will still be a huge, long line you will have to wait in. Be prepared for that.
In my experience, there's really no point in showing up an hour early and getting in line. Sure, you'll be the first ones in the doors, but you'll also be standing in line for an entire hour because Spanish people don't ever start things earlier than planned.
Once the line starts moving, it's quick, since there's only a certain number of people allowed in for each appointment time slot anyways.
5) Pack a Lunch
Bring a lunch and something to drink. You could easily spend a whole day here and you don't want to have to cut your day short because you are hungry.
Sure you could eat at the fancy tourist restaurants that are within the walls of The Alhambra but they know you're a captive audience so won't receive the best prices or the best food.
Plus, with so much gorgeous greenery to explore, and so many benches and gardens, it's the perfect place to have a picnic lunch (chorizo con queso anyone?).