Alhambra complex is made up of three main sections; The Nasrid Palaces, The Generalife Gardens, and the Alcazaba Fortress. Each portion has its own unique draw. From the stunningly detailed architecture of The Nasrid Palaces, the lovely gardens and water features of Generalife, to the breathtaking views from Alcazaba. Tickets can be purchased for the sections individually, but if you're in Granada why miss out on the total package?
Procuring tickets to visit the Alhambra isn't difficult, but it does require some planning. I bought my tickets about a month before my visit, via the official Alhambra website and Ticketmaster, and I highly recommend you do the same. A limited number of tickets are sold to the Nasrid Palaces per day, so if you wait until the last minute you will likely be disappointed. As I was standing in line to pick up my ticket, around 9 am, the ticket office announced that spots to visit the Nasrid Palaces were full for the day. A couple I met in Sevilla told a similar story, they had not pre-booked tickets and were out of luck by the time they reached the ticket center. My ticket was €14,30 which worked out to around $20, more than worth it for a day full of beauty and history.
Plan your tour for early morning or late afternoon to avoid the hot midday sun, as well as the heavy foot traffic. I toured the gardens in the morning, ahead of my 12:30 ticket to the Nasrid Palaces. Even then there were quite a few people about, still I found plenty of private nooks and pockets of calm. The Alhambra's hillside location makes for gorgeous views of Granada. Every detail of the architecture seems designed to take advantage of the setting. It's easy to see why the site was chosen as a royal retreat.
Originally completed in 1309, Generalife was most recently updated in the early 20th century. Despite their age and the volume of tourists, the gardens are beautifully maintained, full of blooming flowers and stunning water features. Even if you're unable to procure a ticket to The Nasrid Palace portion of the Alhambra, the Generalife Gardens are absolutely worth a visit.