Located on the Cerro del Sol, the Generalife is one of the most beautiful places in the Alhambra. It is an oasis of tranquillity where you can enjoy the fresh air and stroll through its flowering gardens listening to the soothing sound of the water from the palace's fountains and pools.
Sounds great, doesn't it? If you want to visit the Generalife of the Alhambra I recommend you to keep reading because in this post I tell you how to get tickets and some tips to enjoy an unforgettable experience.
1. How to buy tickets for the Generalife of the Alhambra?
The Generalife Palace and its gardens is, together with the Nasrid Palaces, one of the most popular areas of the Alhambra, which is why it attracts so many visitors. You have to see it!
But to make sure you get in at the date and time you want, my advice is to book your Alhambra tickets online and as far in advance as possible (about one or two months before your trip) as there are several advantages over doing it at the ticket office.
On the one hand, you will be able to compare prices and types of tickets (day or night tours, with or without guided tour, in small or standard groups, etc.) and on the other hand you will avoid having to stand in endless queues at the ticket offices of the monument with the consequent risk of running out of tickets and being left at the gates because the demand is very high, tickets are in high demand and the capacity is limited every day.
2. How much do tickets to the Generalife Palace and its gardens cost?
Entrance to the Generalife Palace and gardens is included in the Alhambra ticket price and in most guided tours of the Nasrid fortress, so you will not have to pay extra to access this part of the fortress.
If you only want to visit the Generalife and the gardens, the ticket price at the ticket office is 7 euros and includes the Partal and the Alcazaba as well. However, for a little more money you can buy a general Alhambra ticket which, in addition to all of the above, includes access to the Nasrid Palaces, the jewel in the crown of the monumental complex.
However, in my experience, I don't recommend you get them at the ticket office because the demand to visit the Alhambra is very high and the capacity is limited each day, so if you opt for this option you run the risk of queuing for a very long time without the certainty that you will be able to get them. Tickets fly!
You will only be guaranteed access if you decide to buy online a skip-the-line ticket to the Alhambra, which allows you to enter the monument directly and you will be accompanied by an expert guide throughout the visit.
If you want to know more about this topic, have a look at the post Alhambra ticket prices.
3. Is it worth taking a guided tour of the Generalife?
In my opinion, there is no better way to get to know the Nasrid fortress than by taking a guided tour of the Alhambra, especially if it is your first visit and you are not familiar with it, so I recommend it 100%!
There is no doubt that if you explore the Alhambra on your own you will see a very beautiful site but the experience may not be enough because you will miss the context, the curiosities and, in short, the global vision of a monument of this magnitude that a professional guide always provides on a guided tour.
During the tour, the guide will explain in detail all the spaces you see and you will travel back in time to the origins of this ancient palatine city to discover its history and delve into the meaning of its delicate architecture, which has fascinated travellers from all over the world for generations.
I believe that having the assistance of a guide during a visit to the Alhambra really makes a difference. They will give you a much more interesting and complete view not only of its historical dimension but also of its artistic dimension.
Besides, I loved the experience of taking a guided tour of the Alhambra because they know how to turn a cultural visit into something enjoyable. You'll have a great time because they don't just recite boring facts, they interact with the group so that they have a good time and you can be sure that you'll have fun. So don't hesitate, you're sure to have a good time!
4. How does the visit to the Generalife work?
If you only buy a ticket to see the Generalife and its gardens you can go straight to the Generalife but if you are visiting as part of a complete tour of the Alhambra, then it is best to plan your visit there according to the time indicated on your ticket, as each visitor is only allowed to enter this part of the fortress at their allocated time and this cannot be changed.
Thus, I advise you to first see the Sultans' residence, then explore the Alcazaba and finally the Generalife, where you can enjoy the beautiful scenery as you stroll through the trees and along paths that lead to the beautiful flower gardens, orchards and pools that decorate this part of the Alhambra.
It's the finishing touch to a sensational visit! You won't stop taking photos in the Generalife and its gardens.
5. How long does the visit to the Generalife last?
To see the Generalife at your leisure, enjoying the views of the fortress and the city of Granada in the distance and taking as many photos of the beautiful landscape as you like, I recommend spending at least 30 minutes there.
Normally, this part of the Alhambra is usually left for the end of the visit and some people don't even go and skip it, so unlike the Nasrid Palaces, this place is not crowded and there is no set time limit.
You can wander around the Generalife for a while and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of its gardens and fountains as the Nasrid sultans once did!
There is no doubt that this is a very popular part of the visit to the Nasrid fortress but there are other very interesting parts. In my article Duration of the visit to the Alhambra I tell you in detail how much time you will need to see the monument in its entirety, among other things.
This way you can plan the activities afterwards, such as booking a table to eat at a restaurant near the monument. In the post Where to eat near the Alhambra you will find several very cool proposals with beautiful views.
6. Is it possible to visit the Generalife at night?
Yes, and it is a fascinating experience! It is an option that I recommend you to consider if you would like to contemplate the Alhambra under the moonlight, in an original and different way. When the sun sets, the darkness and silence envelop it in a mysterious and captivating atmosphere that will not leave you indifferent.
While the daytime tours cover the entire monumental complex, the night-time tours focus exclusively on the beauty of the Generalife Palace and its gardens or the Nasrid Palaces. Both tours last 1 hour and 30 minutes, but they take place separately within the same timetable.
Contemplating the Generalife at night is, in my opinion, an essential visit to make during your trip to Granada because, if in daylight the Alhambra is amazing, under the stars it looks with an enigmatic and special charm.
If there is one thing I like about visiting the Generalife at night, it is that there are fewer visitors than during the day and because it takes place in the stillness of the night, the walk through the Alhambra is more peaceful and introspective.
In addition, the delicate lighting of the monument at night creates an intimate atmosphere ideal for enjoying the fusion between the natural surroundings and the architecture of the palatine city.
If you would like to know more about the night visit to the Generalife and its gardens, I recommend you to read my article Night visits to the Alhambra.
7. What should I bring to see the Generalife Palace and its gardens?
As well as a good camera with which to capture the beauty of this icon of Granada, remember to bring your passport or ID card with you on the day of your visit.
Don't forget it! This document is essential to enter the Alhambra. For security and conservation reasons, the monument staff carry out identification checks on visitors and it is necessary to show your documentation together with your tickets, which are nominative, personal and non-transferable.
On the other hand, to see the Generalife Palace and its gardens from top to bottom without hurting your feet at the end of the day, I advise you to wear comfortable shoes for the visit because the route around the Nasrid fortress is long (3.5 kilometres) and you will be walking quite a lot.
Finally, if like many other tourists you take advantage of the summer holidays to travel to Granada and visit the Generalife and the rest of the monumental complex, you should be aware that it is very hot in the city at this time of the year. 40ºC can be reached!
To protect yourself from the high temperatures, especially when visiting a part of the Alhambra where you will be spending a lot of time outdoors, my advice is to apply sunscreen, cover your head with a hat and wear sunglasses. Also, remember to pack some cold water and a fan in your backpack to cool off - it's always a good idea!
You can read other useful tips to get to know the monument in the post Tips for visiting the Alhambra.
8. When is the best time to visit the Generalife and when is the best time?
The best time
If you are passionate about photography, the best time of the year to see the Alhambra is autumn (September and October) and spring (April, May, June) when the landscape is tinged with multiple colours and you can admire the beauty of the Generalife gardens in all their splendour. Moreover, during these two seasons the weather is milder and milder than in summer or winter.
The best time
If you want to see the Generalife Palace and its gardens along with the rest of the Alhambra in the morning, in my opinion the best time is early in the day when the monument opens its doors or after lunch around 3 or 4 PM, when there are fewer tourists inside.
And within this timetable I advise you to go to the Generalife at the end of the visit, after having seen the Nasrid Palaces and the Alcazaba, to be able to enjoy the views of the Alhambra's nature without rushing and take as many pictures of the landscape as you wish.
However, if you want to focus on seeing the Generalife and its gardens, a highly recommended option is the night visits to the Alhambra (in winter at 8 PM and in summer at 10 PM), which are very charming. Contemplating it in the moonlight and in the serenity of the night is a magical and special experience difficult to forget.
If you would like to know more about the opening and closing times of the Alhambra to better plan your visit, don't miss the article Timetables of the Alhambra in Granada where I tell you everything in detail.
9. Is it possible to see the Generalife for free?
No, it is generally not possible. As with the Nasrid Palaces, access to the Generalife Palace and its gardens is paid and you will need to buy a ticket to do a tour of this area of the Alhambra, whether it is a day or night visit.
But like everything in life, there are exceptions! Only if you are from Granada or live in Granada you can visit the Alhambra for free during the weekends as part of the initiative launched by the Patronato de la Alhambra y Generalife to raise awareness of the cultural importance of the Alhambra among the local population.
These types of free visits are in great demand and it is not easy to get a place. However, if you are from Granada you can try to do so by making a reservation online, filling in the form and attaching the required supporting documentation. If you prefer to apply in person, another option for locals is to go to the Residents' Office in the Corral del Carbón.
However, if you are a foreign traveller passing through Granada, don't worry because there are ways to save money on your Alhambra tickets, which I'll tell you about in the article How to get free or discounted tickets to the Alhambra!
10. What will I see during my visit to the Generalife?
The Generalife Palace was a summer villa separate from the Alhambra to which the Nasrid sultans retired to relax and get away from the formalities of the court.
Conceived as a recreational estate for the royalty of Granada, the Generalife was provided with all kinds of comforts to make their stay here as pleasant as possible. Thus, a multitude of trees and flowers were planted for pleasant strolls and gardens in which to relax in the fresh air.
Walking through the Generalife, amidst the abundant vegetation while listening to the murmur of the water of the irrigation channels in the background, you can really feel the peace that the sultans sought when they came here to get away from the hustle and bustle of life in the Alhambra.
As you enter the gardens of the Generalife you will see that the landscape looks like something out of a fairy tale from "The Thousand and One Nights" as it comes from the cultural legacy of Al-Andalus, although you will also see ornamental elements from other historical periods such as the Renaissance or Romanticism.
The result is a beautiful orchard full of roses, jasmine, oleanders, lavender, myrtle, cypresses and water lilies above the pools worthy of photographing and enjoying with the eyes and nose, especially at sunset when the air of the Alhambra is impregnated with the fragrance of the flowers and plants that decorate it.
Some of the most beautiful areas you can visit during your tour of the Generalife are the Paseo de los Cipreses, the Patio de la Sultana, the Jardines Nuevos or the Patio de la Acequia, among many others. Get your camera ready because you won't get tired of taking pictures!