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What To Know Before Buying Alhambra Tickets on Ticketmaster | Granada, Spain

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Essential Tips for Booking Alhambra Tickets

Information Updated as of February 9th, 2017

The Alhambra is the essential sight in Southern Spain. You know, the one on every guidebook cover, the one all your friends rave about, the one Rick Steve recommends… well you get the point.

What you might not realize is that the attraction is so popular that visitors are limited to just 6,600 per day. (Yes I thought that was an odd number as well.) “Ok, sounds straightforward, I’ll just buy a ticket” you’re thinking. Well unfortunately, 6,600 tickets sounds like a lot but the Alhambra is such an iconic sight that tickets sell out fast and the recommended guideline is to buy them 90 days in advance. Plus, even though they allot that many per day, tickets are further restricted down so that no more than 300 people can enter the Palace section every 30 minutes. I first searched for tickets 60 days out from my trip and only had 1 morning option of Alhambra palace tour tickets online left to me. I’d recommend planning 3 days in Granada and looking at Alhambra tickets first before you confirm hotel dates and trains/flights. It’d be very disappointing to visit Granada without seeing the Alhambra!

Another thing to note is that tickets are sold in time slots. This was a new concept to me, but if you’ve already been to Barcelona and seen the Gaudi sights, you’re probably familiar with this process. When you buy a ticket for a time, you’re committing to that specific time window. Show up early? Feel free to wait. Show up late? You’re out of luck.

I found the whole process a bit confusing especially since it wasn’t super clearly outlined in guidebooks, so I thought I’d write a post on what I learned in a tips and tricks guide to visiting the Alhambra!

First, what is the Alhambra:

The Alhambra


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The Alhambra is Spain’s most popular attraction clocking in over 2.3 million visitors per year. The site is a fortress-palace complex with 3 main parts:

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the Alcazaba


palatial forticiation aka ruins

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the Palacios Nazaries


the Nasrid Palace, the main attraction

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the Generalife


the architect’s gardens

 

Buying Tickets Online for the Alhambra


The official website to buy Alhambra tickets online in advance is Ticketmaster. This is the direct method to buy individual online tickets for the Nasrid Palaces and discounts are available for youth, senior citizens, etc with valid identification. Anyone outside of Spain can use their own country’s credit card to buy through the Ticketmaster site, so I found it quite easy to buy from.

On Ticketmaster, it automatically shows concert tickets and the like for your own location. I found it tricky just to get to the Alhambra Spain page in English so the direct link is here.

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Alhambra-Ticket-Options-online-Ticketmaster

There are many different ticket options. The two most popular are the Alhambra General ticket, which gives you access to all the main highlights or an Alhambra at Night – Palaces ticket, which allows you to visit the Palaces lit up at night (the gardens at night are a separate ticket). Most people buy the General ticket which includes the entire complex during the daytime. Serious photographers or Alhambra lovers can consider the night option as an add on. I chose to buy just the General daytime Alhambra ticket which cost about $15 USD per person.

Update February 2017: Ticket prices seem to have gone up and are now 21.05 euros per person.


 

Reserving Alhambra Tickets
You can buy tickets for the Alhambra on Ticketmaster Spain here.
  1. First select the day you want to visit and then click continue to head to the next screen. Tickets are sold up to 90 days in advance.
  2. There are two general time options to see the Alhambra: Morning 8:30am – 2pm or Afternoon 2pm-6pm (Oct 15 – Mar 14), until 8pm (Mar 15 – Oct 14). Previously you had to first select an official session, morning or afternoon. As of February 2017, you no longer have to pick an official session on the Ticketmaster website.
  3. Thirdly, book a specific 30 minute window when you plan to enter the Nasrid Palaces.
  4. Purchase your tickets with a credit card.

 

My Notes on the Process

You can enter any ticketed area of the complex within your designated time window, but you must exit before the end of the window. For example: you pick a morning time from 8:30-2, you must finish by 2pm as the ticket won’t scan in any longer.

The Nasrid Palaces are enclosed, with only 300 people are allowed to enter every 30 minutes for crowd control reasons. You must enter within the 30 minute window printed on your ticket, otherwise they will not let you in. In spring and summer, there’s typically a wait, so I would arrive 30 min – 1 hour ahead of your designated window to prepare for long lines. I found that time slots were strictly adhered to in Spain.

Ideally, this credit card of yours has a chip, will not expire until after your trip to Spain and carries no foreign transaction fees. You’ll need to bring the credit card you paid with to Spain.


Where to Stay in Granada

I stayed at the Anacapri Granada, which was a charming boutique hotel with complimentary breakfast and wifi. The best part was its location right on the old town and <5 minutes from the old bazaar and pathway to the Alhambra. If you want an affordable and centrally located hotel, the Anacapari is a great choice!

Check the latest prices on Booking.com or read more reviews on TripAdvisor

For those who pre-purchase their Alhambra tickets and are walking to the Palace entrance, the Anacapri is a straight shot walk – about 5ish minutes to the start of the climb and then the 15 min uphill walk.

For those who want to take the bus, the Anacapri hotel is about a 6 min walk to the bus stop – either way very convenient for a sightseeing base.

We stayed at the hotel for 2 nights and 3 days. You can read more about my Granada itinerary here for the best things to do and recommendations on what to eat!

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Alhambra Tickets: Morning or Afternoon?

This is up to your personal preference. A lot of tour groups will go in the morning so people try to avoid the crowds by going in the afternoon. I bought a morning pass with an 8am Nasrid Palace time window. I ended up being first in line and had the palace to myself for a blissful 30 minutes before the crowds swarmed (and I mean swarmed).

Personally, I think a morning option is best because it gives you ample time to explore the complex without having to constantly check the time. If you see the Nasrid Palaces first thing, you’ll have free time to wander the gardens and fortification ruins without having to constantly check the time to make sure you don’t miss your Nasrid Palace reservation window. The entire complex takes about 3 hours to see, with the gardens being most extensive. I did see on ticketmaster that they sold tickets for 30 minutes before closing which would be a bummer for anyone who bought those..

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Getting Alhambra Tickets

Ticketmaster is an online purchase only. You still need to print and pick up tickets in person once you arrive in Granada. I really wish they would get on board with scanable pdfs or e-tickets or let you print it at home, but unfortunately those are not options.

There are two main ways to print out your physical tickets. The first involves a partnership with La Caixa, a Spanish bank with ATMs all over the country. The La Caixa branches in Granada (and i’ve heard in other spanish cities) have an option for you to print your Alhambra tickets. I did see and go to an ATM branch on Calle Gran Vía de Colón and found instructions in English pasted to the wall above the machine. The instructions didn’t really correspond with what I was seeing on the ATM machine window though and I wasn’t able to figure it out. I think the line that built up behind me was annoyed I was taking so long. They probably sighed a collective relief when I decided to give up.

Of course, I panicked that I wasn’t able to print out my tickets. There were signs posted all over my hotel in the lobby and elevators saying something to the effect of “if you’re seeing this sign and haven’t bought your Alhambra tickets already, you’re SOL”.

Luckily, there’s a Ticketmaster printing machine in the Tourist office. This machine used to (aka prior to May 2016) be located in the Alhambra bookstore. It is no longer there. Save yourself a trip. Instead, it was moved to the tourism office inside the caravanserai at the Corral del Carbon, where merchants on the Silk Road rested their camels and spent the night in historic times. There are two machines and a tourism office staff member inside, so I found it easy and straightforward to print the tickets there!

Sher’s Tip: print your tickets using the Ticketmaster machine inside the Granada Tourism office. The location is at the Corral del Carbon Calle Mariana Pineda, 8, 18009 Granada, Spain

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Visiting the Alhambra

The massive complex sits on a hill overlooking the town of Granada and can be accessed from two main gates. Both approaches start from the main square at Plaza Nueva. Here is a map of the complex if you’d like to take a look in advance. It’s also helpful to print the Alhambra map before your trip if you have time. I found that they seemed to be a bit stingy about giving out maps and guides in Spain – in the Alhambra, guides are inside the luggage storage room.

Option 1


The first option is to walk on foot. Start at Plaza Nueva and climb Cuesta de Gomerez on a secluded, shady path lined with green elms. When you reach the Puerta de las Granada (Gate of the Pomegranates) turn left and climb farther until you reach the Puerta de la Justica (Gate of Justice) entrance. This is a beautiful walk but quite steep. The Justice Gate is the recommended Alhambra entrance if you buy an early morning ticket as it’s closest to the Nasrid Palaces and will save you a walk within the complex.

tl;dr: walking on foot is convenient if you’ve pre-bought an 8am time slot but a steep 15 min uphill

Option 2


The second option is to take a minibus from Plaza Nueva. Either bus no. 30 or 32 is fine, they run every few minutes and cost €1.20 upon boarding. The minibus goes along the main road and instead of turning left, heads farther up to drop you off at the Main Entrance. This entrance is for those who haven’t pre-purchased tickets and is physically closest to the Generalife gardens. If you have a ticket for an afternoon or late morning Nasrid Palace time slot, you can plan to visit the gardens first.

tl;drif you have an afternoon time slot, take the minibus and enjoy a leisurely ride

 

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If You’re in Granada and Forgot to Buy Alhambra Tickets in Advance

Well.. I wish you had read my blog post earlier. Feel free to sign up for my newsletter to the right and get first access to all my new posts! *self promotion plug over* haha!

If you forgot to buy tickets in advance and are in Granada, there are a couple last minute options to get Alhambra tickets the same day. First check with your hotel to see if they have any. Some hotels buy a limited quantity for their guests. You could also book a night tour which covers the Nasrid Palace in full, but excludes the gardens. Or, you can book a tour option through a company like Viator. They have a 2.5 hour tour of the Alhambra and Generalife gardens that includes free hotel pick up and drop off. While the guided tour is obviously more expensive than paying the direct $15 ticket, being part of the tour group allows the company to skip the general line and extended wait, so you might prefer it. You can find more details about the tour here.

 

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And there you have it, my recommendations for seeing the Alhambra in the easiest way possible!

For the actual visit itself, I recommend picking up a copy of Rick Steves 2016 Spain Guide. He has an excellent couple of pages walking you through the various rooms and points out specific details and noteworthy fountains. I chose to skip purchasing the audio guide since he did such a comprehensive job explaining!

Read more: Spending the Perfect 3 Days in Granada, Spain

Read more: 7 Day Andalusia Spain Itinerary – Everything You Need to See

 

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ThuyJune 30, 2016 - 11:02 am

Place looks beautiful and this post looks informative. I’m saving this for later!

http://www.dressupchowdown.com

MR ESSENTIALISTJune 30, 2016 - 2:04 pm

Never visited – but definitely on my bucket list!
Alexander @ Mr Essentialist

LISAJuly 4, 2016 - 8:19 am

This is gorgeous! You took great pics too! Glad you got to visit. I will definitely keep it in mind if I visit.

JessicaJuly 4, 2016 - 11:03 am

Fantastic guide to Alhambra Granada. The number of visitors is just impressive and how long you need to make a booking before your target visit. Well, it looks worth it with these captures. :)

TaraJuly 4, 2016 - 11:19 am

I had no idea this was Spain’s most popular attraction. Honestly, when getting tickets become a hassle, I would normally cross it off my list, but your photos are so stunning, I think serious advance planning would be worth it!

PaulJuly 4, 2016 - 1:32 pm

I feel completely ignorant here but I’ve actually never heard of this place! Let alone it being Spain’s most popular attraction. I think it’s because I’ve never really been interested in visiting Spain as I’ve only associated it with English summer holidays! I know there is plenty more to Spain than beach resorts and I need to get that out of my head and see for myself!

melody pittmanJuly 4, 2016 - 3:36 pm

Good information to know. I agree, 6600 tickets is an odd number. I haven’t visited this region in Spain but it looks gorgeous. I also did not know it was the most visited site in Spain. Learned a lot. ;)

Alex DatsevJuly 4, 2016 - 4:59 pm

Great information and stunning pics. I have always wanted to visit this port of Spain and it really seems like one should get their Alhambra tickets before confirming hotels and transportation.

SierraJuly 4, 2016 - 5:38 pm

I love seeing top tourist sites – and planning ahead is so very important for that so I really appreciate your thorough suggestions!

ClaireJuly 4, 2016 - 5:53 pm

What a beautiful place! I’ve never heard of Alhambra before but now it’s on my list for sure!

christine legerJuly 5, 2016 - 3:29 pm

my parents are doing spain next spring. I may leave the kids with the hubby and join them if its going to be anything like this.

CharlieJuly 8, 2016 - 11:55 am

Thank you for all the details, it’s very useful! I’m visiting Alhambra in august. Do you know if we can print our tickets in advance at the Grenada Tourism Office?

SherJuly 8, 2016 - 12:24 pm

Hey Charlie – glad it was helpful! I’m not quite sure what you mean – you need to buy the tickets online on Ticketmaster before you go. Since its already early July, I’d recommend doing this today / ASAP to get a preferred time slot. Then once you’re in Granada, you can head to the tourism office when you’re in town to print out the ticket. Ticketmaster doesn’t give you an option to print it at home, I think because the tickets need to be scan-able at the Alhambra.

SherJuly 8, 2016 - 12:25 pm

If you’re already in Granada, you can definitely print them out before the actual date of your visit. Let me know if that clarifies your question

MaryJuly 9, 2016 - 9:07 am

Great tips! I lived in Granada for a while, and never got tired of the Alhambra-it’s absolutely stunning. Also great pictures! How did you get them without hoards of people in them???

SherJuly 9, 2016 - 4:16 pm

Thanks Mary! Ah its just timing and good cropping :)

Jessica {The Bohemian Diaries}July 11, 2016 - 11:29 am

Fabulous photos, Sher! You should really throw a watermark on them to prevent others from taking them for personal or commercial use without giving you credit (they are that beautiful!) Definitely would love to make it there one day!

SherJuly 11, 2016 - 1:54 pm

Jessica, wow thank you for your kind words! So flattering, maybe I will think about adding one someday :)

CharlieJuly 11, 2016 - 3:03 pm

@Sher : Yes, I already bought my tickets on Ticketmaster :). What I wanted to know was if I can head to the tourism office when I will be in Granada to print my tickets the day before my visit to the Alhambra. So, you answered my question :) Thank you again!

TeodoraJuly 11, 2016 - 6:04 pm

Amazing photos! Been to Spain several times but I should definitely go back and visit this majestic place! Will save this for future reference!

SherJuly 11, 2016 - 6:05 pm

Hi Charlie, ok great! Glad I was able to answer. I also heard from friends that ANY la caixa branch should be equipped to print out tickets – a friend was able to print hers in Madrid as she was anxious to get the physical tickets in hand. i wasn’t able to verify that myself but thought I’d pass it along! :)

christine legerJuly 12, 2016 - 2:55 pm

wow. I didn’t know any of that. Thanks for the heads up. My parents are going in march

TomJuly 13, 2016 - 4:02 pm

I would never have thought Spain’s most popular attraction was in Granada! Wow! I’ll have to visit there when I return to Bracelona!

[…] up in the hills. There are numerous sidewalk cafes and restaurants within walking distance and the Alhambra is an easy 15 min walk up the […]

Marge GavanJuly 16, 2016 - 9:51 pm

Only 6,600 visitors per day? I wonder how they come up with such a number. I understand why the ticket sells so fast, I mean just look at it, so gorgeous. I would love to go there myself someday.

[…] Read more: Essential Tips for Visiting the Alhambra in Granada, Spain […]

NaomiAugust 9, 2016 - 3:45 pm

Thanks for the great tips and links. I never would have thought it would be that difficult or as least challenging. I’ll go in November. Just to clarify, why do you recommend the hike for the 8 am time slot? does the bus not run that early.. or…?

SherAugust 12, 2016 - 12:17 pm

Hi Naomi! I recommend the 8am time slot because it’s the first time slot of the day. That way you can see the Nasrid Palace with the least amount of crowds. You can pick any time slot you want though, there are slots every 30 minutes throughout the day. I recommend that you try to see the Nasrid Palace first out of everything in the Alhambra, because there’s often a huge queue and you don’t want to be at the gardens for example, which are about a 15 min walk away and then have to rush back to queue for the Palaces.

Regarding the bus vs. walk, there are two entrances to the Alhambra complex: the Main Entrance and the Justice Gate. The bus takes you to the Main Entrance (closer to the gardens) or you can walk to the Justice Gate entrance (in front of the Nasrid Palaces). You can of course choose whichever mode of transport but if you DO plan to see the Nasrid Palaces first, it makes more sense to walk to the Justice Gate – that way you will arrive right at the sight. If you take the bus, you are dropped off closer to the gardens and have to walk 15 minutes to get to the palaces anyway, so its a bit of a extended loop. Also just to clarify – it’s a steep climb but I wouldn’t go so far as to say you are actually “hiking” if you choose to walk. Its steep but doable! :) Hope that was helpful!

LonnieOctober 7, 2016 - 5:57 am

Thank you so much for the information! We will be driving from Ronda in the morning, right at the end of August and so want to allow plenty of time for traffic. If I book the afternoon slot, and choose say 3:00pm for the Nasrid Palace, does that mean we should have an hour to walk through the other areas, or will we need to jump in the line much earlier to make the 3:00pm slot? Also, will parking be a nightmare at that time of day?

[…] You can’t miss the palace of Granada – the Alhambra. It overlooks the city from the top of the palace grounds (which make for a nice nature walk for those on tight a budget). The fortress was originally built by the Romans but further developed by the Moors, the palace offers guided tours for an additional charge and exhibitions change frequently – typical things to do in the Alhambra, Granada.  A visit to this UNESCO World Heritage Site is the #1 thing to do in Granada on Trip Advisor. Check out this tips on purcashing Alahambra tickets. […]

[…] you know when you’ll be in Granada, buy your tickets online at least one week in advance. Ticketmaster in Granada is one of the best ways to get your ticket. Admission into Palacios Nazaries are valid for a 30 […]

[…] Know Before You Buy: Alhambra Tickets for Granada, Spain […]

Robin WickesFebruary 9, 2017 - 5:23 am

Hi Sher. Thanks for your very useful blog. You say the visiting-day is split into Morning and Afternoon, with the Morning ending at 2pm as the Afternoon begins. I see that Ticketmaster offers tickets for General entry starting every half hour during the day. If your ticket is for entry at 1pm, does that mean you have only 1 hour to see everything because everyone has to leave at 2pm so that the Afternoon visits can start? Many thanks again.

SherFebruary 9, 2017 - 10:26 am

Hi Robin – so glad you found it useful! Thanks for commenting – I just went on the Ticketmaster Alhambra website and realized that they’ve changed some things around so I updated the post.

There are 2 general visiting sessions per day, morning and afternoon. When buying a ticket, the 30 min time slot refers only to the period when you enter the Palace. Because the palace is enclosed, they restrict entry to a set number of people and usher in new people every 30 minutes so in the purchasing process, you are committing to seeing the palace in that time span. However, you can see the entire complex (the gardens, the old fort, etc) anytime during the session hours. So for example, you book a 1pm ticket. That means you can enter the Alhambra complex anytime from 8:30am – 2pm and see the gardens, the old forts, the smaller exhibits, etc. You can only enter the palace however, from 1-1:30pm (and typically there is a line to enter so you would want to start queueing around say 12pm to make sure you are at the entrance gate at 1pm). Hope that helps! Let me know if any other questions.

SherFebruary 9, 2017 - 10:45 am

Hi Lonnie – sorry I think I missed seeing your comment. It sounds like you’ll be visiting in August 2017 so I hope that I am in time to answer. I would line up 30 min in advance to see the palace. If you jump in line AT 3pm I think that is probably cutting it slightly close since people are usually queueing in a wrap around section.

Regarding parking – I didn’t drive in Spain so im not sure! I don’t remember that there is parking lot at the complex, since its built on a hill right in the old town. I would probably park at your hotel (if they have parking) and then just walking over or taking the local bus.

[…] famous towns in Southern Spain and a must stop on any Andalusian itinerary, if only to visit the Alhambra palace. We did a loop through Southern Spain from west to east and saved Granada for last. Logistically, […]

RobinFebruary 9, 2017 - 12:56 pm

Magic! Thanks Sher.

KellyFebruary 22, 2017 - 3:29 pm

This was so so helpful—thank you for writing and updating it! I was having the hardest time finding how to buy tickets on the Alhambra website and ticketmaster, especially with half the pages showing up in Spanish. I just bought my tickets following your process and links and will be visiting at the end of March. I look forward to reading your recommendations for Granada and Seville!

SherFebruary 22, 2017 - 5:22 pm

So glad you found it helpful Kelly!

Scott LindenbergMarch 11, 2017 - 9:16 am

Sher-Loved your article on the Alhambra, but there are still two things which are unclear to me. Let’s say I have a 1:30 p.m. entry time for the Nasrid Palace. If I get there before 1:30 and the line prevents entry before 2:00, will I still be able to enter after 2:00? Second, assuming I get into the Nasrid Palace and exit after 2:00 p.m., will I still be able to get into the Generalife Gardens, even though my ticket time was 1:30? That is to say, is the Gardens entry time-sensitive, as well? I’m just not clear on the significance of the morning versus afternoon ticket.

SherMarch 11, 2017 - 9:25 am

Hi Scott – if you purchase a 1:30pm entry time you will need to enter the Nasrid Palace between 1:30 – 2pm. There is a guard scanning tickets by the turnstile and the scan will only work in that 30 min window. If you wait too long to join the line and don’t reach the front turnstile until after your 30 min window, aka after 2pm, yes you are out of luck.

There are 2 “sessions” per day – a morning and afternoon. Only the Nasrid palace is a specific timed excercise. All the other attractions like the gardens, old fort, museum etc can be experienced anytime in your session. Since youre buying a 1:30pm nasrid palace ticket, i would queue up for that around 12:45/1pm and afterwards see the rest of the Alhambra as you have until 6pm for everything else.

PattyMarch 15, 2017 - 2:09 pm

Sher – thank you for your article and the beautiful photos. I am trying to purchase tickets online with a US credit card and it keeps telling me that my card is not working. I have tried several cards and none of them will work. I read that other people had this same problem. I’m wondering if you were able to purchase your tickets from the US using a US credit card.
Thank you.

SherMarch 15, 2017 - 2:20 pm

Hi Patty – Hm, no I didn’t have any issues and used a US credit card for the spanish version of ticketmaster. Perhaps one of the tours might be an easier option? It’s more straightforward and includes transportation and the tickets, and given that they raised alhambra ticket prices significantly via ticketmaster, the tours I linked are a good deal. It might also be your bank putting a hold on your card bc they think its suspicious – try calling your bank?

KriahnaMarch 22, 2017 - 8:35 am

Really informative post… And amazing pictures. May I ask What camera and lens combination did you use?

Also do you Happen to know what time the tourist office closes and if the automatic machines are available after the office closes?

SherMarch 24, 2017 - 5:32 am

No the machines are within the office so i would assume they are not available after close. Not sure of specific hours!

Thanks for your nice comments. I use either my iphone or canon camera! Exact models and lenses are all listed on my FAQ page :)

RobinMarch 26, 2017 - 11:10 am

Hi Sher. I visited the Alhambra (which is truly fantastic) last week and I’d make a couple of points which might be of value.

1. The Corral del Carbon service is great except that the folks there are not empowered to give you your ticket if you’re paying a discounted rate. One of the members of my party was entitled to a discount because he’s 65 and he was told his only option was to go up to the ticket office at the main entrance to the Alhambra. That’s the only place where you can prove your entitlement to a concessionary rate – eg with a passport. Unbelievably, the staff at Corral del Carbon are not authorised to verify your date of birth against your passport.

2. The audioguides were already sold out at 10:30am when we arrived. Fortunately we had a guidebook which gave us plenty of detail so we weren’t too disadvantaged. We used the Lonely Planet but we saw folks with the Rough Guide and lots of other guides. So a trip to your local library before leaving for Spain might be worthwhile.

We had a brilliant day – our 7-hour visit whizzed by!

SherMarch 26, 2017 - 12:38 pm

Hi Robin, thanks for letting me know! I hope you enjoyed your trip and i’ll be sure to update the post!

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