Barcelona: Tips for visiting the Sagrada Familia

Posted in: Barcelona Sights

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Barcelona Sagrada Familia
Inside the Basilia. Photos copyright © Pep Daudé/ Basílica de la Sagrada Família

The Sagrada Familia or Holy Family, is one of Barcelona’s “Oh-My-Gawd” sights and is a real must-do. It’s impressive, it’s wacky, it’s Gaudí’s last project, and it’s a basilica now, thanks to the Pope. If you see no other Gaudí buildings in Barcelona, see this one.

Due to the fact that it is awesome, in the true sense of the word, everyone and their mother wants to go see the Sagrada Familia, which is to say it gets as packed as Wal-Mart on Black Friday.

Here are some tips to view the Sacred Family without losing your mind.

1. Go early or at off times

First of all, Barcelona is packed with tourists in the summer months. People come from May to late August in droves, filing off cruise ships and popping off cheapo flights from northern Europe. These months will always be more crowded at the Sagrada Familia.

Like most monuments, if you go early, you beat the rush, as not too many people get up to go sightseeing at 9 AM. I went at about 3 PM on a Wednesday recently, and while there were plenty of people there, I didn’t see long lines to get tickets and there was no pushing and shoving inside (a plus, considering this is the House of God, right?).

Hours: The basilica is open October to March from 9 AM to 6 PM and April to September 9 AM to 8 PM. While the Sagrada Familia is impressive in the dark, lit up against the night sky, it really should be viewed during the day.

Related: Affordable hotels close to Sagrada Familia

2. Stay away from tour groups

When inside the Sagrada Familia, you’ll see lots of tour groups. Do not follow them. If they go left, you go right. Stay clear of them to have a better experience and the chance to take nicer photos.

3. Consider an official tour (in English)

There are tours in English every day at 11 a.m., 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. If you want to go on the tour, which I have not done but would LOVE to do, you have to buy a more expensive ticket.

For €16.50 you can either get an audio guide and show yourself around, or go on the group tour and have a real person explain why there are turtles on the façade.

Related: 10 photos that will inspire a trip to Barcelona

4. Pay to go inside (yes, it’s worth it)

A normal ticket to get in to the basilica is €14.80, and €12.80 for students and seniors. For €18.30 you get into the Sagrada Familia and into the Gaudí up at Park Güell, which is the one I’d recommend.

As you can see, glimpsing the Holy Family’s awesomeness is not cheap, but I do think it’s worth chucking over a few bucks to get in.  While you can appreciate the building from the outside, the main nave is inspiring and like nothing I’ve ever seen. Think of a grove of massive trees inside a church; it’s like that, sort of.

5. Notice nature all around you

Gaudí grew up in the countryside in southern Catalonia. Like many who grow up around nature’s bounty, Gaudí was impressed by the natural world and used it as his muse throughout his life.

Look for nature’s mark in plant, animal and mineral form throughout the Sagrada Familia. Clearly the trees in the nave are a good example, but also notice mineral forms on the capitals crowning the temple, spirals like snail shells, vines on the Nativity Façade and gargoyles, amphibians and reptiles from the Mediterranean on the neo-Gothic apse.

La Sagrada Familia
Carrer de Mallorca, 401
Hours: April to September 9 AM to 8 PM, October to March 9 AM to 6 PM
Admission:
Adults €14.80, Students and seniors €12.80
Website

Also in our guide: Planning a trip to Barcelona? Read our reviews of the best budget hotels in Barcelona, all centrally located, clean and budget friendly.——

About the author

Regina W Bryan

About the author: Regina W.Bryan is a Barcelona-based freelance writer and photographer. When not eating tapas and exploring Europe, she is tending her balcony veggie garden and practicing Catalan. For more of her thoughts on Spain, check: www.regwb.com and www.thespainscoop.com.

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4 thoughts on “Barcelona: Tips for visiting the Sagrada Familia”

  1. Lovely piece, though it does present the Basilica more as a tourist attraction than a real living church that is very much used and valued by the local community. Honestly, the best way to see Sagrada Familia is by going to Mass which is celebrated twice each weekday and five times on Sundays. The 8.15pm Mass on Mons-Fris is in Catalan, as indeed are many other Masses too. But this one is nicely timed to allow for quiet contemplation and reflection before heading out for the evening. It is a chance for busy travellers to pause and allow their souls to catch up with them. We really think that this is the best way to experience Sagarada Familia. And it costs not a cent.

    And surely it is Holy Family in English rather than Sacred Family.

    Reply
    1. thanks hidden europe. I didn’t include the Mass bit but you’re right, it’s a working church and people can attend mass and pray there. still, if one is not catholic, perhaps not best to go that route…

      Reply

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