When planning our extended stay in Barcelona, we asked ourselves with the question: how to visit Sagrada Familia, one of, if not, the most famous attractions of the city. In this post, we share our experience and insights, particularly as a couple or a small group with family or friends.
The day earlier, we had headed out to Montserrat as part of a group tour we arranged through our cruise and spent almost the whole day exploring Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey, a Gothic architecture, and home of the famous statue of the Virgin of Montserrat. This time, we decided to spend the day within the confines of the city and explore the modernist creations of the famous Antoni Gaudi.
Who Was Antoni Gaudí?
Antoni Gaudí i Cornet (or Antoni Gaudi) was a Catalan architect, whose works have distinctive and one-of-a-kind style, reflective of this advocacy of Catalan Modernism, a style characterized by freedom of form, voluptuous color and texture, and organic unity. His works included Casa Batlló, Casa Mila, Casa Calvet, and Park Guell (see image below).
Gaudi’s passion in life centered on architecture, nature, and religion. Antoni Gaudi had a keen interest in nature, and belief that the structure of a natural object informs its shape and embellishment. It greatly influenced his modernist style, displayed particularly in his most famous masterpiece, La Sagrada Família, the most visited monument in Spain.
What Is La Sagrada Familia?
La Sagrada Família is an unfinished Roman Catholic minor basilica in Barcelona, which is becoming to be Antoni Gaudi’s most significant legacy. The Basilica has been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After more than 135 years, the construction is still on-going and will be completed only in 2026 based on current timelines.
Once you are on the Basilica (both outside and inside), you will immediately realize the obsession that Gaudi had on the details. Every part of the building has something for everyone to ponder, decode, or just be awed by his genius.
Where Is It and How to Get There?
The neighborhood of La Sagrada Familia is part of the Eixample district. The Basilica is located at Carrer de la Marina (N 41º 24′ 283″ | E 2º 10′ 486″). Go to Google Maps for the location.
You can see from its website that Sagrada Familia can be reached by Metro (L2 and L5 Sagrada Família), taxi, and bus (19, 33, 34, 43, 44, 50, 51, B20, and B24). Once you reach the neighborhood, you can enter the church premises, as shown below:
Source: Sagrada Familia website
Hours and Best Time to Visit?
The Basilica’s management may occasionally modify the opening hours and days for the public due to special events taking place inside the Basilica. However, in general, they are as follows (as indicated on the Sagrada Familia website):
- November through February : 9 am to 6 pm
- March and October : 9 am to 7 pm
- April through September : 9 am to 8 pm
- 25 and 26 December, 1 and 6 January : 9 am to 2 pm.
Tickets are last sold thirty (30) minutes before closing time.
Based on our experience and feedback shared by friends who have previously visited Sagrada Familia, we recommend you consider the following in planning the times for your visit:
- 9 am – 12 pm: This is recommended to be the best time to start your tour. You may want to start by climbing your chosen tower (if that is part of your plan) as there will be fewer people overall. So the trip up and down the tower will be relatively more comfortable. After that, you can spend the rest of your schedule, exploring the interior and exterior portions.
- 12 pm – 3 pm: This is not a good time as most likely, Sagrada Familia will be packed with tourists. Unless you have no choice, we recommend that you consider other timeslots.
- 3 pm – 6 pm: If you are not able to go for the 9 am-12 pm time window, this will be the next best time. Nearer 6 pm, you will be able to admire best the light stream that would shine through the stained glasses.
- After 6 pm – The exteriors of Sagrada Familia are quite ornate and are also lovely to see at night when they are lit. Besides, you can also attend the 6 pm mass.
How We Explored Sagrada Familia?
Sagrada Familia is simply impressive and breathtaking, both outside and inside. You can see that Gaudi has been inspired by the belief that nature is the origin of everything. Our guide also relayed to us that the towers, once completed, will be 170 meters, the tallest building in all of Europe. We learned that this height was decided on based on Gaudi’s belief that “man’s creation should not exceed beyond God’s creation.” He was referring to Montjuic, the highest peak in Barcelona and is 173 meters high.
As mentioned earlier, the construction is still on-going on this Gaudi’s masterpiece and is planned to be completed only in 2026. Below is an interesting video published by Time providing a peek into the massive effort currently in progress.
Sagrada Familia is often a must-do/see in Barcelona, and it was surely in ours. We decided to explore it on our own as we did not have that much flexibility in our schedule. While you have the option of buying your tickets on the spot (particularly if you have flexibility in your schedule), we strongly recommend that you get your tickets ahead of time, and we did just that. We booked our tickets online well in advance to assure ourselves of getting in on the particular day and time we intended. We also realized later that doing so enabled us to avoid long queues as well as save some money. We chose an early morning schedule to avoid the crowd during peak hours.
We also decided to book a guided tour. You have the option of just renting out the audio piece available and explore Gaudi’s masterpiece on your own. However, joining a guided tour inside was well worth it for us. Our guide, Leo, was fantastic, narrating to us all the stories behind each of the attractions we passed by. In addition, we had a ready resource we can ask our questions as we went along. As we had time before the actual tour start, we used the time to freely walk around and take pictures (exterior and interior). This gave us a peek into what aspects and areas we focus on during the guided tour as well as provided us an advanced perspective of what the guide was talking about during the visit.
When visiting La Sagrada Familia, do not forget to check out the Gaudi Museum in the basement. This museum will provide you a closer look at the architect’s life, work, and genius. For example, you can see there a replica of how Gaudi designed the towers using inverted strings.
La Sagrada Família is quite breathtaking and is surely by Antoni Gaudi’s most significant legacy. No wonder it has become the most visited attraction in Barcelona, notwithstanding its incomplete status. We hope that the information we provided above provides you a useful guide on how to discover, visit, and make the most of whatever limited time you may have to explore and enjoy La Sagrada Familia. Check out the resources below.
Note: This site participates in affiliate programs & earns a commission if a purchase is made through their links.
If you have your insights on this topic or may have had the opportunity to visit La Sagrada Familia, may we invite you to share them leave your comments below?