Barcelona visitors should understand the power of Sagrada Familia by looking at one Tripadvisor snip:
Yes, it’s no hyperbole to say it’s the most fantastic church you’ll ever see and yet after years of putting together this blog I can only say… it’s just a shame so many tourists go in blind.
What do I mean?
Buying the wrong tickets and spending an hour in line for starters.
There are so many options with Sagrada Familia tickets that it can get confusing – so let’s do this right.
1 – What to see
2 – Sagrada Familia ticket options
3 – Guided tours in English
4 – Tower visits
5 – Hours
6 – How to get there
7 – Sagrada Familia hacks
8 – Celebrating mass
9 – The history
10 – Where to eat in the area
11 – Frequently asked questions
What to See at Sagrada Familia
The outside is pure impact – only a madman would envision something like this.
Calling for 18 spires representing the Twelve Apostles, the Virgin Mary, the four Evangelists and Jesus Christ – the latter will rise to 172.5 meters above street level, one meter shorter than the highest point in the municipality of Barcelona.
Architect Antoni Gaudi believed that his creation shouldn’t surpass one of God.
It’s like stepping into the heart of a rainbow: the colour beaming in through the stained glass is other-worldly.
The columns supporting the building were built to mirror trees and branches, each spanning various geometric forms. A simple example is a square base progressing to an octagon, passing to a sixteen-sided form and ending up in a circle.
None of the interior surfaces are flat and the level of detail to the ornamentation is something to behold.
The depth of what you’ll see here merits an official Sagrada Familia guided tour – keep reading for more info.
How to Get Sagrada Familia Tickets
First of all you can buy them at ticket windows but you’ll end up waiting 30-90 minutes in line. And this is only to get yourself a time slot that is potentially hours in the future.
You need to buy your tickets online. This is by far the easiest and cheapest way to get tickets to Sagrada Familia. I’ve put links to the official buying channels in the buttons below.
Note: The prices mentioned are online prices (buying at windows costs €3.00 – €6.00 more).
English Guided Tours
This is the best option I recommend especially for first time visitors.
You get a 90 minute Sagrada Familia guided tour with an entertaining flesh and blood guide who knows the building and Gaudi inside out. Like the back of their hand.
If any monument in the world deserves in-depth explanations of the richness of its detail it’s this. And when you add it up it’s great value compared to the audio guide and tower tours.
If you book your guided tour online with Ticketbar clicking the button below you’ll save €10.00.
General admission tickets are just that – a way into the building to explore on your own. Keep in mind there is very little explanation of the architecture by way of signs etc.
If you just want to soak in the visuals without the understanding this is the ticket for you.
Tickets are €15.00 for adults, €13.00 for students/under 30, and €11.00 for 65+
Children under 11 and disabled visitors go free.
General Admission + Audio Guide
In the event you can’t find a good time for the guided tour the independent audio guide is the next best bet. With this ticket you’ll get explanations of the architecture and history in English.
This ticket allows you to really take the time (and even rewind and listen again) to educate yourself.
Tickets are €22.00 for adults, €20.00 for students/under 30, and €17.00 for 65+
Children under 11 and disabled visitors go for €6.00.
General Admission + Audio Guide + Tower Tour
For those looking for a great view of the city you may consider climbing one of the towers at Sagrada Familia for an additional cost. Due to crowds you can only climb one of the towers (more info in the towers section).
There are better views in the city for free but the claustrophobic stairs do have their charm.
Tickets are €29.00 for adults, €27.00 for students/under 30, and €22.00 for 65+
Children under 11 are free, children under 6 prohibited, and those with a disability are not recommended as the towers are stairs only going down.
Update: the towers will be closed on September 10, 11, and 30 and October 1, 11, and 12 for maintenance works. If you have already bought tickets for these days you’ll be able to change your visit date or get a refund.
Sagrada Familia Guided Tours in English
I always recommend spending a couple extra euro and opting for an extended English guided tour offered exclusively by legendary tour operator Ticketbar for only €29.50.
It is almost double the length of the standard Sagrada Familia tour.
You also skip lines VIP style and don’t have to wait to get in.
What You’ll Get
These Sagrada Familia tickets are with enthusiastic guides who are experts on Gaudi’s architecture. This is an exclusive service not found anywhere else and in my opinion is the best Sagrada Familia tour on the market.
The entire tour clocks in at 90 minutes.
It starts outside the Cathedral at 3 Plaza Sagrada Familia at the Julia Travel Agency. You can choose between morning or afternoon tours. It runs seven days a week.
The tour is also smaller and more personal than the normal tour (which routinely caps out at 30 people) – the guides are incredibly knowledgeable and funny and you’ll be a Sagrada Familia expert in no time!
As my friend told me: “without the tour it’s just some walls, columns, and statues” 😉
Your ticket(s) will be sent via email within 24 hours of purchase.
Click the button below now to get on the guided tour:
Sagrada Familia Tower Visits
When buying your tickets for Sagrada Familia you’ll be given the option to upgrade to climb the stairs of one of its towers. Keep in mind though that due to crowds you’ll only be able to select one tower.
Which tower is the best?
The difference between the two towers is their height: the Nativity Facade is 55 meters (180 feet) tall while the Passion Facade is 75 meters (246 feet) tall.
For this reason I’d recommend choosing the Passion Tower as the view is slightly better.
In both towers you go up by elevator and go down by stairs. For this reason visitors with mobility issues and children under 6 cannot be accepted.
It’s also not a great choice for claustrophobics as the stairwell is cramped.
The €7.00 price tag to climb the stairs also isn’t great value compared to other superior, cheaper views in the city. There are insane panoramic views at Park Guell and Turo de la Rovira that I’d recommend first.
In summer you’d also be more comfortable heading to a free hotel roof terrace like Hotel Grand Central or Hotel Pulitzer (usually open to non-guests after 8:00 pm).
Also, to ensure visitor safety the towers may be closed in bad weather. The hassle of having to get a refund may complicate your trip (but if you need one contact [email protected]) – but you should receive it within 30 days.
My advice? Save the money for a roof terrace cocktail or get a guided tour of Sagrada Familia.
Sagrada Familia Opening Hours
- November to February, 9:00 am to 6:00 pm
- March, 9:00 am to 7:00 pm
- April to September, 9:00 am to 8:00 pm
- October, 9:00 am to 7:00 pm
- December 25/26 and January 1/6, 9:00 am to 2:00 pm
FYI: Sagrada Familia will have limited opening hours due to special masses on the following dates:
- October 21st 2017: Basilica opens at 3:00 pm.
- November 5th 2017: Basilica closes at 2:00 pm (last guided tour at 12:30 pm).
- December 14th/16th/30th 2017: Basilica closes at 2 pm (last guided tour at 12:30 pm).
How to Get to Sagrada Familia
You’ll find Sagrada Familia at the top of the trendy Eixample district at 42 Calle Marina.
Sagrada Familia is served by the Sagrada Familia metro stop (purple line L2 and blue line L5).
The area is served by buses 19, 33, 34, 43, 44, 50, 51, B20, and B24.
You can also get to Sagrada Familia using the Bus Turistic (blue line, Sagrada Familia stop).
If you’re having trouble getting to Sagrada Familia make sure you drop me a line in the comments below with your hotel address and I’ll be sure to help you find the quickest route.
Once you’ve bought your Sagrada Familia tickets online head straight to the main visitor access point at the Nativity Façade on Calle Marina (indicated on metro exits) – don’t bother with the lines on the other side.
If you haven’t bought your tickets online and want to line up (not recommended) you’ll find the ticket windows at the Passion Façade on Calle Sardenya.
People with disabilities and their companions should go to the Group Visitors Centre on Calle Marina.
Visiting Sagrada Familia Tips
Showing up without tickets for Sagrada Familia and buying at the window means waiting in lines.
After 30+ minutes of queuing you’ll be booking a time slot that is crowd dependent so a 4 PM arrival could mean a 6:45 PM entrance. To avoid the hassle buy your Sagrada Familia tickets online.
Some other visiting tips?
- Go before 10 am for the best shot avoiding crowds.
- Set aside at least 90 minutes for the visit.
- Get there well in advance of your time slot as they can be sticklers.
- The more natural light the better (sunset is great, nights should be avoided).
- Print out your tickets if you can as smartphone copies can be hard to scan in the sun.
- Keep an eye out for pickpockets.
- If you need to go to the bathroom go to the Mcdonald’s outside beforehand!
- Avoid weekends if possible, the crowds are a nightmare!
- You can grab a perfect selfie angle on the escalator at the Calle Marina metro exit.
- iPhone users: change to the ‘chrome’ photo setting to really capture the colours of light.
Sagrada Familia Mass Times
Those interested in celebrating mass at Sagrada Familia can so for free without booking at the following times:
- Weekdays at 9:00 am and 8:15 pm.
- Saturday at 9:00 am and 7:30 pm
- Sundays and holidays at 9 am, 10:30 am, 11:45 am, 1:00 pm, 6:30 pm, and 8:15 pm.
Keep in mind regular Sunday masses are celebrated in the crypt and not the cathedral itself.
If you’re looking to go to mass keep in mind there is a standard church dress code: women must cover their shoulders and have dresses cut off no higher than the knee.
For important dates like Christmas mass check the Sagrada Familia mass calendar.
Sagrada Familia History
- Inspired by a bookseller’s 1872 trip to the Vatican.
- Construction began in 1882 as a standard Gothic revival church.
- Antoni Gaudi appointed Architect Director in 1884 and begins radical changes.
- Gaudi dies in 1926 with the basilica only 20% complete.
- Construction suspended during the Civil War and Gaudi’s plans are burned by Anarchists.
- After the war construction is resumed by Gaudi’s contemporaries.
- The final phase of construction began in 2015 (the finish date is 2026).
Where to Eat in the Area
Seafood lovers who don’t wanna spend a ton should check out La Paradeta at 18 Passatge de Simó. Pick fresh fish from a market style counter and let the cooks do their magic! I recommend the Blanc Pescador wine.
If you’re looking for a cheap neighbourhood bar with tasty Spanish classics and cask-stored vermouth then take the 5 minute walk to Celler Del Vermut at 470 Carrer de València.
Another place is Café Parc Belmont at 256 Carrer de Lepant 256. This little cafe out of the tourist spotlight is famous for its large portion salads with homemade dressings. Up the ante by adding some meat for a combo and you’ve got the perfect cheap lunch.
For a top quality breakfast, brunch, or dinner with a modern Spanish twist just 200 meters away from Sagrada head to Restaurant Singular at Calle Sardenya 321.
For more information check out my list of best restaurants in Barcelona.
Is the Sagrada Familia audio guide available in English?
Do I have to print my tickets for Sagrada Familia beforehand?
No, you can show them on your smart phone.
If I buy Sagrada Familia tickets online what entrance do I use?
Those with tickets enter on Carrer de la Marina (the Nativity Facade).
What happens if I show up later than the time indicated on my ticket?
Don’t show up late 🙂 They’re big sticklers here and you’ll only have a ten minute margin to enter.
How long does the tour last?
About an hour and a half.
It it worth it to do the tower tour?
To be honest it’s not going to be a can’t-miss attraction: the prices go up considerably and you’re going to get a better view at other locations like Park Guell anyway.
Can I take the tower tour without the audio guide?
How tall is the Sagrada Familia?
At the moment the tallest part of the church is 115 meters (377 feet).
What’s the ticket with the “CASA MUSEO GAUDÍ” option?
This ticket gives you the opportunity to visit Gaudi’s museum-house found on the site of Park Guell. CAREFUL: this doesn’t refer to entrance for the monumental portion of Park Guell, which must be paid separately.
Can I take photos inside?
Can I take some cool photos at night?
Normally the Nativity facade is lit up in the evening, but not throughout the night.
Do I need to cover up for the visit?
Even though it’s a highly respected church it’s not necessary to cover your shoulders and legs, but use common sense 🙂
Can I change/cancel/get a refund on my booking?
In theory yes, for all these needs simply send an e-mail to: [email protected]
I’ve had a problem buying my Sagrada Familia tickets online, what do I do?
Send an e-mail to [email protected]
How do I get to Sagrada Familia from Parc Güell?
Take bus number 92 from the park exit and get off at the Lepant-Guinardó stop, then change for the V21 bus that’ll take you straight there.
Does the Bus Turistic stop at the Sagrada Familia?
Yes, the blue Bus Turistic line has a stop at the basilica.
PLEASE HARASS ME IN THE COMMENTS
If you’ve already got your Sagrada Familia tickets and seen it in the flesh tell me – did it live up to the billing?
Also, my beloved Barcelona prospector… any question you have about your Barcelona holiday will be answered in the comments below so please don’t hesitate – fire away!