Barcelona visitors can understand the power of Sagrada Familia by looking at one Tripadvisor snip:
Yes, the most famous church in Barcelona will be the most beautiful you’ll ever see.
It’s just a shame so many tourists go in blind.
There are so many options with Sagrada Familia tickets that it can get confusing – so let’s do this right with my updated visitors guide for 2018.
1 – Sagrada Familia church
2 – 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 – Facts + history
10 – Completion date + future
11 – Where to eat in the area
12 – Frequently asked questions
The outside of La Sagrada Familia is pure impact – only a madman would envision 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: Montjuic.
Architect Antoni Gaudi believed that his creation shouldn’t surpass one of God.
One of the three main façades and the oldest and only one Gaudi saw before his death is the Nativity Façade. It serves as the church’s current main entrance. The walls recount the birth of Christ interspersed with vibrant, colourful scenes of nature.
It’s here we feel the energy of new life.
The opposite side is the Passion Façade (shown above), made in a cold and simplistic cubist style (which Gaudi designed on purpose since he despised cubism), with a wall of virtually colourless sculptures and bone-like columns depicting the downfall and eventual death of Jesus.
It’s here we confront the cruel face of death.
Still under construction is the future main entrance at the Glory Façade which will depict scenes of heaven and hell and touch on the theme of the Resurrection and ascension to god.
It’s like stepping into the heart of a rainbow: the colour beaming in through the stained glass is other-worldly.
The light coming in from the Nativity façade sparkles with ocean blues and forest greens while the Passion façade glows red and yellow. You’ll be able to tell the time of the day (blue/green in morning and red/yellow in afternoon) by which colours dominate.
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.
Toward the front you’ll also be able to peek down into a small chapel (the only one constantly in use) and see Gaudi’s tomb in the floor decorated with a series of burning candles.
Sagrada Familia Tickets
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.
The best part? All the proceeds from your ticket go toward maintaining and finishing the church.
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 tour with an entertaining flesh and blood guide who knows this Gaudi church inside out.
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.
Need more info? Read all about my Sagrada Familia guided tour experience.
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+
Sagrada Familia time slots can be booked on the hour and at 15, 30, and 45 past.
FYI: with these tickets the time slots indicated are entrance times only: you’re free to stay at any Barcelona church to visit as long as you want after.
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. Again, you’re free to stay as long as you want (timeslots indicated are entrance windows only).
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 church 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.
Sagrada Familia Tour in English
I always recommend spending a bit more and opting for an extended English guided tour offered exclusively by legendary tour operator Ticketbar for only €29.50.
At 90 minutes 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 accredited and enthusiastic guides who are experts on Antoni Gaudi and his cathedral. This is an exclusive service not found anywhere else and in my opinion is the best Sagrada Familia tour on the market.
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 40 people) – the guides are incredibly knowledgeable and funny and you’ll be a Sagrada Familia church expert in no time!
A friend of mine told me once that “without the tour it’s just some walls, columns, and statues” and after taking it myself I’m inclined to agree.
My Guided Tour Experience
When you book you’ll get an email confirmation with meeting details (in front of the KFC outside the church) and there you simply have to get your name checked off the guide’s list with your confirmation number.
Before you go in for the tour it’s a thorough explanation of Gaudi, Sagrada Familia’s history, and some interesting notes about the neighbourhood of Eixample.
Then they kit you up.
You’ll get a mini radio transmitter with earphones (yours to keep! useful for the Bus Turistic after) so you’ll never lose the guide’s voice. Once you’re in they’ll go into every nook and cranny of the Nativity Facade.
Here my guide is explaining something I passed by the first time without giving a second thought. The pillars of this side are supported by turtles, one of the earth’s oldest animals and a symbol of old world knowledge.
Yes, Sagrada Familia church is being held up by widsom!
From here it’s on to inside with a beautiful explanation of Gaudi’s stained glass vision, the role the sun’s place in the sky plays in it, and info about the floor plan, stairwells, services, and pretty much everything else.
The tour ends on the Passion Façade with ominous stories surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus, the symbolism of the falling stones, and a revealed secret of Josep Subirach’s magic number square.
My favourite bit? Being pointing out where we can see Gaudi’s face hidden in plain sight among the characters immortalized in the façade sculptures – it’s based on a photo you can see in the museum downstairs.
Again, having been once before without a guide I can say the difference in understanding was day and night. What really impressed me was the way my guide handled questions from the group with ease and passion.
How to Purchase Guided Tour Tickets
If the Sagrada Familia tour that I took sounds good simply click the button below and you’ll have all the information you need plus the purchase links:
Your ticket(s) will be sent via email within 24 hours of purchase.
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 (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.
How to Get to Sagrada Familia
You’ll find La Sagrada Familia church 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).
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.
Visitors 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.
- You may seriously want to stretch your neck as you’ll spend a lot of time looking up.
- Can’t decide a day? Check the weather forecast and opt for the sunniest day.
Sagrada Familia Mass Times
From October 2017 it’s possible to attend the international Sunday morning mass at Sagrada Familia.
Mass begins at 9:00 am and is open to all comers, though there are limited spots. Doors open at 8:30 so you’ll want to get there at least this early.
The entrance is on Carrer de Marina and the dress code is ‘dignified’.
Those interested in celebrating mass at Sagrada Familia Crypt 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. In the end the Sagrada Familia crypt opening hours are those above – it’s closed at all other times.
If you’re looking to go to mass keep in mind there is standard Barcelona church dress code: women must cover their shoulders and have dresses cut off no higher than the knee.
Keep in mind you cannot take photos at either mass.
Sagrada Familia Facts
- 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.
- Consecrated by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010.
- The final phase of construction began in 2015.
Sagrada Familia Completion Date
So far we’ve seen a completion of the Nativity Facade, the Passion Facade, the interior, and 8 towers.
So when will the Sagrada Familia be finished then? Don’t quote me on this but the city has an anticipated completion date of 2026 – so book your flight soon to get a good price 😉
Yes, they’re still hard at work on the Glory Façade and 10 additional towers including the tallest (172 meters/564 feet) and most spectacular that will be dedicated to Jesus Christ.
Can you believe it? Even though it’s still under construction, La Sagrada Familia is still the biggest tourist attraction in all of Spain with more than 3.2 million visitors a year.
So please, I’ll tell you one more time to ensure you book your tickets in advance!
Where to Eat in the Area
If you’re waiting to get into Sagrada Familia or you’ve already visited and have a bit of a growl in your stomach this could be the perfect opportunity to try one Spain’s most famous dishes – jamon (Serrano ham/prosciutto).
At just two minutes’ walk you’ll get to Enrique Tomas at Carrer Marina 261. Here you’ll be able to taste different types of ham including the very prestigious bellota. The service is quick, the local clean, and the coffee top notch!
If you spend 10 euros or more and mention that you’re a friend of Barcelonahacks they’ll give you a free coffee! Not bad, especially considering you’d be dropping 5 euros at Starbucks around the corner.
You’ll also have the opportunity to get yourself a vacuum packed ham souvenir to take home (EU only).
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 tapas 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 cool 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 La Sagrada Familia 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 Barcelona’s famous 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 this Barcelona church is highly respected it’s not necessary to cover your shoulders and legs, but use common sense 🙂
Can I change/cancel/get a refund on my booking?
I’ve had a problem buying my Sagrada Familia tickets online, what do I do?
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!
And don’t be afraid to join the Sagrada Familia discussion in my new Facebook group called I’m Off to Barcelona – here you can ask any questions, air out grievances, chat with fellow travelers, and more – anything goes!