Hi Frugalistas! I first saw the Sagrada Familia, Antonio Gaudi’s fantasy basilica in Barcelona, Spain, as a much younger traveller in the early 1990s. In those days it was not possible to book Sagrada Familia – it was just a building site. By 2012 visiting Sagrada Familia was possible. I spent an amazing morning enjoying the basilica, having just rocked up to the Sagrada Familia ticket office and bought an entry ticket. The last time we visited Barcelona I had heard that the spires were open to visitors, so I knew we had to visit and see the view from the top of Sagrada Familia. I was also keen to take Mr Frugalfirstclass and Miss G on a Sagrada Familia inside visit. So has Sagrada Familia changed since I last visited, and what Sagrada Familia tips do I recommend these days, given it is now one of the most famous landmarks in Spain?
Sagrada Familia tips for visitors
I have a number of visiting Sagrada Familia facts for your visit to make it more enjoyable:
Barcelona is one of the most visited cities in the world, and it seems everyone wants to visit Sagrada Familia. I therefore recommend you book your entry tickets for Sagrada Familia on line in advance or book a Sagrada Familia guided tour. If a guided tour is not within your budget you can book a ticket with a Sagrada Familia audioguide or use Rick Steves’ self guided visit. Visiting in late June we found the tickets sold out a few days in advance, so do plan ahead and book Sagrada Familia tickets early. When we arrived for our Sagrada Familia timed visit there were big signs up saying all the tickets for the day were sold.
If you want to take the lift up the Sagrada Familia spires you need to choose your spire in advance and book it when you book your La Sagrada Familia tickets. So which is the best Sagrada Familia tower to visit? To be honest, I had no idea what to book when I was arranging our towers visit for Sagrada Familia the best tower to visit was a bit of mystery. We ended up booking the Passion Facade tower and were well rewarded with a wonderful view all the way across the city to the sea. I still don’t know which tower to visit at Sagrada Familia, but honestly, I don’t think it matters.
How to get to Sagrada Familia: Sagrada Familia is very easily reached by the excellent Barcelona metro system. The closest Sagrada Familia metro stop is on Line 2 or Line 5 – the station’s name is Sagrada Familia so you can’t miss it. Coming out of the station, the basilica is literally just across the road if you follow the exit directions once you leave the train. Again you can’t miss it. If you are unsure about using the metro in Europe, this post uses photos I took in Barcelona, so it is easy to follow along.
When you book your Sagrada Familia visit you will be asked to choose a timed entry. If you are visiting the towers (spires) as well, you will be given a time for that as well. Our tower visit was timed for 30minutes after our entry time. I must recommend that you arrive on time for your visit. We booked for a late afternoon visit – 6pm – and found the Sagrada Familia queue to enter lengthy even with timed entry. Once inside, you can stay as long as you like.
Sagrada Familia inside visit
While the interiors are definitely the stars of the show, do take time to enjoy the detail of the quirky exterior.
The Sagrada Familia interior never fails to disappoint. Arriving in the late afternoon, the light coming through the stained glass windows bathed the interior in a wonderfully warm glow. It really was the best time to visit Sagrada Familia. I had a great time playing with the settings on my camera to give my photos a different look. But don’t spend too long fiddling with your camera or posing for selfies. The Sagrada Familia is just too inspiringly beautiful for that. Regardless of your faith, or even if you aren’t at all religious, it is impossible not to be touched by the interiors. Yes, it’s busy, yes, it could be argued it’s a tourist attraction, but it is also one of the most breath taking sights you will see.
There is a separate entrance to the towers, so if your Sagrada Familia inside visit includes a trip up the spires, make sure you work out where to go so you are on time. A lift (elevator) takes you to the top in a thrice, but beware – you need to be prepared to walk down a narrow spiral staircase to get back down again.
If you have problems with mobility or with confined spaces you may not find the towers a suitable activity for your visit. Similarly, if you are visiting with young children it may not be among the best things to do in Barcelona with kids.
Apart from the wonderful view from the top, what I really enjoyed when visiting the tower was the opportunity to see the details of Gaudi’s design up close:
When we visited the Sagrada Familia tower, we also found a friendly local, completely oblivious to the tourist hordes:
While I rarely say that anything is a must do or must see, I genuinely believe Sagrada Familia falls into the must see category. Do it now before Gaudi’s crazy creation is finished (scheduled for 2026).
Plan your visit to Sagrada Familia
Sagrada Familia: buy tickets online. I recommend buying your tickets for Sagrada Familia from Get Your Guide because of their excellent cancellation policy. Buy your Sagrada Familia tickets here >>
If you are interested in a Sagrada Familia guided tour, you are spoiled for choice, depending on your budget and when you want to visit. You can choose a Sagrada Familia guided tour, or combine it with other Gaudi or Barcelona sites.
Take Walks offer both a Sagrada Familia guided tour as well as tours that combine other the Sagrada Familia with other Barcelona options:
If you prefer a smaller group or private tour, check out the highly recommended LivTours (previously LivItaly). You can see their Sagrada Familia tour options here >>
There are plenty of other tour options to choose from:
The Rick Steves Spain guidebook has a detailed tour of Sagrada Familia:
Where to stay in Barcelona: in Barcelona we stayed at the perfectly located Hotel Gran Via. Recently renovated and featuring a charming breakfast room and terrace with outdoor dining, it offers easy access to most of the places in Barcelona you will want to visit. You can learn about the Hotel Gran Via by clicking here >>
Author’s note: we paid for our own tickets to the Sagrada Familia