I’m ashamed to say that I did not do any research before I arrived in Barcelona. None. The only place I knew for sure that I had to visit was the Sagrada Família, designed by Antoni Gaudí. After I landed in Barcelona, found my way to my AirB&B, and took a nap, my first outing was to check out the city’s number one tourist attraction.
And I had no idea what I was looking at. I wondered what all the fuss was about. Surely I wasn’t the only one who thought the facade was, dare I say it, ugly?
I walked around the whole thing, trying to take it all in. The more time I spent quietly observing, the more the details slowly revealed themselves to me. I started to appreciate the cathedral for it’s size and complexity. However, I didn’t completely understand it’s beauty until I visited the inside the next day.
I’ve never changed my opinion so quickly as when I walked inside the Sagrada Família. While I was still unsure about the outside facade, I fell in love with the inside immediately. The columns took my breath away. The stained glass mesmerized me. Afterward, I was left with the undeniable feeling that I had visited one of the most beautiful places in the world. It also left me with a crick in the neck; I simply could not stop looking up.
There are countless articles about the history, architecture, and religious importance of the Sagrada Família; all of these are great to read before or after your visit. However, much of the information about visiting the Sagrada Família is quite outdated and often wrong. Having just been, here is all the important information you need to know about visiting the Sagrada Família as of May 2016.
Visiting the Sagrada Família: Is it Worth the Price?
Ticket prices to visit the Sagrada Família are steep, especially when buying two or more tickets for a family. Children under the age of 10 can visit for free and students, minors, and seniors receive discounted rates. However, when looking at the final price tag, many tourists might wonder if the price to visit is worth it, especially if their first impression of the outside was anything like mine.
The answer is a resounding yes. If you do nothing else in Barcelona, I highly recommend visiting the inside of the Sagrada Família. Photos do not even begin to capture the beauty, the scale, or the light. It is truly magnificent!
The most basic ticket to visit the Sagrada Família is 15€. This is great if you are on a tight budget, already know a lot about the cathedral, or have your own guidebook. However, if you’re visiting for the first time and know very little about the Sagrada Família (like me), I recommend purchasing the ticket with the audioguide included for a total of 22€. For an additional 7€, you can also visit the towers. This brings the total to 29€ per person, pretty expensive, but truly worth it.
Purchasing Tickets: Skip the Line & Buy Online
Do yourself and your feet a favor and be sure to buy tickets online when planning to visit the Sagrada Família, Casa Batlló, or La Pedrera. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself waiting in an incredibly long line only to find out the date and time you need are no longer available. All of these attractions use the same online ticketing system; you simply select the date, pick an entrance time, enter your information, and pay. You will receive an email with the tickets which can be shown on your phone at the entrance. 2016 Update: You no longer have to print the tickets or jump through hoops to enter. However, be sure to arrive on time, as busy attractions such as the Sagrada Família have been known to turn away latecomers.
Visiting the Towers: Nativity Facade vs. Passion Facade
If you’re splurging on the complete package and are planning on visiting the towers, you will have a decision to make. There are currently two sets of four towers: the Nativity Facade or the Passion Facade. When you purchase tickets, you will have to decide which set you would like to visit.
Either set you choose, you will take an elevator up, walk across the connecting bridge, and then walk all the way down the other two towers. The spiral steps are quite steep and there’s no guardrail, so I was more nervous during my descent than I thought I would be. I don’t recommend taking anyone who is afraid of heights or cannot easily go down 400 steps.
The four eastern towers on the “front” of the Sagrada Família make up the Nativity Facade. This facade shows scenes from Jesus’ birth and was the first set of towers constructed, the part of the cathedral Gaudí had a hand in before his death. The view from the bridge is of eastern Barcelona, the mountains, and a little bit of the ocean. You also get a close up view of the doves on the cedar tree, as well as views of some of the newer construction. I chose this facade, so you can see the view from my photos.
The four western towers on the “back” comprise the Passion Facade and show scenes from the death and resurrection of Jesus. The view from the bridge is of western Barcelona, including the city center, the mountains, and the ocean. If you choose this side, let me know how it goes!
Have you decided on which towers? Good! You also have to choose a timed entry as well. I entered the cathedral at 5:00 p.m. and the tower at 6:00 p.m. This allowed me an hour to explore the inside and outside before going up the tower. Then I still had time afterward to visit the museum.
Be sure to visit when there is plenty of light, preferably a clear day during the morning or afternoon. Also, be sure to check the weather before you purchase tickets. If it is raining or windy, the towers cannot be visited and refunds or exchanges cannot be made.
I hope this information was helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions!