When looking at pretty photos of Barcelona, it is very easy to be deceived into thinking there are no crowds. There are hardly any people in the picture, right? Do not get tricked, the reality is a bit more harsh and chances are, many of the attractions will have a loooooong line! It can be especially hard if you are traveling with small kids, elderly people or it is just hot.
This is not really how you imagined your dream vacation, right? Fear not! Read this article carefully and I am sure it will help you save many hours of your precious vacation time and even some money!
People who know me well, know very well how much I wholeheartedly hate queues and will do everything to avoid the line!
So, when I lived in Barcelona, I made it my mission to figure out all the possible ways to avoid the lines to all the crowded attractions, here are they:
1. Sagrada Familia
For many many years it was a tourists’ nightmare to manage to enter to Sagrada, no kidding! I myself, only managed to visit the interior of the basilica on my 4th(!) visit – the lines were hours and hours! Now, thanks to the wonders of the internet (it definitely took them some time to properly implement it) we are able to enter smoothly, just follow my tips below.
Solution 1: Buy tickets in advance online
Yes, my friend, this will be pretty much the theme of today’s post – the trick for all of them is to buy it online a bit in advance and I will tell you where and how.
As you can see, there are 4 different types of tickets (audioguide is included for all of them). There are also a couple of discounts, check them out here.
- simple entrance – 26€
- simple entrance with a guided tour – 30€
- entrance + towers visit – 36€
- entrance + towers visit guided tour – 40€
All you need to do is go online on their official website (the cheapest tickets are currently there), choose your ticket type, your date and buy it with your credit card. Save it on your phone and do not be late! If you miss your time slot (you are allowed 15-20 minutes as a grace period), you will not be allowed inside.
PRO TIP: I have actually written an article about Dos and Don’ts for Sagrada Familia in order for you to have an amazing time there, check it out!
PRO TIP 2: If tickets for your dates are already sold out on the official website, try this Skip-The-Line Tour; chances are it is still available at the re-seller – it is a bit more expensive, but hey, it’s still better than not going at all!
PRICE: 26€ and 36€ with the tower access
Solution 2: Get a Barcelona City Pass
Now, the topic of the tourists passes was talked over a lot – are they worth it or are they not? We have a whole post on this and it was pretty hard to calculate all the prices and compare it with passes that have all those terms and conditions in fine print, check the post out here.
But if you don’t want to get into all the details, I am going to tell you now – if you are going to visit 2 or more attractions in the city, get a pass I am going to recommend here, it will save you quite some money!!
The Barcelona City Explorer Pass is limiting not you in the amount of days – you have 60 days after the pass activation to use it, you don’t have to go anywhere to pick it up (great!) and there is no need to choose in advance, you can decide on the attraction on the go!
Sample calculation on how much you will save:
2 attractions Explorer pass is currently 44 EUR, let’s say you would go to Sagrada Familia and Casa Mila with that. Let’s compare the price individually and in the pass:
Sagrada Guided tour (30€) + Casa Mila entrance (25€) =55€ (10 eur save)
YOU SAVE: 55-44=11€
What about if you choose 3 attractions, the pass is going to be 62€ in that case? Let’s say you go to the same places + Park Guell (you can choose something else of course, the list is pretty long, I am just choosing the most popular ones from the list):
Sagrada Guided tour (30€) + Casa Mila entrance (25€) + Park Guell Guided tour (23€) =78€
YOU SAVE: 78-62=16€
NOTE: Please note that I am comparing pears with pears here – since the pass offers guided tours, that’s the price I calculate with. If you would take just an entrance ticket, it would be slightly cheaper to go individually, but I HIGHLY recommend taking a guided tour, you would miss out on SO MUCH info!
PRICE: from 44€ depending on the amount of the attractions
2. Casa Batllo
Casa Batllo is a modernist building designed by… you guessed it – Antonio Gaudi!
Visiting the Batlló House is like entering a fairy tale! It is one of the most unusual and peculiar houses I have ever been to. People still live in this architectural marvel, did you know that?
The ticket price is expensive, true, but if you have a chance you should go for it as the place is a-m-a-z-i-n-g!
And my tips on skipping the line in Casa Batllo will make the visit more enjoyable. There are many ticket purchase options as you can see:
Solution 1: Buy your tickets online
As usual, buying online is the best way to get in, and this time it is even cheaper, 4€ to be exact! So, do not repeat my mistakes and get your ticket online even if you are literally standing in front of the entrance.
The guy at the entrance told me that I can buy tickets both online or just go at the cash register in front, but he failed to warn me that the tickets are more expensive there. Anyway, it is my fault for not doing my homework but you are here, so your homework is done! If you do not have a local sim-card I think they should have wi-fi right there, just ask the person at the entrance (the one literally holding the sign that says “Ask me”).
Casa Battlo recently increased their ticket pricing and broke it down to different categories. They also added a couple of pretty good immersive exhibitions, Harry Potter-style pictures on the wall so if you have visited 3 or more years ago, you might want to re-visit! The pricing looks like this now:
As you can see, for extra 8€ you will get a tablet that will be a bit more interactive and you are going to visit a couple of more rooms. For 10€ extra you will get all of the above plus a special line and 1 more room to visit.
In my opinion, you don’t really need the AR tablet unless you are traveling with kids, it will definitely be much more fun for them in this case!
PRO TIP: If the tickets are sold out for your dates on the official website, try this link, it is the same price.
PRICE: 35€ instead of 39€ in the ticket office plus your time spent waiting in line.
Solution 2: Visit before it opens
You can take a morning tour with no one around. I only discovered this option when I was researching info for this blog post and I think it is pretty cool! If I had known about it before, I would definitely have gone for this option! You can only buy the tickets online.
ATTENTION: it is only available on Fri, Sat and Sunday
Solution 3: Magic nights
From the 1st of June to the 1st of October, every night at 8 pm, Casa Batllo hosts awesome music concerts. Enjoy the music and the drinks on the rooftop at dusk. For 59€ you will be able to enjoy Casa Batllo after the doors are closed to the general public, get a drink at the Dragon Roof terrace and listen to live music performances while enjoying the Barcelona sky. Book your ticket here.
NOTE: I can’t find the info on dates anymore, but the concerts used to be available from May to October. You can book your tickets about 2 month in advance.
Solution 4: Look at this masterpiece from the outside
If you just want to see the exterior of the building (although you will be missing a lot by not entering) you can arrive late in the evening, say 10 p.m., when there are no tourists, and you can freely admire the facade and take some fantastic shots like this
3. Park Guell
FUN FACT: This Gaudi work was actually a financial fiasco. This ambitious housing project for the elite financed by Gaudi’s friends did not find any buyers and served as a public park afterward.
The entrance to the park used to be free of charge the first time I visited, but I guess it became overly crowded over time and now the government charges people to enter the park.
Solution 1: Get your tickets online
As always, I recommend booking tickets online that are for the morning or closer to dawn when there seems to be less people and you can take some nice shots without people in them.
You will save 1 eur by pre booking online (and lots of your time)!
PRO TIP: If you are flexible with the time of your visit, choose green time slots when the number of remaining tickets is the highest, thus, fewer crowds. It is statistics, baby! 🙂
PRICE: 10€ on the official website or 13€ through a reseller with audioguide (any kind of guide is highly recommended in the park!)
Solution 2: Get a guided tour
A guide who will explain all the hidden secrets and significance of the details is highly recommended (like anywhere else for Gaudi architecture). Duration is about 1.5 hours.
Marvel at multicolored mosaics, colonnades, and Doric columns with informative commentary from your certified guide. It goes without saying that you will, of course, skip the line. Arrive a couple of minutes in advance for your tour!
Solution 3: Take a private tour
If you want an exclusive excursion in the park, I found the cheapest available price on this website – they provide a hotel pick up as well!
PRICE: €69 per person
Solution 4: Get in the park for free during the after hours
Here is a small trick to get in for free even in the paid part of the park. Just get there before 8 am because the guards are not there yet to check your ticket!
You are actually not tricking anyone this way as this information is on the official website and you are allowed to do it.
The park is open at 9 30 am every day, it closes at 7 30 pm in the summer time and 5 30 pm in the winter time. Outside of these hours access is free, although visibility cannot be guaranteed due to the lack of artificial lighting in the Monumental Zone.
Solution 5: Buy tickets at the booth, but from the secret entrance
Well, it is not really a secret, you can see the entrance on the map below, but many tourists do not know about it and they line up at the first entrance.
Even if this might save you time in the line, I still do not recommend buying a ticket at the park. Why?
Chances are, the only next available time will be 1.5 hours after you have arrived or even later. The park sells a limited number of tickets per time slot – they only allow 400 visitors per 30 minutes and there are many school groups. Again, why wait if you can take care of it in advance (solution 1)?
Solution 6: Walk around the free part of the park
A part of the park is actually open to the public free of charge. The Monumental Zone requires the purchase of a ticket. (see the picture above)
While the free part is, of course, not that spectacular, it is still an option if you came without a ticket and have no time to wait for the next available time slot. In my humble opinion it makes little sense to go all the way there just to see the little bits of Gaudi architecture; you can better spend your holiday time somewhere else.
NOTE: The tickets for visiting the Monumental Zone do not include the Gaudí House Museum. There is a separate ticket (no line) if you want to visit.
TIP: After your visit, walk up for about 15 mins to reach a magnificent (and free) viewpoint called The Bunker. Even now, not that many people know about it and the views are breathtaking! I explain how to get there in this post.
4. Picasso Museum
The most popular museum of Barcelona and one of the most visited in Spain, the Picasso Museum houses extensive collections of artwork by the 20th-century Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. Just like Sagrada Familia, I did not manage to visit it during my first visits because I was not prepared and I did not want to wait in those crazy queues.
During high season, the waiting lines to the Picasso Museum can easily take 1.5 hours of your time, sometimes even more.
Here is what you should do in order to avoid the queues:
Solution 1: Online ticket bought in advance
When I came to the museum for the first time, I saw a queue and I thought I would be a smart ass by buying the tickets online right in the queue. Guess what? It never happened. I mean, I could buy the tickets, but the next available time was only for the next day so I had to leave defeated; I certainly did not want to stay in an hour-long line under the hot sun.
Anyway, learn from my mistake and book your tickets in advance on the official website. There is a time slot, though it is not as strict as in Sagrada Familia, but it is still advisable not to be late. Just skip the line and show your ticket to the controller at the entrance; it can be done from your smartphone as well.
NOTE: Do not forget to buy the audio guide as well if you need it. Otherwise, you will need to stand in yet another (shorter) queue for it.
If tickets are already sold out on the main website, you can always buy a Skip–the-Line ticket here.
PRICE: 17€ eur
Solution 2: Get in for free on Thursday evening (need to book online)
Did you know that you can get in the museum free of charge every Thursday from 5pm to 9:30 pm?
You can only book that ticket on the official website 4 days in advance (so, on Monday). The tickets are limited, so do it as early as you can. I used that option and everything went smoothly.
PRO TIP: The museum is also free for everybody on the first Sunday of each month, on the 12th of February, the 18th of May and the 24th of September.
NOTE: I do not understand how to also book an audio guide on the site (extra charge, but I recommend it). If you have troubles with it, too, just ask at the entrance how to get an audio guide; there is a special ticket booth for it with no line.
Solution 3: Get a group tour
Taking a tour led by a professional guide is a good idea if you want to understand and find out about the artist’s formative years and development. The guide will walk you through his life not only in the museum but also in the surrounding area.
You will also have a chance to walk into some key places where Picasso lived and spent his time in the historical neighborhood of El Born. Book your tour here.
Solution 4: Get a private tour
If you are looking for an exclusive service with hotel pick up and a personal tour explaining Picasso’s greatest works, you can learn about the artist’s connection to Barcelona in this 4-hour private tour, which is a great tour for you!
PRICE: from 225€
Solution 5: Get there in the morning
If you absolutely cannot plan and book anything, even a day in advance, you can go to the museum entrance before it opens (30 minutes or even more).
The least crowded time is, as usual, in the morning when most of the tourists are still asleep. Try to get there a little bit before it opens (which is 9:00 am) and your wait time will be reduced to a minimum.
Solution 6: Go to a secret counter
WARNING: this information was found on one of the travel forums I found and it hasn’t been checked by me personally. If you use this tip, please let us know in the comments if it works. I am copying the text here:
Go to a counter signed “Carnets” about 30 yards to the right of the normal ticket office. The usual entry price is €17. At this counter, after presenting an ID and giving your email address, you can get a photographed card allowing unlimited entry for a year AND you get to walk straight in, all for €18. Even if you can’t come again, that €1 extra to avoid an hour’s wait is a no-brainer for me.
5. Casa Mila (La Pedrera)
Casa Mila, also known as La Pedrera (the stone quarry) is the last Gaudi masterpiece in our list. This modernist building’s facade is an ironic allusion with its resemblance to an open quarry. La Pedrera includes two distinct museum spaces: The Espai Gaudí and the La Pedrera Apartment.
Solution 1: Buy tickets online
The easiest way to avoid the line and extra charges is to buy your tickets online. No need to print them, just show the QR-code from your smartphone. The price is 25€ for a normal ticket. You can also buy a ticket with an open date and time, (choose Premium type) for 5 eur extra. Both are skip the line tickets.
If the tickets are sold out on the official website, this is a great website to book them on for the same price.
PRO TIP: if you get an early morning ticket, and go straight to the roof (you can come back and start the tour from the beginning after) you will have the roof all to yourself for 5 to 10 minutes!
NOTE: Just like in Casa Battlo, if you buy your tickets at the ticket office you will need to pay an additional fee of €3/ticket.
PRICE: 25€ (audio guide is included)
Solution 2: Get there in the morning
Again, during the morning (8am) you will have almost nooone around so you will be able to enjoy the place pretty much all by yourself (it is called “La Pedrera Exclusive). The tickets are available on Thursday and Fridays at the moment, please check if they changed anything meanwhile here. The price is higher, but there will be a live guide explaining everything too!
Solution 3: La Pedrera Night Experience
After the doors are closed to the general public, you will be able to enjoy the place without the crowds during “La Pedrera Night Experience”! The timing is from 9pm to 11pm and it is available almost on any day (there are some random exceptions, check the schedule here)
Skip the lines to one of Barcelona’s most iconic buildings and watch an amazing audiovisual display on the roof terrace. Get a short introduction to Gaudi’s revolutionary building on the Passeig de Gracia, and see a show at the rooftop with a glass of cava (included).
Other crowded places in Barcelona
There are a couple more crowded places –walking streets, squares etc. As there are no lines to enter, there is nothing to skip. I am listing them here, nevertheless, so you know you can avoid the busiest period by visiting in the early morning.
La Rambla is always very crowded, but there is not even a line that you can skip, it is just crowds rambling around (hence the name). I recommend visiting in the morning, then you will be able to enjoy the market (La Boqueria)
TIP: Whatever you do, do not eat in one of those restaurants in the alley. The number of tourists is so high that the owners do not cook fresh food any more. All the food is pre-cooked, frozen, low quality and very expensive. If you are feeling exhausted and hungry, better to go to Boqueria Market-you can find some delicious local delights there!
Barceloneta Beach and Tibidabo
Barceloneta (popular beach) and Tibidabo (amusement park on a hill) are also quite popular, but at least you do not need to waste your time in endless queues, it is just busy with people. Beware of pickpockets in that area and in the metro – so many of my friends got robbed that way in Barcelona!
UPDATE: If you don’t mind spending some time in transport and you really want to get away from the crowds, I highly recommend going to Castelldefels – it is a 25 min train ride from Barcelona and it has this charming quite beach with no tourists, great alternative!
Where to stay in Barcelona
Here are the suggestions I have carefully crafted for you. All of them are located in the city center and all have fabulous reviews. They are sorted by price category for your convenience. Click the link to check the rates for your dates.
Luxury (US $300 and up):
If you are a football fan, Hotel Sofia, which is a five star hotel, is the perfect choice for you as it is located 5 minutes away from the famous Camp Nou stadium. It offers wonderful rooms designed with a keen eye for details in a modern way which will make you feel right at home. Another five star hotel is Alma Barcelona GL, which features elegant decorations, a spa with an indoor swimming pool, a hamam, a sauna and a gym. A nice feature of this hotel is the indoor terrace, perfect for rest and relaxation after a hard day of sightseeing.
Middle (US $100 – $150):
Vasanta Hostal Boutique is a wonderful establishment which features nicely designed rooms in neutral tones and has a shared lounge. Coffee shops, restaurants and a lot of pubs can be found within walking distance of this accommodation option. Another middle priced option is Hostalin Barcelona Passeig de Gracia which has been reviewed by its past guests as clean and an overall perfect choice. If you fancy wines, you will be delighted to hear that it is situated right above Vinoteca Torres!
Budget (up to US $100):
Rodamon Barcelona Hostel is situated right next to the Palau Robert Gardens, so if you fancy nature and visiting the surroundings, this is the perfect budget choice. Another great budget choice is Ten To Go Hostel, which offers a shared daytime area and even a pool. La Pedrera is located 2.8 km from the property and if you are traveling by train, Ten To Go Hostel is perfect, as it is located very close to the main train station.
READ MY OTHER POSTS ABOUT SECRET TRICKS OF AVOIDING LINES:
- 6 Places in Paris With The Longest Queues, And How To Avoid Them
- 6 Most Crowded Attractions In Rome And How To Avoid The Long Line
Oh boy, those were a lot of choices for just 5 attractions, weren’t they?
Before you go, I would like to remind you that these are just 5 things you REALLY need to book ahead. If you do that, your vacation will go flawlessly!
When you go to Barcelona, before leaving home, beyond hotels and flights, you should book as many things as you can. If you leave it until the last minute, many of the places you want to visit will not have availability and you will not be able to choose your preferred time. Following these tips will make your visit so much more enjoyable, trust me!
You have to be very careful, especially during the high season (from June to September), as this is when lines are crazy long. It is the least busy in January and February.
I hope these tips helped you save some time so you can spend it more valuably elsewhere and actually enjoy your precious vacation time!
And remember, do not avoid the place, avoid the queue! 😉
Do you want me to add something to this list? What else is crowded in Barcelona?
Let me know in the comments!
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