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
By far the hardest attraction in the city to get into. No wonder I only managed to enter on my 4th visit to Barcelona. Do not repeat my mistakes- book tickets in advance while you are still at home!
I have written an article about Dos and Don’ts for Sagrada Familia in order for you to have an amazing time there.
Solution 1: Buy tickets in advance online
Buy it online and don’t be late (the ticket is for a specific time with a 15 minute window). With the pre-booked tickets you will still need to stand in a short line of travelers who have the same admission time as you, but it is just a 2 to 15 minute wait.
Do not be late; if you miss your time slot, you will not be allowed inside.
PRO TIP: if you are younger than 30 or you have a student ID, you will get a small discount (around 2 eur)
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 happened to my friends.
Price: 17 EUR or 25 EUR with audio guide
Solution 2: Book a guided tour
For the guided tour you will have to meet at a different gate and the tour also includes skip the line access. The best part? You get a live certified guide who will tell you everything about the cathedral!
As with the previous solution, arrive 15 minutes in advance, latecomers will not be granted entry.
Solution 3: Take a private tour
This is a tour that will not rush you, where you will be able to ask all your questions and not be in a group of tourists. A private tour is exclusive to you so you will be able to spend as much time as you want there.
Price: 100 to 170 EUR per person depending on the size of your group
Solution 4: Get a Barcelona City Pass
The pass combines entry into all the most popular attractions in the city into one pass. You will still need to tell them the time you want to visit, but they will book everything for you; you just need to show up on time with your card.
Here is the price breakdown: for 76.50 Eur it includes Sagrada Familia fast track (worth 17 eur) + Park Guell fast track (10 eur) + airport transfer round trip (around 15 eur depending on the airport)+ Hop on hop off bus (30 eur) + 20% discount to numerous attractions including Casa Mila, Casa Batllo and many more. You will probably save at least 10-15 eur per person if you visit all of the activities offered.
What is cool about this pass is that you do not need to pick it up. You will receive an email that contains all the tickets to the attractions plus the code for your 20% discount.
The Barcelona Pass entitles you to free entry but it does not, however, give you a skip-the-line privilege; you will need to wait in line with everyone else.
Price: 76.50 eur includes many attractions
Solution 5: Buy your ticket at Sagrada Familia (not recommended)
If you really did not plan in advance and you want to enter the Sagrada Familia, you can buy tickets at the cash register right there, BUT!
If you go without a ticket, especially during the high season, you might wait in an hour-long line just to find out that the only available slot is a few hours away or the next day. Do you want to waste your time coming back twice?
NOTE: I recommend going at sunset where the light reflecting from the stained glass is fantastic! Kids younger than 10 years old enter for free, but you still need to book a ticket for them.
NOTE 2: if you are traveling with a child and you want to enter the towers, your child might be too young to enter
HINT: Sagrada Familia is open 365 days a year. Monday is the least busy day because some people assume it is closed
If you are looking for accommodations in Barcelona, you can check out this post where all hotel suggestions are sorted by price and neighborhood.
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, unfortunately, but chances are it is going to be the best part of your trip.
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! The management of the museum does everything they can to encourage people to buy tickets online so that they have a shorter line, even making the online ticket 5 eur cheaper.
There is also a so-called “Gold Priority” option that is 10 EUR extra. What is that exactly?
Let me explain: there are basically 2 lines.
The first one is for people that do not have tickets (it is long and you should try to skip it by all means).
The second one is for those who have purchased tickets online and want to enter. Usually this second queue is either very short or nonexistent, but sometimes during July or August it might be long. This is when you might want to invest the extra 10 eur per person for a “Gold Priority” for that second line. I honestly think it is not necessary, though.
If the tickets are sold out for your dates on the official website, try this link, it is the same price.
Price: 25 EUR instead of 28 EUR in the ticket office plus your time spent waiting in line.
Solution 2: Be there first
You can take a morning tour with no one around. I only discovered this option when I was researching info for this blog post. If I had known about it before, I would definitely have gone for this option! You can only buy the tickets online.
Price: 37 Eur
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 39 Eur you will be able to enjoy Casa Batllo after the doors are closed to the general public, get two drinks at the Dragon Roof terrace and listen to live music performances while enjoying the Barcelona sky. Book your ticket here.
Price: 39 Eur
Solution 4: Look 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
TIP: They also have a really cool 3D guide now to Casa Batllo which is included in your ticket.
PRO TIP: If you are traveling with kids, you can also take a dramatized theatrical tour. Either Gaudí himself or Lady Ramoneta – the Batlló family’s housekeeper– will show you the nooks and crannies of the house.
3. Park Guell
This magical park will open your imagination and will take you back to your childhood fantasy world!
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 eur
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!
Price: 17 EUR
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.
Early risers get in for free!
Opening hours of the park:
- During the low season the access to the Monumental Zone is watched from 8:30 am to 7:00 pm at most.
- During the mid-season the regular schedule is from 8:00 am to 8:30 pm.
- During the high season the regular schedule is from 8:00 am to 9:30 pm
Outside of these hours access is free, although visibility cannot be guaranteed due to the lack of artificial lighting in the Monumental Zone.
PRO TIP: The park is also free after 6 pm and it is free on Sundays during the winter schedule
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)?
Price: 10 eur
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
Yes, you guessed it right – the good old online purchase method works, but not everyone uses it.
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: 12 eur and 7 eur if you are younger than 25 or older than 65 years old.
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 6pm 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.
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.
Price: 25 Eur
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: 440€ for a group of 4 people
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.
Price: 12 Eur
Solution 6: Go to a secret counter
WARNING: this information was found on one of the different 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 €11. 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 €13. Even if you can’t come again, that €1 extra to avoid an hour’s wait is a no-brainer for me.
Price: 13 Eur
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 22 eur 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: if you buy your tickets at the ticket office you will need to pay an additional fee of €3/ticket.
Price: 22 eur (audio guide is included)
Solution 2: Get there in the morning
Again, during the morning time you will have fewer people around.
Price: 22 eur plus 3 eur processing fee.
Solution 3: The awakening of La Pedrera
This choice is different from the one above because you will not be standing in line waiting until the museum opens, but you will enter inside before everyone else. Cool, right? Early birds get to enjoy the view!
You can book your ticket here.
Price: 39 Eur
Solution 4: La Pedrera Night Experience
As with the case of Casa Batllo, you can get inside Casa Mila 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”!
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 multiple projections in the stairwells. Book your visit here.
Price: 34 Eur
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!
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 travelling 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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- 6 Mistakes to Avoid Before Visiting Sagrada Familia in Barcelona
- See all the highlights in Barcelona in 1 day! (Includes a helicopter flight!)
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