Sagrada Familia is the most famous landmark in one of the most visited cities in Europe. Visiting Sagrada Familia is definitely worth it and it is no wonder that thousands of people choose to do so daily! It is truly one of the best Antoni Gaudi buildings out there!
However, I have also noticed that many tourists happen to make one or more of these 6 simple mistakes which can turn their visit into a less enjoyable one than it could have been!
In order to help you out, I have noted all the common mistakes that people make while visiting Sagrada Familia so that when you go, you will not repeat those mistakes. This way, you will be able to turn your experience into one of the most unforgettable impressions of the city!
At the end of the article I also have a very useful bonus for you – some Sagrada Familia tips on how to skip the line to Sagrada Familia!
- 1. Not booking in advance
- 2. Not taking a guided tour
- 3. Not visiting during sunset
- 4. Not leaving enough time for the visit
- 5. Not taking your camera
- 6. Not wearing appropriate clothes
- BONUS 1 – 4 Painless Ways to Get Into Sagrada Familia Fast
- BONUS 2 – How to get in Sagrada Familia for free!
- Some other useful Information about Sagrada Familia
Here we go, these are the 6 main mistakes to avoid before visiting Sagrada Familia:
1. Not booking in advance
As I said, Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is by far the most visited attraction in the city and maybe in all of Europe!
Thousands of people line up there every day to see Gaudi’s masterpiece from the inside. Does that sound terrifying to you?
There is no need to worry! You just need to book Sagrada Familia tickets in advance online!
A very common question that I usually get is “How much in advance should I book my tickets for Sagrada Familia?”. While the tickets to Sagrada Familia can be bought online up to 2 months in advance, in high season, I would recommend booking your visit at least 5-7 days in advance in order to make sure your desired day and time are available.
Remember, it is best to visit Sagrada Familia inside during the sunset hours because it is splendid!
NOTE: The Barcelona Pass will NOT give you skip-the-line access to the basilica and this is a common misconception. This pass only gives you free access to some attractions, but you will need to stay in the queue with everyone else before you enter.
2. Not taking a guided tour
Sagrada Familia is full of secret meanings, tiny significant details, pieces of architecture inspired by nature – all reasons why it is really worth taking a guided tour with a skip-the-line ticket here!
Another good option is to tour Sagrada Familia using this guided tour with tower access.
If your budget does not allow you to do this, I recommend at least getting an audio guide together with your Sagrada Familia ticket – I promise you will not regret it, as the information is very interesting!
PRO TIP: Take your own headphones with you and you will be able to share one audio guide with somebody else! 😉
NOTE: Make sure you come at least 15 minutes in advance if you get a guided tour! Keep in mind that the place is crowded so you will need time to find your guide. Usually, the tickets are not refundable if you are late.
3. Not visiting during sunset
While the interior of the cathedral is mesmerizing any time of the day, the best time to visit Sagrada Familia is during sunset and I think you would regret it if you missed the beautiful golden light reflecting from the countless stained glass windows!
This is actually the best feature of the Basilica and seeing it during Golden Hour when the sun reflects directly onto the stained glass is Antoni Gaudi’s exact reason for creating Sagrada Familia as he did. The entire process was created with great care using mathematical formulas in order to find the perfect arrangement for the colorful windows.
I loved the light and how the naves look during late afternoon, it was truly magical!
4. Not leaving enough time for the visit
This is a very common mistake that travelers make when they are in a rush to visit as much as possible!
I strongly recommend you leave at least one hour and a half for your Sagrada Familia visit if you want to discover the cathedral without rushing. You can add 30 more minutes if you want to go up to the Gaudi towers to take in the view. Please note that access to Sagrada towers is not included in your standard ticket, so make sure to book your tower ticket in advance here.
Why you should visit Sagrada Familia Towers too?
If you have more time for your Sagrada Familia church tour, I definitely recommend buying a complete ticket with Tower access included, I think it is really worth it! The towers will allow you to see some beautiful parts of the basilica that you really cannot see from below, as well as some construction and renovation work that is continually being done to this masterpiece.
TIP: If you have a fear of heights, you might get really anxious while you are up there, especially if you go up the Nativity facade which has a little connecting bridge that you will have to cross if you want to have a better view and a closer look of the facade’s beautiful details. Basilica Sagrada Familia is 172 m high so it will be easy to get scared if you are afraid of heights! Please also note that if you are claustrophobic, you should think twice before going up the towers. As there is no elevator going down, your only option will be to take the narrow “spiral” stairs.
Nativity Tower or Passion Tower?
Sagrada Familia has two facades with towers that you can go up to: the Nativity towers and the Passion towers. The Nativity Towers are the oldest ones and the only ones Gaudi himself worked on; the Passion Towers are the new ones, made from his sketches. The two facades are very different from each other, but the Sagrada Familia top view is mesmerizing regardless of your choice!
PRO TIP: If you go up the Nativity Towers, you will get a mountain view of Barcelona, while the Passion Towers will offer you a view of the ocean.
5. Not taking your camera
I mean, who the hell forgets a camera when going to the main sight of Barcelona?
You would be surprised!
I strongly recommend you make sure to take your camera with you and charge your phone. You do not want to leave this majestic place without taking some shots of it or maybe even some selfies, right? 😉
Trust me, the photo opportunities will be endless and you will be snapping pictures continuously, especially if you visit this magical place in the late afternoon when the light keeps changing the view in the most beautiful way!
6. Not wearing appropriate clothes
Finally, yet still important, even if the rules are not as strict as at the Vatican, Sagrada Familia is a church after all and you should dress modestly when you decide to visit it. When you actually go there you will see many people dressed in shorts or skirts, but I suggest you avoid showing cleavage or wearing mini-skirts, even if it is just to pay respect to this holy place!
There is an exception, though: the crypt of Sagrada Familia can only be visited during Mass and only if you are dressed appropriately.
In the end, it is always better to be safe than sorry and you may want to avoid not being allowed to enter this majestic place!
BONUS 1 – 4 Painless Ways to Get Into Sagrada Familia Fast
I usually hate queuing and, seeing how crowded and popular Sagrada Familia is every day, I have done all the homework for you so that you will not waste your precious vacation time standing in the long lines!
Here is some valuable advice on how to get into Sagrada Familia with no stress or waiting involved:
Solution 1: Buy your tickets online in advance
The easiest and safest way is to buy your Sagrada Familia online tickets in advance and to make sure you aren’t late. The tickets are reserved for a specific time with a 15-minute window.
Even if you have the online pre-booked tickets, you will still need to stay in a short line of travelers who have the same admission time as yours. Don’t worry, you won’t waste a lot of time since the wait is typically just from 2 to 15 minutes.
UPDATE 2019: Starting in January 2019, the general admission tickets can only be used after 2 PM. If you want to visit Sagrada Familia earlier, I recommend taking a guided tour (see Solution 2 below).
NOTE: Do not be late; if you miss your time slot you won’t be able to enter anymore!
PRO TIP: if you are younger than 30 years old or if you have a student ID, you will be entitled to a small discount (around 2€).
PRO TIP 2: If the online tickets for Sagrada Familia for your dates are already sold out on the official website, I suggest you try this Skip-The-Line Tour – chances are some tickets for your desired date will still be available at the reseller! It happened to some of my friends! 🙂
PRICES (UPDATED JUNE 2019): The price for the basic ticket is 17€. If you want the audio guide too, it will be 25€.
Solution 2: Book a guided tour
Taking a guided tour means that you will have to meet your guide at a different gate than the standard one and you will also benefit from skip-the-line access. The best part? You will be accompanied by a certified live guide who will tell you everything about Sagrada Familia Cathedral!
NOTE: The Barcelona pass entitles you to free entry, but it does not, however, give you a privilege, so you will need to wait in the line with everyone else.
As with the previous solution, you must arrive 15 minutes in advance. Latecomers will not be granted entry.
Solution 3: Take a private tour of Sagrada Familia
A private tour means you will not be rushed, you will not be part of a large group of tourists and you will be able to ask all the questions you want. This tour is exclusive only for you and you will also be able to spend as much time as you want there.
Solution 4: Get a Barcelona City Pass
Barcelona City Pass combines all the most popular attractions of the city in one pass. You will still need to choose your desired date and time, but they will book everything for you. You only have to show up with your card at each location at your specific time.
Here is the calculation:
This Barcelona pass is 76.50€ and it includes a Sagrada Familia fast-track ticket (worth 17€) + Park Guell fast-track ticket (10€) + airport transfer round-trip (around 15€ depending on the airport you are arriving at/departing from) + Hop on hop off bus (30€) + 20% discount to multiple attractions including Casa Mila, Casa Battlo and many more.
You will save at least 10€ 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 with all the tickets to the attractions plus the code for your 20% discount.
Price: 76.50€ and it includes discounts to many attractions
Solution 5: Buy your ticket on site (not recommended)
This option is obvious and that is why I am mentioning it, but I have to warn you that it is a far from painless choice.
If you really did not plan your visit in advance and you want to visit Sagrada Familia, you can buy tickets at the cash register right there. If you go there without a ticket, especially in high season, you might find out that the only available time slot for your entry is a few hours later or even the next day. Do you want to waste your time coming back twice? I don’t think so!
PRO TIP: Sagrada Familia is open all year round. On Monday it might be a bit less crowded because some people will assume it is closed.
PRICE (UPDATED JUNE 2019): 20€
BONUS 2 – How to get in Sagrada Familia for free!
Sagrada Familia is an extraordinary masterpiece of Antoni Gaudi that is definitely worth visiting while you are in Barcelona, but I must admit that the entrance price is not that “friendly”.
If you are traveling on a low budget but you still want to see this iconic building, you should know there is a way!
Sagrada Familia is not only a tourist attraction, but its true function is that of a church. Your chance to get in the basilica for free is to attend one of the weekly masses that are held there. There is a 1-hour public Mass every Sunday at 9 AM, in different languages. Sagrada Familia also holds Extraordinary Masses on certain days: Palm Sunday Mass (in March), Closing mass of the International Congress of Pueri Cantores (in July) and the Thanksgiving Mass (in October). You can check the up-to-date mass calendar on their website here.
Attending the public Mass is a great way of getting into the church and admiring it in all its majesty in the morning light.
Of course, this will not be a normal visit and you cannot take a Sagrada Familia tour or take pictures – be careful to be respectful of the people that are attending, as this is a religious occasion.
NOTE: Being a worship service open to the public, the spaces are limited and the first people in line have priority. Make sure to be at the Nativity Façade entrance at 8:30 AM in order to make sure you can attend the Mass. If you are a group of 25 people or more, you must fill in a special form in order to secure your places at the Mass.
Some other useful Information about Sagrada Familia
In addition to the common mistakes that travellers make before going to the Cathedral, I decided to include some practical info about Sagrada Familia as well:
How can I get to Sagrada Familia?
Sagrada Familia is incredibly accessible from the most all over the city. The best way to get to the Basilica is by metro, using the lines L2 (purple) and L5 (blue).
You don’t need to stress about anything, as there is only one entrance and you will see clear directions and icons that will show you right away the exit for Sagrada Familia. There are two exits that you can take from the metro station to Sagrada Familia and both of them are almost the same distance away (they’re basically across the street from the basilica and you will see it in all its majesty right away).
What are the working hours for the basilica?
The basilica is open 365 days of the year. Sagrada Familia hours:
November-February: 9 AM to 6 PM
March: 9 AM to 7 PM
April-September: 9 AM to 8 PM
October: 9 AM to 7 PM
December 25, 26, January 1st and 6th: 9 AM to 2 PM.
Sometimes they do hold some private events and the Basilica or the Towers’ access might be closed, but this does not happen often. If you bought your ticket online for a specific time slot, you can be sure you will get in with no problems.
TIP: Tickets will stop being sold on site 30 minutes before closing time.
What is the Sagrada Familia ticket price?
The basic ticket is 17€, the ticket with the audio guide is 25€. The complete ticket to Sagrada Familia with Tower access and the audio guide included is 32€. There are some other types of tickets available, too, and you can check them out on the official website.
Where to stay in Barcelona
Here are some accommodation recommendations and some of the best hotels in Barcelona that I have carefully chosen for you. All of them are located in the city center and they have fabulous reviews, sorted by price for your convenience. Click the link to check the rates for Barcelona accommodation during your dates.
Luxury (300€ and up): If you are a football fan, Hotel Sofia, a 5-star hotel and one of the best luxury hotels in Barcelona 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. One of the greatest hotels in Barcelona city centre is Alma Barcelona GL, which features elegant decorations, a spa with an indoor swimming pool, a hammam, a sauna, and a gym. A nice feature of this hotel is the indoor terrace, perfect for rest and relaxation after a long day of sightseeing.
Middle (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 located right above Vinoteca Torres!
Budget (up to 100€): Rodamon Barcelona Hostel is situated right next to 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, one of the best cheap hotels in Barcelona 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.
I hope I have helped you save a couple of hours of your valuable vacation time as well as saved you from the stress and disappointment of getting to the Sagrada Familia entrance and not being let in!
In this post, I have told you how to avoid 6 most common mistakes that travelers make before visiting Sagrada Familia, as well as given you some helpful tips on how to avoid the long lines and a secret way of getting in the Cathedral for free!
P.S.: I also have another article where I explain how to get around the lines for the 5 most crowded places in Barcelona!
Sagrada Familia is definitely one of the top places to see in Barcelona and I hope this article will help you have a great vacation in Barcelona!
Let me know if you have any questions,
Have an amazing holiday!
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