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 Gaudí works out there, together with Park Güell!
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!
In order to help you out, I have noted all the common mistakes that people make while visiting Sagrada Família so that when you go, you will not repeat those mistakes. At the end of the article I also have a very useful bonus!
Here we go, these are the 6 main mistakes to avoid before visiting Sagrada Família:
1. Not booking in advance
As I said, Sagrada Familia in Barcelona by Gaudí is by far the most visited Spanish attraction and maybe in all of Europe! Thousands of people line up there every day to see the masterpiece by Gaudí from the inside. Does that sound terrifying to you?
You just need to book your Sagrada Familia ticket in advance online!
While the tickets to Sagrada Família 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 hour are available.
NOTE: The Go Barcelona Pass will NOT give you a skip-the-line access to the basilica and this is a common misconception. You will need to stay in the queue with everyone else before you enter.
2. Not taking a guided tour
La Sagrada Família is full of secret meanings, tiny significant details thought by Gaudí, pieces of architecture inspired by nature – all reasons why it is really worth taking an English guided experience with a skip-the-line ticket here!
Another good option is to tour La Sagrada Familia using this guided experience with tower access that will show you everything you need to know!
If your budget does not allow you to do one of the guided visits and tours, I recommend at least getting an audio guide experience.
PRO TIP: Take your own headphones with you and you will be able to share it with somebody else! 😉
NOTE: Make sure you come at least 15 minutes in advance if you get a guided experience! 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 anytime, 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 La Sagrada Familia as he did.
4. Not leaving enough time for the visit
This is a very common mistake that travelers make when they are in a rush to see as much as possible!
I strongly recommend you leave at least one hour and a half for your Sagrada Familia tour if you want to discover the cathedral without rushing. You can add 30 more minutes if you want to go up to the Gaudí towers to take in the view.
Why should you 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!
NOTE: If you have a fear of heights, you might get really anxious while you are up there, especially if you go up the Nativity façade. Basilica Sagrada Familia is 172m high so it will be easy to get scared if you are afraid of heights! Please also note that if you are claustrophobic, 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 helped with the construction; the Passion Towers are the new ones, completed after his sketches. The Sagrada Familia top view is mesmerizing regardless of your choice!
5. Not taking your camera
I mean, who 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 by Gaudí without taking some shots of it or maybe even stop for some selfies, right? 😉
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 go there. 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.
BONUS 1 – 4 painless ways to get into Sagrada Familia fast
Here is some valuable advice on how to get into Sagrada Familia with no stress or waiting involved:
1. Buy your tickets online in advance
The easiest and safest way is to buy your Sagrada Familia tickets in advance online and to make sure you aren’t late. The tickets are reserved for a specific hour 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 hour as yours (2 to 15 minutes).
UPDATE: 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 experience (see Solution 2 below).
NOTE: Do not be late; if you miss your 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 sold out on the official site, I suggest you try this Skip-The-Line Tour! 🙂
PRICE: The price for the basic ticket is 20€. With the audioguide it will be 26€.
2. Book a guided tour
Taking a guided experience 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 certified live guides who will tell you everything about La Sagrada Familia Cathedral!
NOTE: The Go Barcelona Pass entitles you to free entry, but it does not, however, give you a skip-the-line privilege, so you will need to wait in the line with everyone else.
3. Take a private tour of Sagrada Familia
A private tour means you will not be rushed, you will not be part of large groups of tourists and you will be able to ask all the questions and receive all the information you want.
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 hour, but they will book everything for you. If you decide to buy this city pass, you can choose from different Sagrada Familia tickets: Basic, with audio guidance, with tower + audio guide or a guided excursion.
By the way, you can check out our article about the best Barcelona passes available on the market and a comparison of each of them in this article.
You will save at least 15€ per person if you go to all of the activities offered and as many 20% discounts to other attractions as possible. Plus, the pass is fully mobile!
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 see Sagrada Família, you can buy tickets at the cash register there. But you might find out that the only available slot for your entry is a few hours later or even the next day. Do you want to waste your hours coming back twice? I don’t think so!
PRO TIP: On Mondays it might be a bit less crowded since some people will assume it is closed.
BONUS 2 – How to get in Sagrada Familia for free!
Sagrada Família is an extraordinary masterpiece by Antoni Gaudí architect (together with Park Güell) that is definitely worth visiting while you are in Barcelona, but I must admit that the entrance price is not that “friendly”.
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 Família 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 calendar on their website here.
Of course, you cannot 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 (similar to a temple), 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. If you are a group of 25 people or more, you must fill in a special form beforehand.
I hope this info has 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 Família by Gaudí, as well as given you some helpful tips on how to avoid the long lines and a secret way of getting in the Catalan 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!
Let me know if you have any questions and I wish you an amazing holiday!
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